Saturday, April 18, 2009

Miranda Devine, Climate Change, Footnotes, Doomsaying and the end of the world as we know it

(Above: Broken Hill, safest place on the planet to discover that global warming isn't real, and also a neat location for anyone wishing to replicate the scenery in Mad Max 2, an apocalyptic road warrior movie about a post gasoline world).

Where Paul Sheehan, columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald treads, can Miranda the Devine, columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald be far behind?

It's remarkable really that the proprietors of the rag think that an unalloyed diet of right wing commentariat loonery sells, but mabye they're right - this blog recently had more hits than it did in six months of covering Michael Duffy (come back Duffster, all is forgiven) when taking a look at the remarkable illogicality of Paul Sheehan's review of Dr. Ian Plimer's new book Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: the Missing Science - though hardened readers who remembered his infamous, instant conversion to magic water (an ecstasy quickly disproved) might not be so surprised.

And please don't write advising me just to review the book in question. This site is about loon columnists and we reserve the right to write about their loonacy without worrying about their primary sources. That's why we can write about Cardinal Pell's condom lunacy without doing an intricate study of the bible, two thousand years of Catholic theology and a comparative study of every study of condom use in the past one hundred years (not to mention human sexuality and the possible truth of heaven and hell).

Yep, Miranda the Devine, festooned with science degrees, and expert in every area of human knowledge - as required by Dr Ian Plimer to write anything sensible about climate change - offers up a standard plate of climate change denying ranting in Planet doomsayers need a cold shower.

Actually it's the right wing columnists who need a cold shower, especially when they think that someone capable of writing a book crammed with 2,311 footnotes is somehow more compelling than a book with none.

What is it with this factoid footnote thing? (Memo to self, must deploy footnotes throughout blog as a way of disarming attacks from loons. But wait, what if they answer with more footnotes? And then it's a footnote war? And the one with the most footnotes wins? Never mind the quality, feel the width of the footnotes. Maybe ten or even twelve inches of thrusting footnotes).

Funnily enough, the devices deployed by climate warming deniers are much the same as the doomsayers they affect to despise.

At a time when the planet is contemplating increasing its population from six billion to nine billion plus, it seems some people think we can go on using resources like a drunk billionaire on a consumerist, greed is good, growth is essential, path to happiness.

Yep, the end of the world is coming, but it's all the fault of the greenies (what's that you say, the greenies didn't start that fire in Victoria that killed all those people, it was a pyromaniac with a bushfire fighting affiliation. Nonsense, I'm not printing that kind of scuttlebutt here).

Those power outages in Sydney lately will be just a small taste of things to come. The consequences are everywhere, with cost of living surges ultimately borne by individuals.

Say what? But I thought that the power outages were produced by a loon with a back hoe, and an inept supervison and maintenance program by the energy powers that be. You mean greenies produced that kind of disaster? The fiends. Handing out back hoes to cable layers so indiscriminately. They should be flogged with lettuce.

So in the end, what does Miranda the Devine have to say that is actually scientifically based, and genuinely informative? Given she has in her hands a book with 2311 footnotes? Well nothing really. She just plays the personality card.

Quoting Ian Plimer, she asserts that the crucial chapter five of the IPCC's 2007 report is based on just five scientists. These hacks, who've no doubt been rorting academia and the public funding system to lead comfortably bloated lives, all trapped in an Orwellian mind set that says greenies good, carbon bad, bear no resemblance to Plimer:

Plimer, 62, has spent much of his life working in Broken Hill, in the real world of rocks and soil, far enough from the social pressure of academia to think for himself.

Such independent scientific dissenters have been demonised, their evidence marginalised, as climate change has become a quasi-relgious belief. But you cannot stop one side from debating what is the biggest policy decision of our era.

But hang on, last I checked Plimer was still a professor of geology at the University of Adelaide, and when not writing a book attacking creationists, he's found time to write a book on climate change in which he's had a chance to lead with his best shots. How is this demonising a dissenter? Why does the debate always have to turn on allegations of quasi-religious belief?

Precisely what has belief got to do with it? I don't believe in climate change per se, I don't believe in scientists as heroic lonely dissenters, for that matter I don't believe in cold showers, Cardinal Pell or the Holy Roman Church. Talk of religion is a cheap subtefuge, a nonsense, a convenient branding.

That's where passionate loons who rabbit on about climate change, and find endless ways to disprove it - with a fervor some atheists find to debate the church, and the church finds to deride atheists - are actually in the grip of loonery, not science.

One way or another, the science will out in the end. Things will get worse, or things will get better. Whatever, I'll be long gone, and don't much mind if the seas rise a half metre by 2090. Maybe my grandchildren will inherit my dream of a beach side suburb in the inner west.

But if you wanted a prediction, if there's nine billion people on the planet by the middle of this century, climate change or no (and nobody seems to mention the effects an extra three billion people might have in their scientific projections), I'd be betting on things being worse rather than better. Pity I won't be around to collect on the bet, but I'm sure there will be some around to spend my winnings. Whether they're pleased will be up to them.

Meantdime, if things get better, whoopy do, though it hasn't been exactly the finest decade with which to start a new century. If it gets worse, forget it, I'm out of here. I hear Mars has a temperate climate ...

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