Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tackle a climate change troll

The most effective thing you can do to fight climate change is not to buy efficient-energy appliances, convert to green energy, or walk to the shops, etc. Though don't let me dissuade you. Nor is glaring at that poor 17 year old checkout chick for offering you non biodegradable plastic bags, angry as they make you.

Nah, the best thing you can do to expedite the revolution, and bring on the carbon economy is to go and take on a AGW denial propagandist, on their own turf.

It's these people that have been at the forefront of the well-documented, fossil-fuel industry campaign to create doubt in the publics mind about the link between co2 emissions. And they have been successful, the extent to which they have can be shown by the late ratification of Kyoto by Australia,and the non-ratification by the US. And more recently, by the 0.5% increase in carbon dioxide levels between 2006 to 2007 over the 30 year trend of 1.65 ppm.

So how do you take on a Denier, and to what end?
If you are a normal person with a good work-life balance, the following is not for you. But the secret suburban subversive, or debating champion, or reformed hacker, might like to break out at an AGW denial blog, like (in Australia) Jennifer Marohasy, Andrew Bolt Blog, or Tim Blair, and expose their fossil-fuel propaganda for what it is. How?

Seize their myths. Squeeze hard

Check out their latest global warming posts, and you will quickly identify which recycled myth the author is peddling. Read a few post to get a sense of their style, before deconstructing their myth. You can do this with the aid of the diagnostics from specialised AGW denial myth-busting bloggers, some who are listed below:

Flex that Deltoid

Coby Beck had great success with his original blog, A Few Things Ill Considered, which had a great series on How to Talk to a Sceptic on a myth by myth basis. He was then was invited to blog at Science Blogs. His new home: A Few Things Ill Considered.

John Cook, an ex-physicist (majoring in solar physics at the University of Queensland) has a neat list of every skeptic argument encountered online as well as how often each argument is used in his excellent Skeptical Science blog.

These two bloggers can help you easily identify the basic argument, and simply explain how to busted the myth. Desmog blog, by Kevin Grandia, a PR industry insider, breaks the denialist spin down, simply. Or as they say, the are Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science.

Once you have busted a few myths and have a repertoire you can confidently (but politely) bust, you may be ready to read the more scientific blogs.

Andrew Lambert
Of the University of Technology, Sydney, runs Deltoid, where he occasionally eviscerates the denialist meme du jour for a bit of fun. Eli Rabbit has more fun doing this more often with his Rabett Run. Real Climate is a blog providing commentary on climate science news by working climate scientists for the interested public. They recently debunked a favourite of the deniers: that the majority of scientist in the 70s predicted a coming ice age. Tamino is the alias of a working, formidable climate scientist who runs Open Mind.

Yea, but Why?

Because they did it first. And, they are still doing it. This denial is funded by big fossil-fuel, manufactured by thinktanks like the Heartland Institute, CEI, (see and the myths are disseminated by their shills, usually opinion journalists or professional deniers like our own Professor Robert (Bob) Carter.

If you can't stop them at the source, and the Royal Society couldn't stop them, you can bust the myth at its endpoint. Expose it where you see it, politely but firmly. Stop the misinformation in its track. Let me know if you do, and I'll post your efforts up. I'm want an army of well-informed bloggers prepared to spend 5 minutes every other day identifying genuine AGW denialist propaganda, and 10 minutes politely debunking any inaccuracies. The object is to neutralise the impressions created by the fossil-fuel indsutry's 20 year campaign that may help delay tackling the problem with all haste.

Hook-up for White Hat Trolling
Director of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Adelaide, Professor Barry W Brook, has pinged these climate change 'sceptics, denialists, contrarians, delayers or delusionists' as Internet trolls. It's not original, The Ergosphere argues that the collective noun is an irritation of trolls. These climate trolls slink into science sites with a public interface, and loudly pretend there still is a scientific debate about what causes global warming, intending to mislead.

White Hat Trolling is the reverse: It is fronting up at junk-science blogs and news groups, in this case those campaigning to confuse the public about climate change, to rebut and debunk their unsound arguments, in this way exposing their campaigns.

Expose the Deniers' Tactics
Remember: The purpose is to expose the tactics of the deniers by attacking their logic not their persons. A White Hat Troll never gets personal. The desired impression to leave, is that the 'debate', that deniers say still rages, is really an astroturfing campaign funded by the fossil-fuel industry to give the impression the scientific jury is still out on the causes on global warming.

Where to next? Well, put you hand up and leave a comment or a question before you take on a denier, and I'll keep posting more on the subject, and hopefully some of your efforts.

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