We Don’t Need a ‘War’ on Climate Change, We Need a Revolution?

Way to go, lefties. Via ATTP on Twitter I find Eric S. Godoy and Aaron Jaffe in the Op-Eds of the NYT1. I think it popped up because of Marx thought of the human body as part of the natural world and called nature an extension of our bodies. Following Marx, contemporary theorists like… and if you’re trying to alienate the right wing – and indeed, almost everyone – invoking Marx is an excellent way of doing it2.

The ostensible theme of the article – that it might be better to think of climate change in terms of “revolution” rather than “war” – I find uninteresting. The bit worth commenting on is perhaps best summed up by their summing up:

In this light, Exxon and its climate science obfuscation is not so much an enemy as a paradigmatic symptom of the worst kinds of behavior generated by profit-driven systems. The enemy is the violence perpetrated by racial, gendered, political, juridical and existing economic metabolisms with nature. Their exploitative organizations would remain unconcerned with climate justice even if the nation were mobilized to mass produce solar panels and wind turbines. In other words, Climate change demands not only a race to develop and deploy new energy technologies, but a revolution to democratize all forms of power — fossil fuels, wind, solar, but most important, economic and political power.

So – perhaps via Climate science identifies the problem – it can’t tell us what to do in response? – there are two4 (have I said this before? It is sounding awfully familiar in my mind. Perhaps I’ve just thought it a lot) contrasting approaches to “solving” Global Warming:

1. Revolution! As exemplified near-perfectly by the above. Capitalists are evil but not only that, our entire society is riddled with violence perpetrated by just about anyone you can think of, except for the Marxists of course. Any solution that leaves people or organisations “unconcerned with climate justice” in unacceptable, regardless of it’s actual effects on climate.
2. Just slap on a carbon tax.

Approach number 1 appeals very strongly to all those people who, for whatever reason, don’t like our society anyway. Or who like it, but can see ways that it could be so much better if they and their nice friends were in charge. As a way of actually solving GW it is a disaster area of course, since it will alienate large numbers of people you need to convinced. If you’re of the Marxist persuasion this is no great problem: you’re writing from an ivory tower, it is all more of an intellectual exercise in speculative world-building, and your life has no real problems to solve anyway other than finding outlets for your wurblings. Plus, of course, it is “your sort” of solution. people like solutions that are within their domain of expertise. Pols like solutions that involve negotiating and talking. Teachers in the department of social science and cultural studies like solutions that involve interesting social and cultural change. None of these people have much of a clue about economics, so the last thing they want is a solution mediated by expertise other than their own, that they don’t really understand, and which if adopted would diminish their ability to write Op-Eds in the NYT.

Approach number 2, alas, appeals to all too few people. Those on the left can’t quite bring themselves to abandon option 1, and those on the right are so busy being riled by people pushing option 1 that they have the perfect excuse not to settle down quietly and think about option 2.

I find I’ve written a rather more cynical and bleak article than I intended.


1. And I quote: Eric S. Godoy teaches in the department of social science and cultural studies at the Pratt Institute. Aaron Jaffe is an assistant professor of philosophy and liberal arts at The Juilliard School. This is not promising.

2. Ooooh, even better: “Perhaps, as some have suggested, “revolution” is the better path.” And the link is to http://monthlyreview.org/product/marxs_ecology/. I am, BTW, largely ignorant of Marx – and intend to stay that way, please don’t bother to try to “educate” me – so I’m prepared to believe he might have said some sensible things. But if you find yourself tempted to say that, you’ve missed the point.

3. I think the stuff about “the poor” is confused, too. “…refers to the world’s poor, who have contributed only a small amount of the total greenhouse gases while richer countries produce higher carbon emissions… solar panels won’t purify Flint’s lead-ridden water or lower asthma rates in the Bronx”. But essentially no-one in the USA is amongst the poor, as measured by world-grade poverty. The two need to be clearly distinguished.

4. Or these are two ends of the spectrum. Or something. Don’t push me too hard on this one.


* The same issue, but in much milder form, comes up in 70% of US CO2 Reduction Due Simply to Cheaper Natural Gas at QS

Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy?

14731101_535255256670799_1911893192673262644_n It seems a shame to be not discussing the greatest political scandal of the age wasting clickbait: Exposed: How top university helped secure £9million of YOUR money by passing off rivals’ research as its own… to bankroll climate change agenda. That is by David Rose, who is an idiot1, in the Daily Fail, which is a stereotypically unreliable source.

You can, of course, discuss it in the usual swamps – and I see ATTP, who has a strong stomach, has. However it seems to have been curiously uninteresting to the folk in White Hats; I wonder why that is? Possibly because it is a stormette in a teacup. Let’s see.

This was drawn to my attention in a comment on Pootinism by Joe Blow, who asked:

Any comments on Nick Stern’s organization defrauding UK taxpayers by claiming to have done research they never did?


[It would be nice to have a less biased report of the problem; its hard to tell from that. The situation is (I think) that whenever you have a grant renewal you have to push to your funding body evidence of the work you’ve done; so everyone is expected to puff up their paper count. It is often hard to tell whether a given paper was funded by a given grant or not, and it appears that they’ve got rather casual about pushing the line past the blurred point -W]

And I’ve inlined the reply I gave there. I was kinda waiting to see if this story would escape the denialosphere, and it doesn’t look like it has (anyone got any evidence otherwise?); so maybe I’m doing no one any favours by reporting it here.

There’s now a response available. That adds some info but also reinforces my feeling that this is all very much like the question of peer review – or indeed science in general: that outsiders just don’t understand it2.

The publications list in question is here. The paper about which most controversy has swirled is “*Anthoff, D., C. Hepburn and R. S. J. Tol (2009). “Equity weighting and the marginal damage costs of climate change.” Ecological Economics 68(3): 836-849.”, with the Fail reporting RT as saying It is serious misconduct to claim credit for a paper you haven’t supported, and it’s fraud to use that in a bid to renew a grant. I’ve never come across anything like it before. It stinks. What the Fail, and RT, appear to have missed is that “*Anthoff” is a very strange name, stranger even that ‘t Hooft. But wait: perhaps there is an explanation for the “*”? Oh, yes, there is: hidden right at the top of the list where you might have hoped that even the hard of understanding might find it is

*= Produced under the auspices of CCCEP, but without any ESRC funding

That appears to destroy most of the huffery-puffery. Not all; because there’s some question about the publication date – 2008 versus 2009 – and ATTP in a comment following Joe Blow’s produces a plausible explanation for the error.


1. In BEST is fun I call Rose “full of lies” and point you at http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/global_warming/rosegate_1/ for proof. But the bloody thing has moved. To… oh yes: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/category/global_warming/rosegate_1/. In a comment on What shall we tell the children? I say “that Montford or Rose is a twat seems neither controversial or interesting”. Will that do?

2. Another excellent example of something that outsiders don’t understand is wikipedia. More generally, I guess outsiders rarely understand anything.

Morning mist rolls over cliffs at West Bay

Found via the Beeb but also available from Youtube. Lovely.


* Applications are invited for an artist to join HMS Protector for a three to four week placement during the Antarctic summer season (January to April 2017, precise dates TBC). The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work as the resident artist on board HMS Protector.
* ASICS GREATER MANCHESTER MARATHON IN TRAFFORD APRIL 2ND 2017. A bit shouty but I’ve entered anyway.
* All Brexit arguments settled by 0.5 per cent third-quarter growth



Oh FFS, more politics? Still no science? Sorry, but yes. The Economist doesn’t like Putin, or rather what he’s doing to Russia, and who could disagree with them. Certainly not me. The Commies themselves do, as you’d hope. I think the Economist is basically right: Putin and Russia are weak and flailing and dangerous because of that; much like (as they don’t say) North Korea. Foundation and Empire, part II refers as does Foundation and Empire.

Vaguely connected to science, or at least the debate around it, it is nice to think that only two years ago I was vaguely relevant. And I liked Eli’s chart of the year. On sea ice, Tamino points out that the annual mean for this year may well be a record, since although the September min was unimpressive it was low early and now late. A thing to watch.

Meanwhile in other news, on mt watch on Twitter (I hate f*ck*ng Twitter it is such a rubbish medium and so hard to link to that I’m forced to screen shot it, how awful is that?) I find:


That seems like a change of views on mt’s part to me. A welcome one, because I too think that (a) growth isn’t built into capitalism, and (b) it needs tweaking not replacing.

Less interestingly ATTP is still on Tolwatch, this time about cliscep.com. But I don’t think I’ll follow him.


* Why I support Hillary Clinton – 3. Trust
* Washington’s Carbon Tax Initiative Splits Idiot Greens – spot my addition
* Immigration Makes Us All Richer – So The IMF Says And They’re Right – Timmy
* The Trump and Clinton campaigns finally had a substantive climate debate

Brexit means Brexit?

Post-referendum thoughts, and indeed Say no to Brexit refer. But so do Timmy’s NO, DON’T LET MPS HAVE A VOTE ON BREXIT (Timmy is very shouty, as you’d expect) and The Brexit Conundrum – Freedom Of Movement Means Only Hard, Or Clean, Brexit Is Possible (so perhaps it is the ASI that is shouty. Well, you know what they’re like).

Before we get into all the messy and unpleasant politics, here’s a picture.


Chamois against the Pelvoux, seen from where the glacier Jean Gauthier used to be. You should see my close-up of a marmotte. Anyway, onwards.

[Far too late update: I’ve now added the question mark to the post title that should have been there all along. Just to make clear that I don’t agree with our idiot pols, in case that was in doubt.]

The issue: we know that “Brexit means Brexit” – which is to say, the vote to leave was a vote to leave, so we have to leave something, but what that actually means is up for grabs. And naturally, therefore, any number of pols and the intelligensia are grabbing it as hard as they can. If you’re an MP, but not in the cabinet, then your natural method of grabbing is to assert that MPs must have a vote on whatever. If you’re in the cabinet, or still better the PM1, your method of grabbing is to say that MPs won’t get a say. Anyone telling you this is a matter of principle is lying.

regret Another part of the grabbing is “regret”. If enough people come to believe that enough “leavers” regret what they did, then maybe we can ignore them. The trouble is that the number is rather small – 6% according to the Economist. yes I know that technically if those 6% switched sides the result would be the other way but they didn’t so that doesn’t matter; what matters is that most haven’t changed their minds. Actually I’m surprised by how few have changed.

We need to “negotiate” the terms and conditions of our exit. Our continental partners have declined to negotiate before article 50 is invoked. I’m not entirely sure why; probably a stroke of idiot cunning. But what it means is that all the initial conversation is occurring here, uninfluenced by them very much, except for some megaphone diplomacy. The main element of which appears to be “you accept free movement or you get nothing”.

And this is where the up-for-grabs bit comes in. We can’t ask 52% of the population what they actually meant by “Brexit”. Therefore whoever is in charge gets to interpret it as they see fit. And not entirely implausibly, however much I might disagree with it myself, what they’re saying is “not free movement”. Which means, unless them on the continent change their minds at some point – tricky, because they aren’t talking to us, by their choice – we’ll end up with “oh all right then, no deal at all”. That – interpreted as unilateral free trade – is exactly what Timmy wants, and what I think I’d choose, if Brexit really means Brexit means no-free-movement. I have a terrible feeling, though, that as a solution it is far too simple for our idiot pols; it doesn’t leave enough pies for their sticky fingers; it requires too much bravery. So we’re more likely to end up with a worse-of-both-words scenario. I sound more like my father-in-law every day.

The nominal opposition, the Labour party, have 170 questions for the govt about all this. But I ask you: 170 questions? That’s not sensible. It makes me think of either the “why why why” of a whiney child, the endless “I don’t believe you” of a GW denier, or what I imagine the agenda of the Marxist-Leninist committee meeting might be like. I didn’t read them. But if I read the start I find “This is the list of 170 questions – one for each day before Theresa May’s self-imposed deadline to start the process for leaving the EU” which makes it perfectly clear that the 170 reflects politics not anything real.

And as a reward for reading all that, here’s another one. This is the remains of the Glacier du Monetier.



1. In my current opinion, Theresa May is shaping up to be a bad PM: anti free trade and over regulatory, Little Englandish. Better than Trump, obviously, because she isn’t actually a baboon. Better than Hillary, probably (could I defend that?). But bad.


* MPs to debate massive disaster then do it anyway
* Foreign policy ‘entirely based on 70s war comics’
* The Shortage Of Tech Jobs Is A Joy Of The Tech Revolution, Not A Problem With It
* A little light relief from Twitter, via Paul.
* UK Government Wins Brexit Court Challenge – Pound Falls And FTSE 100 Rises
* Charlemagne: If the EU cannot do trade, what can it do? The CETA debacle heralds the age of “vetocracy”
* Oct 2016: People still want to ignore the referendum and let MPs reject it. At the moment, I don’t think it will fly. There needs to be much better evidence that people have changed their minds.
* Britain Simply Isn’t Going To Have A WTO Problem Post-Brexit – Timmy, of course.
* Brexit to require parliamentary approval in setback for Theresa May says the Graun.
* Tariffs Did NOT Fuel American Economic Growth – Cafe Hayek.