We’ve met Neil Levy and his views on climate catastrophe before. Paul, in this post drew our attention to this article at the Conversation crossposted at the Oxford Ethics blog here about climate sceptics, or deniers, as he prefers to call us.
An extremely lively discussion ensued under the article at the Oxford Ethics blog, involving me, Paul, Ben Barry, Jaime, Ian Woolley John Shade, ATT Physics and others, during which two things happened:
1) Neil Levy withdrew from the debate halfway through, with the comment:
I will leave you guys to play by yourselves now. I will only respond if someone has a substantive point to make (where asserting that I’m wrong, or stupid, or playing gotcha don’t count as substantive, by my lights). Have fun.
2) The blog site went down due to “technical problems” and remained down for five months. No explanation was given, and the opening post five months later was yet another climate sceptic-related one by Dr Levy, quoting Dan Kahan in support of the statement that “… Sceptics are not less intelligent or less knowledgeable.” Thanks for that Neil. I suspect that what happened during those five months while the blog owners were busy with their soldering irons was a lively debate at the Centre of Ethics about the ethics of allowing or not the comments to stay up. We won.
In his new article: “Climate change: How do I cope with inevitable decline?” Neil Levy starts with a quote from Paul, 42, London who is moved by watching an interview with David Attenborough to say: “It seems to me that this is the first time in history we have known things will get worse for the foreseeable future. How do you live in the shadow of such rapid and inevitable decline? And how can you cope with the guilt?”
Neil Levy agrees with Paul, 42, adding:
Never before have we known that the deterioration of not just our countries, but our entire planet, will continue for the foreseeable future – no matter what we do...We can’t hide from the fact that Attenborough’s opinion reflects mainstream science .”
This last, utterly false claim is backed up by a link to this article by Professor Lewandowsky, which dates from 2013 and is about the conspiracy theorising of us sceptics, and has absolutely nothing to do with whether future decline is inevitable.
Our debate with Neil Levy under his previous article centred around his belief that non-experts have a moral duty to accept the belief of experts, a belief that he was unable to defend. And among the experts we were expected to bow down to were Cook and Lewandowsky, which resulted in the shortcomings of these two experts being laid out in some detail in comments. It is extraordinary that Levy should come back, citing the same expert, in another, utterly indefensible article about how to cope with something that doesn’t exist, and for which Levy provides no evidence at all accept the belief of Paul, 42.
Neil Levy is an expert in philosophy – not climate science – in particular ethics, or moral philosophy, a subject which has its basis in the dialogues of Socrates, who prided himself in being a non-expert. I intend to discuss his latest article in comments at the Oxford Practical Ethics blog, and recommend others to join in.