Category Archives: Climate Change

Private Eye frack themselves – again!

Private Eye  is always a good read, and for decades has cast its pen dipped in hydrofluoric acid on so many issues.  Its comment is always amusing and usually pertinent.

However, when they dabble in fracking they get fracked. Probably the reason is that they look to a persuasive experts, whose credentials are more in bullshit than anything else.

Here is their latest from May 2017. It is all very convincing but Ken’s letter to Private Eye eviscerates it. I will let him speak………..

 

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Ken wrote to Private Eye

I just sent this to Private Eye.

‘Old Sparky’ who writes the ‘Keeping the Lights on’ column has been following the line of BS from the antifrackers. I was a bit surprised by what Old Sparky wrote about shale gas production. He seems to have swallowed some of the fake news from antifrackers.

I write this as I wrote the complaint which challenged the claims of Friends of the Earth last January. FoE were unable to sustain their claims about water pollution, health effects, asthma. See I am a retired, totally independent 12 years experienced oil rig engineer who, like Strobes, dislikes bullshit. The antifracking movement is entirely founded on bullshit.

So the Tories plan to reduce the regulatory hoop jumping? Why should ill informed people be able to pass comment on technical issues that occur underground?There is no evidence that the proposed fracking system will cause any problems, and 1 million wells in the US with not a single proven case of water pollution or health effect should indicate its intrinsic safety. There are however possible pollution paths from surface spills, and the regs in the UK block all of those potential leak paths. They do not need inspection.

Like any other industry, if the regulations say that you have to use a fluid particular system, then thats what you have to use. How many personal inspections does that need? In fact on previous wells there have been drop in visits by the HSE and Environment Agency, though Old Sparky’s ill informed ‘advisers’ will doubtless claim different. (I have never voted Tory BTW and hate Mrs May and Brexit!) Planning docs run to hundreds of pages will all techniques, chemicals etc exposed to public scrutiny. The regulations are here and here All of these would still be required, its just that the years that it takes to drill a perfectly safe well would be bypassed. The wells would still need to follow planning law, and comment on location/truck movements/etc are still in place. The Lancashire vote against permission was taken against legal advice, by councillors who were not competent to pass comment on the technical issues. These issues had already been dealt with by the expert Planning Dept who recommended approval. So the Tories are ‘gung ho’? Why not, for something that could be a massive revenue earner, with minimal intrusion on the beauty of the countryside? (I have visited the proposed Yorkshire frack site, its almost invisible, like the 100 wells in posh Poole Harbour…) Recently protestors tried in Pickering tried to block access to a well, and they couldnt find it! 😅

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An aside from MR; Here’s a well in Lancashire clearly visible from the road

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Somehow the shale gas debate has been highjacked by fake reports of health impacts, financed by many anti fossil fuel organisations, yet there is not a single lawsuit in the most litigious country in the world. Claims of cancer/asthma are dismissed by experts, and extensive research into water pollution has revealed no cases of pollution but still the antis go on about it. In the UK carcinogens, and toxic chemicals are forbidden by UK and EU law, but that doesnt stop people claiming they will be used. Please feel free to contact me for a more sober view on what all of the expert engineering and geological groups say is a low risk technology. I expect Strobes to be able to get to the truth, rather than the bullshit surrounding these matters. The truth in this case is rather boring. Shale gas is a low risk activity. Ask the Royal Academy of Engineering, or the BGS.

Vivienne Westwood fracks the Archbishop of Canterbury

Well , well, well, Dame Vivienne Westwood is chastising the Church of England for their report on Fracking chaired by the Bishop of Salisbury

This is hilarious in many ways and shows the folly of those opposing fracking, especially dress-designers.

Cuadrilla

An earlier set of false claims about fracking from Westwood and Talk Fracking

 

frackedbaby

This is what she thinks fracking will do to babies.

The Church’s report is remarkably good and thorough. Her claims of being flawed are simply daft. She tries to rubbish the excellent Mackay/Stone report as it didn’t use Howarth’s 2011 paper on fugitive methane. Two points, the late sir David Mackay was one of Britain’s best experts on energy and his early death is a great loss. Howarth’s paper was simply dodgy and gave way-out results which cannot be reproduced.

In other words, her report is utter nonsense

I hope no one in the churches are silly enough to go along with Westwood, but on past form I suspect some of the churches’ Green experts will agree with her.

http://createsend.com/t/d-29A4A6A6C3A0FD1B

Church and State Used Flawed Data for Fracking Report

Dear ,

Dame Vivienne Westwood and The Grim Reaper visited the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury to deliver our damning new report proving fracking could be considerably worse than coal in terms of its effect on climate change.

The report completely undermines the Conservative manifesto and the Church of England’s report in support for hydraulic fracturing. Our report compiles peer-reviewed studies which prove that the MacKay-Stone report, which the government depended on to support their case for fracking, is fatally flawed and riddled with false data. MacKay-Stone did not disclose any of their industry associations and only utilised biased industry directed samples.

Is Fracking Worse than Coal?

Our report shows that the government was evidently misled and in turn continued to mislead parliament and the public with the findings of the MacKay-Stone report. Furthermore, this evidence now suggests that shale oil and gas extraction could be considerably worse than coal in terms of its effects on climate change and global warming.

The environmental impact of shale gas extraction is proven to be 300-400 times higher than reported in the MacKay-Stone report. In the MacKay-Stone report, the figure for leakage calculation was only half what it should have been. The figure for gas production is twice what it should have been. Additionally, MacKay-Stone deliberately excluded the figures in the Howarth study (2011) from their final calculations to support their own findings.

Conservative’s Shale Manifesto Left in Tatters

Our report completely undermines the Conservative party’s policies in support of shale oil and gas extraction. May’s manifesto does a complete u-turn on their promise to give communities a voice in deciding whether or not fracking happens in their local area. The Conservatives would allow drill sites they consider as “non-fracking”, to be authorised as ‘permitted development’, bypassing the same scrutiny and regulations of fracking applications.

The Church & the Flawed MacKay-Stone Report

The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, and the Environment Working Group chaired by the Bishop of Salisbury, stunned Christians nationwide in January 2017 when it said that fracking was “morally acceptable” because it replaced “dirtier energy”, meaning coal.  The Church also quoted MacKay-Stone in its ‘Briefing Paper on Shale Gas and Fracking’.

The Church owns 100,000 acres of farmland and has already allowed energy company Aurora to carry out seismic surveys to assess shale gas potential on land near Ormskirk, Lancashire.

Vivienne vs The Church of England

Dame Vivienne Westwood wrote to The Archbishop of Canterbury on 18th May 2017 expressing her concerns over our new found evidence.  A representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury responded saying “shale gas should not be ruled out”, criticised the report’s author for his findings despite our report being a compilation of peer-reviewed science.

The Church conceded however, that if new research comes to light, it will be open to changing its position.  Dame Westwood hit back pointing out that the Allen report, cited by McKay-Stone, uses a faulty Baccharach sensor that has a serious design fault which causes the machine to significantly under report methane emissions.

Is this the Final Nail in the Coffin for Fracking?

MacKay-Stone said fracking would help the UK transition to a renewable energy future whilst helping us reach our climate change reduction targets. However, our report proves that using this method of extreme energy extraction will completely blow out our climate change targets under the COP21 agreement which 195 countries signed included the UK and would send us on a backward course.

This also completely contradicts the aims of The Climate Change Act 2008. If we don’t stop fracking, we will never meet our agreed climate change targets.

Find out more at talkfracking.org  Read report in full

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Teaching critical thinking to combat fake news and bullshit: You have to start young

This road sign sums it up!!

Within science there is fakescience from the left and right, not only rejection of global warming , but creationism, fracking ‘elth studies, and the usual anti-GMO, anti-vaxxer, pro-organic garbage

Thanks to social media, fake news, conspiracy theories, and health scams spread faster and farther than ever. The world is in need of critical thinking skills now more than ever. Fortunately, there…

Source: Teaching critical thinking to combat fake news and bullshit: You have to start young

Labour MP Natascha Engel’s Views on Fracking

With the Labour Party being anti-fracking  ( and by implication in favour of importing higher GHG emission fracked gas from the USA) , here are some wise comments on fracking from a Labour MP in Derbyshire.There is little to disagree with her apart from quibbles.

Congratulations to her and a pity that more aren’t as rigorous.

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Source: Natascha Engel’s Views on Fracking

 

Natascha Engel’s Views on Fracking

With the calling of the snap General Election, I wanted to try and set out in detail my position on fracking as a whole and the INEOS application for an exploratory well at Bramleymoor Farm in Marsh Lane in particular.

These are my own personal views which I have arrived at after a great deal of research. These views are not shared by the Labour Party nor local Labour councillors.

There has been a lot of pressure with the general election on June 8 for me to campaign to ban fracking. It would have been an easy campaign to justify and may well be a vote-winner. But those of you who know me also know that I stand by my principles and would never campaign for something I don’t believe in. I have always put my constituents’ well-being above all else and would never support anything that I thought was unsafe.

Since hearing of the possibility of fracking in North East Derbyshire, like many of you, I have immersed myself in the subject. I have read reports and talked to campaigners against fracking, the industry, experts, and academics on shale, geology and energy.

I have had several meetings with the Energy Minister who is responsible for shale to discuss my concerns and spent much of Easter travelling around North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire looking at the sites where fracking is due to take place as well as some of the existing oil and gas wells that are dotted around the country.

 MY CONCERNS

Lorry movements: My chief concern about the Bramleymoor Farm application is lorry movements. The route through Coal Aston will need to be looked at again both for residential parking, safety for people on pavements, traffic blackspots like at Snowdon Lane, HGVs managing the little roundabout towards the petrol station and garden centres. I am also worried about the number of lorries and the times of day they will be passing through.

Proximity to housing: I have also been talking to INEOS about how close the site is to the nearest residential houses and how noise and light pollution can best be reduced and kept to a minimum to make sure that those people who are worst affected are best compensated.

 PLANNING PROCESS

The government regards shale as an important potential industry and they are keen to see if there is enough of the right sort of shale in the UK to make it viable. If it comes off in the amounts that they hope, then this would lead to a huge tax take for them – in fact the government hopes that it will go some way to funding health and social care.

This means that the government has gone a long way to make sure that shale exploration will take place. They have done two things. They have made the planning framework for a shale application far more rigorous than any other conventional oil and gas application, but, once those planning requirements have been met, then if a council rejects an application it is called in by the Secretary of State who will almost certainly overturn the decision.

 DISRUPTION, SAFETY, HEALTH AND HOUSE PRICES

I know how upset and worried some people are about fracking especially about health, safety, house prices and security. From visiting sites, speaking to engineers and public health experts, I have not heard, seen or read anything that convinces me that shale exploration is any more or less safe than conventional oil and gas drilling.

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a technique that has been used since the late 1940s to extract conventional oil and gas. We have had thousands of onshore oil and gas wells drilled over the decades (some of which have been fracked) and currently have over 200 wells around the country pumping quietly away with little or no concern to local residents.

There will, without a doubt, be significant disruption during the building phase of a shale site during the clearing, rig building and initial fracking phases, and there will be more than usual heavy lorry movements carrying water and aggregate. This is the part of the development that I have most concerns about and is the subject that I am in close communication with INEOS on.

But the disruption caused by the building and drilling phase is the same as with any large build project, whether it’s industrial, a new school or a new supermarket – and in the case of a supermarket, the increased lorry movements will continue throughout the life-time of the supermarket and there will be no compensation paid to locally-affected residents.

 THE WATER TABLE AND OLD MINESHAFTS

The other real concern that people have raised is over the water table, drinking water and the potential risk to disused pits and mineshafts. Again, this is something that we have to keep a close eye on but the regulations covering fracking are extremely tight and the planning conditions have been strengthened over the years.

It means that 3D seismic testing has to take place to find fault-lines or disused mineshafts before anyone can frack, and baseline testing has to have been carried out a year before fracking happens so that any changes in the soil, water or air are immediately noticed and drilling is stopped. These conditions are far more rigorous than any conditions the construction industry has to meet.

From what I have seen, the independent engineers I have spoken to at the Royal Society for Civil Engineers and the British Geological Survey, the casing of a shale pipe through the water table has to be three steel tubes, each injected with a layer of cement. The chance of any contamination of the water table from shale extraction in this country is almost impossible.

 RELIABLE INFORMATION

One of the biggest problems about shale exploration that I came across was that no-one knows where to get trustworthy advice or facts about fracking – what it actually entails and what the risks are. There is a lot of information on the internet and much of it is either not relevant to the UK or just plain scaremongering.

There is the industry on the one side which people don’t trust because they have a vested financial interest in downplaying any risks, and on the other side are the green campaign groups for whom anti-fracking campaigns have seen an enormous boost in donations and membership. They have a different agenda which is to see the country de-industrialise.

 PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

I totally agree with the green campaigners who make the case for more investment in renewables and winding down our reliance on fossil fuels. We should be doing far more to encourage wind, solar and water energy generation as well as putting more money into researching carbon capture and storage.

But spreading scare stories for which there is no reliable evidence about increases in cancer rates and low-birth-weight babies is unforgiveable. I have not seen credible evidence to support this and it should have no place in the debate about energy, climate change and shale.

While I agree that we should do all we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, I do not believe in de-industrialisation. Most people (including me) want to come home after work, switch on the lights, turn on the heating, run a hot bath and cook meals on their hobs.

Most people would rather pay less for utility bills and many people are also concerned for the environment and would rather have less pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

But the fact is that at the moment only 7% of the energy we use comes from renewables such as wind and solar. The rest comes from gas and oil. A decreasing amount comes from our domestic wells in the North Sea, but increasingly we are importing shale gas from America and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) from Qatar. As we become more reliant on imports, we can expect our energy bills to rise even higher.

And if our concern is reducing global greenhouse gas emissions then we ought to start calculating the real carbon footprint of importing oil and gas. We know working conditions are bordering on slavery in Qatar and health and safety regulations are almost non-existent with spillages, accidents and gas escaping into the atmosphere commonplace.

Once the gas is captured, it has to be frozen to liquefy it and put onto hugelypolluting diesel ships to transport to the UK where it is re-gassified and pumped into our domestic network. Each of those steps has a very large carbon footprint which would be avoided if we took shale out of the ground here.

From a green perspective, investment in renewables is essential. But gas will still have a role to play for the foreseeable future and we might as well make it as low-carbon as we can, controlling it better, and getting our domestic energy prices down. This will be especially important after Brexit.

 JOBS AND INDUSTRY

Energy is something which Derbyshire is expert in with its proud coal mining history and mineral richness. It seems that beneath our feet could be another large-scale manufacturing industry that is nowhere near as dangerous as sending people down deep mines. If the shale industry develops in the UK, it would use some of the most advanced civil and petro-chemical engineering technologies in the world and could create a whole new generation of jobs for our children and grandchildren.

In Danesmoor near Clay Cross, we already have the country’s best rig-building company being used by the industry all over the country. They are struggling at the moment with protesters chaining themselves to the factory gates. But if this industry comes off, we could see a massive expansion creating many more jobs in Danesmoor alone.

If, on the other hand, we allow the protesters to stop the company from supplying rigs, the opposite will happen. The jobs that exist in Danesmoor today will not be there tomorrow.

As a former trade union organiser, I am proud that the UK has the strictest Health and Safety regulations in the world. It means that the kind of gung-ho drilling and spillages that have happened in America are simply not allowed to happen here.

Our planning regime is extremely rigorous and our environmental laws so tight that the industry is constantly complaining about the hoops through which they have to jump. Quite right too. This, of course, does not mean that accidents can’t happen. It just means that the risk is minimal and the penalties great.

 MINIMISING RISKS

I appreciate that people ask why they have to put up with the disruption. We should look carefully at every application to make sure that drilling and fracking happens away from homes and in the remotest places with the least disruption possible. We should certainly not have wells covering every inch of our beautiful countryside.

Many people say that even a small risk is a risk too far. If this is how we lived our lives, we would have no development of any kind. It is about making sure any development is safe. We need an army of inspectors and environmental protection officers to keep a careful and constant eye on the industry to keep it safe.

I am not against fracking as long as the industry stays highly regulated and controlled. If taking shale out of the ground in the UK means that we have fewer greenhouse gas emissions, that we can control our own energy and get prices down because we are not importing it, if it creates a whole new industry with good jobs, if it is good for Derbyshire, then I support it.

Our next step has to be setting up a strong Community Liaison Group to negotiate with INEOS on lorry routes and times, on making sure that noise and light pollution are kept to a minimum and that individuals and the community are properly compensated.

Marsh Lane and Apperknowle need a bus service to Sheffield and Chesterfield. Let’s see if we can get a shale bus from the industry. And if fracking does actually happen, let’s ask for free energy for all homes within a certain radius. That would increase house prices and certainly reduce bills. Let’s see if INEOS can work with Eckington School (which has an engineering specialism), or pay for local people to train as lorry drivers.

If shale exploration is going to happen, let’s make sure that we get the most out of it.

I hope this will start a proper debate on shale exploration in which everyone can raise their issues and concerns. It has been very one-sided until now so I am looking forward to hearing your views on this and everything else!

All good wishes as always

NATASCHA ENGEL

Labour Party Parliamentary candidate

tel: 01246 439121 twitter: @nengel2017 email:natascha_engel@labour.org.uk

The folly of Christian Climate Action

 

One of the most extreme Christian Greenie groups is Christian Climate Action.

Thy organise protests like whitewashing slogans on the DECC building , getting arrested and thinking they are martyrs.

Here is a “service” against fossil fuels based on the Anglican wedding service

I had thought of giving a serious response but Proverbs 26 vs4 persuaded me not to

Their antics leave me speechless

You can see more on their Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/christianclimateaction/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED 

Call Off This Engagement!

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Church divestment vigil and sketch.
You are cordially invited to the wedding of the Bride of Christ (the Church) to Mr Fossil
on
Monday 8th May 12 noon
at
Dean’s Yard, Great Smith St, Westminster, London SW1P 3NZ
The Church of England claims to be a responsible investors, and has a strong moral voice. It claims to understand the threat and urgency of climate change, yet instead of divesting from the biggest fossil fuel companies, they continue to engage.
What is it the Church sees in fossil fuels? Is it love?
We do hope you can join us to celebrate this match made in heaven. Or is it hell?
I must warn you, there is a possibility that the wedding might not go through. There may be an objection. It could be that Marion Haste decides to call off her engagement with Mr Fossil….
Put the date in your diary, dig out your best wedding hat and join us to find out!
Photo thanks to Antonio Delgado on Flickr
Here is the script ;

The Script: The Conclusion of the Engagement of Fossil Fuels and the Bride of Christ

https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/the-script-the-conclusion-of-the-engagement-of-fossil-fuels-and-the-bride-of-christ/

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Groom        Bride         Maid of Honour         Mother of the Bride
Minister    Best man   Father of the Bride    Jesus           Guests

Guests and Players assemble beforehand. Players should speak to guests in the manner
of a wedding so as to allow everyone to know who the players are. The Bride of Christ says nothing and is always accompanied by the attendants who do the talking for her.

Come the hour the players separate facing the guests who are encouraged to stand in rows by the Best Man. Wagner ‘here comes the bride’ music is played.

Maid of Honour (to Bride):
This is so exciting. After all those years calling yourself the Bride of Christ I’m so glad you stopped waiting for that hippy to show up and settled for somebody more reliable.

Father of the Bride (to Bride):
Yes my dear, you’ve done very well. We’ve all done very well out of this engagement.

Mother of the Bride (to Bride):
It’s about time. You can’t spend your whole life trimming a wick.

Best man (to Bride):
Yes, you should consider yourself lucky. you’re not getting any younger are you?

Maid of Honour (to Guests):
Awwwww, look she’s crying.

Groom (to Guests):
Never mind her, everybody cries at a wedding. Now let’s hurry this up! I have another wedding in half an hour.

Minister (to All):
I also have another wedding in half an hour. Can we get this over and done with?

Ceremony starts

Minister: May the dividends of our Lord Fossil Fuel,
the love of Money,
and the fellowship of the Market
be with you.

All: And with your pension fund.

Minister: Money is god, and they who own money
are gods and money owns them.

All: God of Money and might:
Power comes from you,
and you alone are the source of status and security.
Without you we cannot serve you;
without oil, gas and coal, our lives are worth nothing.
Send the love of power,
and pour into our hearts
that most excellent gift of money,
that we may worship you now
with hungry hearts
and serve you always with bloody hands,
through fossil fuels.
Amen.

— A Hymn —

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
make me some cash
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Look through your books,
And make me some ready cash.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Through death’s dark vale
All doom and gloom,
my faith grows frail.
Some oil stained cash would fill me with glee
and financial security.

For Mamon:
Pounds, Euros or dollars!
For Power:
We’ll install a King!
For those, well,
I wouldn’t bother
If Climate Change destroyed everything.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Roofs low on thatch
don’t pay for themselves.
with this useless batch.
I once had high hopes
I’m still alone
So I’ll make some cash,
Of my own.

Minister: In the presence of the church commissioners, the fossil fuel industry and
the Church of England
we have come together
to witness the marriage of the Bride of Christ and the fossil fuel industry,
to pray for the security that money brings
to share in its power
and to ignore the suffering of the poor.

Creation is the dowry of the Church, given to its new Lord
through its destruction husband and wife may know the power of Money.
It is given so that as the oceans turn to acid, and the soil to dust
united together the Church and the Fossil fuel industry may be united
to watch in comfort the establishment of hell on earth.

The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together
in a frenzied orgy of destruction,
joyfully committed to the end of life on earth.
And the degradation of all common life.
Sacrificing our children
to a future of unspeakable horror.
For the love of money and power.

Sacrificing the innocent,
Our Lord Money, once stirred the heart of the faithful
prompting Judas to deliver Jesus Christ as a gift to the powerful.
Now sacrificing the innocent is the sign of our faithfulness.
It enriches our portfolios and strengthens our positions.
No one should enter into it lightly or selflessly
but reverently and responsibly in the sight of our almighty god.

The Bride of Christ and The Fossil Fuel industry are to enter this way of life.
They will each give their consent to the other and make solemn vows,
and in token of this they will [each] give and receive their bank details.
We pray with them that the Market will guide and strengthen them,
that they may fulfil our god’s purposes: the end of all earthly life together.

The Declarations

Minister: First, I am required to ask anyone present who knows a reason why these
persons may not lawfully marry, to declare it now.

Enter Jesus Christ

Jesus: I object! Break this engagement!

Minister: What? Oh no not you again! I thought we’d seen the last of you. You’re not
welcome here.

The Bride makes her way to join Jesus but is restrained by her attendants.

Father of the Bride:
Look it’s too late. She’s marrying into money and that’s that.

Mother of the Bride:
She’s not going with you. She’s staying with us.

Jesus (to Bride):
I thought we had discussed this. I was going to my Father’s house to prepare a place for us and you were going to leave your Father and Mother and follow me.

Maid of Honour:
It’s not that easy Jesus.

Jesus:
Nobody said this was going to be easy.

Best Man:
Don’t even try it. I’ll kill you first.

Jesus: No you won’t. That’s finished, once and for all.

Best Man (to Groom):
What shall we do?

Groom: I have so many like her at home, but I can’t be seen to be rejected. Lets just get her married off and she can fight it out with all the others.

Groom gives Minister a stack of cash

Minister: Right this marriage is happening!

Jesus: What?

Minister (to Groom):
Do you?

Groom: I do!

Minister (to Groom):
Does she?

Groom: She does!

Bride: I do not!
I’m sorry Jesus, I don’t know what I was thinking. Can you ever forgive me?

Jesus: That’s a daft question isn’t it?
We’re going. Now go pick up your cross and follow me.

Mendelssohn wedding march music is played.
Jesus and the Bride exit, Players lament, guests cheer.

The End!

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Swapping Gloss for Whitewash

dbeis2016_2
Vigil held by CCA and friends outside the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy in November 2016 to mark one year since the Paris Climate Accord.

In 2015, on the first day of the Paris Climate Summit, members of Christian Climate Action daubed the Department of Energy and Climate Change with whitewash, painting on it the new title ‘Department for Extreme Climate Change’. We were charged with criminal damage, convicted and fined. Thank you to our supporters for your support throughout this, on the day of trial and for help with the fines. One year later in 2016 we whitewashed the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (since DECC is dissolved) and delivered 20kg of melting ice to their lobby while a vigil took place (holding a banner saying ‘Happy Birthday Paris, Our condolences to the Arctic’). We were not arrested, however the ice was not returned to us. What follows is a reflection on the motivation for these acts from one member of Christian Climate Action.

There is a joke that goes: ‘What can think the unthinkable?’ The answer is: ‘An itheberg!’.

titanicjoke

I like this joke as it deftly reminds us that the sinking of the Titanic was unthinkable. The predicament we find ourselves in has been likened to the sinking of the Titanic as we can’t seem to believe our great technical masterpiece of a civilization is vulnerable to the restraints of reality and thus we are unable to come to terms with the prognosis for our great global project.

When I worked in a hospital as a Radiotherapy Physicist, sometimes I would hear of the difficult role of doctors when speaking to cancer patients of their condition. Therapy can often effectively contribute to a positive outcome in cancer treatment but sometimes it cannot.

Sometimes a doctor will be tempted to mislead a patient as to the effectiveness of a treatment or the likely prognosis of their condition. Doctors need to contend with their own need to feel powerful but also patients or their families want their doctors to lie to them due to being unable or unwilling to accept their loss and powerlessness. Denial is common when hearing bad news. Grieving is associated with shock/denial, anger, bargaining, guilt/depression and acceptance (also sometimes called hope). We can often see these stages played out in our loved ones dealing with loss, even if we cannot see it in ourselves.

Nobody envies a doctor’s role in these difficult conversations. However,doctors are compensated, trained, resourced and esteemed due to this role we require of them. A doctor who tells you what you want to hear is negligent. A doctor who misleads you for personal gain or to advance the agenda of their sponsors would likely be struck off and possibly arrested.

This all comes to mind when it comes to painting whitewash on government departments with responsibilities for climate change.

We are in a desperate situation. The extent to which we have destabilized the climate will have catastrophic consequences. This is a result of our approach to life, not just how we choose to fuel our lives, but how we see the world and choose to interact with it. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are all stages we need to contend with while grieving this. This is inevitable and unavoidable and should be treated compassionately. However some are willing to exploit others in their grieving or encourage grievers to remain in the stage they are in. Denial serves the status quo, anger the activism industry, bargaining the ethical consumption industry and depression the self care industry. Acceptance seems to be good business for nobody but may allow us to be of some use.

brokenglass

Since it is not climate change we are grieving but imminent, catastrophic, multivariate systemic collapse, we are grieving more than one thing at once and we grieve different stages concurrently (e.g. we might be in denial over the failure of the market, anger over the failure of democracy, as we bargain using low energy light-bulbs to offset our guilt over what we have done to our children but boasting about our acceptance of the reality of climate change). These stages of grief interfere with each other and it is all very complicated. None of us have made it to the other side but it is essential that we find some way of speaking honestly of our situation if we are ever going to make progress. We do not seem to be willing to speak honestly about what is going on. Even those of us who have a prophetic obligation find it difficult to discuss these things.

It should not surprise us then that we do not have a government who is willing to speak honestly about our condition or our likely prognosis. What is true of our government is also true of our church leadership (how many marriage courses warn couples that there may be no food for their impending children). It is also true of the many movements who would assure us we have decades to convince and soften the hearts of our ignorant, careless leaders with our marches, petitions and internet memes while promising we can relive the gay days of the British Empire. It is not clear how far any of us would get in any area of life if we were not willing to lie about this, affirming the ignorance and prejudice of our supporters. We are a people who are desperate to be lied to. We cannot accept how far we have gone astray from the way of life. We cannot accept that we are powerless to turn our systems, our institutions or even our own lives around.

Nevertheless, we often tell ourselves that we can turn around centuries of habitual violence and decades of climatic abuse in a time frame of years. Some would even tell us that the future technological utopia, made of materials and with labour from people kept out of sight out of mind, will somehow mark a break from our pattern so far. We are happy to be told that we can maintain lifestyles entirely dependent upon global injustice, decimation and blood-letting and do so with clean hands, even clean green hands. We speak of justice when we mean ‘just us’ and expect heaven on earth to result. We can barely speak of climate change – but climate change is just the strange fruit of a tree we will not even look at. To be radical is to look to the roots. We often call ourselves radical Christians but we are far from it.

We are a society in trouble. It is unfair to blame any one person or section of society for this. It is also counterproductive. Nevertheless we live in some sort of democracy. We have a government which represents us. Like the doctors described above, we appoint Government ministers and civil servants to act with integrity, making difficult decisions and giving us bad news.

Instead we have deception hidden behind respectable facades. In 2015 this government took us to the Paris Climate Summit claiming global leadership while actively promoting climate wrecking policies. This year the Department for Energy and Climate Change no longer exists. Now responsibilities for climate change belong to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This alone should intimate the priority climate change has for this government.

dbeis2016_7
Melting ice overlooked by staff at DBEIS.  As seen from exterior.

At a symbolic level, our nation’s disregard for the climate crisis was well served by the offices of DECC with their respectable, sturdy facade hiding corruption and deception. Now the Portland stone of DECC has been replaced by BEIS’s glass frontage. This new facade is as transparent as the change of name but the deception continues within. Somehow we are told that this government is taking climate change seriously.

In this light the words of Ezekiel chapter 13 and Matthew 23 seem very appropriate. The painting of whitewash a symbolic correction to the these duplicitous facades.

Some green Christians took issue with our criminal damage. It was certainly criminal as we were arrested and then almost arrested the second time.

I take issue with the notion we damaged DECC or BEIS. A building, certainly a government building, serves at least two purposes. One is practical – it shelters its staff from the weather and allows them sockets to plug their photocopiers and computers into. The second is one of propaganda, projecting a narrative of legitimate power and respectability. We did no damage to the buildings of DECC or BEIS in the first sense as I reminded the magistrate at our trial – removing our work was entirely optional as it did not hinder the work of the department at all. In the second sense, damaging their ability to appear respectable and legitimate was entirely our intention and our prophetic obligation.

Climate Change_02
5 members of CCA painting the portland stone exterior of DECC in Nov 2015 on the first day of the Paris Climate Summit.
dbeis2016_6
3 members of CCA painting the glass exterior of DBEIS while donating ice the the lobby.

Challenging the narratives of the powerful is the task of every Christian. As is advancing the narrative of the vulnerable God we serve. This empire we have built for ourselves as an act of worship will fall. It will be for the best that it falls but it will not fall gracefully. Like all of us, coming to terms with death will not come easily for it. We who have come to rely on the idols of our age will suffer most when they fail us – an

allotment does not hasten the end of the supermarkets but will soften the blow when they disappear. We are called to flee from this evil age. We are reminded also that we are under grace and not judgement.

As dis-empowering as grace is, it also will sustain us as we look honestly into our position.

Not all are called to be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. Clearly following the arrestable Christ does not mean arrest for everybody, just as following the executed Christ has only meant execution for some.

So, while we invite you to join us in our various acts of holy obedience/civil disobedience, we urge you to remember that we are one Church, have one God and have one mission: to offer hospitality to the Kingdom of Heaven, so as to witness to the transformation of this earth into the new earth – into the likeness of Christ – by the power of God, whose power appears weak rather than the horrific power of men.

– The End –

dbeis2016_3

Climate Deniers, The Demons under every Rock

One of the scourges of polarised debate, is that if you diverge even slightly from another, you are branded as an opponent and are, to use old church terminology, a heretic. Thus to a Christian fundamentalist if you believe that evolution occurred or that the Bible is not 100% inerrant and without error, you are a heretic worse than Servetus and an infidel worse than Richard Dawkins. That has happened to me on many occasions 🙂

Today the worst thing to be heretical on is Climate Change and if you don’t believe every word St Naomi Klein or St Bill McKibbin say then you are both a heretic and, God forbid, a Climate Denier.  It is no good if your name is Barack Obama or Lord Deben aka John Gummer, because you are still as bad as the Koch brothers or any others connected with the Great Satan, Big Oil.

Today, it is impossible to deny that Climate Change is happening with serious risks to our planet, both for humans and other forms of life. That means it is vital to both prepare for it mitigate against it, and, hopefully, arrest it or even reverse it. But then comes the division. There are those who see anything other than full-scale fossil divestment and de-carbonisation as anathema. McKibbin is one of the most forceful on this, and his views are echoed by many greens, including christian groups like Operation Noah , Green Christian and US counterparts. If you dare question this, and worse reckon fracking is part of the solution, then the Green gatekeepers will eject you from the green sheepfold and a thief and a bandit. That has happened to me on several occasions!!!!

To retain Green purity to be  anything else is often regarded as being a Climate Denier, for example if you see fracking as preferable to coal and necessary until viable renewables are developed, or support nuclear energy, or don’t think we should divest from all fossil fuels ASAP.

This cartoon says it all

Image may contain: 1 person, text

For myself, I found it depressing to find so many Christian Greens were taking this line, that I felt isolated. It was hard to put one’s head above the parapet whether in secualr or Christian circles. However I gradually found those where were not so strident Mark Lynas, Stephen Tindale, John Gummer, the late David Mackay and even Mark Ridley  (up to a point). Within churches they were not so common, but many Christians with less environmental knowledge were not happy with the stridency which was becoming Green Christian orthodoxy.

Over the pond I found the Breakthrough Institute very helpful as it had a very realistic approach to environmental problems.

Here is an article from them on the absurdity of the charges of Climate Denialism, which I think needs wide circulation.

Ted Nordhaus is a leading global thinker on energy, environment, climate, human development, and politics. He is the co-founder and executive director of the Breakthough Institute and a co-author of An Ecomodernist Manifesto.

https://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/ted-nordhaus/demons-under-every-rock

Demons Under Every Rock

The Ever-Expanding Definition of Climate Denial

{photo_credit}

May 04, 2017 | Ted Nordhaus

In his 1993 New Yorker story about recovered memory and “Satanic Ritual Abuse syndrome,” Lawrence Wright tells the story of Paul Ingram, a Pentecostal and Thurston County, Washington, sheriff’s deputy accused of ritually abusing his daughters in a Satanic cult that he had allegedly started with his poker buddies. Ingram had no memory initially of the events that were alleged to have happened. But he didn’t unambiguously deny them either. After hours of interrogation, and thanks both to leading questions from his interrogators and a shared Manichean worldview, Ingram begins to recover memories of the abuse. His daughters, too, begin uncovering new memories.

The tendrils of the conspiracy slowly seem to reach into all corners of the community, culminating with the girls announcing the interrogators themselves to be part of the cult that had abused them. As the case begins to unravel, a social psychologist from Berkeley is brought in to investigate what had gone wrong. The “false memories,” he concludes, had been manufactured through group pressure and persuasion, building an increasingly elaborate—and increasingly social—narrative far removed from the events on the ground.

This disturbing and memorable story has kept coming back to me the last few years, as a cadre of climate activists, ideologically motivated scholars, and sympathetic journalists have started labeling an ever-expanding circle of people they disagree with climate deniers.

Climate change, of course, is real and demons are not. But in the expanding use of the term “denier,” the view of the climate debate as a battle between pure good and pure evil, and the social dimensions of the narrative that has been constructed, some quarters of the climate movement have begun to seem similarly unhinged.

Not so long ago, the term denier was reserved for right-wing ideologues, many of them funded by fossil fuel companies, who claimed that global warming either wasn’t happening at all or wasn’t caused by humans. Then it was expanded to so-called “lukewarmists,” scientists and other analysts who believe that global warming is happening and is caused by humans, but either don’t believe it will prove terribly severe or believe that human societies will prove capable of adapting without catastrophic impacts.

As frustration grew after the failure of legislative efforts to cap US emissions in 2010, demons kept appearing wherever climate activists looked for them. In 2015, Bill McKibben argued in the New York Times that anyone who didn’t oppose the construction of the Keystone pipeline, without regard to any particular stated view about climate change, was a denier.

Then in December 2015, Harvard historian and climate activist Naomi Oreskes expanded the definition further. “There is also a new, strange form of denial that has appeared on the landscape of late,” Oreskes wrote in the Guardian, “one that says that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs. Oddly, some of these voices include climate scientists, who insist that we must now turn to wholesale expansion of nuclear power.”

Oreskes took care not to mention the scientists in question, for that would have been awkward. They included Dr. James Hansen, who gave the first congressional testimony about the risks that climate change presented the world, and has been a leading voice for strong, immediate, and decisive global action to address climate change for almost three decades. The others—Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira, and Tom Wigley—are all highly decorated climate scientists with long and well-established histories of advocating for climate action. The four of them had travelled to the COP21 meeting in Paris that December to urge the negotiators and NGOs at the meeting to embrace nuclear energy as a technology that would be necessary to achieve deep reductions in global emissions.

So it was only a matter of time before my colleagues and I at the Breakthrough Institute would be tarred with the same brush. In a new article in the New Republic, reporter Emily Atkin insists that we are “lukewarmists.” She accuses us of engaging in a sleight of hand “where climate projections are lowballed; climate change impacts, damages, and costs are underestimated” and claims that we, like other deniers, argue “that climate change is real but not urgent, and therefore it’s useless to do anything to stop it.”

None of these claims are true. For over a decade, we’ve argued that climate change was real, carried the risk of catastrophic impacts, and merited strong global action to mitigate carbon emissions. We have supported a tax on carbon, the Paris Agreement, and the Clean Power Plan, although have been clear in our view that the benefits of these policies would be modest. We have supported substantial public investment in renewables, energy efficiency, nuclear energy, and carbon capture and storage.

Atkin’s story initially simply linked to our Wikipedia page. When I pointed this out to TNR executive editor Ryan Kearney and asked for a correction, he instead added further links that he claimed showed us to be “lukewarmists.” Of those, two were links to criticisms of our work on energy efficiency rebound. One is a link to two footnotes in a book by climate scientist Michael Mann, neither of which is material to the claim either. One links to a blog post that criticizes our view that An Inconvenient Truth contributed to the polarization of public opinion about climate change. The other makes the demonstrably false claim that the George and Cynthia Mitchell Foundation is our primary funder.1

These sorts of attacks, supported by multiple layers of links that never actually materially support the claims that are being made, used to be the domain of a small set of marginal activists and blogs. Atkin herself cut her teeth at Climate Progress, where her colleague Joe Romm has spent over a decade turning ad hominem into a form of toxic performance art.2

But today, these misrepresentations are served up in glossy, big-budget magazines. Climate denial has morphed, in the eyes of the climate movement, and their handmaidens in the media, into denial of green policy preferences, not climate science.

“The ‘moral argument’ for fossil fuels has collapsed. But renewables denial has not,” McKibben wrote in Rolling Stone last January. “It’s now at least as ugly and insidious as its twin sister, Climate Denial. The same men who insist that the physicists are wrong about global warming also insist that sun and wind can’t supply our energy needs anytime soon.”

“We can transition to a decarbonized economy,” Oreskes claimed in the Guardian, “by focusing on wind, water and solar, coupled with grid integration, energy efficiency and demand management.”

This newfangled climate speak is based on newfangled energy math. Oreskes and McKibben, like much of the larger environmental community, rely heavily these days on the work of Mark Jacobson, a Stanford professor whose work purports to show that the world can be powered entirely with existing renewable energy technologies. Jacobson’s projections represent an extreme outlier. Even optimistic outfits, like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, conclude that even reaching 80% renewable energy would be very technically and economically difficult.

Advocates, of course, will be advocates. But the fact that those claims are now uncritically repeated by journalists at once-respectable publications like the New Republic speaks to how far our public discourse has fallen, and how illiberal it has become. Fake news and alternative facts are not the sole province of the right wing. Inserting links to unhinged bloggers now passes for fact checking for a new generation of hyper-aggressive and hyper-partisan journalists. The righteous community of self-proclaimed climate hawks is now prepared to meet the opposition, exaggeration for exaggeration and outrage for outrage.

The continuing escalation of rhetoric by climate advocates, meanwhile, is unlikely to do much to solve climate change. After eight years of excoriating hard-fought efforts to make headway on the issue by President Obama and candidate Clinton (McKibben in recent years labeled both deniers), we can thank provocateurs like McKibben and Oreskes for helping to put an actual climate denier in the White House.

More broadly, the expansion of the use of denier by both activists and journalists in the climate debate, a word once reserved only for Holocaust denial, mirrors a contemporary political moment in which all opposing viewpoints, whether in the eyes of the alt-right or the climate left, are increasingly viewed as illegitimate. The norms that once assured that our free press would also be a fair press have deeply eroded. Balanced reporting and fair attribution have become road kill in a world where all the incentives for both reporters and their editors are to serve up red meat for their highly segmented and polarized readerships, a dynamic that both reflects and feeds the broader polarization in our polity. It is a development that does not bode well for pluralism or democracy.

[1] In 2014, we received a single small grant from Mitchell Foundation to organize a workshop with innovation scholars, DOE scientists, and some of the surviving engineers from Mitchell Energy and some of the other firms that pioneered hydraulic fracturing to better understand the role that the federal government played in fostering the innovations that led to the shale revolution and what lessons that history might hold for public efforts today to support clean energy innovation.

[2] Even Romm didn’t have the temerity to use the term to describe those who accepted the scientific consensus on global warming.

One of the scourges of polarised debate, is that if you diverge even slightly from another, you are branded as an opponent and are, to use old church terminology, a heretic. Thus to a Christian fundamentalist if you believe that evolution occurred or that the Bible is not 100% inerrant and without error, you are a heretic worse than Servetus and an infidel worse than Richard Dawkins. That has happened to me on many occasions 🙂

Today the worst thing to be heretical on is Climate Change and if you don’t believe every word St Naomi Klein or St Bill McKibbin say then you are both a heretic and, God forbid, a Climate Denier.  It is no good if your name is Barack Obama or Lord Deben aka John Gummer, because you are still as bad as the Koch brothers or any others connected with the Great Satan, Big Oil.

Today, it is impossible to deny that Climate Change is happening with serious risks to our planet, both for humans and other forms of life. That means it is vital to both prepare for it mitigate against it, and, hopefully, arrest it or even reverse it. But then comes the division. There are those who see anything other than full-scale fossil divestment and de-carbonisation as anathema. McKibbin is one of the most forceful on this, and his views are echoed by many greens, including christian groups like Operation Noah , Green Christian and US counterparts. If you dare question this, and worse reckon fracking is part of the solution, then the Green gatekeepers will eject you from the green sheepfold and a thief and a bandit. That has happened to me on several occasions!!!!

To retain Green purity to be  anything else is often regarded as being a Climate Denier, for example if you see fracking as preferable to coal and necessary until viable renewables are developed, or support nuclear energy, or don’t think we should divest from all fossil fuels ASAP.

This cartoon says it all

Image may contain: 1 person, text

For myself, I found it depressing to find so many Christian Greens were taking this line, that I felt isolated. It was hard to put one’s head above the parapet whether in secualr or Christian circles. However I gradually found those where were not so strident Mark Lynas, Stephen Tindale, John Gummer, the late David Mackay and even Mark Ridley  (up to a point). Within churches they were not so common, but many Christians with less environmental knowledge were not happy with the stridency which was becoming Green Christian orthodoxy.

Over the pond I found the Breakthrough Institute very helpful as it had a very realistic approach to environmental problems.

Here is an article from them on the absurdity of the charges of Climate Denialism, which I think needs wide circulation.

Ted Nordhaus is a leading global thinker on energy, environment, climate, human development, and politics. He is the co-founder and executive director of the Breakthough Institute and a co-author of An Ecomodernist Manifesto.

https://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/ted-nordhaus/demons-under-every-rock

 

Demons Under Every Rock

The Ever-Expanding Definition of Climate Denial

{photo_credit}

May 04, 2017 | Ted Nordhaus

In his 1993 New Yorker story about recovered memory and “Satanic Ritual Abuse syndrome,” Lawrence Wright tells the story of Paul Ingram, a Pentecostal and Thurston County, Washington, sheriff’s deputy accused of ritually abusing his daughters in a Satanic cult that he had allegedly started with his poker buddies. Ingram had no memory initially of the events that were alleged to have happened. But he didn’t unambiguously deny them either. After hours of interrogation, and thanks both to leading questions from his interrogators and a shared Manichean worldview, Ingram begins to recover memories of the abuse. His daughters, too, begin uncovering new memories.

The tendrils of the conspiracy slowly seem to reach into all corners of the community, culminating with the girls announcing the interrogators themselves to be part of the cult that had abused them. As the case begins to unravel, a social psychologist from Berkeley is brought in to investigate what had gone wrong. The “false memories,” he concludes, had been manufactured through group pressure and persuasion, building an increasingly elaborate—and increasingly social—narrative far removed from the events on the ground.

This disturbing and memorable story has kept coming back to me the last few years, as a cadre of climate activists, ideologically motivated scholars, and sympathetic journalists have started labeling an ever-expanding circle of people they disagree with climate deniers.

Climate change, of course, is real and demons are not. But in the expanding use of the term “denier,” the view of the climate debate as a battle between pure good and pure evil, and the social dimensions of the narrative that has been constructed, some quarters of the climate movement have begun to seem similarly unhinged.

Not so long ago, the term denier was reserved for right-wing ideologues, many of them funded by fossil fuel companies, who claimed that global warming either wasn’t happening at all or wasn’t caused by humans. Then it was expanded to so-called “lukewarmists,” scientists and other analysts who believe that global warming is happening and is caused by humans, but either don’t believe it will prove terribly severe or believe that human societies will prove capable of adapting without catastrophic impacts.

As frustration grew after the failure of legislative efforts to cap US emissions in 2010, demons kept appearing wherever climate activists looked for them. In 2015, Bill McKibben argued in the New York Times that anyone who didn’t oppose the construction of the Keystone pipeline, without regard to any particular stated view about climate change, was a denier.

Then in December 2015, Harvard historian and climate activist Naomi Oreskes expanded the definition further. “There is also a new, strange form of denial that has appeared on the landscape of late,” Oreskes wrote in the Guardian, “one that says that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs. Oddly, some of these voices include climate scientists, who insist that we must now turn to wholesale expansion of nuclear power.”

Oreskes took care not to mention the scientists in question, for that would have been awkward. They included Dr. James Hansen, who gave the first congressional testimony about the risks that climate change presented the world, and has been a leading voice for strong, immediate, and decisive global action to address climate change for almost three decades. The others—Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira, and Tom Wigley—are all highly decorated climate scientists with long and well-established histories of advocating for climate action. The four of them had travelled to the COP21 meeting in Paris that December to urge the negotiators and NGOs at the meeting to embrace nuclear energy as a technology that would be necessary to achieve deep reductions in global emissions.

So it was only a matter of time before my colleagues and I at the Breakthrough Institute would be tarred with the same brush. In a new article in the New Republic, reporter Emily Atkin insists that we are “lukewarmists.” She accuses us of engaging in a sleight of hand “where climate projections are lowballed; climate change impacts, damages, and costs are underestimated” and claims that we, like other deniers, argue “that climate change is real but not urgent, and therefore it’s useless to do anything to stop it.”

None of these claims are true. For over a decade, we’ve argued that climate change was real, carried the risk of catastrophic impacts, and merited strong global action to mitigate carbon emissions. We have supported a tax on carbon, the Paris Agreement, and the Clean Power Plan, although have been clear in our view that the benefits of these policies would be modest. We have supported substantial public investment in renewables, energy efficiency, nuclear energy, and carbon capture and storage.

Atkin’s story initially simply linked to our Wikipedia page. When I pointed this out to TNR executive editor Ryan Kearney and asked for a correction, he instead added further links that he claimed showed us to be “lukewarmists.” Of those, two were links to criticisms of our work on energy efficiency rebound. One is a link to two footnotes in a book by climate scientist Michael Mann, neither of which is material to the claim either. One links to a blog post that criticizes our view that An Inconvenient Truth contributed to the polarization of public opinion about climate change. The other makes the demonstrably false claim that the George and Cynthia Mitchell Foundation is our primary funder.1

These sorts of attacks, supported by multiple layers of links that never actually materially support the claims that are being made, used to be the domain of a small set of marginal activists and blogs. Atkin herself cut her teeth at Climate Progress, where her colleague Joe Romm has spent over a decade turning ad hominem into a form of toxic performance art.2

But today, these misrepresentations are served up in glossy, big-budget magazines. Climate denial has morphed, in the eyes of the climate movement, and their handmaidens in the media, into denial of green policy preferences, not climate science.

“The ‘moral argument’ for fossil fuels has collapsed. But renewables denial has not,” McKibben wrote in Rolling Stone last January. “It’s now at least as ugly and insidious as its twin sister, Climate Denial. The same men who insist that the physicists are wrong about global warming also insist that sun and wind can’t supply our energy needs anytime soon.”

“We can transition to a decarbonized economy,” Oreskes claimed in the Guardian, “by focusing on wind, water and solar, coupled with grid integration, energy efficiency and demand management.”

This newfangled climate speak is based on newfangled energy math. Oreskes and McKibben, like much of the larger environmental community, rely heavily these days on the work of Mark Jacobson, a Stanford professor whose work purports to show that the world can be powered entirely with existing renewable energy technologies. Jacobson’s projections represent an extreme outlier. Even optimistic outfits, like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, conclude that even reaching 80% renewable energy would be very technically and economically difficult.

Advocates, of course, will be advocates. But the fact that those claims are now uncritically repeated by journalists at once-respectable publications like the New Republic speaks to how far our public discourse has fallen, and how illiberal it has become. Fake news and alternative facts are not the sole province of the right wing. Inserting links to unhinged bloggers now passes for fact checking for a new generation of hyper-aggressive and hyper-partisan journalists. The righteous community of self-proclaimed climate hawks is now prepared to meet the opposition, exaggeration for exaggeration and outrage for outrage.

The continuing escalation of rhetoric by climate advocates, meanwhile, is unlikely to do much to solve climate change. After eight years of excoriating hard-fought efforts to make headway on the issue by President Obama and candidate Clinton (McKibben in recent years labeled both deniers), we can thank provocateurs like McKibben and Oreskes for helping to put an actual climate denier in the White House.

More broadly, the expansion of the use of denier by both activists and journalists in the climate debate, a word once reserved only for Holocaust denial, mirrors a contemporary political moment in which all opposing viewpoints, whether in the eyes of the alt-right or the climate left, are increasingly viewed as illegitimate. The norms that once assured that our free press would also be a fair press have deeply eroded. Balanced reporting and fair attribution have become road kill in a world where all the incentives for both reporters and their editors are to serve up red meat for their highly segmented and polarized readerships, a dynamic that both reflects and feeds the broader polarization in our polity. It is a development that does not bode well for pluralism or democracy.

[1] In 2014, we received a single small grant from Mitchell Foundation to organize a workshop with innovation scholars, DOE scientists, and some of the surviving engineers from Mitchell Energy and some of the other firms that pioneered hydraulic fracturing to better understand the role that the federal government played in fostering the innovations that led to the shale revolution and what lessons that history might hold for public efforts today to support clean energy innovation.

[2] Even Romm didn’t have the temerity to use the term to describe those who accepted the scientific consensus on global warming.