The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cool It Your Own Self

Mr. Lomborg and associates,

We don't need endless R & D. More research is fine but we need urgent deployment of the tools we have now to begin now.

We don't need character assassination of scientists and their allies. We need career paths and resources that attract the best and the brightest to earth sciences, because the huge problems that now seem imminent will need tremendous skills and diligence to overcome.

We don't need attention-craving old crackpots muttering half-truths. We need enhanced public understanding of the nature of the risks we face and the multifaceted role of energy within the bottleneck centuries.

I hope you will reconsider the damage you are planning to do with your elegantly filmed and edited production. There is much in the proposals you offer that is constructive, and your presentation style is compelling. But there is much that is substantively wrong and worse, much that is ethically wrong. I doubt that my plea for you to reconsider will carry much weight if it comes to your attention, yet I hope you will reconsider. You are in a position to do some good with a few modest changes for which there remains time.

I see no reason for your intent, instead, to do such grave harm.

(Readers with strong stomachs can watch the scary trailer here.)

h/t Peter Sinclair

28 comments:

jivlain said...

Yeeeeeessssshhhh, I think that trailer clearly establishes his recent "conversion" as an extremely cynical exploitation of the Overton window. Also, that he's mostly a concern troll.

The set of experts who agreed with him was also rather telling.

Lou Grinzo said...

[standing ovation for Michael's comments]

Nick Palmer said...

Well, based on the trailer, it just looks like one of the largest battalions of straw men arguments ever assembled in one film.

Dan Olner said...

That trailer is something else. The only appearance of Schneider - in the ad at least - has him saying Lomborg "needs to be taken down". Along with much of the rest of the trailer, that fits nicely with portraying scientists as a nasty, closed group attacking the free-thinking Lomborg. That they portray Schneider in this way - taking his words out of context again - I find hard to stomach. Anyone know where that clip is from? I'd like to know what the rest of it says. (It's at about 1.50 in the vid.)

Then there's my favourite bit: Lomborg marching, alone and with an Eastwood swagger, on Washington - ready to take on the Mite of Guvmunt single-handedly.

And what's his message exactly? It plays to all the 'climate change is a government conspiracy to terrify your children' tropes, but the only points he actually makes in the trailer are ones I think a lot of people would agree with - mainly, environmental tokenism won't achieve very much. Shocker.

Is this all just about his ego...?

Neven said...

That they portray Schneider in this way - taking his words out of context again - I find hard to stomach.

Especially now that Schneider cannot defend himself any longer.

I haven't seen the entire flick yet, but try to remain positive: Is it not better to be dealing with the likes of Lomborg instead of Monckton and Watts? If the extremes are alarmists and Lomborgians, the real nutters/liars might be pushed aside in the fringe where they belong?

Perhaps the PR battle and AGW itself have been progressing far enough for a natural evolution towards skeptics who (at least) do not claim AGW is non-existent or non-problematic. And as the science and the consequences of AGW evolve some more, the Lomborgians will have to shapeshift again.

frank -- Decoding SwiftHack said...

MT:

"I doubt that my plea for you to reconsider will carry much weight if it comes to your attention, yet I hope you will reconsider."

Why is anyone giving this much deference to this ritualized scoundrel?

When deniers, delayers, and inactivists encounter an unfriendly media machine, they simply set up their own parallel media and populate it with their own alternate reality; ignore anyone who questions them, and if they can't ignore him they just shoo him away by blasting away at their megaphones. And it works.

When we encounter an unfriendly media machine, what do we do? We beg. We plead. We grovel. We strive to give more credence to the existing structures of power and influence that created this anti-scientific mess in the first place. And guess what, it doesn't work.

So, instead of begging, pleading, and grovelling to Lomborg in the hope that he may, in a lucent moment of compassion, decide to stop his ruinous PR campaign -- I'll just direct everyone to the (Astro)turf Wars project.

There, that's better.

-- frank

Michael Tobis said...

The Schneider clip looks like Michael Moore's methods come home to roost. Who knows what the context was? Will the film tell?

How badly will what the real scientists said get mangled? The preview is not encouraging.

In general, the whole idea of slick documentaries intended to advance a point of view alarms me, left or right. This completely swamps information-gathering. You are letting somebody else do the thinking for you and channeling your feelings about that.

The movies we need are newsreels, not political ads.

It doesn't have to be dull. The best example I know of is The Unforeseen, which covers an environmental battle in a way that is fair and sympathetic to both sides. Highly recommended.

Neven said...

Thanks for mentioning those other two documentaries, Frank and MT. I hope I can download them somewhere soon.

Steve Bloom said...

Neven, to be alarmed is to be in the sane middle.

Vinny Burgoo said...

MT: 'The Schneider clip looks like Michael Moore's methods come home to roost. Who knows what the context was?'

What about the two clips of the unidentified Brit (he looks a bit like Lord Stern but isn't) who is made to say that if you want to alert the public to a complex issue then you have to scare the pants off them? Who is he? Does he really think that? (The face rings a bell. A Lib-Dem lord? Another millionaire BBC 'journalist'? Whoever he is, my guess is that he was arguing the opposite, which is why he wasn't identified in the trailer.)

Neven said...

Neven, to be alarmed is to be in the sane middle.

Sure, Steve. I'm just talking from a strategic perspective. Things will never go as fast as we want.

Vinny Burgoo said...

I should add that I have no doubt whatsoever that most of the British Establishment thinks that scaring the pants off people is the way to go. I just doubt that any part of it would allow itself to be caught on camera saying so. Whoever the baldie in the beige jacket is, his two statements must have been dishonestly juxtaposed. (A necessary dishonesty when confronted by a dishonest Establishment? That's a separate argument.)

David B. Benson said...

IMIO Lomborg is a fool.

Ph, with all due respect, of course.

Michael Tobis said...

Ordinary fools don't get to star in big-budget purportedly-nonfiction movies.

Gareth said...

Things will never go as fast as we want.

No, it looks far more likely that they will go faster than we feared...

David B. Benson said...

Ok, Lomborg is an extraordinary fool.

Natural, not licensed

mothincarnate said...

A number of the people they interview is enough to put me off my lunch. It seems at best Lomborg big noting himself.
We honestly don't need this kind of rubbish at the moment to further confuse the general public.
I used to worry that "greenwashing" and "cleantech" threatened to take over meaningful change in practices, but now I'm convinced the people truly cashing in on climate science are the bozo's behind "greenmedia".

cynthia said...

As Barry Ritholtz, the author of "Bailout Nation" and the founder of the popular econ-blog "The Big Picture," aptly points out (see link below), the battle lines are no longer drawn between Right and Left; they are now being drawn between You and Corporations. The goal of corporations is to keep the Right and left fighting amongst each other, enabling them to walk away with even more wealth and power for themselves.

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/09/you-vs-corporations/

No offense to you, Michael Tobis, but because Michael Moore is clearly an enemy of corporate America, it's wrong of you to equate Bjorn Lomborg's pro-corporate film with any of Michael Moore's anti-corporate films.

And Steve bloom, you may be right about the Middle being sane, but this still doesn't stop the rich and the powerful from the middle of the political spectrum from being masters at manipulating all of us plebs, making the Manipulative Middle, not the Extreme Right or Extreme Left, the enemy of the people. Unless you didn't already know, the Manipulative Middle is occupied by most, if not all, of our political leaders from both sides of the aisle, including and all of our neocon/neolib spin doctors from K Street, and all of our banksters and war profiteers from Wall Street and the Pentagon.

cynthia said...

Let me also mention that deception is one of the biggest weapons that multinational corporates use against us plebs in order to lull us into becoming mindless consumers of their products and loyal yes-men to them, yes-men like Barack Obama or Bjorn Lomborg. You can see this deception in the way the pro-corporate "Cool It" has photo-shopped Lomborg to look twenty or so years younger than he actually is. After all, corporate America has sold us on this idea that it's cool to look twenty-ish, but it's uncool to look forty-ish.

And it goes without saying that Lomborg isn't independently minded any more than Obama is. This makes them nothing more than name-brand products being sold by corporate America. Or, as Chris Hedges, the author of "Empire of Illusion," would say, the two of them are the human equivalent of a brand of mouthwash or a brand of breakfast sausage!

Hank Roberts said...

Perhaps tangential -- but while we worry about real scarcity, we should be aware that much of the economy creates artificial scarcity-- profit or ripoff, depending on which end of the stick you're on.

The real cost of the future could be paid out of the real savings from ending artificial scarcity. That would collapse a lot of economic pyramids, though. Or reduce income inequality,
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/business/17view.html?src=me&ref=business
again depending on which end of the stick ...


Check this out. We're getting mighty good information from comedy sites these days.

http://www.cracked.com/article_18817_5-reasons-future-will-be-ruled-by-b.s._p1.html

"Public libraries have been lending out books to people, for free, for the last 500 years or so. Publishers are OK with it because the library is paying for the book, and if it's a popular book, they'll buy multiple copies ....

But then the publisher invented a better book. An indestructible book called an ebook .... So for the publishers, the next step was clear: Make the book destroy itself.

An ebook sold to a library will thus delete itself out of existence .... a big source of controversy between publishers and public libraries, maybe because both of them know they've found the loose thread that can unravel all of society...."

---
hat tip to Metafilter

Hank Roberts said...

"I can see why conservatives would be insulted at the suggestion that they don't have facts and science and argument on their side. But, well, they don't. .... This is a movement that rejects the science of climate change, that is wallowing in economic illiteracy, and budgetary fantasy."
http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/78503/obama-atttacks-conservative-anti-empiricism

gravityloss said...

http://lomborg-errors.dk/Coolitfilm.htm

Lomborg-errors.dk doesn't yet have details on the film but I'm sure it'll have them shortly.

If it wasn't done by Lomborg and wouldn't have Schneider presented like that, I'd think the film might be positive in a sense that more than changing light bulbs is needed.

Of course this is not a revealing statement.

I think it's also a Danish thing, to think they have something valuable to say on things, when in reality they don't... :)

Most likely in my view, along with other changes, nuclear power will do a resurgence and investment in breeder reactors will be made to reduce fuel needs and waste.

Neven said...

No, it looks far more likely that they will go faster than we feared...

I'm increasingly in denial when it comes to this subject. Give me some time. ;-)

I fully agree with cynthia, BTW. The real 'battle' is between us, the people, and the multinational corporations who have effectively formed a synergistic bond with government and politicians. But the system is such that corporations cannot behave differently than socio/psychopaths. It is what is expected of them. Please watch The Corporation when you have the time.

The only way to break through this vicious circle is to make the main instrument that enables this system visible: the neoclassical economic concept of infinite exponential growth. How it has perverted the corporation and brainwashed culture. This is the number 1 thing that has to be put on the agenda, even before overpopulation. It has to be repeated incessantly, like that Roman senator did who ended every speech with Carthago delenda est.

byron smith said...

A review of the trailer.

gravityloss said...

I find the English press unconvincing and tedious because of the shouting style.

Michael Tobis said...

GL, much though I wish it were otherwise, scientifically educated northern Europeans are not representative of the world at large.

We Texans, myself included, find your food flavorless.

Many of us also find your wit far too dry and your beliefs bloodless, though in that matter I disagree. It is nevertheless all a matter of what your palate is accustomed to.

That said, I think the idea of reviewing a movie trailer before the movie comes out is pointless and I too found it unconvincing and unmotivating.

gravityloss said...

:)
Hey we have tabloids too... It's just that - which English paper would be at least a little restrained? Monckton's prawn comments are not that far from the line if you look at the endless mocking of public figures. It's almost as if many
reporters were constantly feeling bad because of something, and seeing red everywhere...

The same with George W. Bush criticisms of the past. Many people were justifiedly criticising him for many things, but a lot of it was just "whip yourself into a frenzy" that it just wasn't nearly credible or to the point. Maybe it was entertaining to read if you were like minded. Maybe the "funny pictures" of Bush or Obama are in some way the ultimate endpoint in this...


Evidence and supported arguments. And seeing the human behind your opponent. That's why I come to this blog. It's not just polarization (yet it's no appeasement either).


Most of the Canadians I've met have left a very good impression of calmness, confidence, yet being easy going and genuine.


If there's giving someone a treatment, in style, I'm always reminded of Elizabeth Kolbert's Freakonomics II review, though maybe it went a bit too far right at the end for my taste.

Pangolin said...

A Google search on the string "faster than expected climate" still yields thousands of reports of the various ways in which actual climate change effects are running ahead of the models used in the IPCC reports.

I don't see how any reasonable reading of the incoming stream of information on current climate change effects would indicate that we are being 'too alarmist.' We're not being alarmist enough. We know this because we continue to accelerate rather than mitigate climate change.

If we wait till our hair is literally "on fire" it will be far to late to correct our mistakes.