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Balcombe protesters

Via the AGW sceptic blogosphere, I noticed this article in an online magazine that I hadn't previously heard of called "The Kernel" about the Balcombe protesters:


One thing that surprised me about the Balcombe protesters is that they appear to be mainly a bunch of hippies. In the UK I'd say environmental protesting was dominated by hippy protesters up to about 2000. But in the 00s the Green NGOs seem to have got more heavily involved, and the protests look much more 'stage managed' with the hippy presence toned down in favour of a more clean-cut, awareness-raising type bunch of protesters.

An example of what I'm talking about would be this protest against a third runway at Heathrow back in 2007:


Several photos from the protest are connected with the slogan "We are armed...only with peer reviewed science" where protesters glued A4 sheets taken from climate science papers to their hands. The bottom photo features two people wearing polar bear costume heads. It all looks like it is designed mainly to appeal to people within the Westminster bubble.

Contrast that with the previous runway-related protest in the UK (against a second runway at Manchester airport in the late 1990s), where the hippy protesters set up a camp and occupied the site for a year or more, with protesters having to be physically ejected from trees and from a network of underground tunnels (built according to instructions given in a Viet Cong manual on building tunnels).

It looks like the Green NGOs don't really know what to do about fracking, and the hippy protesters are filling the void.

I remember when Stephan Lewandowski came up with the notorious paper that attempted to prove that climate sceptics were serial conspiracy theorists (believing in such things as the moon landings being a hoax), it occurred to me that claim could be made to a much greater extent against the Greenies. In the interviews with six of the protesters reported in "The Kernel" article, two could be regarded straight away as conspiracy theorists - Paul is a 9-11 Truther and is attending the protest to spread the word, and Prajna believes there is a conspiracy by Big Oil which is stopping some super-efficent internal combustion engine he has invented (and also a perpetual motion machine designed by his great uncle which he has developed further) from being built.

Re: Balcombe protesters

One of the fallacies that needs to be added to the list is the "you must believe there is a conspiracy" fallacy.

If you attempt to talk about the fundamentals, this is where they all seem end up.

"Don't you think the experts know about temperature, enthalpy, triple points, etc, you must think they are morons or something!"

"You just think you are smarter than all those people that have spent way more time studying the subject that you!"

"Scientists joyfully disprove faulty theories, therefor you must think there is a conspiracy preventing the disproof from showing up in the literature!"

I am very sad to report that I now know the definition of Twerking...

I am sadder to say that there was more science involved in the creation of that word, than most of what is being reported in the media these days.

Re: Balcombe protesters

All those protestations are appeals to authority (one of the rules of logical failure) arn't they? Were these people proper scientists, wouldn't they know how often pure science can be misinterpreted when appplied to real world conditions? Exotic science can be demonstrated in the laboratory which cannot exist in the outside world.
This is the real problem of arguing a point with a reperesentative of the ignorant masses.

Re: Balcombe protesters

"Don't you think the experts know about temperature, enthalpy, triple points, etc, you must think they are morons or something!"

"You just think you are smarter than all those people that have spent way more time studying the subject that you!"

For some reason, this childish view of scientists reminds me of a line from Star Trek ("Miri" The Original Series), where the character, Jahn, makes the following statement:

"But Grups, they know things and all that. You know, I bet they'll be able to do it with one person less."


Re: Balcombe protesters

In reply to Brad, this relates I think to a big difference I noted between the pro-AGW side and AGW sceptics some years ago. The pro AGW side has a tendency to see science as a single monolithic entity with all scientific disciplines and scientists having more or less equal status, whereas AGW sceptics take a more non-egalitarian view, observing some demarcations like the idea of splitting science into hard science and soft science, or maybe the old Ernest Rutherford idea of regarding science as being either physics or stamp-collecting (subjects which mainly involve data collection). AGW sceptics are prepared to show deference to scientific disciplines that have some proven track record in predicting something useful, but not to disciplines that don't seem to be good at predicting what they're supposed to know about. The pro-AGW side thinks that deference should be paid to anybody calling themselves a scientist (there is however a contradiction to this in that the Green lobby, which makes up a considerable component of the pro-AGW side, do not themselves show equal deference to all scientists), and interpret the inconsistency in deference by sceptics as being politically motivated or conspiracy theory type thinking, rather than the simpler explanation that people might just not be impressed by a particular scientific discipline.

I noticed an article called "Science says so suckers!" that picks up this point of mistakenly regarding science as a single entity a few weeks ago (it's a WSJ article, so it may go behind a paywall at some point). The article is a rebuttal of the assertion that climate change science is as certain as gravity:


Re: Balcombe protesters

On the subject of fracking protests and hippies, an event is coming up this weekend organised by British pagans to protect 'Albion' (an ancient name for Britain or England, reputedly based on the white cliffs of Dover) from the practice of fracking. I suspect that the event, though quite newsworthy, will not be reported by environmental journalists due to it being somewhat embarassing to the political Green cause.


It looks like they've got 1800 people attending a magic ritual to be carried out at Glastonbury (which is a sort of general centre of British mumbo jumbo), with possibly several thousand others carrying out rituals in smaller gatherings elsewhere. So if you never hear about fracking in Britain again after this weekend, you'll know why.

One thing I have to say in favour of the hippies and pagans is that they do represent the honest face of environmentalism. It is self-evident with these people that they are just following a voice in their heads.

Re: Balcombe protesters

As I expected, no British environmental journalist covered the Pagan anti-fracking protests, even though it was a bigger event than Balcombe. In fact there has been no mention of the event in the British news media at all, confirming my long-held impression that the media gives the environmental movement a bit of an easy ride compared with other political groups. But a couple of Youtube videos have been uploaded, for anyone interested, one for Glastonbury and one for Stonehenge: