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Who’s a conspiracy theorist then Paul Syvret?

Posted By Joanne Nova On May 29, 2013 @ 1:32 am In Global Warming,Media-matters,Science Communication | Comments Disabled

Paul Syvret  seems to be hoping no one will notice that he doesn’t even try to respond to arguments about wind turbines. His technique to avoid debate is to decree that some other people were wrong once on a different topic. They used a rapid fire technique called a Gish Gallop, so therefore, thusly and henceforth anyone with a rapid fire technique can be dismissed with a handy wave of The Gish. It’s just another label in Syvret’s all-purpose excuse-list for not having a grown up conversation.

Those who have no evidence just make things up and toss insults. Syvret of The Courier Mail defends the wind industry from its critics — not with data about windfarms, but with allegations of imaginary astroturfing and denialism. He uses all his biggest scientific words: it’s “a barrage of BS”, “pseudo-science”, and a crusade run by a rat-bag in an incestuous network. He wants to make sure his readers know the critics are shills and conspiracy nutters because, well…  he says so.

The Australian Environment Foundation is his main target today. What’s it guilty of? Well, it links to unpaid bloggers that Syvret doesn’t like: those ” sites promoting climate-change denial (such as junk science queen and conspiracy theorist Jo Nova) .”

It’s guilt by association, and three bonus mistakes in one sentence: Syvret can’t name any science the “deniers” deny,  any “junk science” on my site, or any conspiracy theory I promote. Not firing blanks are we Paul?

Spot the real conspiracy theory

Syvret is convinced that money drives skeptics and unnamed “vested interests” conspire with the IPA.  He has exactly no evidence to back this up. I don’t think he’s noticed though.

He thinks the critics of windfarms just pretend to be “grassroots”.  As if no rational citizen could possibly object to wind towers even though they are expensive, unreliable, and don’t make any difference to CO2 emissions. Indeed any sane Green ought to object to them because there are far better ways to reduce CO2 (if only it mattered). If you care about the environment, wouldn’t you want the green-money spent on something that worked and didn’t kill quite so many bats and birds?

Unlike him, I don’t need to invent conspiracies — I can just talk about systematic flaws and quote studies.

But now I’m just Gishing aren’t I? Too many points, and Syvret can wave The Gish, and 6 million raptors and bats will be grateful. Spared the slicing and dicing thanks to his neutralizing logic.

Now maybe wind farms are getting better at not killing bats and birds; I hear they are improving. And there may be a role for towers in remote areas, or in the future. Perhaps we ought be spending more researching them. But Syrvet’s response to the cost-benefit analysis is essentially to say “You are a paid astroturfer and mentally deficient nut.”

This is not the kind of reasoning that Western Civilization was built on.

Can anyone name a wind project that doesn’t need forced payments from taxpayers to survive and which reduces CO2 emissions in the grid it works in?

If one such “farm” exists, how much it will cost to reduce world temperatures by 0.1 degree with that technology, rounded to the nearest trillion?

Move along here, there’s nothing to see

Is Paul Syvret just another victim of sloppy language and one-sided research? Did he fall for the “denier” label and assume he didn’t need to meet a skeptical scientist, or even read their blogs?

Name-calling bites the name-caller: brain off, parrot-mode engaged — pass along the abuse. He reflexively reeled off “climate change denier” without even investigating the words, let alone the targets — can he name a single person who denies the climate changes? Who is that strange soul who thinks the Earth was once a perfect constant global 15C.

Name-calling serves a diversionary purpose. Some unwitting readers (like Paul) will write the targets off without even hearing their point of view. If you have a megaphone, insults will work for a while. But skeptics have a megaphone too. No wonder thousands of readers are turning off the junk journalism and shifting online to where the real debate is.

Has journalism become a theatre-of-therapy? It’s almost as if Syvret has projected all his own failures onto his opponents. Within the one article, lies the baseless conspiracy theory, the loopy logic, and the urge to whip up loathing in the rent-a-rage crowd. Who is the denier here?

REFERENCES

Amanda S Adams, David W Keith. Are global wind power resource estimates overstated? Environmental Research Letters, 2013; 8 (1): 015021 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/015021

Inhaber, Herbert (2011) Why wind power does not deliver the expected emissions reductions, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, volume 15, pages 2557–2562.

Victorian Auditor-General’s Report, Facilitating Renewable Energy Development, April 2011. 2010-11:27. PP No 21, Session 2010–11 [PDF]

Sharp. A., DEH Conservation Programs Manager, Northern & Yorke Region (2010) Briefing note on the effects of wind farms on bird and bat populations, Government of South Australia [PDF]

Meera Subramanian (2012) The trouble with turbines: An ill wind, Nature, 486, 310–311. [source]

UNEP report “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment” (2012)

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