In the recent years, we have witnessed hundreds of attacks against the dignity and sometimes physical safety of the climate skeptics. Death threats; tattooing; fired climatologists; Nuremberg trials; No Pressure 10:10 and detonating skeptical children; and constant demonization in the media and the alarmist blogosphere, among many other physical examples.
The ClimateGate has shown that the researchers around the University of East Anglia have been doing a part of the dirty work, too.
Even though the percentage of people in the public who have believed the legend about a dangerous climate change wasn't too much higher than 50%, if it were ever higher than 50% at all, the amount of threats, bullying, harassment, and intimidation against the skeptics was overwhelmingly larger than the number going in the opposite direction.
In recent months and especially weeks, we are indisputably seeing a growing number of examples of skeptics who are "tough" and in some cases, one could classify some of their acts as threats, bullying, harassment, and intimidation, too. Combative skeptics were suddenly born in Australia that plans to introduce its AUD 23-per-ton CO2 tax. Skeptics have different opinions whether this "balancing" is a good or bad thing.
Let me mention a few recent episodes.
Lord Monckton recently compared an Australian carbon regulation official to the Nazis and even used the Nazi symbols in his talk in the U.S. - before he visited Australia - so that some protests that included fellow climate skeptics forced him to ultimately apologize.
A few days ago, Vicky Kasidis, a green graduate student, went to an anti-carbon-tax rally led by Tony Abbott and she defended the tax and the fight against climate change: transcript, video. She has made most participants angry and one of them, Declan Stephenson, a former decorated Liberal Party campaigner, followed her on the street with the apparent intent to scare her a little bit. She started to cry in the telephone. The story was of course sold by some media as a proof that the whole anti-carbon-tax movement is intolerant.
By the way, do you understand who has filmed the video above? Was it an alarmist, or a soother? I find it kind of unusual that the walk of two people on the sidewalk is so perfectly documented. ;-)
Some of the threats are scary or downright comical, depending on how you look at them.
In the video above, a LaRouche faithful boasts the he has shown Mr Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, a hardcore German proponent of undemocratic green policies, a noose at the beginning of a talk in Australia. He was escorted from the room. A few others followed.
If you don't know what the LaRouche folks are, the video above is enough to understand that they're not quite climate skeptics just like you. :-) I have encountered the LaRouche people a decade ago - as some very bizarre subclass of the truthers - and they believe lots of other crazy and mostly incoherent conspiracy theories. So in Schellnhuber's case, it's not too important that he wants to abolish democracy because of his green agenda: it's more important that Herr Schellnhuber is a spy sent by the Queen Elizabeth! :-) That's the real crime here.
The LaRouche people may be trying to attract some climate skeptics but given the internal logic of their "reasoning", it may be much easier for them to absorb lots of alarmists. :-) These people must have so many crazy yet perfectly synchronized opinions about so many unrelated questions that the only explanation is that they must publish a magazine and everyone is obliged to literally believe every word that is written in it.
Mathematically inclined readers will love to listen to LaRouche's 50-minute interview in which he exposes his conspiracy theory about tensors, counterpoint, and creativity. He's just a universal genius! ;-) He's been working on the tensor technique for 80 years in his basement and it's meant to overcome the mental limitations of the ordinary people. He follows Gauss' use of the tensor to study the asteroid belt in order to find out that the British monarchy plans to overtake the U.S., or something like that.
Physics readers may like LaRouche Youth's nice videos about Einstein, including Spacetime of Imperialism (that has probably inspired Obama's Curvature of Constitutional Space), Einstein and His Violin, Extraordinary Genius of Albert Einstein, and Einstein & LaRouche's common work on Moon-Mars Economics :-).
Michael Mann and others were recently crying that they're the victims: Chris Horner looks at the substance of similar claims in his recent articles.
Now, if you're a climate skeptic who doesn't like that the climate skeptics - usually pretty regular people - are also starting to show their dissatisfaction in ways that are not entirely peaceful, you must know very well that you're not the only one. However, your humble correspondent tends to agree with Marc Morano and a few others whose name won't be promoted - because some of them could face problems if they just admitted that they share my opinions (some of them are apparently very decent and peaceful scientists!) - that this change of the atmosphere is refreshing.
I am simply convinced that the dominance of the global warming agenda in various institutions was a result of the fact that the skeptics allowed themselves to be treated as 2nd class citizens who can be repeatedly kicked into without ever offering any proportionate reply. Consequently, many people who don't study the climate issue in detail got convinced that it had to be "normal" to kick into a climate skeptic. And because it was considered "normal", it led many people to align themselves with the alarmist movement because this was the algorithm to make oneself safer and potentially a 1st class citizen (it's not just about being a coward; some people are deliberately searching for ways to align themselves with "strengthening" social trends).
It always works like that. Unpunished intimidation simply works. It reduces the de facto ability of the intimidated, bullied, demonized person to defend himself or herself and to promote his or her opinions.
You may think that all signs of violence and unfair personal treatment should be eliminated and I may even agree with you. However, it's not possible. What you can partially influence as a skeptic - and potentially an influential skeptic - is only the behavior of some of your fellow skeptics. The alarmists will not listen to your recommendations; you hopefully know it very well.
So the real question is whether the episodes of intimidation should be 100-to-0 in favor of the tough alarmists or something close to 50-to-50, a tie. I surely happen to choose the latter. It's just refreshing. There is a certain amount of confrontations that is a function of the explosive character of the global warming proposals. You will probably not be able to influence this total number.
However, the relative number of "tough goals" in both directions actually indicates the actual level of democracy in the society. In recent years, skeptics couldn't demonstrate their power in various ways exactly because they had been partly stripped of their 1st class citizen status. They simply couldn't do some things that the alarmists could do - because the atmosphere in the society dictated that the de facto rights to act in various ways were asymmetric.
I think it's fortunate that this misbalance is getting fixed.
Now, physical violence doesn't belong to the Academia and other places. And I agree with you. It's mostly absent in the real world of Academia, too. However, various "unphysical versions" of violence, including behind-the-scenes conspiracies and libels, surely do work in the Academia and other "fancy" environments of the human society - whether you like it or not. And those "fancy" ways to force another person to do certain things sometimes also depend on the atmosphere in the whole society that is also affected by the "actual muscles".
So I do think that even people in the Academia have been scared to express their skeptical opinions partly because they were being threatened by the broader society that transcends the Academia.
We must obviously be careful so that these developments don't get out of control. None of us is actually able to directly control the behavior of other people. So people can't control Lord Monckton's or my behavior and I can't control yours. Even Anthony Watts doesn't have the power to declare himself "the most skeptical climate blogger" in the world so that no one could surpass him. ;-) But my opinion is that the reactions should be appropriate to a given situation. We may face situations in our daily interactions - but also possible scenarios in the long run.
We must obviously distinguish those things. There are hypothetical scenarios what may happen with the society (or, less reasonably, the climate) in 20 or 100 years. And then there are decisions we are making this month about the laws and the social atmosphere that will exist next month. If someone is "only" planning to eliminate 90% of the population in 2050, you shouldn't and can't punish him today.
As you know, I sometimes talk about the physical violence that may be used in the future against someone who would dramatically try to "revolutionize" the human society so that people couldn't freely breathe or use electricity at a price comparable to the coal-produced electricity (even though it would be available). These are "gedanken experiments" that have a nonzero probability to become relevant but I surely do hope that they will not become relevant.
On the other hand, I am totally serious when I write that a plan to establish a $300-per-ton CO2 tax would be an act of a brutal suppression of human freedom and it would be appropriate to confront it, perhaps with a gun in your hand. More generally, whether you would personally find such a reaction appropriate or not, there will be people who will find it appropriate. The carbon tax is clearly a thing that the citizens of a nation don't have to pay. They only pay it because some politicians declared that people are obliged to pay such a fee. So the anger would obviously be directed against the politicians and those who help them.
Even if the climate sensitivity were 4 °C, a citizen would have the right to decide that the lowering of his living standards by 50% is worse than a warming by 4 °C or so in a century. This is a political decision, not a scientific one.
For all those reasons, I think it is unthinkable that the carbon price will be gradually raised to levels where it starts to seriously hurt the people's living standards - because once this effect becomes self-evident, people start to revolt. You may say it is a threat (especially if I express empathy with those who will revolt, and I surely do have empathy for them) - that's your choice - but it's primarily meant to be my best prediction about the actual behavior of the system. We want to predict what will happen with the CO2 and real people with a free will are a part of the system, so you must surely take their likely anger and interests into account. Who doesn't take their possible opinions and reactions into account - pretending that the world population may be manipulated in any way he chooses - is not only a fascist but also a person who lacks any sense of reality.
I am not personally defending physical violence against any particular living people but I surely do think that there are many people in this world who deserve to be seriously intimidated because their obsession with proclamations in which they plan to strip other people of their freedoms - and lots of money - have gotten out of control. In my opinion, those people's arrogance got out of control mainly because those people haven't had any natural, formidable enough enemy. They didn't have anyone who would work hard to stop them. That's why their plans got extended to as insane proportions as Herr Schellnhuber's plans.
What I actually consider to be the most likely scenarios is that countries such as Australia will introduce their modest carbon tax, increase them once or twice - maybe to AUD 40-per-ton but they will still be relatively small - and the countries will already find out how big an impact these relatively minor changes have on their country's competitiveness so the policies will be abandoned and they will gradually be abandoned everywhere, even as long-term plans. As the green people start to surrender, the reasons for angry confrontations and violence will evaporate, too. Every additional year or decade without any signs of a qualitative climate change will act to destroy the last traces of the once powerful movement.
Well, the claim that we will have to wait for the Australian competitiveness to drop may be too pessimistic. One minute ago, it was reported that the Gillard's Australian Labor Party has dropped to new depths because of the carbon tax, losing 39-to-61 against the Coalition. Wow.
Her figures may continue to drop: it was just found out that she wasted 12+13 million dollars from the budget for carbon propaganda TV ads (first aired today: watch them here), despite her previous fanatical opposition to government-funded political TV ads. So given the recent dynamics, it's still possible that there will be no carbon tax on July 1st, 2012, just like she promised. And there will be no Gillard in politics.
(Update, Monday: I was right that the figures would continue to drop. On Monday, Labor had 26 percent only, an additional 12% drop in one day. They will drop below 0% on Thursday morning, exactly when President Klaus arrives to Oz haha.)
But if someone plans to introduce a regime that will dramatically reduce the wealth or freedoms of many people, be sure that there will be reactions. First of all, if there were a $1,000-per-ton tax, by linear extrapolation, the politician's preferences will drop to -3,000 percent versus +3,100 percent of the political competition. ;-) But even before the elections (that might be avoided/delayed by the military junta), there would be a dissatisfaction.
Julia Gillard showing a finger to an old lady in Adelaide yesterday
(To make things worse, Port Albert in Victoria, Australia has been told that the sea level will jump by a few meters or kilometers so that they have to move away from the ocean. Consequently, the land prices dropped by 40%. I doubt that those people love the climate alarmists haha.)
These days, people know lots of things about the history. We know that certain unhealthy tendencies in various societies could get out of control and people who could be potentially affected by the deteriorating situation will know that they will have to defend themselves. There are points in the history in which we feel that "our side could have defended itself" but it didn't. That teaches us something.
So far, there have been no real "civil wars" because the total cost of this hysteria was just about a trillion of dollars. Most of it was thrown into the toilet while a few percent - dozens of billions of dollars - were pocketed by the green lobby surrounding the global warming movement (including the corrupt climate researchers). But the mankind could have easily afforded to lose a trillion of dollars. It's a lot but it's a small fraction of the annual GDP. We shouldn't be more angry than we are about any other policy that wastes or steals a trillion of dollars; it would be inappropriate to be selectively more upset at the climate alarmists. The warming movement has so far "only" wasted a trillion of dollars. Correspondingly, there has been no impact of these policies on CO2 in the atmosphere.
But if it became really dangerous that this stuff would consume trillions of dollars every year - which would be needed for CO2 to go down - i.e. if whole percentage points of the GDP were being either eaten or even periodically erased from the GDP growth rate (eaten from the investments and productivity growth), it would become clear that millions of people will simply not peacefully collaborate.
To deny the fact that not all the people in the world intend to act as sheep easily controlled by a random junta means to deny the reality and the human nature. I will not avoid to mention that people proposing "very ambitious" green policies in the future will face physical violence against themselves because I find this to be a very important part of my predictions about the fate of this threat to the civilization - I mean the AGW hysteria - and I think that the people who want to regulate the mankind themselves shouldn't forget about this elementary point, either.