Shut Up, For the Children

Thought I would share a couple of bits of an email I got today.  The email showed a distinct lack of familiarity with the nuances of my climate position, so my guess is this may be a form letter.  I find it interesting a 17-year-old knows the term “NGO” but does not know to capitalize the first letter in a sentence (emphasis added).

hello.
this is a (hopefully) reasonable and (hopefully) well thought out message.
firstly i will say that i am 17 years old and not under the sway of any goverments/NGOs.
i believe that what you are doing with your climate skeptic blog is dangerous.
dangerous not only to yourself (in a minor way), but to my generation(in a much bigger way)….  [portion snipped out here basically talking about the writer’s view of what science is beyond dispute and lecturing me on the precautionary principle]

you’ll probably think it’s rich, being lectured on ‘responsibility’ by a mere 17 year old, but hear (or read ;)) me out…
by publishing your blog i believe you are infringing upon successive generations’ fundamental basic human right to life.
denying climate change is fine if you just hold these veiws and keep them to yourself and don’t overtly act upon them.
it does however become infinitely more dangerous to my generation to preach these views as fact(or even air them in a serious manner).
as far as i see it, this is an issue of life and death.
the way i see it, you’re going along the ‘more likely to be death’ route, and please, if only for the sake of your children, or your children’s children, stop updating your blog.

Hmm, I will pass.  But it is nice to know that folks like Al Gore, Michael Mann, and Steve Jones have passed down their fear and loathing of debate to the next generation.    I won’t share my response, but I asked him if he would prefer that my generation, instead of handing his generation a degree or so of warming, instead handed his generation an extra billion or so people in poverty.

  • artemis

    Where is the human “right to life” of those millions who starve under the “utopia” morons like this plan to create to reduce CO2?

    Another question NOONE has EVER asked.

    Some trees require forest fires to reproduce. This NATURAL cycle is critical to their existence. When we tried to prevent forest fires, (remember only YOU can prevent forest fires) we almost drove not just those trees, but entire systems dependent on them to extinction.

    Since no one is asking, who is to say there are not larger, more complex ecological dependencies on the cyclical earth temperature cycles? Only, unlike forest fires, preventing C02 will cause famine, death, and war (as people fight over increasingly limited resources) potentially leading to a true global catastrophe if we learn after 20 years of C02 reductions that we just screwed a critical climate cycle.

  • tgs

    what do you expect from the product of our public school system.

    critical thinking is dead for pretty much anyone under the age of 35.

  • Cloneof

    As one of the people part of that boy’s generation, I must say the amount of people not capitalizing their first letters is very high.

  • Pedro X

    For the sake of the children, please keep updating your blog.

  • Captain Obviousness

    LOL… even if it is just a copy/paste that is a riot. Oh noes! Your blog is killing Earth!!!

    At least he used vowels and didn’t write (paste) the letter in txt msg spk.

  • The same request was made of Galileo, except then it was to save their immortal souls rather than just their temporary temporal abode.

  • Our PM in Australia seems to share the views of that 17yo.

    Australian Prime Minister Mr Rudd said

    “Act for the future, not for the past. Act for your children. Act for your grandchildren”
    “Failing to act today is the riskiest course of action available to the parliament. Failing to act today is to roll the dice on our children’s future .. I will not take that risk.”

    (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/11/24/2751855.htm)

    Cheers from Tasmania!

  • I’m curious about the “dangerous not only to yourself (in a minor way)” bit. Is there some mysterious, global-warming related health risk from sceptical blogging that we should all know about? And does it go away once you stop updating the blog?

    Beats me, but then I lack insight and wisdom, not being 17 years old.

  • bob

    It is good for a teen to try to enter the adult world of opinions and arguments, and it is good for them to learn that regurgitated talking points we see in this post earn them little respect.

    The biggest lesson is that you need to articulate your own point using correct grammar and punction. That’s how you get your point across.

  • hunter

    I rather suspect you’ve made this e-mail up.

  • It might be a real email, but it might be built from boilerplate, as well. The Hillbuzz site (Dem blog, but they’re sane, really) has been doing a lot of troll dissection recently and they’re good at it. For example: http://hillbuzz.org/2010/01/29/troll-dissection-101-can-you-spot-and-counter-troll-comments/

    Given what’s taught in today’s school I think you’re emailer is just being a concerned citizen who knows only what his comrades in the schools have taught him.

  • kuhnkat

    Providing this person is actually 17, and he does seem idealistic and shallow enough to be that age, I would love to talk to those who influenced his current state of mind!!!

    If the writer is not 17 they are likely someone educated or teaching in our “best” universities and from a “privileged” background!

    The idea of guilting you for possible consequences on future generations based on an unproven hypothesis is rich!!

  • kuhnkat

    hunter,

    I would have thought you wrote the letter, but, the writer(s) is obviously a lot smarter and better educated!! ;>)

  • Charles Higley

    Isn’t it nice to be asked to shut up so politely? Have different views but keep quiet please. Of course, if you knew your views were wrong and dangerous, then would not you change your view?

    I still have to argue with faculty who firmly believe that the IPCC is a world-renowned scientific effort involving thousands of the finest. How could the possibly be wrong or politically motivated?

  • Simon

    I don’t usually leave comments, and I confess that I am yet to be convinced by most of the statements on this blog (though I read it with genuine interest and an open mind), but I have to say something about this email. The statement “it’s okay for you to have this position but please keep it to yourself” is akin to people saying “it’s okay to be gay, but just don’t tell us”. Alarm bells. I suspect the writer of the email would find the later statement unacceptable, despite its similarities with the former.

  • Onlooker

    At a tangent which will be of interest, check out The Guardian(an influential UK newspaper), 2nd Feb, page 7: article by Fred Pearce: ‘posts and a scientist under siege’. For cynical spin this really takes the biscuit.

    Sarah Palin soundbites are used to rubbish the whole of the skeptic position. (It’s not as if Al Gore didn’t have to backtrack recently!) The famous ‘trick’ is justified and someone called George Will is slagged off as being “celebrated in some circles as an intellectual”. I know nothing about Mr Will but the tone of the article is unpleasant, about discrediting an idea by ridiculing some of the people who follow it. The Guardian should be above that sort of thing.

    As for the 17 year old’s spelling and capitalisation – be careful. Don’t fall into the Fred Pearce trap. Let’s face it: it’s the content which got it posted.

  • “Providing this person is actually 17, and he does seem idealistic and shallow enough to be that age, ”

    Hey, not all teens are idealistic and shallow! Heck, my 13 yr old could have written a better letter, grammatically, structurally and intelectually, than this. Neither she nor her almost 17 yr old sister are idealistic or shallow.

    On the other hand, neither of my kids have darkened the door of a public school through their entire educational lives. That might partly explain the difference.

  • Max

    Goddamn it. Schools are going downhill in the US. I mean, the kid obviously can reason, but he has a worse sense for how to correctly write than I have (and english is my second language). Even though I still know that I needs to be capitalized as well as first letters of a sentence. What do they teach these days in school (he is 17!!!)?

  • cedarhill

    When I was 17 I, too, knew everything important about the world. Then I took College Physics and Modern Algebra and discovered there was an entire universe that the grown ups had not told me about.

  • This kid is lucky I don’t believe CO2 contributes anything measurable to the globe’s average temperature. If I believed that, I would consider it my solemn duty to create as much of as it as possible. In no way am I afraid of a few degrees of warming, but I’m deathly afraid of cooling which is clearly very hazardous to civilization and our human prospect.

  • NewPoster

    I’m a new poster. I’m generally agnostic but with doubts about AGW, but started exploring this site, after a recent incident on a social networking site.

    In one discussion about the news story for CRU, a poster made a comment that the CRU should release its data. Suddenly he was jumped all over, and told this type of scientific data should not be released, and is never released and is usually destroyed in any case (something I know from my own science background is not the case). Moreover, the reason that the data should not be released is it might be misused by Republicans and Palinites, everything is fine anyway, and it doesn’t disprove AGW anyway (proof or disproof of AGW had never been discussed), and “the science” was infallible and irrefutable (which particular piece of science was not discussed – it was just treated as a uniform edifice – and any case, no aspect of AGW or climate science had even be questioned at that point).

    I then said the data should be released because it belonged to the public which funded its creation, plus political and scientific debate (and access to information necessary for such debates) should not be limited to those with particular views.

    I was then attacked for similar reasons (although today there was an amazing reversal of position, by the same people who said the data should be kept secret, that all the data had already been released and I therefore had nothing to complain about).

    I was also deliberately misquoted, arguments and words put into my mouth that I never said, called a tea bagger (I’m not even American), and perhaps most enlightening of all – I was told that democracy and democratic principles didn’t apply to debates on issues even tangentially related to climate change (“because this is science”), and that it was people’s moral duty to find ways to shut up people who disagree with “the science” (again what particular bits of science were not discussed).

    One minor incident on a social network site may not seem important, but I checked the posting history on a random selection other news threads relating to climate-gate, and there are dozens of threads with countless (young?) people adopting the same attitude. My point being, for this 17 year old is not unique – the only thing that differentiates him from numerous others with similar (or more extreme) views about shutting up opponents, is that he wrote to you.

    I too fear for the future.

    By the way, on an unrelated topic, could somebody answer a question for me: For the purpose of this question imagine a world in 20 years time when global warming has not happened – perhaps the world has even become cooler. There are two guys in a pub, educated, with science backgrounds, but not climate scientists. One guy says “we should have known all along that global warming was never going to happen because of X” – what would X most likely be?

  • mark

    If this is from a genuine 17 year old, I congratulate him on having a view and wanting to do something about it (grammatical errors aside).

    What is really worrying though, is his thought process that – I am right, and as you therefore must be wrong you are not permitted to express your view. A fundamental part of our culture is freedom of speech, something my grandad used to tell me often that his comrades fought and died to preserve.

    Well the pro-AGW community have certainly achieved a big aim (with some people at least), to suppress the thought/challenge process and to blindly (dumbly) accept everything that is presented as the truth. Personally, I am not sure how much impact we are having on the climate, hence my reason for reading research papers and blogs to try and learn.

  • hunter (the real one)

    I am only posting this since the pathological twit who ‘borrows’ my name is posting on this thread.
    I will be off line, and have been off line, for awhile.
    Any posts under my name that involve flaming the host or relying on AGW talking points and insults to defend AGW, is not me.
    I wish our host would ban her/him/it stealing my name, but such is not to be.

  • ADiff

    Artemis,

    RE: “those millions who starve under the “utopia” morons like this plan to create to reduce CO2”

    The subject’s hardly a new one, but it’s only recently that it’s begining to get the attention it deserves. But there’s a hell of a long way to go yet in getting main stream recognition of the need to approach any idealistic crusade from an economic perspective, looking carefully at what it costs, how it costs and who it costs.

    No doubt you’re familar with http://www.eco-imperialism.com/content/environmentalimperialism.php3 ?

    If not, it’s well worth a visit.

  • Here’s what really freaks me out: the older I get, the more the anti-authoritarian ethos of punk rock is starting to make more sense. What does it say about the state of the world when you think that the dudes with the brightly colored mohawks might have been on to something?

    And WTF is up with kids these days? They appear to be a bunch of little mind-numbed, goody-two-shoes conformist wankers.

    Oh yeah, stay off my lawn (since apparently I’m old now).

  • mbabbitt

    I too was a well-intentioned, self-reflective, pompous, smarter-than-thou fool at 17 (a lot of us were) so I can be somewhat forgiving of this kid. All I can say to that kid is, “Someday, you will realize what a self-righteous dupe you were way back when… and you will laugh about it and feel sort of embarrassed.”

    However, what is truly frightening is that the adults in the room — or, rather, those who should be the adults — are just as bad, if not worse.And some of them really do know better but are just in it for the fame and gain angle.

  • Ike

    @Warren.

    Share the letter you sent to the kid.
    Or at least share it with me.

    @NewPoster:

    ___________ is “the sheer volume of money being thrown at confirming the problem, and the identity and motive of those writing the checks.”

  • Sean

    Response to NewPoster, your question, “global warming was never going to happen because of X” – what would X most likely be?” might simply be answered by saying X=clouds.

  • Waldo

    It cracks me up when the tribe here derides someone else for ‘lack of critical thinking skills’ or maintains that, somehow, the ‘kids of today’ aren’t learning anything or, better yet, towing a party line.

    Pot meet kettle, folks.

  • Ron H.

    Many of you are just too mean to a poor 17yo student who is probably struggling to put himself through school by working part time after school, and can only afford a cheap used keyboard with a broken shift key. I’m feel certain he would capitalize if he could.

    By the way, I only use the masculine pronoun because everyone else has. This 17yo could very well be a girl.

    I am also concerned, as is Alex Cull, about the vaguely threatening sounding bit “dangerous not only to yourself (in a minor way)”. Is there possibly some mysterious, global-warming related health risk from sceptical blog READING?

    As with so many other things in life, if the concerned 17yo fears the evil effect attending the continued updating of this blog, he could always STOP READING THE BLOG! (my shift key seems to be working fine) The same advice applies to talk radio. If you don’t like what you are hearing, just turn the dial. It’s that simple. Don’t tell others what they can or can’t listen to.

  • #
    @NewPoster:

    I too fear for the future.

    By the way, on an unrelated topic, could somebody answer a question for me: For the purpose of this question imagine a world in 20 years time when global warming has not happened – perhaps the world has even become cooler. There are two guys in a pub, educated, with science backgrounds, but not climate scientists. One guy says “we should have known all along that global warming was never going to happen because of X” – what would X most likely be?

    X= magnetic activity ( which changes the clouds )
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodor_Landscheidt

  • hunter

    What cracks me up is how skeptics keep getting vindicated for being skeptical of AGW.
    http://newscenter.lbl.gov/feature-stories/2010/02/03/black-carbon-himalayan-glaciers/
    The only thing that cracks me up more is how AGW true believers stick to their failed theory.

  • An Inquirer

    Regarding having concern for the next generation, I would offer this consideration. Low CO2 levels are not optimum for plants. From research and my own hands-on work with crops, I’m confident that at least 17% of present crop yields are due to increased CO2 levels — and thank goodness for additional increases due to hybrids and plant genetics! Not that it is feasible, but if we returned to CO2 levels of 100 years ago, what food supply would you be willing to cut. Okay, okay . . . it probably would be healthier for US citizens if we cut our food intake by 17%, but I suspect that is not the case around the world!

  • Itamar

    In this mail, he basically say, that you are killing him – and what he doesn’t say is : if you are tiring to kill him, then he has the right to hurt you first.

    If I were you ( or any other public skeptic), I would’ve see that as a threat. This is the gun in the 1st act, and one of these days a skeptic will get hurt. I guess it will happen when they’ll be pushed against the wall, and the politician will start abandon the Global warming BS.

  • NewPoster

    Itamar – I think you’re reading too much between the lines of that email. He hasn’t made those connections, and it sounds more like a plea – like you might ask your dad to stop smoking because you don’t want him to get cancer. I don’t see any suggestion of violence in the email.

    It is true that there are some pro-AGWs that advocate extra-legal actions like breaking into power stations and destroying private property. And others who urge authoritarian actions by the state (see for example – http://www.amazon.com/Climate-Challenge-Democracy-Politics-Environment/dp/031334504X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265364190&sr=8-1 – “For conversion to sustainable societies, liberal democracy must give way to “a form of authoritarian government by experts” which the authors sketch out at the end.”) – but I don’t see any suggestion of that in the email.

    Instead, he simply seems to believe the issues are a binary choice and since he’s on the right side of the binary choice, he’s 100% right about them and anybody on the wrong side is 100% wrong.

    These are not untypical things for a 17 year old to believe anyway – and the fact that there are plenty of press articles that portray the issues as being entirely binary (you’re with us or against us), and urging stifling of dissent or nuanced discussions – see e.g. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/0204/1224263734237.html and http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/03/bbc-climate-change-denier – is only going to further encourage him about the rightness of his views.

  • NewPoster

    I tried to post a long message with several links (basically saying that I thought Itamar had over-interpreted the email), but it seems to have disappeared without trace. Spam filtered?

  • I, too, have concerns about young people who don’t seem to grasp the concept of a “marketplace of ideas.” You express yours, I express mine, and may the best argument win.

    Instead, there seems to be a surprising number of young people who think the world should be shielded from views with which they personally disagree. Now THAT’S an idea that’s truly dangerous.

  • DavidB

    Do you really mean Steve Jones (biologist), or Phil Jones (climatologist)?