Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Václav & Me

by nanne Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 09:16:41 AM EST

Well, I must say Mr. Klaus has a way of really engaging the argument!

Nanne Zwagerman: All that environmentalists demand is responsibility. Responsibility of those who cause damage to others to pay for that damage, and to do their utmost to stop inflicting it. I had the impression that responsibility was supposed to be a conservative virtue, and a necessary complement to the great freedom we have in our open market economies. But more and more I see the supporters of capitalism demand that they be free to dump their waste on their neighbours lawns without consequence. What happened?

Vaclav Klaus: Environmentalists do not demand responsibility. Responsibility is not their idea, it is a basic, elementary aspect of human behaviour - on condition government policies do not give wrong incentives. The idea of responsibility for damage done to others is not the environmentalists' copyright. It is a standard of human behaviour. Environmentalists - especially in the case of global warming - artificially created "a damage" (higher temperature) and made all of us responsible for it. I don't believe in this "damage" and I am not ready to pay for it. The role of men in slightly higher global temperature (0.6°C in the last century) is only marginal, if any.

To say that "the supporters of capitalism demand that they are free to dump their waste on their neighbours lawns without consequence" has the beauty of communist propaganda I had a chance to "enjoy" during the first 48 years of my life.

[format of my question edited]

Update [2007-6-22 2:33:16 by nanne]: See Jerome's post 'Unbelievable' for the origin of this little exchange

And sometimes they answer questions! From the diaries ~ whataboutbob


Hmm, should I do a breakdown? OK, here goes:

Environmentalists do not demand responsibility.

Bland negation without an argument.

Responsibility is not their idea, it is a basic, elementary aspect of human behaviour - on condition government policies do not give wrong incentives.

Non-sequitor (you can demand something without it being 'your' idea). Also a straw-man, I didn't claim the idea of responsibility originated with environmentalists, cf. the next sentence where I say that it was supposed to be a conservative value. This is not meant to imply that rather than conservative, the value is exlusively environmentalist, but rather that conservatives have lost their way. It can't really be read to imply what Mr. Klaus seemingly thinks it does, as far as I can see, aside of deliberately reading that into (or rather, forcing it onto) what I wrote.

I doubt the factual accuracy of Mr. Klaus' statement. Responsibility is acquired rather than inherent. It can also be lost. In my view, it is one of the moral values that underpin a functioning market economy but are also eroded by the free market if it is left completely unchecked.

The idea of responsibility for damage done to others is not the environmentalists' copyright. It is a standard of human behaviour.

Again, strawman. No dispute on the factual contents this time.

Environmentalists - especially in the case of global warming - artificially created "a damage" (higher temperature) and made all of us responsible for it.

If you read this statement literally you will see that it breaks several laws of ontology and thus accords apparently magical power to environmentalists to affect the realms of material and legal reality purely by will. The regular joe rendition of that would be: it's incoherent. Doesn't make sense. Just being uncharitable in my interpretation here.

If you take the charitable interpretation, you'll see that the statement gets it wrong in several ways. The presumed damage that (as Mr. Klaus would have wanted to say) environmentalists have made up out of thin air is not, according to the environmentalists, the higher temperature. The damage is caused by effects of that higher temperature, by more irregular weather patterns and by more extreme weather.

Saying that environmentalists 'make' 'all of us responsible' obscures the way they think about responsibility. Their principle is that the polluter pays. Since historical emissions (according to the evil environmentalist scientists) still have an effect, they would generally support tracing these emissions, looking at who has polluted the most, and distributing the burden of paying for the damages (or the burden of contributing to abatement and adaptation) accordingly. Responsibility is not generalised, it is traced and differentiated.

I don't believe in this "damage" and I am not ready to pay for it.

Isn't that convenient. Beliefs, however, do not make reality.

The role of men in slightly higher global temperature (0.6°C in the last century) is only marginal, if any.

Bland claim not backed up by any reference. And in contradiction with mainstream science. See the IPCC's Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policy-Makers (pdf file).

To say that "the supporters of capitalism demand that they are free to dump their waste on their neighbours lawns without consequence" has the beauty of communist propaganda I had a chance to "enjoy" during the first 48 years of my life.

Poisoning the well and implied guilt by association. Also a misquote (I wrote 'they be' instead of 'are'). Further, even, a selective quote, since I added the qualifier 'more and more', implying that it is a general and increasing trend but not necessarily something all supporters of capitalism do.

Václav Klaus really is a class act.

Display:
Well done, Nanne.  And the President of the Czech Republic gets even worse if you go through the rest of the answers to commenters.

But the comments themselves show how far we must go to uplevel this debate.  Some of them are mindless.

Nice to meet you in Paris, and hopefully sometime in Berlin.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jun 21st, 2007 at 08:38:01 PM EST
Nice to meet you, Crazy Horse.

The FT made a selection of the questions, and in doing so they probably tried to represent a range of viewpoints (though I see few really tough questions). The broader response might have been much more reasonable.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 02:27:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To say that "the supporters of capitalism demand that they are free to dump their waste on their neighbours lawns without consequence" has the beauty of communist propaganda I had a chance to "enjoy" during the first 48 years of my life.

And the tone and tenor of mr. Klaus' "argument", it's dismissiveness and indifference to scientific fact (or the notion that he, personally gets to judge what counts as evidence and what doesn't) has the beauty and arrogance of a cornered Stalinist commissar. The tune changes but the act remains the same, eh?

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Thu Jun 21st, 2007 at 08:38:40 PM EST
Right. If there's a reminder of blind Stalinism in this exchange, it's coming from Klaus.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 01:39:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, global warming denial reminds me of Soviet scientific orthodoxy not "accepting" quantum mechanics because it was "ideologically unsound". When it comes from a head of state, it's scary. A neoliberal Lysenkoism of sorts.

Anyway I think that the freemarketeers' economism (and subjection of the empirical to the ideological) is a mirror image of "orthodox" Soviet economism and ideolepsy. Not to mention that the freemarketeers are useful in legitimizing our ruling elites in a similar way that Soviet econnomists were useful for their own bosses.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 02:09:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm reminded of a scene in the film Citizen X, about the Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. Faced with mounting reports of a serial killer on his turf, a police general declares that serial killers are an "epiphenomenon of western capitalist society" (or something like that) which cannot exist in the Soviet Union, therefore there is no need to investigate.
by Gag Halfrunt on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 01:00:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, part of that film (which I didn't dare to watch -- I knew from earlier how bestial the actual murderer was) was shot in the basement of what was then my university building.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 01:20:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you did watch the film, you'd probably be distracted by the many Hungarian trains that appear in it...

(The cops talk about Chikatilo riding the elektrichkas in search of victims, but we mostly see locomotives hauling long-distance passenger cars.)

by Gag Halfrunt on Sat Jun 23rd, 2007 at 07:01:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good work, Nanne. I wonder how we can question people like Klaus. On the one hand, it's how Europe as a whole can deal with the unreasoning brutality of some representatives of some of the new member states. On another, it's how to speak to deniers of all kinds. Or whether we actually can speak to them.

Especially when there's no dialogue - here you had no right of reply. And you couldn't troll-rate for the "communist" ad hominem!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 01:49:57 AM EST
Ha! Well, I could take it apart on Eurotrib.

I'd like to believe that most people who read my question and Klaus' response will see that he got himself hopelessly tangled up. Same goes for some of the replies he made to other questions, even to a couple of softballs. He doesn't engage them, but instead tries to spin off his old frame, and he's not even really good at that.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 02:49:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't speak to denialists. You speak about them. Never expect a crank to turn.

In this respect, our American comrades have valuable experience to impart. See for instance www.scienceblogs.com/denialism

In particular, I like the Denialist's Deck of Cards - useful for both a good laugh and for recognizing and replying to CATO-style libertarian crankery (including global warming denialism).

Since the European right seems to have imported both its ideas and its "arguments" lock, stock and barrel from the US, I think it makes sense to look up the boilerplate responses that the American left has already prepared for us. At least as a starting point.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 07:51:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice page! Grist also has a site on How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic. Since the right is reading off a scripted manual, having this page is valuable for the "facts" they will come up with. Caution! Following a scripted mode of rebuttal is not necessarily the best way to reply.

What I tried to do with my question is turn the age-old conservative tome "whatever happened to responsibility" on its head. Responsibility only matters to the right when it comes to picking yourself up out of the gutter or being a small consumer duped by corporate criminals. When the left or the greens start talking about paying for negative external effects, responsibility suddenly vanishes a long way into the distance.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Jun 23rd, 2007 at 05:31:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]

It strikes me as puzzling that you place your weight behind the projection of a long-term positive impact of the economy, compared to your rejection of Stern's projection of long-term negative impact on the economy. Favouring one truth above another is, as you might say, a prime example of the truth versus propaganda problem. Your bet that positive economic impact will renounce us of any possible climatic change is as singularly unconvincing as the stock-broker who is whistling on his way to Wall Street on the morning of October 29, 1929.

Vaclav Klaus: My criticism of Stern Report's conclusions - and I am not alone in it - is based on serious economic arguments, not on aprioristic statements. I will give just one example. When you mention Wall Street in your question, you probably understand the concept of the discount rate. It is one of the crucial variables of any economy and its importance grows the more we go into inter-temporal analysis. Analysing the whole 21st century, as Mr Stern does, suggests that the significance of the proper level of chosen discount rate is fatal. Many economists strongly oppose the very low level of discount rate Mr Stern uses for his modelling simulations.

The low level of discount rate means that the future is as big as the present or that anything existing now will be as big in the year 2100 as now. This is ridiculous. Will the banknote of 1000 nomination (in your South African rands or in US dollars) be as big, as relevant, as important in the year 2100 as it is now? I am sorry to say that Mr Stern assumes exactly that.

Sigh. Didn't have the proper moment to formulate my thoughts into a question.

Not time left now to do an analysis on his very economic reply. Interesting though that the answer is dedicated to explaining why Stern is wrong and not why his belief must be right.

by Nomad on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 04:56:07 AM EST
Connect the "discount rate" to the discussion we had the other day about bond yields, and "required return".

I think what Klaus is saying is that the money you'd spend on mitigation today can be best invested to obtain high [higher than Stern's assumed discount rate] long-term returns and the proceeds used to pay for reparation of any damage, at a profit [the profit coming from the difference between the yield of your investment and Stern's discount rate].

What is Stern's discount rate, and how does that compare to projections of real GDP growth?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 05:07:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
aren't we back to the back alley where I steal your watch and wallet, then invest the proceeds with a vague promise that if I make enough profit I'll pay you back later?

I'll give you two hamburgers tomorrow for one hamburger today...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jun 23rd, 2007 at 12:18:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
except that I read last week that 13 million people died in 06 from "environmental causes" (which is kind of vague, but I think the report meant "from pollution and climate-related hardships, hunger from desertification, disease and thirst from aridity and falling river levels").

how do we pay them back?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jun 23rd, 2007 at 12:20:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You'll notice he's not criticising Stern's claims about global warming or his damage estimates, but Stern's estimation of the present value of the future damage. It's all about accounting, not about the science of global warming.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 05:09:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stern uses an 0.1% year-on-year discount rate. You can calculate what this does to the 1000 rand/dollar banknote. What the discount rate does is downgrade damages and benefits in the future. Now, while the banknote might become worth less, presumably people, wildlife, ecosystems, real estate, etcetera won't become worth less. So the use of the discount rate in cost-benefit models of climate change is a highly contentious issue.

See this old NYT article on the topic.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 05:10:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's just a 10.5% rate of inflation after a century.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 05:22:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks :-)

Now if you look at the areas where climate change will cause damages, you have to ask whether these are subject to inflation at all, or if they'd sooner become worth more.

The discount rate, in other words, needs to be deconstructed.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 05:44:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in this reply:

Vaclav Klaus: I ask myself several questions. Let's put them in the proper sequence:

  • Is global warming a reality?

  • If it is a reality, is it man-made?

  • If it is a reality, is it a problem? Will the people in the world, and now I have to say "globally", better-off or worse-off due to small increases of global temperature?

  • If it is a reality, and if it is a problem, can men prevent it or stop it? Can any reasonable cost-benefit analysis justify anything - within the range of current proposals - to be done just now?

Surprisingly, we can say yes - with some degree of probability - only to the first question. To the remaining three my answer is no. And I am not alone in saying that. We are, however, still more or less the silent or silenced majority.

Klaus outlines the problem which remains the problem in Climate Science - but then spins it out of control.

I strongly feel it has not been possible to convincingly show how CO2 relates and scales to other climate forcings and hence how large its sensitivity is. The knowledge on the system as a whole is to this day incomplete.

But: Anthropogenic CO2 leads to warming. End of discussion. Yet because Klaus lodges to the above problem, he spins all of the global warming into other contributing factors - it makes him a classic denialist. Here's my thing: It does not matter anymore to what level CO2 scales - we know it is a greenhouse gas, the current warming is causing enough imbalances on this overcrowded planet, let's not even risk another contributor to forcings especially if we don't understand what it exactly does.

Perhaps I should have poured that into a question...

by Nomad on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 05:14:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[2.] If it is a reality, is it man-made?
"If it is a reality, is human activity a contributing and aggravating factor?" is the right question.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 05:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All those questions can be applied to his beloved "science" of economics too...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 02:10:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I strongly feel it has not been possible to convincingly show how CO2 relates and scales to other climate forcings and hence how large its sensitivity is. The knowledge on the system as a whole is to this day incomplete.

IPCC scientists feel somewhat differently about this since the last report considers as very probable (>90% certainty) that greenhouse gases are the cause of most of the warming incurred over the last 50 years. This of course doesn't mean that our knowledge of the forcings is complete.

Klaus, like all the other deniers, conveniently uses all the various stages of denial in the course of an argument, which shows they know nothing and yet, refuse everything. The comment about the silenced majority is pure demagoguery (besides being factually wrong): as if a "silenced majority" could be expected to have an opinion differing from that of the scientists on a topic as complex as climate change.

by Fete des fous on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 08:45:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My criticism of Stern Report's conclusions - and I am not alone in it - is based on serious economic arguments, not on aprioristic statements.

The discount rate is an aprioristic statement about the future. Stern makes an aprioristic statement, and so does Klaus. It's anybody's guess whose guess is correct.

Klaus chooses to concentrate on the discount rate and ignores the value at risk, which has a lot to do with the uncertainty in the estimation of the appropriate discount rate.

Underestimating the discount rate is like taking the lower end of a confidence interval, which is the proper thing to do when calculating value at risk.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 05:14:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, Migeru - I guess you are working back office and do something like derivatives pricing? Did you hear anything about using large deviations theory in real-world finance?
by Sargon on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 08:40:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I work for a Hedge fund on equity research.

I was at a seminar last week where large deviations theory was briefly mentioned as part of the discussion of estimating value at risk and the expected shortfall. The speaker is a senior researcher with a large international investment bank.

The problem with large deviation theory, according to this guy, is that it only works for the very tail, but that means in practice you don't have a lot of data to fit the tail distribution.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 09:07:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember name of the guy?

Migeru and Pierre, thanks!

by Sargon on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 09:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even better: here's his website.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 09:43:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I work on computing VaR for equity derivative portfolios in a bank. My neighbour is working on a prototype engine to tackle large deviations. Unfortunately, this is still based on Gaussian Copulas and "sum of gaussian approximations", because gaussians enable nice linear parametric VAR computations which is:
  1. about the only one we can compute daily with existing computing power (I guess this is the same everywhere: it's just one giant matrix multiplication, and this is very efficient)
  2. the only one that you can explain nicely by projecting the VAR on the risk factors (otherwise, you cannot have a "dashboard" to steer the activity of your traders in order to contain your risk within set bounds).

And he still has a lot of trouble with his models. Like mig says, there are few large deviations to calibrate the stuff, and Gauss does indeed work well day to day (as proven by backtesting over periods without krachs). It's only when things get real bad that you see your quantile was wrong (about to know pretty soon I guess).

Mandelbrot claimed that scaling laws where better than Gauss, can be calibrated, and incur manageable computing costs, but I don't think anyone has looked into it on the industry-scale. I'll dig a link

Pierre

by Pierre on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 09:20:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
gurus get risk all wrong

Specially impressive is the centenial chart of stock markt without 10 largest daily changes. Note they tend to be seriously down-biased.

Pierre

by Pierre on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 09:27:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 12:28:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you should be able to do "nice linear parametric [...] computations" with any member of the exponential family (of which the Gaussian is the best-known example).

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 09:28:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm not familiar with the generalized exponential distribution framework, but from the primer referenced by the Wikipedia (bold mine):

For most insurance applications, we would expect a decreasing unit hazard functton. That is, as we move to higher and higher layers, the chance of a partial loss would decrease. For instance, if we consider a layer such as $10,000,000 xs $990,000,000 we would expect that any loss above $990,000,000 would almost certainly be a full-limit loss. This would imply h (y) ~ 0.

The decreasing hazard function is not what we generally find in the exponential family. For the Normal and Poisson, the hazard function approaches 1, implying that full-limit losses become less likely on higher layers - exactly the opposite of what our understanding of insurance phenomena would suggest. The Negative Binomial, Gamma and Inverse Gaussian distributions asymptotically approach constant amounts, mimicking the behavior of the exponential distribution


The table below shows the asymptotic behavior as we move to higher attachment points
for a layer of width w.









DistributionLimiting Form of h (y)Comments
Normallim h(y) = 1No loss exhausts the limit
Poissonlim h (),) = I
Negative Bmomiallim h,(y) = I - ( I - p ) "
Gammalim h(y) = I-e "''°'~'
Inverse Gausstanlim h(y) = I-e -''a°''~
Lognormallim h(v) = 0Every loss ts a full-limit loss

From this table, we see that the members of the natural exponential family have tail behavior that does not fully reflect the potential for extreme events in high casualty insurance. It would seem that the natural exponential distributions used with GLM are more appropriate for insurance lines without much potential for extreme events or natural catastrophes.

Sorry the layout is crappy, had to rework an OCR-ed pdf.
But the general idea seems to be that if it's linear, then you don't have a fat tail. I don't know if there is any kind of proof of this or of something heuristically similar (I'm by no mean a statistician)

Pierre

by Pierre on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 09:58:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Pierre on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 09:28:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
about the only one we can compute daily with existing computing power (I guess this is the same everywhere: it's just one giant matrix multiplication, and this is very efficient)

I could suggest a correction to this in public, but then I'd have to kill you ;-)

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 09:34:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now this gets interesting...

Do you suggest that there are places where the computing power is much greater than the average bank (that I know, my previous job had more computing power than meteo france and the french dod combined, my new place is a lot more frugal), or that your fund developed some non-gaussian models of risk that can be valued as efficiently as the gaussian with "reasonable" computing power ?

Pierre

by Pierre on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 10:01:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm just saying the guy whose page I linked to upthread seemed enamored with "elliptical distributions" which are parameterised by mean, covariance, and a probability distribution for the Mahalanobis distance, which allow most of the multivariate "Gaussian" matrix algebra to be recycled, and are general enough to incorporate fat tails if necessary.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 10:09:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, sounds nice. Unfortunately, probably too unconventional for most statistics graduates recently hired in quant teams to pay any attention: considering that it will dog the front business, banks only want to look into something "incremental" to handle the fat tails (that is, some cheap ugly patch of the existing var system that you can recode with a couple of interns). Is the guy working in industry ?

Pierre
by Pierre on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 10:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, he is in charge of a big chunk of risk model development for a large investment bank.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 10:19:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And will they ever disclose the new prudential requirements they get with his model to their share holders ? that is, if he gets a working VaR before the shit hits the fan and everybody knows they're broke ...

Pierre
by Pierre on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 11:15:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I could debunk this point by point, but I'm tempted just to say 'Wanker' and leave it at that.

You won't convince Havel by arguing with him - he's doing the usual far-Right thing of flailing at people and calling them names.

The best you can hope for is to kick him out of his job.

The climate issue is almost a sideline here. What's really important is the framing, which is:

  1. Climate change doesn't exist.
  2. If it does exist, it's not man-made.
  3. If it exists and is man-made, it's not expensive enough to be worth bothering with.
  4. If it's expensive enough to be worth bothering with, it doesn't matter became environmentalists are religious lunatics and communists and fascists, all at the same time.

QED.

None of this makes any sense, but you can't deal with it by attacking Havel on the substantive issues.

The 'responsibility' attempt was an interesting one, because it tried to claim the moral high ground. But - as an adept politician - all Havel had to do is claim it back, and the argument was lost.

I think in this case it's probably best to ignore Havel and take the fight elsewhere. When there's a consensus in the rest of the West it's going to be easier to persuade an outlier like Havel, or make it an electoral issue that removes him from power.

This seems to be what's happening in Australia, where Howard's climate ignorance is being associated with the Great Drought and makes him unlikely to get another term.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 06:24:10 AM EST
Aaragh - Klaus, not Havel. (Must stop posting before the tea has had time to take effect...)
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 07:00:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha! Don't be so damn British. What you want is coffee. Good coffee (which might be hard to get on the isles).
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 07:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Addition highlighted:

 [.....] is politicising [....] news.  To say that [...] has the beauty of communist propaganda I had a chance to "enjoy" during the first 48 years of my life.  This loud minority is overwhelming the silent majority and we need to oppose the consensus.  Instead of speaking about [....] we need to be attentive to it in our personal lives.  Otherwise we are trampling on individual freedom. Let us be humble but confident in the spontaneous generation of [....].

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 10:41:40 AM EST

Responsibility is acquired rather than inherent.

This is an important argument. Because the right has managed to make it "common wisdom" that they are responsible, whatever irresponsibility they commit, simply because they are the right. ("We're the good guys")

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 12:24:30 PM EST
The disturbing aspect of this is that he feels no need to hide his extremism, which shouldn't fly with most of the readership of the FT. He is camped on positions that Bush and other deniers have been forced to abandon even if they won't do anything to address climate change. It's one thing for think-tank free marketers to speak the language of the looney fringe, but the president of a european nation governed by a coalition that includes the green party? It boggles the mind.

He chose not to answer my question regarding his expertise w.r.t. the science, which is consistant with his summary dismissal of the scientific consensus on global warming.

by Fete des fous on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 06:10:17 PM EST
Klaus is known for losing his temper when asked unexpected or uncomfortable questions by journalists.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 06:26:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not surprised. Charlatans who claim to dismiss "ideological environmentalism" but end up contesting established science often react that way when confronted. In this video (some kind of torture to listen to ;-), he claims that global warming is a hypothesis and the embodiment of environmental ideology so he is clearly a primary denier of climate change.
by Fete des fous on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 08:26:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
who said "those who claim that they have no politics, invariably mean that their politics are those of the Right"?

I must not have the wording right, 'cos google doesn't find it...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jun 23rd, 2007 at 12:24:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, it's fun to watch Scoop choking on the amp HTML sequence :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Jun 23rd, 2007 at 12:24:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scoop is full of horrid bugs.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 23rd, 2007 at 04:24:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Loosing their temper when challenged seems to be a standard trait for RWAs.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Jun 22nd, 2007 at 11:20:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, simply, first ... Congrats on getting in. This is an example of why we submit LTEs/such.

Second, excellent deconstruction.

Third, I find the questions somewhat imbalanced to (lunatic) skeptics but, in any event, find all of his responses to be worthy of the same form of deconstruction and explanation as you have provided here.

And, well, I still would have liked a response to my question:

You write: ""scientific consensus", which is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority".

What evidence do you have of some form of "silent majority" of experts on climate issues who disagree with the base points in the IPCC reports and believe that they are too pessimistic?

Who should I believe about the scientific communities viewpoints?  The heads of the world's National Academies of Science or a politician who choices to prominently cite a science fiction novelist?




Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat Jun 23rd, 2007 at 07:31:33 AM EST
"I don't believe in the damage, so I'm not going to pay."

No, I don't believe in the reasons given for the damage.  I stipulate that there is damage but globo-corp wants to organize, buy governments in order to dump their trash in entire countries where people are content working for 2 cents a day.

As to the weather HAARP and the US Air Forces plans to own the weather by 2025 are a real as depleted uranium and Senate Bill S 517, then again all are on the MSM blacklist of verboten topics.

by Lasthorseman on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 04:26:24 PM EST


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