Wednesday, September 11, 2013

why blogs persist and scare stasists

Here is the latest excellent post from Ben Pile.  Given the flurry of discussion this week over the sate of the climate blogosphere, why it exists and what it does, Ben's points are important:
  • This blog has always identified itself as sceptical of environmentalism — environmental politics, especially climate politics — rather than climate science.
  •  Environmentalists ... simply do not recognise their own perspective as ‘ideological’. ‘Ideology’ is what other people do. The conceit — in all senses of the word — being that the environmentalist simply takes ‘science’ at face value, whereas those he points his fingers at refuse to see the science because they are somehow blinded by ‘ideology’. 
  • Putting it simply, the ‘ideology’ of the political establishment is a system of ideas that would put political institutions above democratic oversight, and under the direction of panels of technical experts. But one can agree or disagree with the scientific consensus independently of one’s view that political institutions should be arranged in that way. One can disagree with policies independently of the consensus. In other words, the idea that the scientific consensus is equivalent to the configuration of supranational and national political institutions and their respective policies is ‘ideological’. Indeed, as this blog has also pointed out, ad nauseum, the notion of the scientific consensus is used in political and policy debates at all levels, with no regard for the substance of the consensus. As I explain it elsewhere, it is a consensus without an object.  
For some unknown reason the very basis and logic eloquently summarized by Ben is ignored, missed or simply mis-understood by those who persist in wishing to demonize, silence and otherwise marginalize those of us who blog to question the ideology of environmentalism and the effects it has on contemporary society, politics and public policy.

As Ben concludes:
  • The problem is not now, nor has it ever been, ‘ideology’. Ideology has not itself turned people blind to science or anything else. ‘Ideology’ is nothing more than a system of ideas, or beliefs, much of which is embedded in, and transmitted through, culture. 
  • The problem is instead an inability to reflect...
  • The problem, then, is the same as with any religious zealot, ideologue, tyrant or bigot. Proponents of orthodoxies do not recognise themselves as vulnerable to ideology. Why should they, since prevailing hegemonies don’t need to justify themselves — their preferences and prejudices appear to them as manifestly ‘common sense’, and challenges to their authority seem impertinent and obtuse.  
The environmentalist imperative has always rested on the certitude of the science that its adherents assert to compel compliance with their political edicts.  As a consequence, environmentalism has become shrill, anti-humanist and devoid of meaningful morality and ethics.

But to see that from within takes an element of self-reflection most zealots are unwilling and/or unable to achieve. (Sadly it is a capacity even many reasoned, moderates fail to practice). Instead they cast aspersions with invective language at those with the temerity to deviate from their sense of correctness, of compliance, of consensus and then they seek to use the social tools of media, authority and fear to bolster their believe in scenarios of doom and gloom that the science itself does not support, validate nor justify.

The climate blogosphere is not one uniform template of ideas, focus or expertise.  There are technical blogs that assess data and methods (like Climate Audit) there are sites that discuss environmentalism (like this one and Climate Resistance), there are those that act as window on the "climate debate" (such as WUWT ,Bishop Hill and Climate Etc), those that act as a news clearing house for environmental stories (Tom Nelson) and those that present investigative insight and revelations (No Frakking Consensus).  Beyond this, I am not sure what a mapping of the blogosphere achieves -- it appears to me an exercise without clear intellectual purpose, unless that purpose is merely to box all the deviants together ready for metaphorical or literal abuse.

That an effort was made to map the climate blogosphere reveals the extent to which the intellectual and political elite (the climatocracy) is threatened and has failed in its attempts to use climate as a contrivance to compel compliance with its message of austerity chic as a necessary ethic for the masses.

And then, of course, there's this:

  • I urge the minister, in the light of all the evidence that has come out about the lack of any change in temperature over the past 15 years, to think again about the Climate Change Act and to revoke it, amend it and support home owners and British businesses.
David Davies MP