James Hoggan's blog

Another Crack at Skepticism

There is a nice, and very short, essay in the Oxford English Reference Dictionary on the philosophical underpinnings of the word skepticism (which the Oxford spells, scepticism – obviously):

Oxford says: “The ancient doctrine of scepticism (also called Pyrrhonism) was established by Pyrrho and continued at the Academy in Athens. In modern philosphy, scepticism has taken many forms: the most extreme sceptics have doubted whether any knowledge at all of the external world is possible (see solipsism), Descartes attempted to question his own existence, while others asked whether ojbects exist when not experienced (Berkeley’s idealism), or whether objects exist at all beyond our experiences of them (Hume).”

But What's the Point, Rex?

Canada’s most loquacious iconoclast, the grandiloquent Rex Murphy, was having forth on CBC’s The National again last night, arguing that Paul Martin’s position on climate change is hypocritical (which is true), and that the whole notion of global warming is too confusing to be believable (which is pathetic).

It is ever a disappointment that, in rustling up his fatuous philippics, Murphy can always find time to commune with his Thesaurus but never manages an opportunity to check his facts.

Don't Let Your Children See This

Better yet, don’t make them endure it:

The link contains a series of maps showing projected temperature and precipitation changes over the next 90 years. These data, provided by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) will be included in the upcoming 2007 IPCC Assessment.

A Word from the Hotbed of Indian Capitalism

Check out the South Asian view as reported by Sify, “India's pioneer & leader in Internet, Networking and e-Commerce services, and the first Indian Internet company to be listed on the Nasdaq National Market in the US.” In a story on their newswire Friday, Dec. 9, 2005, Sify said:

“Developing countries, gathered in a 132-nation group (at the UNFCCC climate change convention in Montreal), said responsibility for fixing global warming lay primarily with the rich countries that had caused it by their reckless burning of fossil fuels in the last century.

And Margaret Wente: Facts make me itchy

In columnist Margaret Wente's periodic rant (to which the Toronto Globe and Mail denies access unless you are an online subscriber), we are treated to the rhetorical question: “Why wreck a good story with the fine print?”

Why, indeed? Certainly, Wente is careful not to offend on that count.

 Her general tack on climate change – an issue into which she regularly dips her toe, but no more – is to dismiss the issue as unknowable, and to castigate anyone who expresses concern as a wrong-headed enviro-whacko or a dupe. In a recent column, for example, she made fun of her uptown friends who have switched to driving hybrid SUVs, a gesture that Wente condemned as hollow. It turns out that fuel efficiency in a hybrid SUV, while an improvement, is still much worse than, say, a bicycle. Wente ridiculed her friends' unwillingness to make a bigger sacrifice as a show of insincerity. Really, if you're going to be cavalier, why not deny the problem altogether?

"It's Just a Den of Thieves Over There"

Absolutely.

Have a look at this Guardian article, linked through our friend Ross Gelbspan's site.

The thrust is that a horde of oil industry-funded lobbyists are heading to Europe to try to undermine support for action against climate change. The operation is being led by Chris Horner, a Washington DC lawyer and senior fellow at the rightwing thinktank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received more than $1.3m (£750,000) funding from the US oil giant ExxonMobil. (See also next post.)

Horner is quoted saying that Europe is “an untapped frontier,” albeit one that is hostile to Horner's gang of climate change dissemblers. In fact, Horner says: “It's just a den of thieves over there.”

We concur wholeheartedly with the words in that sentence, but leave it to you, dear reader, to infer the correct location of “over there.”

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