Reminder: climate change isn’t really something you can decide by voting…

Today’s Illawarra Mercury features this cartoon.


All very amusing, but utterly spurious.

In fact that line is a really good example of a meme.

For this bodiless replicator itself, Dawkins proposed a name. He called it the meme, and it became his most memorable invention, far more influential than his selfish genes or his later proselytizing against religiosity. “Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation,” he wrote. They compete with one another for limited resources: brain time or bandwidth. They compete most of all for attention. For example:

Ideas. Whether an idea arises uniquely or reappears many times, it may thrive in the meme pool or it may dwindle and vanish. The belief in God is an example Dawkins offers—an ancient idea, replicating itself not just in words but in music and art. The belief that Earth orbits the Sun is no less a meme, competing with others for survival. (Truth may be a helpful quality for a meme, but it is only one among many.)

Tunes. This tune has spread for centuries across several continents.

Catchphrases. One text snippet, “What hath God wrought?” appeared early and spread rapidly in more than one medium. Another, “Read my lips,” charted a peculiar path through late 20th-century America. “Survival of the fittest” is a meme that, like other memes, mutates wildly (“survival of the fattest”; “survival of the sickest”; “survival of the fakest”; “survival of the twittest”)…

It sure has caught on for many, the idea that “global warming is a religion” – and is itself a classic case of groupthink. I very much doubt that those who sustain this meme and pass ot on have often confronted the evidence for climate change or the weakness of the case against it. No, it is too inconvenient a truth, to paraphrase nonscientist Al Gore, so we meme it off to idea oblivion and hope for the best.  Rational of us, isn’t it?

I find it ironic that one of the great cries of many denialists is that they are boldly resisting the evil forces of – well God knows what – and are champions of unbiased thought. Take Andrew Bolt. He has an amazing talent for being sucked in by every dodgy denialist ever to visit our shores, not to mention a host of others who haven’t, and yet what is it that motivates him, by his own account (PDF file)?

Climate change has become one of those  causes célèbres for Bolt. The  turning point for him on the climate change debate was the Rio Earth Summit in June 1992. What Bolt objected  to most was what he saw as the massive group think together with its hidden, anti-human agendas. ‘When I started writing about it, it was clear another argument should be put forward but no-one else was saying it. I thought it was something we needed to talk about instead of just blindly accepting the mob’s decree.

Not a word there, you will notice, about science or scientific evidence, but a great deal about Bolt’s own discomfort and political assumptions. (By the way the IPA Review article that comes from is, naturally, very Bolt-friendly – even Boltophantic – but is actually rather good. It does enable one to see The Bolt as human, and I even find I share some of his tastes in literature and music! But Bolt as intelligent presence on climate science? You’d have to be joking.

Blindly accepting the mob’s decree? Well, for an example of that just go back to the Mercury cartoon and all it represents.


Go to the CSIRO for some actual science:

Climate Change: Science and Solutions for Australia

This publication provides the latest scientific knowledge on a series of climate change topics relevant to Australia and the world. It draws on peer-reviewed literature contributed to by thousands of researchers. Available as a free eBook.

Here is your very own copy!

Find some good arguments from reputable sources

For example:

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Climate sceptics

One thought on “Reminder: climate change isn’t really something you can decide by voting…

  1. Pingback: Galileo, Galileo! « Neil's final decade

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