LaSi vs EcMd: round two

Mark Lynas, one of the EcoMod crowd, has noticed what I pointed out – that Da Fadder is not on their side, indeed opposed. Whether the Bishop of Rome has noticed that the EcoMods disagree with him is another matter.

ML roughly parallels what I said, but gets carried away with the goodness of his own side:

It is not the sin of greed but rather aspirations to a better life that led countries from England to the US to China and India to burn huge quantities of coal. All sought to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty

Well, not really. Lifting people out of poverty may have been the consequence, but apart from a few noble souls mostly the motives were Gain, which the BoR also dislikes. Nonetheless I’m more sympathetic to ML than the BoR, if you were wondering; this isn’t a major error of consequence, though I presume it mis-colours their analysis.

The Ecomodernist Myth?

But I came to this via The Ecomodernist Myth, by Thomas Smith; via a tweet from ATTP. That begins by picking up ML on the same point as I’ve just made (which he calls “myth 1”), so well done him, but really that’s just a nit picking detail; he’ll need rather more than that. I think he’s wrong, too, to call it an Ecomodernist Myth. Its an error in a piece that ML wrote, but that doesn’t make it one of the tenets of EcMd. Indeed it looks to me like all his myths come from ML’s piece which is, errm, “sleight of hand” on his part.

Next we have the intensification of poverty which… already is occurring, due to existing high-energy lifestyles in the west. WTF? No evidence is offered for this odd assertion. Poverty, overall, isn’t intensifying. Its reducing.

The piece continues downhill from there, so I won’t bother rip it up unless anyone cares.

[Update: Eli has a piece in the Graun: The Brave New World of Ecomodernism well done him. Reading it, I was lead to ML’s Ecomodernism launch was a screw-up of impressive proportions in which ML tries to laugh things off, substitutes mouthing “there has to be some way to depolarise this debate in the interests of moving forward” for thought, and still by the end of it all still hasn’t realised that Ridley is a wacko. Call him naive? Yes. But he appears to be so fuckwitted he doesn’t realise that’s a bad thing.]

Refs

* Science comes out (somewhat unthinkingly, IMO) in favour of La Si and 2 oC.
* Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos

Divestment campaigns: Fight the power?

No, not Eli but The Economist. You’ll be unsurprised to learn that they have a somewhat different perspective, closer to mine, or perhaps vice versa.

They do some half-hearted “analysis” of the South Africa and Israel disinvestment campaigns, but really all they do is point at a couple of graphs and say “its hard to see anything here”; by the Economist’s standards, that’s rubbish. Some may like:

On the other hand, there is little evidence that ethical investing—or its close cousins, sustainable investment, environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies and corporate social responsibility (CSR)—diminish returns. A survey published in 2009 of academic papers that focused on CSR, including environmental measures, found a mildly positive correlation between the pursuit of socially responsible policies and financial performance. A more recent study by MSCI, an index firm, covered the period from February 2007 to March 2015; it found that investment portfolios with greater exposure to firms with high ESG ratings, or to firms that had recently increased their rating, performed better than the market as a whole.

And then we’re back on the idea of “stranded assets”:

Mercer contends, it will not be possible for energy companies to exploit all their known reserves: some will become “stranded assets”. The average annual returns from coal could fall by anywhere between 18% and 74% over the next 35 years…

As to whether disinvestment might work:

A second question is whether divestment will make any difference to firms’ behaviour. It is impossible to sell an energy company’s shares without a buyer, and the buyer will presumably care less about climate change. For the energy company, life may even get easier… 350.org’s divestment campaign in Britain, says raising the cost of capital isn’t really the point. The real aim is to deny energy companies the political, social and cultural backing to influence decisions on climate change… Energy producers have seen their share prices slide over the past year—but that is down to a lower oil price, rather than an environmental epiphany among investors. Ironically, the price slide has been driven by the emergence of fracking as a new source of oil: something green campaigners are dead against. But tougher regulations to stem climate change are also emerging. The battle for hearts and wallets, like the planet, is heating up.

I don’t have any deep thoughts on this, but I’m interested, which is why this post is mostly quotes.

Laudato Si versus the Ecomodernists

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This post was originally about Laudato Si. But it took ages to write, and then James wrote something incomprehensible [Update: CIP explains] which expressed some of the snark I was going to use; so I don’t need to do that bit. And then ATTP wrote yet another post about the Ecomodernists.

The bit where I agree with James

Mostly the bit where he says giving him too much credit risks much the same on the other side, e.g. when he makes his next reactionary outburst. I feel much the same way when, e.g., Prince Charles says something about the environment. And everyone who happens to agree with what he’s said that time all say “yay!” forgetting about all the talking to plants nonsense.

RC have a rather gushing post by Brigitte Knopf: a pioneering political analysis with great explosive power. Meh.

The other bits

Starting off reading Laudato Si I was all ready to be full of snark, because well he’s Da Pope. But fairly quickly I began to revise my opinions, because the whole thing is so obviously sincere. And rather than what I expected – a text heavily rewritten by multiple Vatican committees – I began to feel that the thing was indeed largely written by the said One Man. Although not just because of the tone; a committee would have been more coherent and careful and made fewer mistakes. So being sincere and noble is great; but it doesn’t make you right. And then my opinions swung back, because while he’s got much of the global warming stuff right – arguably, its not difficult, so he doesn’t get much credit for that – there’s a lot else wrong.

Plucking out a few bits

For example:

It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected… The alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests. Consequently the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented. Some countries are gradually making significant progress, developing more effective controls and working to combat corruption.

Notice the suspicion of technology: our politics are subject to technology and finance. That seems a rather odd diagnosis. I admit I’m somewhat pro-tech biased, but even so. The use of the word “finance” is odd too; I think that means “finance, as in the financial industry” aka banks, hedge funds, and so no; not “finance as in people with money”. In which case he’s wrong. Also the “working to combat corruption” doesn’t really make sense; yes there is some, but the reasons why say the US has never signed up to say Kyoto are not corruption; its because most US-ian people don’t want it.

There are flaws in the economics too. Timmy points out one; I’ll add A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand where its all “the markets” fault; not the firms selling the stuff, not the people buying the stuff, oh no, its all the fault of the vague amorphous markets.

So I wonders, yes I does Baggins, about the process of creation of this document. Clearly its about a variety of things most obviously Global Warming, and clearly they’ve had advice from, e.g., Schellnhuber. So on the science side, its mostly OK (despite oddities like these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space. Never mind, we don’t really need total precision). But it looks to me as though on the politics and economics side they’re suffering from the everyone knows how politics and economics works, we don’t need no steenkin experts fallacy. Continuing, economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain. I think this analysis is wrong, and I think it will mislead people, and I think it will prevent them finding solutions. This isn’t an easy problem; getting the analysis wrong will get in the way. Had he written economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to gain I wouldn’t have complained; except to note that most people are in favour of “gain”, broadly defined.

A variety of opinions

On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views. I quite like that. He’s not going to offer opinions on rather a lot of things.

Still, we can see signs that things are now reaching a breaking point, due to the rapid pace of change and degradation… but this one I disagree with, mostly. This is the “tipping points” mentality. I think its an attempt to short-circuit the debate: “look, we might fall off a cliff, act now!” But while it might be like that, there’s no good reason to think it is; more likely its a long slow slope downwards.

How much does all of this matter?

I don’t know. One way of trying to think about it is provided by Brian at Eli’s: What Catholic opinion on the death penalty tells you about the encyclical’s future effect.

Is there anything to be had from the comparison with the Heliocentrism affair from a while back? A facile “the church sometimes gets it wrong” isn’t very helpful. The church is nominally inspired by God, and therefore can’t afford to be blatantly wrong, much. Otherwise they look silly. Russell Seitz’s deja vue from Vatican too is interesting. So, they will move slowly and cautiously. But that means, if you believe that, the encyclical really is the result of considered caution, and is very unlikely to be substantially wrong (errm, other than about the economics, but as I’ve suggested that was probably an underthought).

All of this returns to the “how do you know what to believe on GW”? Dismissing what Da Pope said because he’s not a scientist is silly; any one scientist doesn’t know all the science, anyway, so would just be giving their own personal well-informed opinion. You don’t want any one scientists opinion; you want the careful reflection and summation of many thinking people’s opinions. We already have that: the IPCC reports. But if you start from the outside, you’re then at “how do I know I can trust the IPCC”? Since Da Pope is mostly giving the IPCC line, any one of the many Catholics who are prepared to trust Da Pope to have thought this through carefully and consulted appropriately now has a “source of trust” or whatever one calls it.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2, which Sou dismisses as “for the religious. I skipped over it. Lots of Jesus-speak etc.” is some attempt at philosophical underpinning. After all, Gen 1:28 says “and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” and so, as usual, the bible can be used to justify almost anything (and Da Pope provides Da Usual answer, “oh well yes some Christians say that and yes the bible does say that but “biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic” and so on).

Da Pope re-interprets this as human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations.

I don’t know what that is supposed to me, though. I think you could supply many different interpretations of the interpretation; the only definitive one is “when we said ‘dominion’ and ‘subdue’, we didn’t mean it”.

There’s also other living beings have a value of their own which is nice; unfortunately he follows on with in God’s eyes which I could have done without, but meh.

I also don’t know what The principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use, is a golden rule of social conduct and “the first principle of the whole ethical and social order” is supposed to mean. Clearly, its not a call for action; its more mood-music.

Some of it is clear bollox (does no-one copy-read this stuff?): Jesus lived in full harmony with creation, and others were amazed: “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” – in the story, the people are amazed at his power to command the winds and the sea. Not because he is in harmony with creation.

Chapter 3

I started to lose patience somewhere around here.

This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation… It can be said that many problems of today’s world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society.

WTF? the scientific method is a technique of possession, mastery and transformation – this is the kind of nonsense that the right-on sociologist types spout.

Contrast to Ecomodernism?

It becomes clear that The Man has a vision of mankind returning to smaller-scale life; its a vision, not any kind of coherent scheme:

In order to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which favours productive diversity and business creativity. For example, there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world’s peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing.

Increasingly, I read it as shaped – too much, for my atheist tastes – by the view that Man is arrogant because of separation from God, and the cure is Religion. I don’t mind the Pope believing that, but too much of the text is warped, subtly or otherwise, by that view.

And this starts to compare – unfavourably – with Ecomodernism, which happily comes to my notice as close to the inverse of this. They are proposing an intensification of cities, and a separation from Nature rather than closer integration with it. I added some comments to ATTP’s post, so I won’t repeat them all here, except to say that I’m not at all happy with the rather important energy section, and to quote the bit I quoted there as something I liked:

Intensifying many human activities — particularly farming, energy extraction, forestry, and settlement — so that they use less land and interfere less with the natural world is the key to decoupling human development from environmental impacts… Cities occupy just 1 to 3 percent of the Earth’s surface and yet are home to nearly four billion people. As such, cities both drive and symbolize the decoupling of humanity from nature, performing far better than rural economies in providing efficiently for material needs while reducing environmental impacts… These patterns suggest that humans are as likely to spare nature because it is not needed to meet their needs as they are to spare it for explicit aesthetic and spiritual reasons.

That wasn’t very coherent, was it?

No, sorry. I ended up with quite a few things to say but not the patience to shuffle them into a good order. Never mind, you can do that in your head.

If you’re wondering, the pic at the top is from the bottom of my garden, or nearly. I’ve got quite a lot of nature, and could probably do with a bit less. Some of its nice, though.

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Refs

* Laudato Si, Señor: mt.

Socialist flat-earthers must wake up to reality

Matthew Parris in the Times; an opinion piece. However, the headline is incidental (and rather odd, since the article is mostly directed at Conservatives), what I wanted was the text, irritatingly pay-walled:

parris

This vaguely chimes with recent discussions, especially about the wording of [[Climate change denial]] (and the fun over WUWT). It turns out that OxfordDictionaries.com offers a prominent denier of global warming as an example of its definition of denier, as someone who denies something, especially someone who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence.

I’m not entirely sure of the status of the idea that CCD (a) exists and (b) is discredited. (a) seems obvious; (b) perhaps ditto, but that will depend on where you stand. That (c) its so discredited as to join the list of things like creationism is of some interest.

Refs

* Climate denial undermines all science – 2010.

Cartoon

From this week’s Economist:

20150613_wwd000

Mays

spinning-post Arrr, the ol’ spinnin’ post, its seen a thing or two over the years. You could probably reconstruct the headship changes from its various colours. Last painted by Downing, when they went head in Lents in 2014; Caius were too cool to repaint it when they stayed head in Mays of that year, or re-took the Lents headship this year.

Sakata Eio, in “The Middle Game of Go” (volume 1, game 3) writes “we are going to examine the lost chances and the potential that existed for better and more interesting moves”. Which rather summarises these bumps; while exciting, they could have been even more exciting. Caius stayed head, but there was lots of action along the way.

The surprise of Day 1 was Downing, traditionally #2, going down to LMBC, traditionally #3. That happened about half way down the reach; I did a double-take when I saw it, it was so unexpected. They went down another two places, too, and were only saved from spoons by an error by F+T on Friday; but they weren’t rubbish; just not fast enough with the crews around them. Their women stay head comfortably, though.

Day 2 saw Downing go down to Pembroke, who gained attention as clearly a fast crew, who would get their chance at headship. And LMBC had their chance at Caius, but didn’t threaten them. That same video shows Pembroke quite distant at the Plough, perhaps 1.5 lengths; but they closed very quickly after that.

Clearly it would take Pembroke longer to catch Maggie than it had taken them to catch Downing; so imagine my disappointment when I’d carefully placed myself between the Plough and Ditton, only to watch Caius rowing over unchallenged with a vast gap behind; Pembroke had caught LMBC coming into grassy; presumably, they’d not had the heart to fight it out. That left me following Jesus, with F+T chasing Downing in the distance; that was where the action was but pushing past is considered rude. What you see is F+T stopping after they thought they’d bumped Downing, who row on unconvinced; it turns out they were right. Jesus rowed past the stationary F+T, not realising, and had to be told by the umpires “stop, you’ve bumped”. Which I thought a slight shame: what ought to have happened was F+T getting their chance at LMBC; because having Jesus bumped again by F+T would be dull. But…

Saturday was rainy, unlike the glorious weather of previous days. I opted to be naughty, but to salve my conscience: I’d cycle in the CaiusPembroke gap, but not naughtily film. Which was a good idea as despite the rain there were well over 4 bikes per crew (how odd) and the gap shrunk alarmingly, with Pembroke closing fast. By just before the Plough they were perhaps a canvas down when suddenly! They caught a crab [Update: better vid]. That’s not supposed to happen in M1. They restarted quickly but it was all over; Caius were back to 2 lengths. What we’ll never know is whether Pembroke had thrown everything at the start and had effectively blow up by the Plough; hence the crab. Or if they had more in them and could have mown down Caius. And just to prove me completely wrong, Jesus caught Downing.

caius-2015-day2

Shameless fanboi stuff, but its a great picture; from Thursday, when it was sunny. From QTy Photography.

Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Sockpuppet investigation block: aka Chase-Me and Grant Shapps

illusion Its all over bar the tidying up; see Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Sockpuppet investigation block/Proposed decision – which, somewhat confusingly, is the real decision. Chase-Me is stripped of all priv: CheckUser, Oversight and (once Arbcomm grew a spine) Sysop too. Oh, and independently, Contribsx is unblocked. See my prior post for context. The page I’ve linked to contain the “findings of fact” in this case; most of them are fairly self-explanatory, one that is worth pulling out is

Chase me ladies, I’m the Cavalry: Discrepancy in timeline: When asked about the timeline of events surrounding the block of the Contribsx account and the publication of the article in the Guardian, Chase me ladies, I’m the Cavalry struggled to provide an accurate timeline.

And if you don’t know how to read that, its saying he lied to people about what was going on. That’s essentially what I said in my last post: and you’ll see it if you look back on his statements: he made things up post-fact to fit his own personal view of events, and that didn’t usually correspond to reality.

Note that Arbcomm made no substantive findings about the connection between Contribsx and any person, because it isn’t possible to; that, after all, is part of the point. Note also that Arbcomm deliberately engineered the timing of the case to make sure that the result was published after the UK general election was over; I think that was cowardly of them.

Note also that Chase-Me (Richard Symonds) true crime, from the wiki point of view, was leaking non-public information that he had access to via checkuser. That right allows you to see things like (well, mostly) IP addresses of registered users, which is close to geolocation. And youre only given access to that information if you promise to use it only for The Good. And leaking it to the Graun is, oddly enough, not considered The Good (except by the not insubstantial minority whose logic works like: Grant Shapps is a Tory; therefore he had it coming; therefore anything done against him must be the Good).

What the papers say

This being wiki, there’s a section for the case in the upcoming edition of the Wikipedia Signpost with media coverage.

The Graun goes with Wikipedia volunteer faces reprimand over ‘Shapps account’ investigation which isn’t exactly accurate. Being de-CheckUsered, de=Oversighted, and de-Admined is a bit more than a reprimand. But the Graun has been fed with stuff from Chase-Me’s camp, so can’t be expected to be unbiased. They also win the not-a-prophet award for It looks unlikely that Symonds will be “desysoped” and lose all rights as an administrator on Wikipedia – though to be fair at one point the vote was 4-4; it was only when lots of people pointed out how unacceptable Chase-Me’s behaviour was that a couple swapped sides.

Auntie is more accurate, with Censure for Grant Shapps’ Wikipedia accuser. As to the rest, its about right.

Amusingly, the Guido fawkes blog, which reported the Arbcomm decision first, has been accused of puffing its own stuff on wiki too.

Late updates

2015 / 08 / 19: El Rego says “Wikipedia turns to Shapps and says ‘those emails you wanted, we deleted them, sorry’”. Maybe; but this is Orlowski. Via JW‘s talk page.

Odd

Which is the odd one out?

odd

(from the Graun).

[Update: and the answer is, the one on the far left, because it isn’t odd; as most people answered, with varying degrees of formality.]

[Update, from the comments, CR offers us a rather easier “spot the odd one out”:]