Um… well I think that could hardly be clearer. If this vision of ‘climate change: the cultural construct’ continues to unfold into our future (many hold that this is already occurring), a major impact on pretty much everyone’s pre-existing worldviews seems inevitable, for better or for worse depending upon whether you believe that the climate narrative is indeed serving us, or rather mastering us. Hulme clearly thinks the former. Al Gore, probably the world-wide best known advocate for fighting climate change, appears to agree with Hulme regarding the transformative nature of the issue and the ‘opportunity’ this represents. As reported by the NY Times, a statement he gave upon learning of his (joint with the UN) Nobel Peace Prize award, included this:
“The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift Global Consciousness to a higher level.”
In order not to interrupt the main thread too much, I’ve punted out to an Appendix some more acknowledgements of CAGW as a (transformative) cultural entity which will thus impact worldviews. This includes some quotes supporting the widely recognized reality that while such impact will result in a spectrum of effects (typical for a major cultural entity), which also varies from country to country, the net effect is an amplification of left-leaning / interventionist / redistributionist mind-sets, at the expense of competing views.
However, one other important aspect of CAGW’s cultural inertia, and hence its consequent influence / impact, is worth noting here in the main thread. This aspect is represented by the following three quotes, in date order. First up is former U.S. vice president Al Gore again, in a May 2006 interview with David Roberts at Grist:
“Nobody is interested in solutions if they don’t think there’s a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.”
Second, as reported by The Neue Zürcher Zeitung on 14th November 2010, German economist Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III, says:
“Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection. The next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.” (hat-tip the GWPF).
Third, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph on 16th September 2013, the European Union’s climate action commissioner, Connie Hedegaard said:
“Let’s say that science, some decades from now, said ‘we were wrong, it was not about climate’, would it not in any case have been good to do many of things you have to do in order to combat climate change?”
Connie Hedegaard’s quote is within the context of talking about poverty and energy; nevertheless even within this somewhat narrowed scope, it is incredibly naïve at best to assume things won’t go seriously awry at some point if we are spending trillions and also moving social mountains to address the wrong problem. This is not just leaving the door ajar for misspend and unintended consequence to slip in, it’s laying down the red carpet and inviting these normally unwelcome guests to dine at the palace. Bio-fuel production pushing up world food prices springs to mind; if it was never about climate change in the first place, there won’t even be any return benefit for the greater hardship and potentially increased starvation, not to mention the environmental damage from such production. Without a factual base, what is ‘good to do’ becomes subjective. Hedegaard’s and Edenhofer’s quotes both demonstrate that worldview influence within the culture of climate change has become so strong, it has reached the stage where any original ‘facts’ are, for some folks at least, completely eclipsed. In the eyes of those who are worldview aligned and highly influenced, fighting climate change has become a self-evident truth in its own right, justified by the policy responses and not by the original trigger which is (theoretically at least) from the physical environment. This is the ultimate and even self-admitted influence upon ‘facts’; both a confirmation of worldview bias and, given the high profile of those quoted, yet another social amplification of that bias.
The first quote, from Gore a few years earlier, demonstrates part of the cultural trajectory via which worldview frames (which may include a genuine fear of doom) work to separate perceived facts from reality, leading to the eventual situation of the later quotes. Gore is essentially participating in a process that modifies ‘facts’, because after a while everyone, even the scientists who started the process at his behest, loses track of what ‘the facts’ actually were; during any further research, noble cause corruption, confirmation bias and motivation reasoning etc. then seriously skew the science itself. From the point of view of the narrative (a figure of speech – NO, it is not agential, let alone sentient!) there isn’t any contradiction between “we’re all doomed” and “maybe it’s not about climate change anyhow”. Once the realistic bounds upon the range of possibilities are lost along with our grip on facts, iterative narrative selections dominate the majority perceptions. So any stance, even multiple conflicting stances, which improve propagation, will be preferentially selected. Confusion and conflict are actually very helpful to narrative propagation; they promote emotion over reason, thus allowing worldviews to come to the fore.
One hardly expects that the Consensus would explicitly admit to the critical role of worldview bias (and hence to the active climate change culture shaping those worldviews), upon the basic perception of what actually constitutes climate related ‘facts’ in the first place. Such an admission would dismantle much of their position. However, representatives of the Consensus are surprisingly frank on occasion and skirt pretty close to admissions of this kind. For instance a major report, Time for Change? , issued by the University College of London Commission on Communicating Climate Science, states in the summary for Chapter 2, entitled ‘What is Inside Our Minds?’, this:
‘Disagreement within climate discourse is more to do with differences in values and world-views, and our propensity for social evaluations, than it is about scientific facts. Climate science contains enough complexity and ambiguity to support a variety of positions. Simply providing more facts will not resolve the disagreements.’ [Hat-Tip Climate Etc.]
Because of the stated ambiguity, which is amplified by transmission processes yet ultimately stems from genuine and major scientific uncertainty†, no-one can know what the ‘facts’ are anyhow, at least in terms of any that would usefully constrain the debate. This is why providing yet more of these kind of (non-constraining) ‘facts’, does not resolve the disagreement. Those ‘facts’ which do have a higher level of scientific certainty, tend so far to be of the subsidiary sort that cannot provide much constraint. (The Commission above is pretty central within the Consensus; professor Chris Rapley, its Chair, has often voiced concerns about climate change from the Consensus perspective, though laudably warns against using terms such as ‘warmist’ and ‘denier’).
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