Facing Ridiculous Claims

In the **The Daily Show: John Oliver Investigates Gun Control in Australia**, John Oliver shows a good way to disarm ridiculous claims.

In the first part alone, he does it twice: the first occurence is at 3:44, the second at 3:58. What John Oliver does is brilliantly simple. Reformulate the ridiculous claim as a counterfactual:

so unless we Y, we should not X

where the Y is ridiculous and X is not. In other words, John Oliver repeats the claim where the ridiculous part of the claim is emphasized. In less than 15 seconds, Philip van Cleave’s position is KO’ed. He can’t face his own ridiculous claim.

Ridiculous claims bear repeating.

Kalamazoo DilBit Spill

This footage is from February 2012; the spill occurred in July 2010. As of today the cleanup remains incomplete.

InsideClimate News has won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on this matter and their ebook on the subject can be downloaded from Amazon.

This bears directly on both the Mayflower AR spill and on the Keystone XL pipeline [UPDATE] , as well as on the Northern Gateway pipeline which is being proposed in British Columbia.

Urban Rail Systems

Alan Drake has been vocal on the recent KXL thread suggesting that we focus on the demand side rather than the supply side of the carbon problem. Most of us were not convinced of his “either/or” proposition, and presuming that it’s either/or, most people who understand the climate side would understand that the supply side is far more crucial. That said, he does make a compelling case on his own turf, for urban rail.

Keystone Pipeline – A Texan’s View

The references in this interview to the “foreignness” of the pipeline, and the idea that climate change means “we’re in trouble in this country” are disturbing if familiar. Libertarians are supposed to support free trade, and climate is obviously not something that recognizes borders. This is how real life Texas libertarians think.

On the other hand I really do like listening to Texans. I enjoy the speech patterns, and I am as amused as anyone by the oddly cheerful belligerence (“health problems”!) even as I am discouraged by it.

You can argue that this fellow’s conversion on climate change is shallow and self-interested. Well, maybe so. Not everyone has loyalties to the world. People need to see the ways in which fossil fuels threaten their own lives and their own communities. That’s not going to be easy in Texas, where fossil fuels have made so many people, including the interviewee, quite well off.

h/t Peter Sinclair

Climate Change and the Future

The proposed response to the likes of the Daily Mail is a bit underwhelming, but the prognosis the speaker presents for the 21st century raises some important points that tend to get underemphasized in the usual give and take on climate issues.

The speaker is Professor Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of the United Kingdom.

A Proposed Remedy for Many Ills

Alan Savory proposes that controlled livestock grazing can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert. He proceeds to make grand claims for applying his method at a global scale to address climate change.

Tony Watts of climate-change naysayer site Watts Up With That, and Willis Eschenbach, perhaps Watts’ most interesting contributor, are enthusiastic supporters. That isn’t an especially good sign.

Chris Clarke, writing at Pharyngula, is unconvinced to say the least, and has a more detailed anti-Savory diatribe at KCET.

Despite the temptation to pile on, and despite the risk of being seen as Very Serious, Planet3.0 will take the opportunity to stake out a moderate centrist position. The truth, this time, may lie somewhere in between.