Dear climate change deniers, please spare me your faux concern for the poor

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A tweet from Steve Milloy:

Milloy, for anyone unfamiliar with him, is the “Junk Science Man”, i.e. someone who takes money from the likes of fossil fuel and tobacco companies to spout a line of piffle. Exposing Junk Science is his name, Peddling Junk Science is his game.

He is also, as you can see from the tweet above, a man deeply concerned about the plight of the poor. Concern for the poor, you see, is something that simply oozes out of the hearts of right-wing climate change deniers/skeptics/lukewarmers.. That is when they are talking about climate change.

Taking serious efforts to reduce global emissions…. this will hurt the poor in Africa.

Taking serious efforts to reduce emissions in Britain…. this will hurt the poor in Britain by making them to pay more for energy.

Bring up climate change, and these people will rush to defend the interests of the poor. It’s the first port of call. Bring up welfare, the state of public health provision, foreign aid, disability benefits, free school meals, inequality, the state of public housing, and this concern for the poor is absent. In fact, bring up these other issues, and these bleeding hearts will be in a mad rush to do all they can to screw the poor.

So, it is perfectly consistent for someone to complain that acting on climate change will harm the poor in Africa while demanding that Britain stops all aid to poor Africa countries. It is perfectly consistent to complain about the impact of renewable energy costs on the poor while opposing government subsidies to insulate the houses of the poor.

It is perfectly consistent to complain about rich land owners making money from wind farms, while you yourself being a rich landowner who makes money from coal mining on the land you inherited.

So, here is a challenge for a social scientist. I have a hypothesis and I believe it needs to be tested.

Here it is

Right wing climate change deniers/skeptics/lukewarmers show orders of magnitude more concern for the poor when they are writing about climate change than any other issue

This hypothesis can easily be tested by compiling the inconsistent and hypocritical comment pieces by Matt Ridley, the land owner referenced above, et al.

Of course, like all good hypotheses, it can be refuted. But somehow I don’t think it will be.


9 thoughts on “Dear climate change deniers, please spare me your faux concern for the poor

    pa32r said:
    June 28, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Not that I agree, but I’m confident that their defense of this seeming dichotomy would be that they believe in the power of the free market unencumbered by government regulation to achieve the optimal outcomes.


      Robert Wilson said:
      June 29, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      They also believe that via the power of the free market, those who are poor normally deserve to be poor, at least where the supposed free market is in full operation.


    Marcel Crok said:
    June 29, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Interesting hypothesis and you might be right in the case of the Milloy/Morano kind of sceptics.
    But in the case of Ridley, whom I have met a couple of times, I tend to disagree with you. As you are an avid reader I encourage you to add The Rational Optimist to your list. It is as good as the work of Vaclav Smil, whose latest book I have just bought thanks to your recommendation.


      Robert Wilson said:
      June 29, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      I classify Ridley among these hypocrites. This is a man who is happy to “defend the little guy” by going after rich land owners in opinion pieces. Yet, he himself is a rich land owner, who inherited the land. It’s stinking opportunism.


    Jon said:
    June 29, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    If someone was threatening to do to the Third World with nuclear weapons what you are proposing to do to them with fossil fuel rationing, I would be up in arms about it, and so would every other sensible and compassionate person on the planet. We are responding to a very real and imminent threat. The fact that it comes from misguided and misled government policy rather than deliberate aggression is immaterial.


      Robert Wilson said:
      June 29, 2015 at 10:16 pm


      Please show me when I have said a thing about what the third world should do about fossil fuels. You have simply made this up.


    Eric McKee said:
    June 30, 2015 at 1:23 am

    In 1997 the Club of Rome collaborated with Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute to launch a new report “Factor Four” that promised to “halve resource use” while doubling wealth. The message was that you could get rich saving the planet. A privileged few did indeed double their wealth; but for the rest it was just a case of halving resources.

    Immodestly, Lovins made his own California energy scheme the main example of savings in “Factor Four”. His well-paid advice to the State of California was that it was a big mistake to adopt a system that rewarded increased electricity output with increased profits. Such a system would naturally tend to boost output. Instead, rewards for cutting energy use were needed. Rather than getting paid for additional megawatts the utility companies should be rewarded for saving power use: negawatts. The impact of Lovins’ model on energy generation in California was decisive. “Around 1980, Pacific Gas and Electricity Company was planning to build some 10-20 power stations”, according to Lovins.

    But by 1992, PG&E was planning to build no more power stations, and in 1993, it permanently dissolved its engineering and construction division. Instead as its 1992 Annual Report pronounced, it planned to get at least three quarters of its new power needs in the 1990s from more efficient use by its customers.[4]

    Of course the PG&E was not getting three quarters of its new power needs from anywhere: it had just reduced its output. But manufacturing energy scarcity did indeed grow somebody’s cash wealth: Enron’s. With these artificial caps on energy production the generating companies could start to hike up the charges to utility companies, including PG&E, now unable to meet its own customers’ demands. Those energy companies were owned by Enron. Chief Executive Kenneth Lay turned Enron from a company that made its money generating power into one that made its money trading finance. Whatever else it was doing, there was no denying that Enron was cutting back its own CO2 emissions and getting rich doing it. One company memo stated that the Kyoto treaty “would do more to promote Enron’s business than will almost any other regulatory initiative”.[5]

    Amory Lovins’ negawatt revolution in California was Enron’s wet dream. Having shut down its own generation capacity, PG&E was at the mercy of Enron’s market manipulation. Buying surplus electricity on the open market PG&E was royally fleeced, losing US$12 billion. Utility bills rose by nine times between May 2000 and May 2001. Enron took advantage of the restricted market and cut electricity to California. They even invented reasons to take power plants offline while California was blacked out. Enron officials joked that they were stealing one million dollars a day from California.[6] The PG&E that Lovins held up as a model went bankrupt and had to be bailed out by the State of California.

    James Heartfield (British Marxist professor, Guardian journalist)


    Eric McKee said:
    June 30, 2015 at 1:28 am

    California isn’t strictly 3rd world, only it terms of its societal development


    Academic arrogance | Stands to Reason said:
    June 30, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    […] After that you might like to go and take a look at this blog by Robert Wilson. […]


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