The climate crew, alienating potential allies and worshiping false idols

So last night was the Oscars and, as expected, Leo DiCaprio won the best actor award and, as expected, he took time during his acceptance speech to discuss climate change. Now Canadians are aware of how knowledgeable Leo is on weather-related topics following his laughable outburst last year when he informed the world that a run-of-the-mill winter Chinook was something that had never happened before. Last night was no exception when he exclaimed “our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow.”

 For folks not familiar with Alberta weather, a Chinook is a warm wind that can roll in from the west and change the temperature by up to 30 degrees Celsius in four hours. Winter Chinooks are common with written records of them going back as far as 1877. Now anyone familiar with the climate statistics for southern Alberta  (let’s use Calgary as an example) will notice a trend in Alberta weather. Alberta winters tend to be pretty darn cold and can be pretty darn dry. In particular, come late January and into February the precipitation goes way down. So if it is late January and you have just had a Chinook run through that melted your snow, you may go for several weeks until a storm system comes through to give you new snow. It is still cold as hell, but there simply isn’t any precipitation. Thus, when a “dramatic” event melted the snow that late January, it probably made a lot of sense to head somewhere else since apparently the production company was unwilling to wait until the late season snows of March and April returned the conditions to a white backdrop suitable for filming.

Now Albertans understand this and so when Dr. Michael Mann posted a comment about the Oscars:

trolls

One of the few people not blocked by Dr. Mann, a gentleman by the name of Dr. Andrew Leach, had the temerity to point out that Mr. DiCaprio was mistaken and that the weather after that year’s Chinook was actually quite cold.

week Mann

Needless to say Dr. Mann decided to Mannsplain  Dr. Leach and then insult him

calls Leach a troll

and then, not surprisingly, he decided to block Dr. Leach.

blocked

When it was pointed out to Dr. Mann who he had blocked Dr. Mann, the person who had just called the man a “troll”, subsequently complained that Dr. Leach was often “irritating/rude on social media”.

being rude

Pot meet kettle.

Now many folks have been blocked by Dr. Mann, (myself included) , that is not a big deal. What is a big deal is that Dr. Mann managed to alienate a potential ally. You see, Dr. Leach isn’t just another anonymous commenter on Twitter, Dr. Leach was the Chair of the Province of Alberta’s Climate Change Advisory Panel.

Dr. Leach and his panel produced the Climate Leadership Report (caution large .pdf file) that served as the basis for the Alberta Climate Leadership Plan. Dr. Leach and his panel spent three months of their lives travelling the province doing the consultation necessary to build up the technical support and political and social goodwill necessary to enact the policy. Besides Premier Notley, Dr. Leach is likely the most important reason Alberta is creating a program to put a price on carbon to fight climate change. Can you imagine a more important ally if you are trying to build a consensus for a change in climate policy across North America than the man who helped convince Alberta that it needed to control its carbon emissions? Turning Dr. Leach into your friend should be a no-brainer for climate activists and a couple polite words is all it would have taken to smooth the waters. Instead, out comes the insults and then the block and another potential ally is stomped. Gotta love the climate crew, they pull out their shotguns at the drop of a hat; proceed to point them directly at their own feet; and then let go with both barrels.

Going back to Leo for a moment, I really don’t understand why so many in the climate change community lionize the man? Here is a man whose opulent lifestyle, love of private jets  and carbon profligacy should get him scorned by these same activists. Instead he says the right things every now and again and he is cast as their champion?

This morning I had a fascinating exchange with Vox writer David Roberts on the topic. Mr. Roberts is a solid writer who, along with Brad Plumer, have written some of the smartest, data-driven pieces on climate change to appear in the mainstream media but on the topic of Leo he has a huge blind-spot and this morning he was taking on all comers:

Dave R 1

As you can see, the basis for his support of Mr. DiCaprio appears to be that as long as he says the right things in interviews and speeches, then everything he does in his private life should be ignored. I, of course, disagree because unlike most of us Leo flaunts his “private life” for all to see and what we have seen shows his behaviour to be at odds with his words. Our exchange was brief with Mr. Roberts ending with a drive-by insult and then he was off.

smear

What was more interesting was watching Mr. Roberts explaining to climate change activists in Alberta why they should ignore both what Mr. DiCaprio has said and done because only a handful of people would notice the error.

turner 2

The funny thing is this was all derived from a CBC article on the topic.

I’m not sure how familiar Mr. Roberts is with Canadian politics but when you are a progressive and you lose the CBC you have lost whatever battle you were trying to fight. Moreover, as Mr. Turner was trying to explain, Alberta activists tend to care when Leo spews his ignorance on one topic because it has a way of tainting his arguments on every other topic. How can anyone take seriously an activist who, a year after being corrected on the topic of Chinooks, is still making the same ridiculous statements? For activists in Alberta Leo is simply poisoning the well and will make their lives immeasurably harder.

I don’t want to go on too long tonight, but I simply wanted to ask the activists out there a simple question:

why are you making it so hard on yourselves?

Outside of your progressive enclaves there are a lot of people who still need to be convinced about the importance of action and you are not making it easier. How hard would it have been for Dr. Mann to simply have been be civil to an esteemed colleague? A colleague with a lot more green cred than Dr. Mann himself in much of Canada.

Regarding Mr. DiCaprio, why are so many activists lionizing a man who’s carbon footprint really does make him a one-percenter in the field? Sure he has said some nice things but his actions don’t appear to back up his words. There are so many really deserving people out there to carry the flag and instead you rely on celebrities and celebrity-scientists? That is probably why in a recent major study only 44% of Canadians believed that humans were the primary cause of climate change?  You guys have had 25 years doing this and you can’t even convince half of Canadians that humans are the primary cause of climate change? Why do you never learn from your mistakes because, as the polls clearly indicate, your opponents certainly do.

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6 Responses to The climate crew, alienating potential allies and worshiping false idols

  1. The behaviour of climate justice warriors makes no sense if you assume that their aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It makes a lot more sense if you assume that their aim is to achieve moral purity and superiority.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. michael hart says:

    I’ll chime with that. If DeCaprio were to cut down on his high-carbon jet-setting he might be able to lose the beard and maybe a few pounds too.
    Britney Spears has seemingly managed something similar without giving the rest of us earache:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3471638/Britney-Spears-unrecognisable-racy-new-covers-V-magazine.html

    But I don’t see a Renaissance Mann in the near future. I think he might need to drop twittering as a first step.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Borderline relevance to the post, but you might be interested in this:

    Canada delays new climate plan as provinces rebel
    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/03/01/canada-delays-new-climate-plan-as-provinces-rebel/

    Like

  4. Pingback: A cautionary tale about disconnecting theory from data in data analysis | A Chemist in Langley

  5. Pingback: On the trade-offs, real costs and human consequences of fighting climate change | A Chemist in Langley

  6. Pingback: The climate crew: alienating more allies and fighting the wrong fights | A Chemist in Langley

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