LED into the Heart of Darkness

On Thursday 28th July 2016 The Guardian’s sustainable business page carried an on-line debate on the question: “How can developing countries reach 100% renewables?” No developing country has expressed the intention of doing anything so daft, but since COP21 is promising them a hundred billion dollars a year to help them switch to renewable energy, the question is relevant – relevant that is to how a trillion dollars might get spent in the next decade. They fielded a team of six experts in renewable energy who answered four questions emailed in during the hour-long live “debate”.

There were also six comments, one from janeykins, a work colleague of one of the panellists; one from Selvak, a leftwing climate sceptic who joined the Guardian community a month ago and has published 27 comments in the past 2 days (He won’t last long); and one from Vaders, a leftwing rabid anti-Brexiter who calls Boris Johnson a “bloody foreigner” and a “spineless, racist xenophobic self interested prick.” (He’ll go far).

The questions came from:
Joe Rafalowicz: partnerships and mobilisation manager at Power for All;
Jamie Hartzell100: managing director and founder of the Ethical Property Company, the Ethical Property Foundation and Ethex, the new online ethical stock exchange for positive investments (slogan: Make Money Do Good)
Anna Leidreiter: Senior Programme Manager for Climate Energy, a subdivision of the World Future Council.
and
Emma Baker @EmmaBaker173 (“Budding traveller, eternal optimist and singer-songwriter.”) Emma is “a twenty-something Brit travelling and volunteering my way around Africa – ‘slowly slowly’ – in search of real experiences, deep relationships, inspiration and meaning.”

[Emma is so obviously a decent human being – like so many of the young people I came across when I was stalking at UKYCC here and here – that I did what no serious researcher would do and pressed the “like” button on her “About me” page. Gaia knows what she’ll think when she clicks on my leering satyr avatar to find out who is the first person to like her in 18 months.]

The panel consisted of:
Jeremy Leggett, founder of Solarcentury and SolarAid, and chairman of Carbon Tracker

Edward Hanrahan, CEO of ClimateCare
Maite Pina, renewable energy specialist, Oikocredit International
Nico Tyabji, director of strategic partnerships, SunFunder
Henning Wuester, director of the IRENA Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre, International Renewable Energy Agency
and Aly-Khan Jamal, partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors

All these associations represented are involved in manufacturing, selling, and installing solar panels for Africans who are off-grid, or in providing the intellectual justification for so doing. The entire conversation, supposedly about how to revolutionise the energy provision for 70% of the world’s population in conformity with the conclusions of COP21, turned around providing solar panels for poor Africans to recharge their cellphones. There was no mention of industry, transport, agriculture, infrastructure, urban planning – it was all about rooftop solar panels in remote villages. And everyone asking or answering the questions was in the business. It’s as if you had a discussion on how to spend a trillion euros renovating Europe’s transport system in conformity with an EU directive and only invited cyclists, bicycle manufacturers and heart specialists.

An explanation for this strange little trillion dollar eco-circle jerk can be found in another article on the same day in another – unconnected – corner of the Guardian website. This one is on the “Tech Continent” page, (sponsored by Bill & Melinda Gates), and it’s worth quoting at length:

The Africans buying sunshine with their phones

Julie Njeri did not believe her son when he declared he no longer needed spectacles to read his books and complete his homework. She took him to the doctor and was told young Peter Mwangi no longer suffered the sharp irritation and redness in his eyes that had resulted in him being given glasses. Peter’s mum exclaimed: “It’s a miracle!”

The explanation was somewhat more tangible. In late 2013, Julie and her husband bought an M-Kopa solar power kit… The $200 (£150) device comes with two LED bulbs, an LED flashlight, a rechargeable battery, adaptors for charging phones, and it is all charged by a small solar panel that is propped on the roof.

More than 300,000 families in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania who are not connected to the electricity grid have purchased the unit which is linked to the mobile money transfer system M-Pesa. After paying a deposit of $35 or $25, depending on their M-Pesa credit history, customers are then able to settle the balance through daily mobile phone payments of 50 cents for a year until they own the device outright…

Chad Larson, one of the co-founders of M-Kopa, said the idea sprung from a talk that the Vodafone executive Nick Hughes gave at Oxford’s business school in 2007. Hughes, who is credited with the early research work that led to the introduction of M-Pesa in Kenya, told the audience that mobile phones could replace banks in much of the developing world…

A few years after finishing his studies, Larson and a fellow student, Jesse Moore, quit their jobs and moved to Nairobi with Hughes to join the mobile revolution that was taking hold in east Africa. After dabbling in a number of ventures including a mobile savings account product and a medical helpline where patients could consult doctors via mobile phone, they turned their attention to solar…

M-Pesa, through which customers settle their payments, serves as a virtual wallet on mobile phones into which subscribers deposit cash at an M-Pesa agent. They can then use it to pay bills or transfer the money to another customer…

Investors have piled in – a recent $19m investment round was joined by a number of big names including Generation Investment Management, a fund co-founded by the former US vice-president Al Gore, Virgin’s Richard Branson and the AOL co-founder Steve Case…

The beauty of the business plan is obvious. The solar panel charges the phone that is also the bank that enables the customer to pay his phone bills and the instalments on the payment for the panel, and for products and services advertised on the phone. It’s the 21st century version of the company store. And they throw in a LED torch so your kids can do do their homework in the evening.

There’s one little snag. The viability of the business plan (and therefore the security of the investments of Richard Branson, Al Gore, and thousands of other ethical investors) depends on these African villagers never ever being connected to the grid; never enjoying the quantities of coal- or gas-fired electricity which would power a fridge or a washing machine or a factory or a hospital in the neighbourhood; never emitting the quantities of CO2 which would destroy the planet.

Keep reading by torchlight, Africans. And don’t forget to keep up the payments. Al Gore and Richard Branson are counting on you.

368 thoughts on “LED into the Heart of Darkness

  1. I fail to see the validity of your “snag”. So if in the unlikely event the villagers are connected to an electricity grid in the future, why would they stop using their solar panels to charge their phones and other small electrical items? By that time the costs of charging will be minimal or essentially free.

    The solar cells can, of course, be used in multiples to charge bigger appliances (like fridges to store medicines) and light in rural hospitals. And so much more.

    This seems to me to be the usual anti-renewable rhetoric but applied in the wrong place. The effect of introducing radio, and even more so television, into remote places, charged by wind and/or solar power, is enormous. It opens the world to those who previously had very limited vision.

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  2. “By that time the costs of charging will be minimal or essentially free.”

    But by what time is that, though?

    The question anyone speaking about aspirations for other people needs to ask himself is ‘how long would I wait for it?’, and then, ‘why should anyone else wait any longer?’. The problem being that eco-colonialists’ aspirations have a tendency to thwart the realisation of others. So visions for the populations of developing countries descend to drinking straws, goats, treadle pumps and now solar panels, overseen by agencies organisations that would not have been tolerated here as the Grid was being rolled out. It’s Outdoor Relief, again, for the useless offspring of the upper middle classes that simply can’t make it in any other sector at home.

    Which places do you imagine are likely to be served by such ‘technology’? How remote are they? And what’s keeping people there?

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  3. Alan Kendall
    Why is it unlikely that they should be connected to an electricity grid in the future? It didn’t take many decades to electrify almost all of Europe. Why should Africa be different?

    The reason is that the only sensible way of powering a grid is by gas, coal, or nuclear. And the Greens don’t want that, and are pressuring e.g. the World Bank into refusing to finance coal fired power stations. For a while organisations like Oxfam found themselves in the embarrassing position of opposing development in the developing world. Then along came the solar powered phone charger and they were saved (from embarrassment).

    At https://cliscep.com/2015/11/22/can-of-worms-2-tellus-mater/
    I detailed how Oxfam had teamed up with EDF and Bank of America to provide wind-powered phone chargers and an 8-18% return for ethical investors. And their advertising material gave a clear answer to Ben’s question: “Which places do you imagine are likely to be served by such ‘technology’?” The lucky customers providing the 8-18% profit for Bank of America/Oxfam were living in grass-roofed mud huts.

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  4. Remote communities are bad for the environment and by and large bad for people too. While it might seem that the native peoples are in harmony with their environment it’s only true if they don’t expand their impact, either through increasing numbers or demands.

    Will the solar powered internet connection be used to educate the next Einstein or start a web company selling rare animal parts? Will the tribesman learn poetry or watch porn? Will the school boy learn to write useful programs or how to hack and write viruses? What is the value of giving people the bad side of technology without letting them delve into the good side? The good side requires civilisation, cities, energy, other people and a purpose.

    Even in the UK people have to move where the work is – labs, businesses, better computers, customers. If they just tag on at the back of other countries, they’ll never be wealthy producers, they’ll only ever be hard up consumers.

    If you’re not careful, solar panels don’t act as a stop gap for people with nothing, they become the best those people will be allowed to have.

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  5. Putting the figures in perspective, will help see the lack of perspective the Greenies when trying to “save the planet”.
    $100 Billion Dollars in Aid sounds a lot of money. It is less than 0.15% of annual global output of c$75bn.
    That will buy 4 Hinkley C Nuclear power stations, but not the costs of connecting that electricity to homes and businesses. Hinkley C will be sufficient to supply 7% of the UKs current electricity needs, or about 2-3% the UK switches from fossil fuels entirely. That is stops using gas for heating and stops using oil in transportation. Developing countries have in total at least 50 times the population of the UK.

    Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have about 130 million people between them – say about 25 million families. So about 1.2% of the families (300,000) have invested in the solar kits. There are about 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. There are far more energy-poor families in Asia, such as in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Indonesia etc.

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  6. More bleating from anti-renewables land. Do you know the first thing about international development, Geoff? How much does it cost to install a grid to remote villages in, say, the Congo. Give us your best guess. How many power stations in how many places, how much coal and how many roads to transport it, how to pay for the fuel? Presumably you would have the World Bank pay for much of it, so tell us how big the bill is. And who is going to fund the World Bank, since many of the right wingers you hang about with object to aid in any form. Maybe the coal lobby will chip in a fraction of a percent of the cost – a few million, if they can find that much.

    Then say how you would prevent the distribution cables and/or the power from being stolen. How you’d stop local elites and bureaucrats from stealing the funds or the fuels or the land. And if any electrons did eventually make it down the wires, how you would arrange payment? How much that will it all cost and how long it will take?

    Then consider yourself as a family in one of these place, places that Tiny seems to think are uncivilized, and work out whether you’d like to wait for all that to come true or whether you’d prefer a solar panel, some LEDs and some batteries.

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  7. a recent $19m investment round was joined by a number of big names including Generation Investment Management, a fund co-founded by the former US vice-president Al Gore, Virgin’s Richard Branson and the AOL co-founder Steve Case

    So, Gore and his GIM-mies are still merrily rolling along. A little over three years ago, he (and his associates, including inter alia The Nature Conservancy’s and Goldman-Sachs’ David Wayland Blood and Ireland’s Mrs. [Mary] Robinson) stuck his fingers into British Columbia’s “waste management” pie. He succeeded in pulling out $5.5 million in government subsidy plums. See:

    Wastelandia: Andrew Weaver et al‘s big green choru$ and $ymphony … in the key of Gore

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  8. I worked in both West and East Africa. It seems to me many of you who live in advanced countries have a rather large disconnection from conditions in such a large and heterogeneous continent. For example, those who live in large urban shanty towns face a very high crime rate. This means a solar panel will require some sort of steel cage with concertina wire on the outer perimeter, or it’s likely to be stolen.

    Those living in very cloudy areas near the equator will have extremely low panel output. This means the darned things will be even less cost effective. It may be smarter to train a simbiliki to run a treadmill hooked up to a tiny generator.

    The best mass solution they have in some countries is hydropower, such as the dams on the Congo River. I recall some really windy areas in northern Kenya, where a village may do ok with a windmill and a solar panel. This could be handy to run a refrigerator at the local infirmary, and possibly one at the general store.

    But in general I’d say most people who discuss electric power generation are simply disconnected from both the local environments as well as culture, crime rate, and engineering and economics.

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  9. RAFF
    The fact that I know next to nothing about international development or the economics of energy distribution only underlines the strength of my argument. Whether coal or gas or nuclear or vast arrays of turbines or solar panels are the best answer to Africa’s energy needs I leave to experts and the governments (preferably elected ones) involved.

    In the world of the Guardian, and of their guest debaters (who are also often their subsidisers – see left hand column of relevant articles) and the financers of their guests (who are also often guest columnists at the Guardian and the subject of fawning articles at the Guardian) and of the readers who sent in questions to the debaters, who are in the same line of business, if not actually work colleagues, tha answer to the greatest problem facing the planet is solar panels on hut roofs. It’s the answer because no question to which another answer was possible was even posed. If you don’t think that’s insane then .. but you do agree that’s insane, don’t you?

    “Then say how you would prevent the distribution cables and/or the power from being stolen.”

    I’ve already used that line in a comment at the Conversation when someone was extolling energy for Europe from solar panels in the Sahara. I asked how many Tauregs/ISIS fighters in white vans it would take to strip the copper cables and got no answer.

    Your argument (and that of Alan Kendall above) that it’s better than nothing, or waiting for grid connection to come along, is negated by the fact that the people pushing single solar panels are actively campaigning against economic grid-based power. They want power for cellphones and LED torches in order to prevent power for factories and hospitals.

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  10. Then say how you would prevent the distribution cables and/or the power from being stolen.

    These people are at harmony with nature. People at harmony with nature don’t steal!

    More seriously, are you suggesting that it is impossible for Africans to set up a developed and industrialised society?

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  11. “How much does it cost to install a grid to remote villages”

    That’s just it, you don’t do it that way, any more than we connected up the whole of the UK. People moved to the energy and work, not the other way round. It’s even happening now with economic migrants. It takes people out of the remote areas and those spaces become more free of human influence. Only as the culture becomes more affluent can people consider having it all by enjoying the benefits of a rural life along with civilisation. Sure, some people choose to stay out in the middle of nowhere with next to nothing but you don’t subsidise their choice because it allows them to expand and impact more on pristine environments.

    Industrialisation and congregation are the most effective way to curb population. When a couple balance acquiring income with having babies, they often chose fewer kids. If the health and safety situation is such that those kids will survive to adulthood, they choose less kids. When they don’t need those children to be their workers or carers or pension, they have less kids. If they have more to do with their spare time than go to bed early, they have less kids. It works like magic and isn’t as painful as China’s one child policy.

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  12. Overseas Aid: Taking money from poor people in rich countries to give to rich people in poor countries
    Ethical Investment: Taking money from poor people in poor countries to give to rich people in rich countries.

    Guess that Green Capitalism has pretty well covered their bases. while guaranteeing that the poor everywhere stay poor.

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  13. Geoff, of course it would be crazy to think that installing solar panels on grass huts ‘solves’ Africa’s energy problem. But it is something positive that people can do – and many want to do something. It is direct and immediate in a way that no individual or group can hope to achieve through World Bank loans or foreign aid. If climate sceptics or other anti-renewables types set up a fund to bring power to Africa at a national or continental level through coal and gas projects, they’d achieve absolutely nothing. That job is beyond such small scale action. But they could perhaps pay for some diesel generators and a supply of fuel and do some good in villages. Strangely I’ve never heard of that happening, only whining that the World Bank wont pay for coal or useless sniping at local level projects.

    Even if the World Bank diverted all of its $10bn annual spending from health, welfare, education and infrastructure to building coal plants and buying coal it would put just a small dent in the problem. The extra power would go to the rich in the cities, not the poor. Maybe, as Tiny says, that power would pull in more ‘uncivilized’ peasants from the countryside to ever bigger slums around the cities. But many cities already have some power and yet the people stay on their land. Maybe it takes more than just power, do you think?

    It is possible that an economic miracle like that in China could happen in parts of Africa, with the peasants (were they ‘uncivilized too?) flocking to industrial jobs in the cities, but my guess is that this would happen, if at all, in coastal cities (nearer international markets) and the flocking would be limited by borders. Africa isn’t China.

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  14. I should add, that while Africa is waiting for that economic miracle, waiting for the cliscep investors to pump in their dosh, anti-renewables types would prefer that individual Africans stay in the dark.

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  15. “I should add, that while Africa is waiting for that economic miracle…”

    The average African economy has an annual GDP growth rate of 4.6% between 2007-15. Only Central African Republic, Comoros, Eritrea, Libya, and Swaziland have a growth rate less than 2%. 36 countries out of 54 have GDP growth rates higher than 4%/year. 20 are higher than 5%. 12 are higher than 6%. 5 are higher than 7%. Ethiopia has growth rate of 10.5%.

    It is fashionable to think of “Africa” as desperate, needy, and that doing “something positive that people can do – and many want to do something” is as good as “Africans” can expect. I would expect them to say “Stick your recycling bin and solar panel up your a**e, I want air con and a 4WD. Sort your own economy out!” — it is what I would say to such condescension.

    “… anti-renewables types would prefer that individual Africans stay in the dark.”

    On the contrary, if I am an ‘anti-renewable type’, it is because I am pro development, and it is one-time “development” agencies which have most put the brakes on those percentages with “sustainable” caveats, rather than sought ways to increase them. It is those organisations that celebrate ‘pastoral society’ and ‘traditional cultures’ and concomitantly, fuedal and even stone-age modes of production, rather than industrial development on populations’ own terms, according to their own priorities and politics, that most besets progress from rural poverty.

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  16. The M-Kopa is expensive. It works out at more than 20,000 Shillings. For 10,000 you can get a system that has solar panels with two and a half times the M-Kopa’s rated wattage, a battery with seventy times the capacity, four lamps rather than three, much longer cables and a built-in MP3 player and radio. You have to pay all at once and the battery is lead-acid, so might not last as long (though is probably easy to replace), and even with the bigger panels the battery would take an age to charge, but this looks like a much better deal to me:

    https://www.olx.co.ke/ad/20-watts-solar-lighting-system-ID15LJVf.html

    http://www.felicitysolar.com.cn/product/60459408087-213008878/Guangzhou_Factory_wholesale_DC_12V_and_AC_220V_20W_solar_lighting_home_design_protable_for_home_use.html

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  17. Vinny Burgoo
    Thanks for the information and the links, and thanks to the folks in Guangzhou (all 13 million, though I suppose they’re not all churning out solar panels.) So it comes down to customer choice – going on the internet and seeing who gives you a better deal. The British product offers you the guarantee of the involvement of ethical investor and experienced businessman Branson (“our solar panel runs like a Southern Rail train…”) I wonder what the Chinese are offering? An extra LED torch? Or maybe a deep sea port, a gas pipeline and a rail link?

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  18. Ben Pile, if growth in Africa is so rosy, plenty of private capital will be attracted, investments should be profitable and World Bank loans shouldn’t be needed to build power stations. But isn’t GDP growth per-capita a more meaningful in an area with such rapid population growth? According to the World Bank it is currently a not-so-rosy 0.2% for Sub-Saharan Africa: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.KD.ZG?end=2015&locations=ZG&start=1961&view=chart

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  19. — “According to the World Bank it is currently a not-so-rosy 0.2% for Sub-Saharan Africa” —

    Indeed… For 2015. with growth rates of 1.85 for the previous two years, and includes growth rates of 0% for Nigeria in 2015, preceded by 1.5%, 2.6% and 3.5% in the previous years. The data is noisy. so choosing just the most recent sample point is selective, to say the least.

    — ” growth in Africa is so rosy, plenty of private capital will be attracted, ” —

    Indeed:

    — Foreign direct investment in Sub Saharan Africa on the rise

    FDI in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased by 4.7% in 2013 while it has declined in North Africa

    Africa’s share of global foreign direct investment (FDI) projects has reached the highest level in a decade, according to Executing Growth, EY’s 2014 Africa Attractiveness Survey.

    The report combines an analysis of international investment into Africa since 2003, with a 2014 survey of over 500 global business leaders about their views on the potential of the African market. The latest data shows that while there has been a decline in FDI project numbers from 774 in 2012 to 750 in 2013, primarily due to ongoing uncertainty in North Africa, they remain easily in excess of the pre-crisis average of 390 projects per year. http://www.ey.com/GL/en/Newsroom/News-releases/News-foreign-direct-investment-in-sub-saharan-africa-on-the-rise

    — “World Bank loans shouldn’t be needed to build power stations” —

    Well, I’m no fan of the Bretton Woods institutions. But this is what they say about their purpose:

    — “We provide low-interest loans, zero to low-interest credits, and grants to developing countries. These support a wide array of investments in such areas as education, health, public administration, infrastructure, financial and private sector development, agriculture, and environmental and natural resource management. Some of our projects are cofinanced with governments, other multilateral institutions, commercial banks, export credit agencies, and private sector investors. —

    There’s no reason why even a developing economy with double-digit growth might be disqualified from a WB loan. Indeed, such growth might be a *really* good time for loans for things like coal-fired power stations, rather than the extremely limited, and *limiting* solar power.

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  20. Seems to me like some here are issuing an ultimatum – give up your traditions, your heritage, your love of the land and all that you and your ancestors hold dear because without access to grid electricity you will will remain impoverished in mind and body. Your values are unworthy. Migrate away from your lands allowing them to regain their former environmental pristineness. You have no worth in our eyes. Migrate to the slums where you belong (and where you are also unlikely to have access to, or can pay for, grid power).

    Those with your best interests at heart do not wish you to be seduced by the promise of solar power today, because it is being promoted by those with selfish interests in spreading the false doctrine of unreliable renewables. Move to the cities or wait until we put together an economic package that will allow you access to all you desire. We will westernize you whether you want it or not.

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  21. — “give up your traditions, your heritage, your love of the land and all that you and your ancestors hold dear because without access to grid electricity you will will remain impoverished in mind and body” —

    Ah, blood and soil… Blut und Boden

    I tell you what, Alan, I have never once weeped for the loss of my connection to the land my ancestors toiled on, died on, fought for (in imagined histories). And I have not once felt jealous of my peers who have been lucky enough to have the means to return to subsistence, artisanal lifestyles, selling to boutique farmers markets in the Cotsworlds, that enable the mystical connection to the Thames Valley and its environs.

    And never have I felt that the Internet, coal burning power stations, jet flight, or the A40 divorces me from my heritage…

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  22. Ben Pile. Great, I’m pleased for you. However your desires and satisfaction are immaterial when considering those in parts of the world where people have different values. Your indifference to their values reveals who you are. Your arguments that would deny them what electrical power they could obtain today, rather than in some distant futures, suggests you would be content to “pickle them in aspic” as some do-gooders suggest, or utterly transform their lives, when you haven’t asked them whether they want those changes. What is very clear is that, from my own observations, they want small scale solar and what it brings. Opposition to solar, in such instances, is immoral.

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  23. Selective? Well, yes, but I gave you the link to look for yourself. Annual per-capita GDP growth over the last 10-20 years seems to have averaged around 2% or lower (2004 looks like a false data-point; Nigeria apparently grew 30% in that year) – better than the preceding decades but hardly stellar.

    There’s no reason why even a developing economy with double-digit growth might be disqualified from a WB loan. Indeed, such growth might be a *really* good time for loans for things like coal-fired power stations, rather than the extremely limited, and *limiting* solar power.

    On the other hand, a country growing at 10% might be in danger of overheating and might benefit from counter-cyclical (contractionary) policy. Adding extra investment at this point in the cycle might be exactly the wrong thing to do. Can you say with certainty which is true?

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  24. — your desires and satisfaction are immaterial when considering those in parts of the world where people have different values. Your indifference to their values reveals who you are. … suggests you would be content to “pickle them in aspic” —

    No, I make no comment about *their* values. It was *you* who emphasised traditions, heritage and love of the land… Seemingly on behalf of people in developing economies.

    “… when you haven’t asked them whether they want those changes…”

    I simply don’t assume that anyone would want anything. Except, of course, that I think emphasis on tradition, heritage, love of land is so much confected bullshit, that we can see operating to dark effect in historical moments, where it has been invoked, rearing its head again, in green ideology, which has undue influence over the development agenda.

    What I do know — rather than assume — is that most subsistence farmers would rather be connected, not to the land, but to mains water, an electricity grid, and to have access to agricultural machinery and chemistry, and for their children to be educated at least to secondary level, and for them not to have to be farmers at all.

    If people want to say “no thanks, we’re happy off grid, and in subsistence conditions”, more power to them, but their dependence on solar would imply a continued dependence on outside agencies, and moreover, no control over those agencies.

    “… they want small scale solar and what it brings. Opposition to solar, in such instances, is immoral.”

    Whose opposing it? What is at issue is the aspirations for others. In this case, eco-colonialism, which limits the possibilities of autonomous politics, economic and technological development with strange notions about what’s best for other people.

    i have written a lot about pickling in aspic…

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2011/08/against-development.html

    —-
    Pastoral communities are excluded from politics as such in almost the same way that the peasants of medieval England were largely unable to resist the enclosure of common land, forcing them from it. It was not ‘neglect’ which led to the rough treatment of peasants; it was the fact that political freedoms are created, not given. Green imagines that ‘politics’ fails to respond to pastoral societies, but he forgets that pastoralism and democracy are rarely seen together in a meaningful way, and thus he forgets Sen’s point — famines do not occur in functioning democracies. The abolition of the English peasant class was ugly. But the industrialisation of the UK created the possibility of democracy and other freedoms, albeit bloody and hard-won. Feudalism was put in its place, it didn’t take it up voluntarily.

    Curiously for the the research director of a ‘development’ charity, Green seems to emphasise that there is a responsibility to ‘protect’ pastoral society, rather than to encourage — or enable — its transformation. This does two things. First, it locks the members of pastoral societies into that lifestyle — which it celebrates as ‘sustainable’ — and limits its possibilities. Second, it creates a ‘political’ role for agencies such as Oxfam at the expense of development — their influence is legitimised by the implausibility of political or industrial development, which it also precludes. I find that a grotesque thing for a ‘development’ agency to be engaged in. Rather than helping, Oxfam looks more like a parasite. The concept of ‘sustainability’ turns the concept of ‘development’ completely upside down. Progress means retrogression.
    —-

    See also

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2008/11/painting-pictures-of-poverty.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2008/10/whos-the-basket-case-oxfam.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2008/11/%E2%80%9Cenvironmental-justice%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%93-a-fiction.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2008/08/backwards-to-the-future.html

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  25. AK it’s not about ultimatums, it’s about what happens. Give those kids internet access and they’ll want more for themselves than scraping a living in the back of beyond. How often do we hear remote islanders bleating that all the young people move away? What is globilisation but people migrating to where the jobs are? Why does Scotland hate London? Would you prefer the migrants came to Europe or stay to make their own countries viable? What are we teaching those villagers to read for? So we can pinch the brightest and the best? One of the things that broke Communism so decisively was access to images of what us dirty capitalists enjoy. Only North Korea has managed to resist but to do so it has cut its people off from any development, especially information.

    Other countries will industrialise, regardless of anyone’s plans. The sooner the better, because it leads to more peacful nations and better living conditions. Yes. there may be an unpleasant period of adjustment where things may actually get worse but the time scale is getting shorter and shorter with each industrial revolution.

    Like Ben, I don’t miss many of the traditions of my people. I neither clog dance, wear tartan, go to the toilet in the garden or then spread it on my veg patch. Any desire to comment fondly on my heritage is squashed as being a Little Englander so by now I have zero sympathy for anyone else’s. A cultural foible I’m most attached to is being commanded by my elected politicians and not unelected EU civil servants. Isn’t that quaint?

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Alan, Ben, this discussion reminds me of a spectacular twitter-rant by Mike Shellenberger about what people want (I think it’s mostly about India rather than Africa) . Start here.
    This was in response to some report by climate activists saying something like that people were so concerned about climate change that they didn’t want the lifestyle that the authors of the report enjoy.

    What strikes me is the similarity between the self-righteous behaviour of the interfering, manipulative do-gooders telling people what they should believe and and how they should lead their lives, and the missionaries of the 19th century.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Geoff Chambers, the Chinese are probably offering a never-to-be-completed nuclear power station.

    Apart from the price, and perhaps the slightly neo-colonialist whiff given off by its white ‘social entrepreneur’ founders, M-Kopa seems an OK scheme. It’s a stopgap, not a permanent solution. It’s not preventing proper electrification.

    But the price is way too high.

    And apparently as soon as the solar system has been paid off, they wait a couple of weeks then start badgering you to buy more stuff – TVs, bicycles, stoves, water tanks. I couldn’t be doing with that.

    Their effective annual interest rate is about what a conventional money-lender would charge: 20%. Far better to borrow the money and buy the much cheaper and higher specced Chinese kit.

    But perhaps money-lenders don’t lend to people in remote locations who live on 200 Shillings day.

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  28. Wikipedia: “Overheating can be prevented by means of constant infrastructure expansion to eliminate bottlenecks.”

    In your case, it meant nothing, because 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10% might imply “overheating”.

    Yes in theory, but it must be the *right* infrastructure that is expanded, not just anything. Neither Ethiopian government bureaucrats, World Bank honchos nor even distant bloggers are likely to judge that correctly, especially since either “2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10% might imply “overheating””.

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  29. RAFF — ” it must be the *right* infrastructure that is expanded ” —

    Oh, yes, sorry, misunderstood you. i was all the while thinking that the WB should deliberately invest in the wrong type of infrastructure projects at precisely the wrong time, when the country in question is least able to cope with it, and the investment will cause the maximum damage. It’s all part of our evil plan, which we plot here from our HQ on the climate Denial UFO, to find ways of making life worse for poor people and polar bears.

    The point that ‘2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10% might imply “overheating”’ is that the rate itself tells us nothing.

    “Neither Ethiopian government bureaucrats, World Bank honchos nor even distant bloggers are likely to judge that correctly”

    And yet here you are — not even a blogger, but an anonymous commenter — seemingly defending the WB’s decision not to finance coal-fired power stations.

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  30. The thing about deciding on the right type of infrastructure to build is that it always depends upon the circumstances and that the answer is not always (or maybe even ever) “let’s build a coal fired power station”.

    It is always fun to see conservatives develop a faith in the ability of 3rd world governments and Bretton Woods institutions to deliver the necessary power infrastructure in preference to letting the invisible hand do its job.

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  31. RAFF – “The thing about deciding on the right type of infrastructure to build is that it always depends upon the circumstances and that the answer is not always (or maybe even ever) “let’s build a coal fired power station”.”

    You’re absolutely right, RAFF. I withdraw my suggestion that coal-fired power stations be stamped on every last square inch of every last developing country.

    Oh… Wait a sec… I didn’t ever claim that. Neither did I ever profess a ‘faith’ in Bretton Woods institutions. Far from it. I say above, “Well, I’m no fan of the Bretton Woods institutions”, in another recent thread, I criticise them for producing abortions like Stern (and Stiglitz and Sachs, for that matter), who was appointed because his brother was WB VP, and I point out that it wasn’t so very long ago that the very kind of people who now cite the WB/IMF on climate favourably held it, rightly, in fact, to be amongst the worst institutions in the world, for their enforcing a ‘Washington Consensus’ — making aid and development an instrument of Cold War politics. The fact that that consensus is now green doesn’t, in my view represent quite the transformation sustainababblers appear to think it is… Rather, as per the above, it represents merely green imperialism. I think I have followed the WB’s movements and thought about it rather more deeply than you, in fact…

    http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-world-needs-more-energy-not-green-bs/17647#.V6Jd74MrKJA

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  32. Do you not object to the WB being prevented from funding coal? If you do object, this might imply that you think it *should* fund coal. In other words you would support its decision making processes (and that of supplicant governments) if they lead to a decision to build coal generators. You would, in other words, have faith in the WB.

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  33. You may have thought about the WB too much and missed what happens in the real world. You claim that “Coal is the cheapest form of energy, but it is denied to all those who can least afford the alternatives. “ Yet in the same article you say that 20GW of coal generating capacity is in the pipeline in Africa. So is it denied or isn’t it? And is the WB the only source of funding? What is wrong with private sector funding? Why didn’t the coal industry fund new capacity? Why doesn’t the gas industry fund new gas capacity? What is it that in your mind makes a decision by the WB (which invested only $10bn in all its efforts in Africa last year) not to fund coal equate to Africa being denied coal?

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  34. etc etc…I just want to know if Raff knows anything at all. He gives the impression of a vacuous individual puffing on a bong but maybe he has knowledge that he could share. The problem is that he never shares any knowledge, only his ignorance.

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  35. “Do you not object to the WB being prevented from funding coal?”

    What are you talking about – the WB isn’t *prevented* from ‘funding coal’. It has chosen not to finance or support projects.

    What I’m against is the depriving people of the means to determine their own priorities — which is what the WB and other agencies have done. Meanwhile, the rest of the world burns coal aplenty. Development with strings attached… Nasty, nasty stuff.

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  36. What I’m against is the depriving people of the means to determine their own priorities …

    Well, being pedantic, they could determine their own priorities by holding a referendum or election. By and large the vote will be under the control of the government, and the resulting ‘priorities’ will be those of the government, not the people. The government might decide that ‘it’ (the people of course) is best served by new roads, hospitals, solar panels on local schools, a handout of money or staple foods to all citizens etc or by new coal-fired capacity or by a new airport in the capital or by new government buildings or by higher salaries for the bigwigs or by a bigger militia or military, new jet fighters, etc, etc. And you, Ben Pile, will urge the WB to pay for any and all of these ‘priorities’ because it is what the people want… No of course you wont. You, like the WB, will pass their ‘priorities’ through your own filter and decide for yourself what is actually in their best interests. And then you too would be “depriving people of the means to determine their own priorities”.

    As it happens and as you describe in your article, 20GW of new coal generating capacity is in the pipeline in Africa. That is 25% of existing capacity. So is coal denied them or isn’t it? And is the WB the only source of funding? What is wrong with private sector funding? Why didn’t the coal industry fund new capacity? Why doesn’t the gas industry fund new gas capacity? What is it that in your mind makes a decision by the WB (which invested only $10bn in all its efforts in Africa last year) not to fund coal equate to Africa being denied coal?

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  37. RAFF: “Well, being pedantic,”

    No, you’re being naive, not pedantic. The point is that political autonomy isn’t now, and never has been a given, and supranational political institutions weigh heavier on developing economies, which are concomitantly, less free to develop domestic political institutions to realise such an end. Moreover, it’s my claim (and others’ here, too), that the very nature of sustainable/subsistence economic life (which is what so many supranational organisations want for developing economies) precludes political engagement — it’s back-breaking work, whereas social organisation requires surplus time and/or money.

    RAFF: “So is coal denied them or isn’t it? ”

    Clearly it is being denied “them”; the point being the contrast with other developing economies — and Europe, too. It feels strange, having to point out something as elementary as comparison as a method of understanding the political sphere… But then the precondition of an environmentalist’s perspective is the failure to develop a sense of proportion.

    The remainder of your questions are no less daft than your ability to fathom comparison. The consequence of failing to develop a sense of proportion is the recourse to absolutes. Nobody suggests that the WB is the only source of funding, nor that there is no coal use planned across the entire continent. But then, the WB isn’t the only agency campaigning to prevent coal use in Africa. So daft is your comment, you seem to have forgotten that you learn the fact that some coal is planned for Africa, from an article *I* wrote.

    And above, *I* pointed you to the fact of FDI increasing across much of the region in question. Also above is the point that whereas the WB represents a paltry contribution to development from the West, with strings that preclude development as such, there is also investment from the East.

    This is monumentally stupid:

    — ‘And you, Ben Pile, will urge the WB to pay for any and all of these ‘priorities’ because it is what the people want… No of course you wont. You, like the WB, will pass their ‘priorities’ through your own filter and decide for yourself what is actually in their best interests. And then you too would be “depriving people of the means to determine their own priorities”’. —

    No, the fact of overbearing supranational institutions creating a democratic deficit is well understood, and even articulated to a greater or lesser extent by the ‘development community’ — though not as adequately by them as by their critics. The fact of such unwanted, undemocratic dominance over domestic politics having been demonstrated has been in the news lately. Perhaps you missed it? It wouldn’t surprise me much if you had.

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  38. No, Ben Pile, what is stupid is saying that coal power is being ‘denied’ to people. It is like saying that roads are being denied to people because the money is being spent on medicines; or that schooling is being denied because the money has been spent on ports and security. There is only a finite amount of money from the WB; it sets its priorities according to the wishes of its shareholders. Get over it and find another source of funding for coal power stations.

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  39. “It is like saying that roads are being denied to people because the money is being spent on medicines; ”

    The presupposition there is that “you can have roads, or medicines, but not both”. You don’t know enough to make that claim.

    “There is only a finite amount of money from the WB”

    You move from the general to the particular for the same reason you have failed to develop a sense of proportion.

    Nobody is talking about only the WB; only that the WB epitomise global institutions, and the prevalent mode of the ‘development’ agenda, with implications for development under any financing scheme. For example, and from the article:

    — The message from global institutions to the world’s poor is: ‘you may have your own shit, but you may not have coal’. In 2013, the World Bank, despite acknowledging many people’s lack of access to electricity, said that, because of climate change, it would no longer be supporting the development of coal-fired power stations. The announcement was made in accordance with the principles of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, an alliance of global institutions, civil society and businesses that wants to ‘achieve a broad-based transformation of the world’s energy systems’. But note the caveat: ‘sustainable energy for all’ is not a commitment to ‘energy for all’.

    Low aspirations for African countries are not set by Africans. They are set by the likes of the UK Department for International Development (DfID), which recently set out its Energy Africa campaign – a manifesto for off-grid solar power. ‘Why is [the Department for International Development] pushing solar-only when Africans say they want on-grid electricity?’, asked Benjamin Leo of the US-based Centre for Global Development (CGD). The CGD conducted a survey of Tanzanians who already had connection to off-grid electricity. Ninety per cent of respondents still wanted a grid connection. —

    “… find another source of funding for coal power stations.”

    I prefer to point out the regressive politics of the agencies that dominate the development agenda.

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  40. Thanks Ben for adding the references that support the point that I was making: that a a complex chain of actions runs from the very top to the very bottom of our society, from international organisations like the World Bank and the UNFCCC to the African peasant who’s just stepped on the first rung of the development ladder by acquiring a cell phone, and at each stage the same little green men appear, financing it with their ethical investments, churning out reports justifying it from their NGO offices, plugging it on a subsidised page of the Guardian that no-one reads, and casting a moral anathema on any view but theirs.

    Every penny Richard Branson invests in expensive solar panels handwoven in SW1 for African peasants is a penny not invested in cattle trucks on Southern Railways. And the Brighton commuter goes on cursing Branson and voting Green and reading his Guardian, knowing that, even if all is not right with the world, at least he’s right on with his conscience.

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  41. The presupposition there is that “you can have roads, or medicines, but not both”

    No Ben Pile, the presupposition is that for a given amount of money the more roads you build the fewer medicines you can buy. It is arithmetic. Preferring one over another is a real-world choice, not a denial of one benefit or another. If we increase our foreign aid budget, the WB could of course do more of both but it would still have to make choices. It might still decide that lending a country money for roads and hospitals, which have an indefinite lifetime, is better than lending for coal power, which is arguably obsolete from the outset.

    When it comes to churning out reports, Geoff Chambers, Ben Pile perhaps has expertise from his time as a researcher for UKIP MEP Bloom. It seems unlikely that he would have argued in favour of maintaining the foreign aid budget to bongo bongo land, but who knows?

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  42. RAFF — “for a given amount of money the more roads you build the fewer medicines you can buy. It is arithmetic.” —

    The point was that you don’t know enough to make the claim that “it’s roads or medicines”. The issue is political will and understanding. Your economic mistake is called ‘the household fallacy’. You’re imagining that the economics of the household — the kitty — apply to the wider economy, such that the householder can only afford to buy eggs or socks, whereas the economy in fact produces them. There is plenty of money, and the potential exists for economic regions currently characterised by subsistence to become properly productive.

    For instance, when you build roads, you make drug factories a possibility, and can take your drugs to market. Or other things… More Guinness is now brewed in Nigeria than in Ireland, for example. But were that company’s directors to buy into the sustainabble of the whole of Africa being an arid, infertile desert, its lands incapable of producing crops and its peoples too stupid, or habituated to traditional/tribal society for an industrial division of labour, it would have figured in their investment calculations. Indeed, greens argue that it should be incumbent on investors or financers to take into account such woolly notions as ‘sustainability’ — and more so, in developing economies, where resistance to such ideas is harder to establish, yet where there is greater need of development. As I point out in the article and elsewhere, Oxfam and other one-time development organisations simply don’t imagine African economies industrialising, but instead skipping the entire process of industrialisation, to go straight to the solar-powered ‘app’. This is nakedly because development would exclude them, and so many NGO staff would be made redundant were the productive forces that have been unleashed in China, for example, be unleashed in other parts of the world. Hence, development agencies eschew development.

    The contrast couldn’t be more stark. Hundreds of millions were pulled out of poverty without the help of Oxfam, or even foreign aid budgets, within a generation. The rate of progress was unprecedented in human history. The climate-obsessed ‘development’ NGO worker must look at Borlaug’s wake, and the rapid development of China, and his heart must sink. It *must* be wrong that so much apparent good could have been produced so quickly, to the benefit of so many people without, and in spite of him. And when that capital moved west again, to Africa, where roads and trainlines, factories, mines and markets were built, he said “MAKE IT STOP, THINK OF THE FUTURE GENERATIONS!”.

    So to your… “If we increase our foreign aid budget, the WB could of course do more of both..”, I don’t give a stuff. The largess of western governments is not the whole of it, nor is the WB the only agency in the equation. “Aid” budgets are almost entirely vehicles for extending soft — and sometimes not even soft — power, and are heavily laden with strings. As I point out in the article:

    — A working paper, jointly published by the Global Commission and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) last month was superficially concerned with ‘building electricity supplies in Africa for growth and universal access’. But ‘universal access’ only meant connection to an electricity grid for 40 per cent of Africans. ‘For about 60 per cent of the population, mini-grids and stand-alone systems would be the best means to provide access’, said the paper. Reiterating the point, the ODI’s director of strategic development, Dinah McLeod tweeted, ‘Yes: more to the Africa energy puzzle than off-grid, but grid won’t ever come for many. Let’s be optimistic realists.’ —

    It is hard not to conclude that the development agenda is dominated by people who take a dim view of development, and of aspirations that the continent could be as developed as Europe — or more.

    The point is that not for the first time, it is those governments and those agencies that thwart the possibility of development. For instance, the denial of capital, and the subsequent sabotage of the newly independent Ghana’s ambitions to industrialise itself occurred, not because there was insufficient capital to realise those projects — the world was awash with capital — but because it risked the stakes in a geopolitical battle. Today’s emphasis on environmental concerns is no less ideological, and strategic, albeit multi-polar. Granted, perhaps the west doesn’t any longer back coups in West Africa to prevent development, but state- and supra-state backed green NGOs nonetheless blackmail entire countries against industrial agriculture by threatening to further block their access to (already restricted) western/northern markets should they permit GM, for example, to no less violent an effect — famine.

    “It seems unlikely that he would have argued in favour of maintaining the foreign aid budget to bongo bongo land, but who knows?”

    Well, not you. You don’t know very much. And yet you waffle on, all the same. And not the hack who exposed the whole dastardly conspiracy of MEPs hiring researchers either. You don’t even have the courage to put your own name to your words, so you’re hardly in a position to whinge “OH MY GOD, HE WORKED FOR A UKIP MEP!” Who are you? Who do you work for? Who did you have a lunch with in 1998? What’s your cat’s name? Don’t answer — I don’t care to know, it’s sufficient that your argument is weak — i don’t need to draw from a database of smears to answer you.

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  43. (Is it even a smear anyway? ‘Don’t listen to him. He worked for a political organisation that turned out to have the interests of the majority of Britons at heart. Despicable. He may try to hide it (by fiendishly openly talking about it, as if to distract your attention from his deceit) but he’s not gonna get away with that. Oh no.’)

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  44. No, Ben Pile, if WB funding represented the entirety of development funding then the household fallacy might apply, but the WB quite obviously supplies only a fraction of the investment in Africa. WB has only so much money and what it spends on one thing it cannot spend on another – there is an opportunity cost associated with any spending. Real-world choices are inevitable and don’t represent the ‘denial’ of one benefit or another.

    So to your… “If we increase our foreign aid budget, the WB could of course do more of both..”, I don’t give a stuff. The largess of western governments is not the whole of it, nor is the WB the only agency in the equation. “Aid” budgets are almost entirely vehicles for extending soft — and sometimes not even soft — power, and are heavily laden with strings.

    If you think so poorly of aid then why is WB funding crucial to powering Africa and why does the refusal to pony up for coal imply a denial of energy rather than just the closure of one of many funding sources.

    And a “smear”, Ben Pile? It is only a smear if you think there was something about it to be ashamed of. Was there? If not, it was just a job; a feather in your cap; an entry on your CV. I care little. I mention it only because it indicated where your sympathies lie – with a party that would prefer to cut foreign aid. But you have now made it clear anyway that you don’t think highly of aid – except where it affects coal fired power stations, in which case it is apparently so important that its refusal represents denial of cheap energy. Your ideology has you confused, Ben Pile.

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  45. And the money they could be spending on coal for the many is being spent on solar panels for the few.

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  46. RAFF — “if WB funding represented the entirety of development funding then the household fallacy might apply,”

    Oh, what are you on about?

    You said: “No Ben Pile, the presupposition is that for a given amount of money the more roads you build the fewer medicines you can buy. It is arithmetic.”

    It’s *not* arithmetic, because the point of investment, is not merely buying stuff — per the household fallacy — but development. I know that growth is anathema to you many weirdo greens…

    — “If you think so poorly of aid then why is WB funding crucial to powering Africa ” —

    I don’t claim it is. I say it climate alarmism epitomises what *many* agencies are equally poisoned by. It’s you that keeps going on about the World Bank. It is that

    — “And a “smear”, Ben Pile? It is only a smear if you think there was something about it to be ashamed of. ” —

    Well, why did you mention it then?

    You said:

    — “It seems unlikely that he would have argued in favour of maintaining the foreign aid budget to bongo bongo land” —

    If you care to read what I’ve written — rather than what people I have worked for are alleged to have said — elsewhere, I make the argument for finance without strings and budgets for development without green caveats. Even people who work in overseas development recognise how self serving it is — a real money spinner for some, though.

    You don’t know anything about my ‘ideology’. I do know that you’re a bit thick though.

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  47. Of course it is arithmetic, Ben Pile. If Zimbabwe (or wherever) gets money from the WB to build infrastructure, it will, if it invests wisely, grow faster. This will attract more money and growth will continue. But that doesn’t affect the WB, which still has a fixed amount of money each year and the more it spends on roads, the less it has to spend on hospitals (or the more it spends in Zimbabwe, the less it has for Botswana).

    Finance without strings, Ben Pile? That is, like “free trade”, pie in the sky. Lenders will always want some control. The same goes for green caveats. Can you imagine a lender paying for a motorway through the Rift Valley for example? The only debate is about the degree of controls, not whether they should exist.

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  48. RAFF — “Of course it is arithmetic, Ben Pile. If Zimbabwe (or wherever) gets money from the WB to build infrastructure, it will, if it invests wisely, grow faster. “–

    Then it is not arithmetic. I.e. the consequence of ‘growing faster’ is not given in the available funds, but in the wisdom of the investment. It is the wisdom of investment which is in question. Namely, the predominance of environmentalism in investment choices, and increasingly in regulation of such investment such that the possibilities of development are limited.

    — ‘Finance without strings, Ben Pile? That is, like “free trade”, pie in the sky. Lenders will always want some control.” —

    Lenders will always want some return, not control. If I get a loan from the bank for a car, it matters not one jot if I decide to spend it on mars bars instead, from the bank’s perspective, as long as I make the repayments. *Investors*, rather than *lenders* will make a different form of decision, which may well include control as a *partner* in the enterprise, the risks being a different proposition. But the point was in response to a discussion not about *investment* but *aid*, you having questioned my moral character or ideology, thusly:

    — “It seems unlikely that he would have argued in favour of maintaining the foreign aid budget to bongo bongo land” —

    To which I replied:

    — “I make the argument for finance without strings and budgets for development without green caveats.” —

    So let’s make a distinction between the terms you have conflated: *loans*, *investment*, *foreign policy* (i.e. ‘strategy’) and *aid*, even where loans are given as *aid*, or *aid* takes the form of *investment*…

    Aid given for the benefit of the donor is arguably not aid but strategy, and likely injures the possibility of development, as I point out. In the case of food aid, that might mean distorting local markets for the benefit of producers in donor countries. In the case of green caveats on developmental projects, it seems to me similarly to mean sustaining subsistence economies’ dependence on “development” institutions. It is merely the continuation of colonialism, in other words, in another form.

    For example, it has been a condition of debt relief programmes that governments must spend certain amounts on projects that the donors decide on in place of repayment — recycling bins and composting toilets, for instance, neither of which seem appropriate to me (nor to many reports from the ground). But it might better to say “well, have a bigger loan, and spend it on what *you* think is necessary”, and for ‘us’ to relax the terms or even write off the debt and think again if the loan doesn’t make the economy more productive. No doubt it is harder for poorer economies to raise finance for infrastructural projects on commercial terms, thereby limiting the ‘arithmetic’ part of the funding equation. But it is arguably within “our” power, and a moral imperative, for “us” to take on that risk, and to write it off in the event that it fails, and for “us” (extremely well-funded outfits, run by people on very nice salaries, living colonial lifestyles) not to seek advantage out of the relationship in either event.

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  49. As I said, Ben Pile, it is pie in the sky to imagine lending or giving say £1bn to a developing country with no strings attached. It is in no way comparable to making a car loan.

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  50. RAFF — “it is pie in the sky to imagine lending or giving say £1bn to a developing country with no strings attached. It is in no way comparable to making a car loan.”

    Your own cynicism is not a reason for me to stop arguing that ‘aid’ with strings is not aid, and that it is wrong to use the plight of others to advantage yourself.

    I’ll remind you that you initiated this micro-exchange by suggesting *my* attitude to development budgets were the expression of some toxic ‘ideology’ — indifference to the plight of others. Shoe is rather on the other foot now, isn’t it.

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  51. So did you impress on your erstwhile employer the need to maintain existing aid budgets, even to “bongo bongo land”? Or did you go along with common right wing dogma that existing aid is ‘harmful’ and cover yourself by arguing for this impossible-to-achieve (and thus easy to promise) unconditional aid. If the latter how was the advice received?

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  52. Maybe not. But my impression from talking to people on BH and elsewhere is that those who decry the “denial of energy” to Africa by the WB being selective in the aid it provides are often the same people who object to existing foreign aid under any circumstances, providing a lovely contradiction that they somehow ignore. You play it clever by doing both these but at the same time claiming to support a purer form of aid. Yet I’m pretty certain that you cannot name a single developing country, region or government outside the UK to which you would be prepared for the UK give, say, £1bn unconditionally. Unless you actually can, your rhetoric is entirely worthless.

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  53. — “Yet I’m pretty certain that you cannot name a single developing country, region or government outside the UK to which you would be prepared for the UK give, say, £1bn unconditionally. Unless you actually can, your rhetoric is entirely worthless.” —

    Let’s start with the HIPCs.

    Afghanistan
    Benin
    Bolivia
    Burkina Faso
    Burundi
    Cameroon
    Central African Republic
    Chad
    Republic of the Congo
    Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Comoros
    Ivory Coast
    Ethiopia
    Gambia
    Ghana
    Guinea
    Guinea-Bissau
    Guyana
    Haiti
    Honduras
    Liberia
    Madagascar
    Mali
    Mauritania
    Mozambique
    Nicaragua
    Niger
    Rwanda
    São Tomé and Príncipe
    Senegal
    Sierra Leone
    Suriname
    Tanzania
    Togo
    Uganda
    Zambia

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  54. Seriously? You’d have the UK government give £1bn to Afghanistan, unconditionally? Wow!

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  55. RAFF
    Please name one of the “people on BishopHill and elsewhere who decry the ‘denial of energy’ to Africa” and who “object to existing foreign aid under any circumstances,” thus “providing a lovely contradiction that they somehow ignore.”

    Or go away.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Well, so much for concern about “worthless rhetoric”, then.

    Well Ben Pile, I don’t really believe that someone could be sufficiently naive to just give £1bn to Afghanistan, unconditionally. And nobody would support such a decision. Imagine the renewables head bangers when told you are cutting wind farm subsidies and just handing the money over to the Afghans instead – think they’d like that?

    Geoff Chambers, go search BH if you like. You’d have to be willfully blind not to have noticed that the folks with whom you find common cause are against foreign aid, the World Bank, the UN etc and yet manage to complain when that aid doesn’t pay for coal. I often wonder how you can bear the company you keep.

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  57. I don’t really believe that someone could be sufficiently naive to just give £1bn to Afghanistan, unconditionally.

    We’ve spent a lot more than that bombing them back into the Stone Age. Since we’re doing it for their own good, why shouldn’t we hand over a piddling billion? Remember, with your wholehearted approval (?) we’ve just promised to hand over a hundred billion a year to the developing countries to mitigate global warming. What’s a billion to Afghanistan?

    And nobody would support such a decision. Imagine the renewables head bangers when told you are cutting wind farm subsidies and just handing the money over to the Afghans instead – think they’d like that?

    Of course they won’t. They’ll whine about cutting wind farm subsidies as they whine about cuts in aid to the developing countries. They just don’t get your point about money spent on x is not available for y.

    Geoff Chambers, go search BH if you like. You’d have to be willfully blind not to have noticed that the folks with whom you find common cause are against foreign aid, the World Bank, the UN etc and yet manage to complain when that aid doesn’t pay for coal.

    Why should I search BH for evidence that you’re right, when you’re wrong? And even if you’d gone to the bother of responding to my challenge by finding one single commenter to support your claim, what would that prove?

    I often wonder how you can bear the company you keep.

    Do you indeed? That’s what your interventions here come down to: implying that, because – according to the consensual conventional wisdom – climate sceptics are knuckle-dragging Trump supporters, therefore no sane person would want to be associated with them.

    It’s not going to work. I am happy to be associated in the campaign against lies with the likes of Delingpole and Monckton, who challenge the same lies, even if I wouldn’t be seen dead in the same polling booth with them. Can you understand the concept of agreeing with someone on one proposition, but not on another? I doubt it.

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  58. Geoff — “according to the consensual conventional wisdom – climate sceptics are knuckle-dragging Trump supporters, therefore no sane person would want to be associated with them.” —

    It’s interesting what is revealed by angry green attempts attempts to draw out *our* worldview. It’s knuckle-draggers here; and it’s feckless, fecund and feeble people overseas. We stand accused, it seems, of being in bed with nasty people, with nasty views. But it’s not us, or even our putative co-ideologists who take such a condescending view of people, nor attempt to limit their material aspirations.

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  59. It’s interesting what is revealed by angry green attempts attempts to draw out *our* worldview.

    What’s really interesting is how you can say this without any apparent irony (unless it was meant to be ironic and I missed it).

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  60. — unless it was meant to be ironic and I missed it —

    It’s what you imagine that is more pertinent than what you ‘miss’. Though you miss plenty, irony included… Including the irony of you suggesting that the observation of the irony of greens missing their own ideology lacked a sense of irony. It’s a kind of same-to-you-but-with-brass-knobs-on, which is ironic, given you were trying (so hard) to ‘keep the conversation civil’. That’s *our* fault too, I guess. But *you* posted *here*. And you’ve posted almost everywhere else that there is a danger a conversation might happen without the oversight of Consensus Enforcement.

    Haven’t you got any ‘physics’ to do, Ken? Or was it just an afterthought?

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  61. Ben,
    I’m not blaming anyone else for anything. I was simply commenting on your complaint about others attempting to “draw out *our* worldview” (which may, or may not, be true) while appearing to do precisely the same yourself. If anything, your entire mantra is generalising about the worldviews of those with whom you seem to disagree. This appears to be mostly based on a small amount of personal experience, and a huge amount of ideological bias.

    given you were trying (so hard) to ‘keep the conversation civil’

    Yes, but this did fail, which I have acknowledged, time and time again. At least I tried.

    And you’ve posted almost everywhere else that there is a danger a conversation might happen without the oversight of Consensus Enforcement.

    No, I haven’t. What a bizarre thing to say.

    Geoff,

    I am happy to be associated in the campaign against lies with the likes of Delingpole and Monckton

    Really? Monckton and Delingpole are – IMO – two of the most dishonest, ignorant, and unpleasant individuals who choose to engage publicly about climate science.

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  62. Thanks for the clarification, Ken. Let’s bring it back on topic.

    — “… while appearing to do precisely the same yourself. If anything, your entire mantra is generalising about the worldviews of those with whom you seem to disagree.” —

    I make the point, in fact, that nobody should be nervous of admitting to ‘ideology’ or ‘politics’. And if they weren’t, greens wouldn’t try so damned hard to hide it behind science. So, whereas us knuckle-dragging sceptics might, on the final analysis, turn out to lumber under the same weight of ideology as our green counterparts, it is nonetheless green ideology that prevails absolutely, and that thus it deserves far more criticism than it receives.

    So, I can be an outright goose-stepping, barely-legal-far-right, topless skateboarding nutjob, and yet *still* have a valid point to make about the extent to which green ideology dictates the terms of development overseas, and still question the legitimacy of that predominance.

    The point is not ner-ner-nerr-nerr-nerrr, my-ideology-is-purer-than-your-ideology. My preference for democracy and my distaste for environmentalism on that basis is, after all, merely ‘ideology’. The problem is that others’ preference for ‘science’ as the organising principle for development there, or energy and industrial policy here is no less ‘ideological’. It’s only by admitting to ‘ideology’ that it can be isolated, and thus how “what science says” can be understood. Anything else is blackmail.

    — “No, I haven’t.” —

    Oh, but you are *so* prolific. I can’t believe you have any time to look at the stars.

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  63. Ben,

    I make the point, in fact, that nobody should be nervous of admitting to ‘ideology’ or ‘politics’.

    Of course.

    And if they weren’t, greens wouldn’t try so damned hard to hide it behind science.

    Ahh, but a key problem is that some (yourself, for example) choose to define certain people as greens on the basis of the science they choose to discuss publicly. This is often despite any evidence that they actually ascribe to a Green viewpoint.

    So, I can be an outright goose-stepping, barely-legal-far-right, topless skateboarding nutjob, and yet *still* have a valid point to make about the extent to which green ideology dictates the terms of development overseas, and still question the legitimacy of that predominance.

    Of course, but sometimes it’s hard to then extract the valid point from the ranting.

    The problem is that others’ preference for ‘science’ as the organising principle for development there, or energy and industrial policy here is no less ‘ideological’.

    This – in my opinion – is mostly a strawman. Of course people with certain ideological viewpoints will use science to their advantage if they can, which would be ideological. However, there is little to suggest that anyone is really suggesting that science should be some kind of organising principle. The main suggestion is that we should use evidence to inform decision making. That doesn’t mean that the evidence defines the decision, or that it somehow trumps ideology, but does mean that people might need to justify their decisions, given the available evidence.

    It’s only by admitting to ‘ideology’ that it can be isolated, and thus how “what science says” can be understood. Anything else is blackmail.

    This sounds like postmodernist nonsense. An alternative explanation is that the evidence presents our best understanding – at the moment – of the system that we’re trying to understand. Sometimes this challenges our ideological views, sometimes it supports them. The idea, however, that our ideology somehow defines/influences the overall evidence is something for which there is little evidence – of course, ideology might influence individual studies, and/or individual researchers, but there’s little evidence that our overall understanding is somehow influenced by ideology.

    Oh, but you are *so* prolific. I can’t believe you have any time to look at the stars.

    Not quite sure how youre response relates to what you quoted of mine, but – as I think you have said yourself – None of your business, really, is it?

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  64. — “This – in my opinion – is mostly a strawman.” —

    Indeed. Your opinion. Yet so many political claims do seem to be hidden behind ‘science’. And adherents to those claims/’science’ protest so much that it is simply ‘the facts’ speaking to them, and on which they speak for. And so much of institutional science seems to be jostling for position. And there is much resistance to that being pointed out, too.

    — ” there is little to suggest that anyone is really suggesting that science should be some kind of organising principle” —

    There’s tonnes of it. Much of it discussed here. And on my blog. The problem is, you merely see it as railing against ‘science’.

    — “The main suggestion is that we should use evidence to inform decision making.” —

    but here, in this thread, we see it proposed that science should limit the material aspirations of others, living far away. Yet you still see no evidence. None so blind…

    — “This sounds like postmodernist nonsense.” —

    Any criticism of scientism will appear to its advocates as ‘postmodernist nonsense’. The problem for them being that the postmodern condition is precisely ‘incredulity towards metanarratives’ (i.e. ‘politics’, ‘ideology’, etc), and emphasis instead on technical, scientific administration of society. It was only a small number of postmodenist thinkers that descended on the idea that science was ‘just another narrative’, though not entirely without foundation… It is, after all, possible — and you seem to admit so yourself — for pseudoscience to appear as science. And it was only a small subset of those who claimed that there was no such thing as an objective, material world.

    — “The idea, however, that our ideology somehow defines/influences the overall evidence is something for which there is little evidence – of course, ideology might influence individual studies, and/or individual researchers, but there’s little evidence that our overall understanding is somehow influenced by ideology.” —

    There’s an absolute abundance of exactly this. And it is on questions of development that the ideological presuppositions of environmentalism become most transparent in ‘scientific’ claims. My ‘favourite’ example being the notion that N thousand people die a year as a result of climate change, and that thus people living in developing economies suffer more as a consequence of climate change, and will benefit from skipping all that ugly technological development stuff, and heading straight for windfarms and solar panels.

    There is no test of the cause of death that could determine ‘climate change’ was the cause. Moreover, all the things that are assumed to be the deathly consequence of climate change, are in rapid decline. not because of solar panels, but more because of coal and capitalism. (And I say it with no particular dog in either of those races). Even more moreover, what remains fatal to many people is not an nth-order effect of climate change, but first-order effects of poverty. It takes *exactly* an ideological rejection of science to claim that any death from poverty is a death from climate change; it *presupposes* that absent an excess of CO2 in the atmosphere, happy peasants would toil at fertile soil. And that idea has gripped many global institutions. There is even now the claim that wars, as well as poverty, and even criminality can be explained as the consequence of climate change. And yet you say there is little evidence of ideology. It is the premise of your ‘science’. The problem is, ‘science’ does not seem to have developed the means to isolate that ideology. Hence, I suggest that in order to understand ‘what science says’, ‘ideology’ — what science has been told — must first be understood. One can do seemingly ‘good’ science from poor premises.

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  65. Wilful blindness indeed, Geoff Chambers. And from my side of the fence, it seems obvious that much said about climate by Monckton is plain wrong and he knows it but that Delingpole, the interpreter of interpretations, would not know true from false on any given scientific question. I always assumed that sceptics like you appreciated that too but were willfully blind to it. It is, I guess, possible that you really don’t realize the degree of nuttiness of the people with whom you campaign, but that nuttiness rubs off on you, you are part of their fruitcake, whether you know it or not.

    I see the legendary ‘lies’ are your motivation, so tell me, what in your opinion is the biggest ‘lie’ in the climate debate?

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  66. AND THEN THERE’S PHYSICS, RAFF

    Examples of Delingpole and Monckton’s dishonesty, ignorance, and unpleasantness (ATTP) and wrongness and nuttiness (RAFF) please.

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  67. RAFF
    “what in your opinion is the biggest ‘lie’ in the climate debate?”

    “We know that in the future…”

    Yours is a very good question, but its purpose here is to deflect attention from the subject of the article, which is Richard Branson upping his credibility with the Brighton commuter by selling trinkets to Africans.

    And THEN THERE’SPHYSICS did the same thing on the Benoît Rittaud thread, asking me what I thought people would think of Climate Audit and WUWT in the future, as if my predictions of what other people would think could be of any interest.

    But it got me thinking about the lies uncovered by Steve McIntyre, by Steig, Gergis, Lewandowsky, and I think Mann and Schmidt, which were in fact all the same lie – claiming to have found and corrected an error in their own work to cover up the fact that it was Steve. As lies they were trivial and infantile (“Who found the lost rabbit?” – “I did Miss!”) but their purpose was not. It was to deny credibility to McIntyre and all sceptics for ever. McIntyre must never be right, or else the world (their world) will come to an end. Scientific propositions would have to be judged on their merits and not on the status of their utterers or their degree of consensuality.

    So I can’t really answer your question. But it’s an interesting one, and I’ll think about it. Thanks for asking it.

    Liked by 2 people

  68. THE lie was to hard sell climate catastrophe as hard science, as settled science, as empirically derived science. All the little white lies employed thereafter to bolster this notion and ensure its continuance are, in a sense irrelevant, but obviously worthy of exposure by those who have technical knowledge and expertise in various scientific and mathematical disciplines.

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  69. That is why you puzzle me, Geoff Chambers. You are the political opposite pole to much of the climate sceptic community and yet you campaign with them, even the obviously ignorant and toxic like Dellers, against ‘lies’ that you cannot identify. Strange.

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  70. RAFF should explain what ‘political poles’ has to do with global warming. After all, ‘eco socialists’ and green capitalists buddy up all the time. David Cameron unveiled some of his plans for his ‘greenest government ever’ before he was even PM at Greenpeace’s London HQ. Much of the UK’s climate policy was forged after a cross party-consensus was established by the Green Alliance.

    So why is it ‘toxic’ for sceptics from seemingly opposite ends of the political spectrum to speak with each other, but the far more significant coalitions of billionaires, technocrats, NGOs, Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour, and far left and anarchist greens isn’t?

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  71. The thing is, Ben Pile, politics and the climate debate are deeply entwined. Scepticism is predominantly of the right, which implies that it is not to do with science. People from opposite poles don’t usually cooperate without a strong motivation, yet Geoff Chambers cannot, as yet, identify what motivates him (the main ‘lies’).

    BTW, in normal English, “toxic Dellers” means Dellers is toxic, not that political cooperation. Between poles is toxic. But I realise that skeptic English differs…

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  72. Raff, Geoff identifies what motivates him in every post he writes. It’s the same thing that motivates most if not all of us on this joint blog – a concern that the left has lost its way and become not merely irrelevant, but harmful as it shifted into campaigning for the climate (and other areas designed to signal virtue).

    This is all obvious stuff – but it’s staggering how, even now, with vast areas of working class Britain voting for Brexit and putting the boot in to the remote, metropolitan liberal-left establishment, with the Labour Party imploding in irrelevance, that people who identify self-consciously as left-wing can’t see what’s in front of them.

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  73. RAFF — “politics and the climate debate are deeply entwined. Scepticism is predominantly of the right, which implies that it is not to do with science.”

    While I agree that ‘politics and the climate debate are deeply entwined’, it seems to me you want to have your cake and eat it, whereas the fact is that the left’s apparent absorption of climate change has nothing to do with “science”, either.

    Moreover, if you care to take an interest in political history, parallel to the development of environmental science, the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ turn out to be pretty redundant today. So redundant, in fact that your observation, if it is true, is trivially true, and might amount to no more than “belief in climate change signifies belief in climate change”. For example, the UK’s politics are dominated by a cross-party political consensus on climate change (amongst other things), and climate having been emphasised as much by conservatives as by the Labour Party. Indeed, the first drafts of the 2008 Climate Change Act proposed from the then Labour Government’s side included a commitment to only a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, which was criticised by the Tories for being insufficient according to their own “research”. They proposed a figure of 80% — which is what it ultimately was, the political disagreement being settled by the Act’s creation of the Committee on Climate Change, to remove the political dimension from goal-setting (or goal-scoring, if you prefer).

    Moreover, European politics is dominated by conservatives, yet it is Europe which arguably pushes the for the most ambitious commitments in global policymaking. No less a figure than Connie Hedegaard that did a lot of that pushing, and she hails from the danish Conservative People’s Party. There is no left-right dimension

    You can only really point to outliers — Monckton, Delingpole — not broad political movements, with tangible influence over policymaking. If that appears to you to signify climate scepticism as predominantly of the right, it might be cause by a transformation of the left, which has developed something of an intolerance to dissent. One doesn’t need any particularly deep grasp of political history to note that all the institutions of the Left are in deep crisis, and exist on the opposite side of a yawning chasm to their putative constituency, the concerns of which do not figure much.

    To bring this back on topic, it is very much the same symptom that drives the notion that developing economies will be served by solar PV cells: institutions that are increasingly divorced from reality, be it political, economic, practical, or objective reality, to the extent that they rely increasingly on wholly abstract metrics and understandings of society. This is a complete inversion or divorce from the foundations of anything resembling the ‘left’, the much larger parts of which emphasised a material understanding rather than intangibles such as history. It might be that there appears to be more climate scepticism on the right, but this would likely be the consequence of it not being in such disarray as the left (though it is certainly not without its own crises), comparatively speaking, and thus is able to accommodate differences of perspective within its own fold, and stand as a more coherent political force.

    So to the observation that climate scepticism appears to be a phenomenon of the right, we can say either that the observer is dizzy from his own spinning, or that his disorientation is the result of having his head up his arse.

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  74. Raff,

    “Scepticism is predominantly of the right, which implies that it is not to do with science.”

    ‘Climate change’ is a wicked social problem which implies likewise that ‘it is not to do with science’. We’ve all been led up the garden path it seems – both sceptics and campaigners and researchers advocating for the perfect future climate who have ‘science on their side’.

    http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/climate-change-as-wicked-social-problem.html

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  75. Correction… “…rather than intangibles such as history…” WMTB “… rather than intangibles such as TRADITION [and natural order]…”

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  76. Thanks JAIME JESSOP for finding that reference to the Reiner Grundmann article from the slightly dormant German based blog Klimazwiebel. Once we’ve got together the 16 euros to buy the article, I’m sure someone here will be commenting on it.

    RAFF
    You still haven’t indicated what Monckton says that is “plain wrong”. His most prominent contribution at the moment is probably his regular articles at WUWT calculating how long since there was a significant rise in global average temperatures, a series discontinued because of el Niño but no doubt soon to be resumed. Are his calculations wrong? Please answer yes or no, otherwise I consider all discussion terminated.
    Your obsession with me defining “lies” is peculiar. My repetitive insistence from time to time on the lies of Lewandowsky and Cook is precisely because clear examples of lying in a massive propaganda campaign are hard to pin down. No statement about the future can be called a lie, nor any statement beginning “Scientists think/believe/predict…” Are there lies in Mann Bradley Hughes 1998? Probably not. Are there any lies in the Climategate emails? Probably not many. Phil Jones asked Mann to delete emails and said Keith would do likewise. So when he said later that he hadn’t himself deleted emails he wasn’t necessarily lying. People generally don’t, if they can avoid it. Did Keith Briffa and Mann delete emails? We don’t know. They never lied about it because no-one ever asked them.

    Is Caroline Lucas lying when she says in today’s Guardian that the climate is “spinning out of control” and talks of a “jobs-rich zero-carbon future”? Of course not. She’s merely demonstrating that she’s a nutter who’s lost all contact with reality. A zero-carbon future is “jobs-rich” the way a zero-insecticide organic cabbage is slug-rich. But it’s not a lie.

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  77. “Are his calculations wrong?”

    No. His calculation of the number of months since Jan 1997 was spot on in the article I read. But his characterisation of the RSS data thus:

    Figure 1. The least-squares linear-regression trend on the RSS satellite monthly global mean surface temperature anomaly dataset shows no global warming for 18 years 8 months since January 1997, though one-third of all anthropogenic forcings occurred during the period of the Pause.

    is obviously wrong in its description of the dataset. And his introduction to the figure:

    Yet for 224 months since then there has been no global warming at all (Fig. 1).

    Is also, as I’m sure you can recognise, wrong.

    What interests me about ‘lies’ is that they are invoked so often by skeptics, often as reason for their scepticism, yet whenever I ask for a concrete example, none is presented. You are no different. Even if Lew/Cook did lie (let’s not debate that again), that would not explain your long held scepticism, which predates the 97% business. I understand that it is tiresome to be called on that, but suggest you provide a better reason for being sceptical of climate science.

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  78. RAFF

    “…‘lies’ […] are invoked so often by skeptics, often as reason for their scepticism, yet whenever I ask for a concrete example, none is presented. You are no different. Even if Lew/Cook did lie (let’s not debate that again), that would not explain your long held scepticism..”

    The contradiction there between saying “no lies are presented” and “let’s not discuss the Lew./Cook lies” is too evident to need comment.

    Lies are never the first sign that things are not right. Lewandowsky 2012 is clearly rubbish from beginning to end – biassed, incompetent, illiterate statistical manipulation for base political ends. It was only when Barry Woods asked a question about it that Lewandowsky lied. The lie merely confirms that the whole edifice is rotten. Similarly with Climategate. People ‘knew’ that MBH98 and the various attempts to prop it up were rubbish. It was only when the emails spoke of destroying data, deleting emails and hiding the decline that there was proof that what might have been simply an eruption of mass incompetence was in fact a conspiracy to corrupt science and pervert international politics. The only obvious lies that can be clearly identified are the thousands of statements by journalists and politicians that Climategate was thoroughly investigated and the scientists cleared. But who cares if politicians and journalists lie?

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  79. It may have escaped Raff’s notice, but we are from the UK, not from the USA.

    There’s an interesting paper by Capstick and Pidgeon, What is climate change scepticism; in their UK survey they asked people their voting intention, but curiously the paper does not report results on this. If you search through their SI file you eventually find that there was a tiny non-significant correlation between one type of scepticism (‘epistemic scepticism’) and voting conservative, and a tiny negative non-significant correlation between ‘response scepticism’ and voting conservative.
    In normal science, a non-result like this, that goes so strongly against conventional “wisdom”, would be highlighted in the paper as a major result, but here it’s not mentioned in the main paper.

    The obsession the institutional left has with labelling sceptics as right-wing (and therefore, of course, evil) is another topic worthy of analysis, but way off-topic here. It will be the subject of a future blog post.

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  80. No, Geoff Chambers. We have discussed Lew/Cook before are though you remain convinced that they lie, I am not. Repeating the discussion would not help. From your lack of interest in whether Monckton is actually wrong and your near obsession with Lew/Cook would I be right to conclude that you are not really interested in climate science per-se (‘epistemic scepticism’, per PM link) and have no view on it; that your interest is only in the social or societal side of the climate debate.

    Interesting, Paul Matthews. I had formed the idea that skepticism is a right wing thing from various sources.

    – Personal acquaintance, where it seems go with right wing politics.

    – News articles, where it predominates on the right in the US, is often seen in Tory MPs in the UK, is an apparent feature of the right wing parties in Oz and NZ, pops up in right of centre parties in Germany, Netherlands and France and perhaps others.

    – Blogs such as BH, Euan Mearns (and others where I have not lasted too long) where right wing commenters/owners are common.

    I am not of the left, more pragmatic centre, and I read a variety of sources (although with a bias towards The Economist/FT). But maybe I should review my biases…. or at least read your link.

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  81. Correction: “We have discussed Lew/Cook before AND though you remain convinced…”

    Also I should have added Canada to the list of right-skeptics.

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  82. Also off-topic, but maybe of relevance to the subject of consensus enforcement, is that McIntyre is regularly labelled as a “sceptic”, in the sense of someone who thinks that much of climate science is motivated more by dubious green political concerns than by scientific concerns. Yet whenever he does comment on the wider political issues, he says that he would, if he were a politician, be guided by the IPCC. It seems that labelling him as a sceptic is about enforcing the infallibility of climate scientists.

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  83. It was pointed out to RAFF that the coordinates of his understanding of both politics and the climate debate were wrong.

    — I had formed the idea that skepticism is a right wing thing from various sources. —

    This shows us that the biggest problem in forming a view of the world is eliminating observer effects. RAFF’s understanding of what he sees is established before he opens his eyes… And as to opening his eyes, he says,

    — “… no question about it.” —

    Eyes wide shut, he claims to be ‘not of the left, more pragmatic centre’.

    Everyone in the mainstream believes themselves to be ‘pragmatic’, and to have occupied the ‘centre’.

    But is the centre the carefully-triangulated position between two other well understood positions? Or is it perhaps nihilism, rather than a commitment to anything at all? Or perhaps it’s even just utterly devoid of even the capacity to reject an idea, because it’s just too… well… thick — the newspapers and magazines it buys merely affectations, the signifiers of substance between the eyes… Accessories.

    It is true that an attempt was made to make Climate Change a ‘wedge’ issue in the USA. What this tells us though, is that, rather than suggesting simple, ideological a prioris at work, the issue is strategic. Joel Kotkin observes a far more sensible division of America on the climate issue than “left” and “right”: the industries of early and advanced capitalism.


    Racial and economic inequality may be key issues facing America today, but the steps often pushed by progressives, including minority politicians, seem more likely to exacerbate these divisions than repair them. In a broad arc of policies affecting everything from housing to employment, the agenda being adopted serves to stunt upward mobility, self-sufficiency and property ownership.

    This great betrayal has many causes, but perhaps the largest one has been the abandonment of broad-based economic growth traditionally embraced by Democrats. Instead, they have opted for a policy agenda that stresses environmental puritanism and notions of racial redress, financed in large part by the windfall profits of Silicon Valley and California’s highly taxed upper-middle class.

    Nowhere in California is this agenda more clearly manifested than with state Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, who represents impoverished East Los Angeles. De León has proclaimed addressing “climate change” as the Senate’s “top priority” and is calling for, among other things, disinvestment from fossil fuel companies. Rarely considered seem to be the actual impacts of these policies on the daily lives of millions of working- and middle-class Californians.

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/california-673763-state-new.html

    There is no left/right dimension to the debate, because at least one of those designations — or its constituency — is completely missing. The dynamic is not between left and right. Paradoxically, however, (from a historical POV), the right ends up being the better defender of working class interests, the promises of Silicon Valley only extending to those who are able to develop ‘apps’, rather than cheap tangible commodities. The closest thing to the ”left” is the liberal communism of billionaire philanthropists. Left and right are arbitrary designations in a categorically post-political era, in which there are almost zero ideological battles of consequence. And it is precisely that sterility which has led to the ascendancy of climate change.

    In the 1970s, it was conservatives who argued for cap-and-trade type measures for protecting the environment. In any sensible perspective, this is called ‘privatisation’. And on any objective view, the privatisation of the commons — the land, air and water — is offensive by degree to the ‘left’. yet even after Enron had extorted the bill payer, and staked its claim on the assets that would be created by Kyoto and successor agreements, the putative ‘left’ still didn’t recognise what it had embraced by greening.

    So RAFF buys the Economist and the FT only in the sense that they keep his chips warm.

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  84. I admit I was surprised that Raff claims to read the Economist and FT but more on the grounds thqt he seems to know nothing about finance, business and economics. Perhaps he buys them for the recipes?

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  85. — “… he seems to know nothing about finance, business and economics…” —

    To be fair, The Economist is to economics what The New Scientist is to science.

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  86. I consider myself to be towards the centre, Ben Pile, because I was not so many years ago much more to the right. My opinions on many things have changed, over several years, leftward from what I used to accepts as true and now consider stupid. Changing ones opinion requires a certain mental flexibility and an acceptance that one is fallible. I doubt that you would recognize these characteristics.

    From the number of words you write, I guess you think of yourself as a deep thinker. But if you cannot discern what is clear, that conservatives in the US (and Oz/Canada) reject climate science while liberals (in the US sense) don’t, then your thoughts are of worth only to those with similarly blinkered views on life. And as you should know, facts have a liberal bias.

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  87. I’m afraid it’s Raff who shows his blinkered bias. A non-biased way to put it would be to say that in the US, ‘conservatives’ downplay the effects of climate change whereas ‘liberals’ overstate it, as shown very nicely by Kahan (can’t find the link right now – the one where the ‘liberals’ thought that nuclear power caused GW and that North pole ice melting would cause sea level rise).

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  88. Raff, you’re embarrassing yourself now. As a comeback, that’s several universes, possibly a few dimensions, off target. Please look after yourself.

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  89. — I was not so many years ago much more to the right —

    How “much more to the right”, RAFF? And how many years ago? Were you goose-stepping before you were walking? Or did your road to green centrist Damascus come much later in life, after some dabbling with skinheads and football casuals, perhaps?

    Indeed, I do understand the transformation, having once counted myself as ‘green’ and ‘left’. But it turns out that the latter is a hollow category, as I’ve been trying to explain to you. And the former does not require reflection on the possibility that oneself is mistaken, but deference to consensus. Some say that consensus is ‘scientific’, but the more i looked for myself, rather than merely cited the authority of others in battles of received wisdoms, the more I discovered political presuppositions buried beneath all that ‘science’. I then noticed that my erstwhile green comrades, too, had failed to engage with the arguments, and wandered routinely through a script that had been handed to them. In many places elsewhere, I’ve pointed out that a characteristic of environmentalism is in fact the inability to reflect on the position one assumes. You consensus enforcers will brook no dissent.

    I make no claim as to the depth or quality of what I write, RAFF. You can take it or leave it. I’d rather you left it, to be honest, as, like most people of a green bent, you’re not a challenge, you’re not interesting, and I’d rather talk about you, not to you.

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  90. Ben,

    I’d rather talk about you, not to you.

    This seems pretty obvious, but in between all your attempts to talk about others – rather than with them – maybe you could clarify what you meant by this:

    but here, in this thread, we see it proposed that science should limit the material aspirations of others, living far away.

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  91. Despite all the attempts to explain to him that left and right are fairly meaningless in this age as descriptions of political views, Raff still clings hard to them. People who self-describe as “left-wing” can encompass belief that the state should provide for everything while yet allowing considerable difference between how those aims should be achieved – by force, in the view of Stalin, Mugabe or Mao or by voluntary action in the case of Gandhi, for example. Gandhi would probably be seen as highly libertarian – is that left or right wing? Similarly, people described as highly right wing – such as Hitler and Mussolini – seem to share similar attitudes to authority as the left wingers Stalin and co. Where does someone who is libertarian and yet believes in a small state, with people looking after themselves as much as possible fit on a simple left-right axis? In the Western democracies, I guess that most people hover somewhere around the centre. Given the manifestoes on which the last UK election was faught, which was the more left-wing party, Lib Dems or Labour? What real differences were there between the Conservatives and Labour apart from some esoteric differences on economic policy?

    And as usual, pure comedy gold from ATTP. Read the thread, ATTP, there are many examples given of how “science” is being used to limit other people’s aspirations. But to help you with your reading comprehension, here is the argument in a grossly simplified form:

    1/ Scientists have concluded that CO2 emissions cause global warming and that this has negative consequences for something not specified very clearly – the sort of thinking that thinks that a planet is a person.
    2/ Governments and NGOs have bought into this and, guided by scientists with “green” inclinations, are trying to limit and restrict CO2 emissions.
    3/ Amongst other things, wealthy governments are tying international aid to curbing emissons in the developing world.
    4/ NGOs and entrepreneurs are jumping on this bandwaggon, marketing renewable solutions to the developing world which will have the effect of making the buyers dependent on the suppliers of these solutions and ensuring that they are unlikely ever to experience the benefits of economic growth.
    5/ Economic growth is anathema to the green movement and many climate scientists share that anathema – eg Michael Tobis – and consensus enforcers such as Eli Rabbett and most of the commentators that you permit to comment at your website. If that is not limiting people’s aspirations, what else is it?

    Liked by 2 people

  92. Ken — “maybe you could clarify what you meant by this: ‘but here, in this thread, we see it proposed that science should limit the material aspirations of others, living far away.'”–

    It’s the subject of the post, Ken. We were talking about the green tendency — that is to say, about you — to use climate ‘science’ as a pretext for neocolonialism.

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  93. Ben,
    Well, this is bollocks

    the green tendency — that is to say, about you — to use climate ‘science’ as a pretext for neocolonialism.

    but that’s no surprise (for someone who appears to think they’re some kind of intellectual, you don’t half spout a lot of utter nonsense).

    That aside, thanks. It just sounded like you were actually suggesting that science itself suggests that the material aspirations of others, living far away, should be limited. You just believe that there are people using scientific evidence to promote neocolonialism and limit the material aspirations of others. Slightly bizarre, but not impossible, I guess.

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  94. Ken Rice — “Well, this is bollocks” —

    And yet here you are, with your emphasis on “physics”, attacking us deniers, for suggesting there might be some problems with the aspiration underpinning the question “How can developing countries reach 100% renewables?”, and the predominance of a single perspective in debates about that agenda.

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  95. Ben,
    This is also bollocks

    And yet here you are, with your emphasis on “physics”, attacking us deniers, for suggesting there might be some problems with the aspiration underpinning the question “How can developing countries reach 100% renewables?”, and the predominance of a single perspective in debates about that agenda.

    Come on. Are you genuinely trying to be serious, or are you just having a massive laugh?

    Like

  96. ATTP, do you think it is desirable for developing countries to achieve 100% reliance on renewables?

    If so, what are the physics reasons behind your belief?

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  97. Ken Rice — “I was simply posting a few comments on a blog.” —

    And this is incompatible with…

    — “And yet here you are, with your emphasis on “physics”, attacking us deniers, for suggesting there might be some problems with the aspiration underpinning the question “How can developing countries reach 100% renewables?”, and the predominance of a single perspective in debates about that agenda.” —

    .. how?

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  98. Ken Rice — ” I’ve never attacked anyone for making those suggestions” —

    And yet your opening effort was…

    — “What’s really interesting is how you can say this without any apparent irony (unless it was meant to be ironic and I missed it).” —

    What did you believe you were saying? What whingeing, interminable string of self justification makes that comment all sweetness and light… just a passing comment… your tu’penth worth, eh?

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  99. Ken Rice — “WAAAAAAH, WAAAAH, IT’S NOT FAIR! I’M A MIDDLE-AGED MAN WHO HAS BEEN VERY SLIGHTLY MISCHARACTERISED (AT WORST) ON A BLOG, THE OCCUPANTS OF WHICH i HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON WITH, WHO AM OPENLY HOSTILE TO, WHO HAVE PUBLICLY SLATED AS NOT WORTHY OF ENGAGING WITH, HAVE DESCRIBED VARIOUSLY AS MAD, STUPID AND EVIL, AND WHO I BAN FROM MY OWN BLOG BECAUSE I CLAIM THEY ARE DISRUPTIVE TO ‘CIVIL CONVERSATION’. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! IT’S NOT FAAAAAAAAAAIR”. —

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  100. Ken Rice — “I was simply commenting…” —

    Oh, right.

    And so when I said,

    — “And yet here you are, with your emphasis on “physics”, attacking us deniers, for suggesting there might be some problems with the aspiration underpinning the question “How can developing countries reach 100% renewables?”, and the predominance of a single perspective in debates about that agenda.” —

    I was simply commenting, too.

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  101. What we said at ATTP’s site, or at the Conversation, or the Guardian or SkepticalScience is gone for ever. What they say here will stay for ever. Historians will only have this site and sites like it to rely on. How unfair.

    Liked by 1 person

  102. So the consensus of Matthews-Woolley-Pile (which sounds like a sort of carpet) is that scepticism is not of the right – tho any normal-thinking person would see that it is – and even that ‘left’ is an hollow concept. That will be news to Geoff Chambers, but I’m sure he has faced worse insults. He is after all an adherent to a political philosophy that caused more death, destruction, pain and suffering than probably any other, except for religion, in the 20th century.

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  103. “Geoff Chambers … is after all an adherent to a political philosophy that caused more death, destruction, pain and suffering than probably any other, except for religion, in the 20th century.”

    Gosh, that’s quite an accusation to make about the British Labour Party. But I suppose Jeremy Corbyn hears worse every day from his parliamentary colleagues.

    Liked by 1 person

  104. You can easily see what attracts raff to the world of AGW activism. It is his inability to accept factual evidence when it goes against his preconceptions. As an example, the legislation in Europe put forward by a conservative politician. Of course this ignores the question of whether conservative equals right-wing, but that is too difficult for him to grasp.

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  105. No, Geoff Chambers, if the Labour Party is a political philosophy, I’m a liberalism. The philosophy I referred to was obviously communism or its cousin Marxism, to which you adhere I believe.

    What “factual evidence” can you provide, Man In A Barrel, that suggests climate scepticism is not generally (i.e beyond these shores) of the right?

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  106. RAFF — “…communism or its cousin Marxism…” —

    You’re a first order moron, RAFF. You could read every edition of The Economist ever printed, but its words word pass through your thick skull to no effect.

    Even The Economist’s authors know that Marx (and Engels) penned The Communist Manifesto.

    It might be normal for wherever you live for cousins to be closer than… erm… cousins. And that would explain some things. But to pretend to have a grasp of politics and then issue such an abortion… well… really…

    Do yourself a favour.

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  107. Can you really be as stupid as you appear, Ben Pile, or are you just pretending? Talk to Geoff Chambers. If he is a real communist, he’ll explain the differences in easy words for you.

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  108. RAFF — “…explain the differences…”–

    Thanks, I have a degree in politics, and have read Marx quite thoroughly. I’m intrigued though.. You think that Communism — the most definitive attempt to formulate which was Marx’s project — is distinct from Marxism, which is also the term for Marx’s thinking (notwithstanding, “…one thing I am certain of, I am not a Marxist). And then, you don’t know which one Geoff adheres to, but you’re sure it’s one of them, and that this makes him culpable for millions of deaths.

    It’s an interesting mess you’ve made for yourself. And pointing it out doesn’t make *me* thick…

    You seem to be unique in showing the traits of both an angry Consensus enforcer, and the kind of flannel that the shallow end of the alt-right produce. the only thing missing is the claim that CO2 is a Jewish conspiracy.

    What the hell are they printing in the FT these days?! I must buy a copy to see what it’s about. Sounds hilarious.

    Who are you, anyway?

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  109. Raff

    I don’t know what shores you are referring to and, as I have tried to explain to you, left/right is not an informative way of looking at politics anymore. I just note that in the UK all of the 3 major parties have promoted AGW-combative policies. The EU, through a Danish Conservative commissioner, is signed up to mitigating ACW. I don’t follow politics in many EU countries, but I note that Spoain has signed up to mitigting AGW and has had Socialist and Christian democrat governments since 2004. In terms of sceptical voices, I imagine that Delingpole and Monckton would support the Conservative party but I have no evidence for that. It is no more than a belief. I see no prominent sceptical voices elsewhere in Europe.

    On this site, Geoff, a sceptical voice, lives in France and presumably would support a socialist party.

    In the USA, a Democrat president has not managed to achieve support in Congress for very much in the way of anti-AGW legislation, although he did veto the Keystone pipeline on grounds of emissions. He has also done nothing to curtail fracking – a technology abhorrent to the UK green fringe. And for his first 3 years in charge, he had a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives so he could probably have passed legislation in this area if he had wanted to.

    Map these illustrations onto your simplistic and meaningless left/right dichotomy.

    I really do not know anything aqbout the political allegiances of major sceptical voices. I gather that Steve McIntyre who you would probably declare a sceptic has stated that, if he were a politician, he would be guided by the IPCC and I suspect (although without very much in the way of evidence, that he would vote for a social-democrat party in Canada) Is that left or right on your simplistic scale?

    I hope that helps.

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  110. I also note that in the UK, 3 Conservatives were the only MPs to vote against the Climate Change Act. However, the Conservative Lord Deben chairs the Independent Committee on Climate Change and seems to be as strenuously in favour of the mitigation of AGW as, say, Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP. Which one is left-wing and which right-wing? Looking at the Commons Select Committee on Climate Change, 2 prominent sceptical voices were Graham Stringer from the Labour Party and Peter Lilley from the Conservatives.

    Scepticism does not break down on party lines as far as I can tell.

    Liked by 1 person

  111. MAN IN A BARREL
    What distiguishes the 2 prominent sceptical voices on the Commons Select Committee on Climate Change (Graham Stringer from the Labour Party and Peter Lilley from the Conservatives) from almost all their colleagues is that they have both had a scientific education.

    Liked by 1 person

  112. A degree in politics, Ben Pile? Well then you must be right. Perhaps you can go here:
    http://politics.stackexchange.com/questions/2394/what-are-the-main-differences-between-different-types-of-marxism

    and add your tuppence worth to put them right. Be sure to include “I have a degree in politics” and they will be sure to defer to your superior wisdom. Idiot!

    I see no “factual evidence” from what you wrote, Man In A Barrel, that scepticism is not on the right. But you should note that saying that scepticism is generally on the right does *not* mean that people on the right are sceptics. The two are of course not at all the same thing, yet that is what you seem to have assumed.

    Liked by 4 people

  113. You see no factual evidence, Raff, because you refuse to see it. You are strongly averse to evidence. The fact remains that you are unable to define this left /right dichotomy. Name some of these right wing sceptics and then let us discuss whether their influence outweighs all these governmental forces.

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  114. Man in a Barrel,

    “I suspect (although without very much in the way of evidence, that he would vote for a social-democrat party in Canada)”

    Evidence: “I live in downtown Toronto, and I have the politics of downtown Toronto.”
    —McIntyre, quoted by Macleans.

    For non-Canadians: in Raff’s simplistic scale that means leftism, or its cousin socialism, or its cousin liberalism, or its cousin izquierdismo.

    Liked by 1 person

  115. It shouldn’t need repeating, Man In A Barrel, but with you it seems to. Just because most postboxes are red doesn’t mean that Geoff’s red flag is a postbox. So just because most sceptics are on the right doesn’t mean most of those on the right are sceptics. It is quite easy really. Changing the subject to who has most influence doesn’t help you. Denying that right and left exist is foolish. They may be less useful categories than once was the case, but broadly scepticism is still of the right.

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  116. Raff,

    so: climate gullibilism is broadly of the left (and chiefly afflicts inner-city first-world white folks with college degrees but no training in science)? All right. Whatever.

    Liked by 1 person

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