It’s time to pin down the definition of the Green Blob
Owen Paterson gets the credit for setting this phrase into popular use (as far as I can tell). Here is his definition:
Owen Paterson: I’m proud of standing up to the green lobby
By this I mean the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape. This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interests of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely.
Local conservationists on the ground do wonderful work to protect and improve wild landscapes, as do farmers, rural businesses and ordinary people. They are a world away from the highly paid globe-trotters of the Green Blob who besieged me with their self-serving demands, many of which would have harmed the natural environment.
Pressed in Fenbeagle’s hand the Green Blob became The Green B-Lobby. Which adds that edge — the amorphous blob becomes a Lobby blob.
Forgive me, Fenbeagle, for rendering the cartoon in gif which uses less memory but destroys the gradients. (To see the original art, which is even better, visit his site ). Published with permission.
Exactly what kind of Blob and Blobby do we mean?
James Murry edits BusinessGreen and, not surprisingly, isn’t too keen on the “Green Blob” term. He argued in July that it’s so broadly defined it is meaningless, or rather, dangerous, in that it combines sensible questioners with eco-anarchists:
As Michael Gove understood before him, if you characterise all your critics as an indeterminate mass you damn those with legitimate and well-intentioned concerns by association with those partisan voices who invariably look a little unhinged when aiming hyperbolic criticism at cabinet ministers. So by eliding all of those who have concerns about fracking and climate change, with those who oppose GM crops, badger culls and questionable pesticides, and then further associating all of them with the disgraceful and pathetic individuals who allegedly sent him death threats Paterson seeks to dismiss all his critics as being in cahoots with the most deluded eco-anarchist.
The problem is that in making the “green blob” appear so ridiculous and all-encompassing Paterson only serves to drown his handful of legitimate points in a sea of his own evidence-lite vitriol.
Murry’s comments about labels being misused to stifle debate and bury sensible critics with deluded ones is a reasonable point. Terms need defining. I’ve said similar things about the use of the term “denier” — a term so-ill defined it groups Nobel Prize winners of physics with high schoolers, and people who object on economic grounds with people who disagree about radiative physics.
But Paterson does define his terms (see the top of this post). He makes it clear he is targeting the self-serving greens who pretend to care for the environment while they profit from it. He is not targeting conservationists, nor people who achieve what they set out to achieve for the environment. For example, the Green Blobby are the ones who claim they want to change the climate, and say they can do that through reductions of CO2, but in the end, the Blobby chooses methods like carbon trading and windpower to do it, even though supercritical coal plants or nuclear plants would be a better way to meet the goal they allegedly want.
The Blobby-scientists are the ones who know the fate of the planet rests on tree ring studies, and rush to broadcast their results, and accept prizes (which weren’t even offered) but can’t be bothered updating the data used in the graphs for the next 16 years.
James Murray is concerned about the effect on the conversation of the term “the Green Blob”, but unaware that everything he says, and them some, applies to his use of “Denier”. He is not entirely happy with the term, but comes up with some pretty odd reasons why:
How to argue with “climate sceptics”
We need a new term. “Climate denier” does not work because many climate sceptics now maintain that they do not deny that climate change is happening (although I often have a hard time believing their partial Damascene conversion), “anti-green” is too clunky and “eco-sceptic” has the same problem as “climate scepticism” in its appropriation of the word “sceptic”.
Note to Murray: Study your topic. No Damascene conversion was necessary, most skeptics have always agreed the world has warmed since the Little Ice Age. The only conversion that occurred was in the propaganda about skeptics.
Don’t mince things up. The term Climate denier doesn’t work because it’s a meaningless namecalling term that literally applies to no one over five. Skeptical scientist is perfect, (as is unskeptical scientist).
Ponder the oxymoron of deniers who switch their views. Since the number of skeptics is rising, the number of skeptics who used-to-be-believers (like myself) is growing. What kind of denier switches sides? — Imaginary ones.
Dear James — you’ve fallen for the bait — as long as you use the term “denier” your brain won’t work. You won’t be able to read anything on the climate topic without feeling blindly smug that you know more about the climate than the professors who debate the IPCC conclusions. Take your own advice, stick to terms you can define, and set yourself the goal of not mistaking a namecalling insult for a term of science.