No Bias Here

Via Tom Nelson comes this interview with climate "scientist" Dr. Kate Rawles:

Greenbang: What do you think is wrong with the debate on climate change?

Dr Kate: It hasn't really got to grips with the fundamental problem,
which is that Western, industrialised lifestyles are literally
unsustainable. Climate change is just one symptom of this. WWF famously
calculated that if everyone on earth were to enjoy the lifestyle of an
average Western European, we would need three planet earths.

Not even the most optimistic believers in technology think that we
can technofix this problem so that 6 billion people (let alone the
projected 9 billion) can enjoy a western lifestyle without ecological
meltdown. It follows that we urgently need to rethink what we currently
mean by a "˜high standard of living' and move away from materialistic
versions of this to an understanding of quality of life that could be
enjoyed by everyone, without causing environmental mayhem. This is
about values, not just about technology.

To a large extent, understanding the passion of climate alarmists is a chicken and egg problem.  Normally, scientists identify a problem and then we seek to solve it.  But, as you can see with this woman, climate science works in reverse.  The debate began with people who believed that technology and economic growth needed to be diminished, and then found global warming as a conveniently manufactured "problem" that pointed to their already preferred solution. 

This, by the way, is her complete answer to the question about what is wrong with climate debate.  You can see her answer to this climate science question has nothing to do with climate, but everything to do with her pro-poverty position.  She actually states her position as anti-western-standard-of-living, because that plays better with the soccer moms, but this is exactly the same as pro-poverty.  And get a load of this great scientist quoting WWF advocacy press releases as if they were peer-reviewed science.

By the way, I personally believe that the world could easily sustain 6 billion people in a western standard of living, and love humanity enough to root for this to occur, so here statement is untrue  (by the way, why are people who advocate for universal poverty like this person considered "sensitive" while folks like me who would love to see all the world wealthy considered evil and cold-hearted?)  I don't know exactly how this will happen, but if I stood in the year 1908 I would not know how (or probably believe) even a single person could  enjoy what we call a western standard of living today, but billions do.  The human mind is a wonderful thing, and can achieve a lot, at least when scientists pursue new possibilities rather than simply shrieking that we need to turn the clock back.

Update:  Here is one faulty assumption she is making:

Current levels of consumption in industrialised societies are too high
- as the three planet earth analysis clearly shows. This presents a
major problem for current economic thinking, which is premised on
growth, and which requires us all to keep consuming more, not less.
Clearly we can't grow infinitely, and consume infinitely, on a finite
planet.

Her assumption is that the Earth is somehow at capacity.  How do we know that?  If a scientist bases all of her beliefs on an assumption like this that has never been proven and the scientist is perfectly comfortable taking on faith, can we really call her a scientist?  Or do we call her a religionist? 

  • Some guy

    Look carefully at the environmentalist's wording. They speak about what is good for the planet, not the people on it. The planet --- the rock orbiting the sun --- must be preserved to their liking or the Four SUV-Drivers of Climate Change will slaughter us all.

    This is why I don't trust people who talk about "The Planet." Because they could care less about what happens to you and I, as long as they have their playground.

  • http://www.timworstall.com Tim Worstall

    "Not even the most optimistic believers in technology think that we can technofix this problem so that 6 billion people (let alone the projected 9 billion) can enjoy a western lifestyle without ecological meltdown."

    I'm afraid this sort of idiocy makes me incandescent with rage. Why?

    Well, look here:
    http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc/emission/093.htm#1

    "In the A1 scenario family, demographic and economic trends are closely linked, as affluence is correlated with long life and small families (low mortality and low fertility). Global population grows to some nine billion by 2050 and declines to about seven billion by 2100. Average age increases, with the needs of retired people met mainly through their accumulated savings in private pension systems.

    The global economy expands at an average annual rate of about 3% to 2100, reaching around US$550 trillion (all dollar amounts herein are expressed in 1990 dollars, unless stated otherwise). This is approximately the same as average global growth since 1850, although the conditions that lead to this global growth in productivity and per capita incomes in the scenario are unparalleled in history. Global average income per capita reaches about US$21,000 by 2050. While the high average level of income per capita contributes to a great improvement in the overall health and social conditions of the majority of people, this world is not necessarily devoid of problems. In particular, many communities could face some of the problems of social exclusion encountered in the wealthiest countries during the 20 th century, and in many places income growth could produce increased pressure on the global commons.

    Energy and mineral resources are abundant in this scenario family because of rapid technical progress, which both reduces the resources needed to produce a given level of output and increases the economically recoverable reserves. Final energy intensity (energy use per unit of GDP) decreases at an average annual rate of 1.3%. Environmental amenities are valued and rapid technological progress "frees" natural resources currently devoted to provision of human needs for other purposes. The concept of environmental quality changes in this storyline from the current emphasis on "conservation" of nature to active "management" of natural and environmental services, which increases ecologic resilience.

    With the rapid increase in income, dietary patterns shift initially toward increased consumption of meat and dairy products, but may decrease subsequently with increasing emphasis on the health of an aging society. High incomes also translate into high car ownership, sprawling suburbia, and dense transport networks, nationally and internationally."

    This is one of the four families of economic models that the IPCC, and thus the entire climate change hypothesis, is built upon. Yes, it does indeed lead to global warming (using the IPCC's techniques) but the point is that CO2-e is the *only* problem they forsee. If we can decarbonise energy production (again, I'm taking the IPCC's own logic here) then everything will be just dandy and yes, all on the planet can enjoy, in perpetuity, the current western level living standards.

    That is what makes me incandescent with rage: that this silly cow is using the IPCC reports to insist that western lifetyles are simply not achievable for all: when the IPCC projections actually assume, a priori, that everyone will enjoy such lifestyles.

    Somewhere out there there's a village that's lost its idiot: go back home Dr. Rawles, your people miss you.

  • ElamBend

    She and her ilk see everything as zero sum and cannot understand wealth creation. To them that would be something from nothing, growth can only come by consumption of a resource that is finite or subject to diminishing returns.
    I'd also like to know how radically she has changed her lifestyle to reflect these beliefs, or if what she truly is implying that NO ONE ELSE can have a Western lifestyle (sorry China, India, everyone else).

  • http://vitalaccuratethinking.blogspot.com/2008/03/malthus-said-same.html JimVAT
  • Mark

    "is approximately the same as average global growth since 1850"

    I agree with most of your comments, but here is something I find ridiculous...the claim that "global growth" has averaged 3% annually. That may be a statistical fact, but in reality, growth has been almost infinite in comparison.

    Consider Abraham Lincoln. He had four children. Only one of those children lived to adulthood. What would the Lincoln's, upper middle income people and incidentally the President of the United States, have paid to have all of their children live a full life, something that even the poorest families in the United States enjoy unless they meet a rare tragedy.

  • http://www.humanadvancement.net/blog Kyle Bennett

    Another bonehead assumption she's making is that, if 6 billion people lived a western lifestyle - meaning they had the education, health, resources, spare time, and incentive to innovate and produce that westerners have - that we'd still be confined to this "one finite planet". There is nothing on this planet that cannot be obtained or produced anywhere with enough atoms, energy, and ingenuity. The first two are available in abundance well within reach of current or foreseeable new technology, and the second is best achieved by people like this cvnt getting the hell out of the way.

    (Yes, I'm incandescent as well, Tim).

  • http://dimer.tamu.edu/simplog?blogid=3 Jim Hu

    Scientist? Not so much

    Dr Kate Rawles combines academic training (she was a lecturer in environmental philosophy at Lancaster University for nine years and has a PhD in environmental ethics) with extensive outdoor experience and a passion for environmental and social change. While at Lancaster, she had a particular interest in figuring out what is said in academia that is useful and then communicating that to professionals in other fields. She has worked with vets, conservationists, engineers and the corporate sector and has lectured nationally and internationally, including in India, Zimbabwe, USA, Italy, Finland and Hong Kong.[emph added]

  • Tony Edwards

    Of course, all of the "Save the planet"ers forget that all creatures modify their environment to suit themselves as best they can. Beavers build dams and they don't give a damn if anyone or anything else gets flooded out.Ants build mounds for their purposes, no-one else's. Termites build nests, as do wasps, only today there was a report that a small beetle in some desert or other is controlling the growth of various bushes for their own benefit, which is having the effect of reducing the grasslands.
    People have just as much right to modify the planet to suit ourselves. It is greatly to our credit that we have done as much as we have to enable other creatures to do their thing, while still doing ours.
    One other strange thing which has been noted before, but bears repeating. All of these weirdos want rules, laws etc. to stop some-one else from doing something, never do you hear one of them say, "Oh, I need to be stopped from....name your own thing...., please pass a law to stop me. Nor do any of them volunteer to be the first one down the plughole or give up their evil ways.

  • Tony Edwards

    Of course, all of the "Save the planet"ers forget that all creatures modify their environment to suit themselves as best they can. Beavers build dams and they don't give a damn if anyone or anything else gets flooded out.Ants build mounds for their purposes, no-one else's. Termites build nests, as do wasps, only today there was a report that a small beetle in some desert or other is controlling the growth of various bushes for their own benefit, which is having the effect of reducing the grasslands.
    People have just as much right to modify the planet to suit ourselves. It is greatly to our credit that we have done as much as we have to enable other creatures to do their thing, while still doing ours.
    One other strange thing which has been noted before, but bears repeating. All of these weirdos want rules, laws etc. to stop some-one else from doing something, never do you hear one of them say, "Oh, I need to be stopped from....name your own thing...., please pass a law to stop me. Nor do any of them volunteer to be the first one down the plughole or give up their evil ways.

  • http://www.humanadvancement.net/blog Kyle Bennett

    Tony, could you give a link to the beetle story? I'm interested in reading details, but Google is not my friend today.

  • bob r

    I don't recall all the details but Jerry Pournelle once wrote something (early 1980's) that put the resource issue into perspective. He started with the U.S. per capita usage (late 1970's) of several industrial metals and extended that to the entire world population to come up with a total that was quite large. Next assume a fairly low concentration ore for that metal and obtain an even bigger number. The kicker: there are over 40,000 asteroids that are _larger_ than that -- and some of those are estimated to be near 100% metal.

    We don't have a resource problem. We have an engineering/technical problem. And an even bigger problem of imagination and will.