Here’s a straightforward approach to dealing with denial. Most of these points make sense to me:

Tips for dealing with denial

  • Communicate a consistent message. Do not attempt to “soften the blow” too much, by making the issue seem less than it is.
  • Try not to provide too much information at one time. This sometimes can overwhelm [deniers]. Keep the first meeting as brief and succinct as possible, and end with the scheduling of a follow-up meeting.
  • Ask open-ended questions, and allow [deniers] plenty of time to talk. Undoubtedly, they are fearful of losing something very important—health, independence, or optimism/faith about the future.
  • Explain to [deniers] that information is something that you can provide, but that it is their choice what, if anything, they want to do with the information provided. Ask them what they want to know about, and let them guide the conversation.
  • Provide reading materials, which [deniers] can peruse at their own discretion.
  • End your meetings with [deniers] positively, and try to instill in them a sense of self-confidence in their abilities to [deal with the problem].
  • Recommend support groups, whenever possible.
  • Make it clear that the [problem] will never “go away,” .. but emphatically explain that [solutions] can lessen the severity of the [problem].
  • Explain to [deniers] that even if they do not believe that [the problem exists], the recommendations that you are making certainly will not harm them in any way. Ask them to humor you by making an attempt to follow your advice for a little while.
  • Know that [people] in denial often will refuse to admit that they are upset. They claim they are not upset—after all, nothing is wrong. Ask them how they would feel if they really did have the [problem] that they are denying that they have.
  • Remember that tough love often does not work with [people] in denial. Many [authorities] have said, “There is not much use talking to you right now. Just call me when you accept that  __________.”  They never hear from the [denier] again. Do not expect that [denier] will independently have a sudden insight. However, you can say, “I feel like you have other things on your mind today. We can talk more about this tomorrow at noon. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions before then.”
  • Expect [deniers] to direct their anger at you. Many times when you try to deconstruct their carefully built wall of denial, [deniers] will become angry. Do not react to this anger.

Some pretty sound advice there, I reckon. Some of it I’ve already seen in action in climate circles, some not.

The source? Medical clinical denial advice.

I wonder why more climate advocates haven’t looked at this kind of thing? Seems like a fairly obvious starting point, even if it can’t be linearly extrapolated to large groups…

The IPCC is being reviewed by the Interacademy Council (which represents dozens of national science academies). And they’re taking public comment. This might be a good chance to get some improvements. The comments form is at:

If you can’t think of anything, here’s what I wrote:

  • The IPCC needs to report more frequently. Interim reports, or even annual updates would be very useful.
  • More focus on possible tipping points. Especially estimates of sea-level rise from glacial melt, and estimates of non-linear responses to warming.
  • More transparency with the process – especially which representatives are making which changes to the finial release.
  • Stop being so conservative. Offer an your analysis, and be prepared to defend it when it gets attacked by the fossil fuel lobby and governments.
  • Work with science communicators. Create a lay-person’s version of the report.

If you needed any more proof that Frank Sartor is scum, try this:

Labor are trying to open up National parks for developments. What more can be said?

This is in response to a discussion about population control and climate change on an e-list I’m on. In particular, it’s in response to a line by a mate, Jono:

it’s not the number of people that is important, but rather the power of the argument. Population control arguments need to be challenged wherever they occur, because they turn the climate movement into a war against human rights rather than for human rights.

Population control doesn’t have to infringe human rights. Some of the best ways of reducing the rate of population change are PRO-human rights: accessible education, equality in power relations between men and women, access to contraceptives, the aged pension.

Population is inseperable from environmental impact – if the population is low, but consumption per capita is very high, then you have a problem. If you have a really high population with small per-capita footprint, you still have a problem. At the moment, it’s obvious that the current global average per capita footprint is too high for the current population. The UN predicts 9 billion people by 2050, (150% of current population), which means that for us to have the same over all impact by then, we will need to have reduced our average percapita footprint to 2/3 of what it is now. To put this in perspective, current Australian GDP per capita is US$40-50,000, globally it’s about $10,000, so we’d have to reduce our footprints to about 15% of what it is now. That sounds doable, but that doesn’t take into account that we have to REDUCE our over-all impact, not keep it steady. (I realise I’m only talking about averages, but I think median figures would likely show even greater disparity).

There’s no reason why population control has to happen in the third world. It doesn’t matter where it happens. In fact, it’s probably better that it happens in the rich minority world, ’cause one less person here is heaps more impact reduction than the same person in the minority world. And that could potentially mean we have more room for refugees (not that population is the barrier now).

Ultimately, it’s about how you do it. Of course there’s plenty of fucked up ways to control populations. But the same can be said for any problem (Green Dictatorship, anyone?). We definitely shouldn’t be supporting any kind of punishment/penalties for people who feel the need to have more kids, but we should definitely encourage any positive measures that would help to slow down population rates, and oppose those that do the opposite (like Costello’s ” one for Mum, one for Dad, and one for the Country” – ugh… how would you feel to find out you were the one for the country?)

Seems to me that reducing populations and rates of change should definitely be a part of any broad climate campaign. We just have to make it abundantly clear how we mean to go about it – ethically and compassionately.

For anyone even vaguely involved in the world of blogs and climate change, logical fallacies are a familiar thing. The straw man, the appeal to authority, ad hominem attacks, the biased sample/cherrypicking, and many more are all used by both sides of the argument, to a greater or lesser degree.

On the side of climate scientists/environmentalists (Yes, I know that some won’t agree with my lumping those two groups together – it’s a crass generalisation, and it makes my case looks stronger (I am an environmental activist studying science), however it is true in the majority of cases) one of the arguments that comes up quite often is this:

Denier: “why should I trust the science – it’s biased/has vested interests/goes against my religion/philosophy.”

Greenie/scientist: “Why should you trust science? Look around you. You enjoy watching television, don’t you? And you’re using a computer right now, and I bet you drive a car. Science brought you those things.”

No. It didn’t.

Science is not technology, and technology is not science. The two are separate, although closely linked.

Science relies on certain technologies, such as microscopes, rulers and protractors, test tubes, and for more complex calculations, computers, etc. It does NOT rely on technologies like television, or the internal combustion engine, although these can make it easier.

Likewise, technology relies on science, but it also relies on the values of the individuals and societies building it, the resources that are available, and of course, the technology required to build it.

How about this:

Denier: “why should I trust the science – it’s biased/has vested interests/goes against my religion/philosophy.”

Greenie/scientist: “Why should you trust science? Think about this: The atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, engineered viruses, toxic toys, and television advertising. Science brought you those things.”

The point is that Technology isn’t brought to you by science. technology is brought to you by humans. True, the scientific understanding is a limiting factor on the technology available, but this does not mean that the technology will become available as the science advances.

Science, in it’s purest form, is just the pursuit of knowledge. More knowledge is, as far as I can work out, never a bad thing. Technology can go either way, and depends on the values of those designing it. Conflating the two is potentially a very dangerous thing to do, and even in cases where it’s safe,  to do so is still a logical fallacy.

There’s a long list of logical fallacies here: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/, but I don’t think this one features there. Perhaps it’s some kind of cause/effect fallacy. Perhaps it should be called the “Science for the Good/Bad life”.

Video to promote Climate Camp Australia.

This video was made with Kdenlive. I have to say, I’d never enjoyed using a program that crashes every 5 minutes (including system crashes) before using Kdenlive. It’s easy to use, and intuitive. Can’t wait for version 1.0.



Rising Tide stopped a coal train this morning, in the world’s biggest coal port. They blocked the whole line to the Kooragang terminal, and that backed up the rest of the coal line, blocking the whole port.

Thanks to the Sandgate Rail Fly over, recently completed, the blockage didn’t affect the passenger line at all – I dunno, but I doubt that was an intended side-effect of the project.

News is being a bit slow, but it’s up there. The ABC is being even more fucked than usual.

At a close guess, considering the port currently exports 90 million tonnes of coal a year, then every hour that the blockade continues, about 10,000 tonnes of coal are stopped for being exported (postponed, but if we begin to wind down the coal export industry in the next few years, then it’s the same thing). That’s equal to about 27,000 tonnes of C02 and hour. Beat that. The train’s already been stopped there for two hours…

Brian Dale, from ARTC, said on ABC said RT was “incredibly stupid … because the trains cannot stop quickly..”. Seemed like the train stopped pretty quickly to me. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the dangers, and I’m 100% sure that the people who stopped the train were extremely careful, and followed the guidelines for doing so, which are freely available on the ARTC website

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