2012-02-24 08:13:50Rosa Parks, civil disobedience and the climate debate


Draft in progress...

Civil disobedience was something Rosa Parks became famous for. She ignored the "law" and common customs in her society at that time by refusing to stand up and obey the common standards at the time. By doing so she showed in sense how much injustice was in common customs of her time. We should all know her story, it's a story of courage, where one person starts something that they can't know exactly how will influence the debate in the future.

One can argue that Dr. Gleicks actions in the matter of Heartland scandal (denial-gate), can be related as to be some kind of disobedience (even if it isn't technically the same per definition) like in the case of Rosa Parks. He, as Rosa Parks, did something, which, at first glance at least, looks unlawful (and maybe a sign of "dishonesty" in his case), but maybe it's one of the ways to "fight" the deniers - as would Rosa parks actions maybe be looked at as the only way at that time to influence changes. If Heartland chooses to go to court, they should do that and by that lay all the facts at the table, so we can see how it matches their other material and statements.

We have to be aware that Dr. Gleicks actions can be shown as unlawful and maybe he is going to prison and if Heartland intend to make it to court, they should do so if they are willing to put all their material on the table. His actions can eventually show the general public how the denial works, and if disobedience over for law is needed then perhaps his actions can be defended in some way.

Gleick was caught in an ethical dilemma.  He had been supplied with a memo purporting to show seriously unethical behavior by HI.  What to do?  As any scientist, ethical journalist or lawyer would: check the evidence.  But how? 

There was no way to check except by tricking HI into validating the contents of the memo. The memo looks to be what Gleick said.  He said he got it in the post and sent it by email to two researchers / bloggers.  That means he scanned it.  Scanning is no proof of forgery. Acting to protect generations as yet unborn is about as far from unethical as you can get

One should not judge him on beforehand, even if he could be guilty of something, his actions have shown us some insight into the nest of the denial...isn't that something we should acknowledge, despite of exactly how.


Notes from Logicman:

Large streams from little fountains flow, Tall oaks from little acorns grow.

D. Everett, 1797

poem 1st part

2nd part


Civil disobedience:

On April 5, 1930 Gandhi and his satyagrahis reached the coast.  After prayers were offered, Gandhi spoke to the large crowd.  He picked up a tiny lump of salt, breaking the law.  Within moments, the satyagrahis followed Gandhi's passive defiance, picking up salt everywhere along the coast.  A month later, Gandhi was arrested and thrown into prison, already full with fellow protestors.

The Salt March started a series of protests, closing many British shops and British mills.  A march to Dharshana resulted in horrible violence.  The non-violent satyagrahis did not defend themselves against the clubs of policemen, and many were killed instantly.  The world embraced the satyagrahis and their non-violence, and eventually enabled India to gain their freedom from Britain.




2012-02-24 15:13:29


Svatli: I'll try to come back to this soon.  (busy with the legal / GWPF thing)  :-)

2012-02-27 15:47:52Greenfyre's 'deniergate' hypothesis - last year.


I came across this article while researching people's attitudes to civil disobedience and whistleblowing.


On May 3, 2011, greenfyre wrote about a hypothetical case of denier documents release.

it is pretty much a given that the nature of a release would involve some sort of illegal act. How does our community respond to the act? Do we praise it? condemn it? make no comment? How do we respond to the Deniers inevitable, hypocritical condemnation of it as a violation of law and all standards of decency?

The temptation is naturally to cheer “our guy” as being an e-Robin Hood fighting the tyranny of the corporate usurpers. However, recall that when it came to the CRU hack quite a few in the climate science community condemned the act of hacking as illegal, unethical etc.  What will those people say if and when there is one that works in our favour? those who made no comment?

It is too much to hope that if it happens the one(s) responsible will step forward and accept the consequences, which while personally difficult for them would be brilliant in that fearless strategic nonviolent resistance is incredibly potent. Just look at the impact Tim DeChristopher‘s open acts of resistance are having.

Were it to happen this way we could simultaneously affirm the upholding of the law while praising the courage and commitment of the ones responsible.  We should be so lucky, but I’m not holding my breath.

As it is unlikely that the activists in question will act strategically folks may want to think through now what their response will be.

How will we avoid charges of hypocrisy and double standards? or of being traitors condemning a hero?

In fact, regardless of whether any such leak/hack ever happens it is a good idea to sort through one’s morality and decide just what one’s ethical stance is with regard to political action. The coming years promise to be interesting with respect to the politics of climate change and there will be instances where it is not simple or clear, just as there were with the civil rights movement, South Africa, etc.

How will we handle the inevitable questions? Far more difficult, how to  respond to the unspoken challenge those who act courageously pose to those who do not?

2012-03-01 05:47:37


Sorry, I haven't replied, been busy.

I think one should encourage the Heartland Institute to go to court now, as we would also be asking for if one would find the CRU-hacker. But, like I've mentioned before, I don't think that Heartland is eager to go to court. So I don't see the double moral (at least not from where I'm standing, so to speak)... But Greenfyre has some interesting points to make, as so often before, IMO. I had also thought about Tim DeChristopher regarding this...

I will be trying to write something more soon...

2012-03-01 06:10:31


Svatli: I came across this today.


Shifting public opinion on climate change: an empirical assessment of factors influencing concern over climate change in the U.S., 2002–2010

Robert J. Brulle, Jason Carmichael and J. Craig Jenkins

This paper conducts an empirical analysis of the factors affecting U.S. public concern about the threat of climate change between January 2002 and December 2010. Utilizing Stimson’s method of constructing aggregate opinion measures, data from 74 separate surveys over a 9-year period are used to construct quarterly measures of public concern over global climate change. We examine five factors that should account for changes in levels of concern: 1) extreme weather events, 2) public access to accurate scientific information, 3) media coverage, 4) elite cues, and 5) movement/countermovement advocacy. A time-series analysis indicates that elite cues and structural economic factors have the largest effect on the level of public concern about climate change. While media coverage exerts an important influence, this coverage is itself largely a function of elite cues and economic factors. Weather extremes have no effect on aggregate public opinion. Promulgation of scientific information to the public on climate change has a minimal effect. The implication would seem to be that information-based science advocacy has had only a minor effect on public concern, while political mobilization by elites and advocacy groups is critical in influencing climate change concern.

[my emphasis]

I don't have a subscription - does anyone have this full article?