Climate Change

Mythmaking and "Massive Walkouts" at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference

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Warsaw Walkout 1
Ronald Bailey

Yesterday, a bunch of environmental and social activists staged what they were pleased to call a "massive" walkout from the UN climate change conference venue in Warsaw. I watched it take place and took some cell phone photos,  and then reported that perhaps a 100 activists, or to be really generous, maybe 150, had "massively" walked out.

I returned on Friday to the conference where I hear it repeated numerous times by various remaining members of "civil society" that 800 activists had actually joined the walkout. Then I start googling around and find that some news outlets had reported that number as being factually so, e.g,. Reuters, Environment News Service, and Grist. Really?

Warsaw Walkout 2
Ronald Bailey

Amusingly, as I walked into the National Stadium today, I overhead the following conversation between two young activists while we three waited to hand over our coats at the cloakroom:

He: I walked out yesterday, did you?

She: Yes, but I had to walk back in almost immediately because we had meeting with a delegation.

I kid you not.

When I was a reporter in Central America, I was introduced to the concept of "lying for justice" by some supporters of the Sandinistas who explained to me that sometimes one had to tell lies in order to be heard.

Reports exaggerating theatrical performances of this sort are a disservice to readers, listeners, and viewers of the news.

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  1. Are these kinds of numbers ever accurately reported?

    1. Not a chance.

      1. Do you think they have a formula for making these up? Surely, some minimum number exists that they’ll never go below. I think there’s a PhD thesis in here somewhere.

        1. Sure, it’s “multiply by several orders of magnitude depending on how much you need to lie”. Do I have a PhD from Whattsamatta U now?

          1. Yes, I can find no error in your thesis. Congratulations, Dr. Episiarch.

    2. 89.7% of the time.

      1. Oh, well, there you go. Can’t argue with numbers, especially when phrased with statistical precision.

  2. I was introduced to the concept of “lying for justice” by some supporters of the Sandinistas who explained to me that sometimes one had to tell lies in order to be heard.

    I’m guessing that’s a core part of J-school curriculums at this point. For proof, just watch a cable news network or read any paper.

    1. If your philosophy requires you to lie and to deny reality, then there’s something wrong with you and your philosophy, not the rest of the world.

      1. It’s good that you’ve finally accepted this, ProL. Now comes the healing.

        1. Um, okay, when did I not think this?

          1. Well, that didn’t last long.

            1. No, he’s legitimately confused. I’m afraid it might be senile dementia.

              1. God knows he’s old enough for that…

                1. To be fair, the ENTIRE Cenozoic era is a lot to remember.

        2. Another distressing piece to these fake news stories is that when they’re widely reported, they often become historical “truth.”

    2. Dan Rather is certainly a disciple of the “fake, but accurate” reporting school.

      1. The last century and a half is shot through with movements and philosophies that say that anything goes, so long as there’s some great goal at the end. Lies, murder, whatever, all justified for some end that never actually happens, anyway, and was never worth lying or killing people for in the first place.

        The big error–perhaps the central error in modern man–is deferring your moral and ethical judgments to others. Not only has it resulted in some horrific actions, it’s also tainted the character of many individuals in their personal lives.

        1. Yes. Personal responsibility. I watched a friend try to explain the other day to someone about jury nullification. A lawyer pointed out that the prosecutor will ask about it in jury selection. His return argument was, “I don’t owe that guy shit. If he’s trying to select only amoral people who will apply the law as written, it is my duty to try to get on that jury and apply morality AND the law.”

          The best part was watching him draw them all in with high minded arguments and then ask whether it would have been okay to deliver a guilty verdict in a case where a person had been aiding fugitive slaves.

          Well, that’s different! apparently everyone is a hero with the value of hindsight.

          1. Just think how different things would be if people in this country generally expected honesty from others and refused to accept dishonest behavior from others, especially those with power over them?

            1. Exactly. Or prosecutors and judges refused to enforce laws because they are morally opposed.

  3. I was introduced to the concept of “lying for justice” by some supporters of the Sandinistas who explained to me that sometimes one had to tell lies in order to be heard.

    Rigoberta Menchu is right there with you.

  4. Ronald, this is just an example of you showing your Whirte Privilage.

    Next you will be lecturing the delegates on Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. How insensitive can you BE?

    http://portlandtribune.com/pt/…..for-equity

  5. I was going to make a snarky comment, but these people [the activists]made me throw up in my mouth.

  6. On the drive home the other day I believe it was NPR or BBC that was describing “massive” protests with “hundreds” walking out.

    Were they reporting on the same thing?

    1. Hundreds of what? Perhaps they view humans as colonies of cells, in which case quadrillions walked out. Really, you should be complimenting them on their restraint.

  7. I walked out on a guest lecturer in college on abuse when she said that abuser and male are interchangeable so for the rest of the lecture she would just use man instead.

    1. Well it is fewer syllables and brevity is the soul of twit.

    2. Abuser! You confirmed her entire lecture! You… man!

  8. BBC: Several hundred people left the national stadium venue amid anger over the slow pace of negotiations.

  9. What of it?

  10. “Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner were in the closet making babies and I saw one of the babies and the baby looked at me.”
    –Ralph Wiggum

  11. I heard a bangladeshi guy on the npr telling how 100 billion dollars would be a good start to make Bangladesh whole due to climate change. To the reporter’s credit she asked if attempting to extort the world would just bring antipathy to their cause. The Bangladeshi didn’t understand.

    1. waffles|11.22.13 @ 1:35PM|#
      “I heard a bangladeshi guy on the npr telling how 100 billion dollars would be a good start to make Bangladesh whole due to climate change.”

      If Bengladesh had Holland’s government and culture, they’d be handing out reparations instead of asking for them.
      They’ve already got the population, the access to trade, the alluvial soil, etc.

    2. I heard that too. The bang-the-desk guy is a consummate shakedown artist. And I think he very much understood the question, and deflected it quite deftly. The reporter totally gave him a pass on that.

    3. If he got 100 billion dollars he would not care what anyone thought

  12. AGW deniers such as myself are often accused of ignoring the evidence and thumbing my nose at the scientific consensus. Yet the evidence to me says that the temperature is about what it was 40 years when I was a kid, and the climate is pretty much the same. Yes, polar ice caps are melting, but that’s been going on for 15,000 years or so. And science always has some near universal consensus on major issues, until the consensus shifts to the new theory.

    1. Scientific conclusions are arrived at using the scientific method, while political conclusions are arrived at through consensus.

      A consensus of scientists is a political conclusion among scientists. But it ain’t science.

      I don’t know why people find that so difficult to understand.

    2. Don’t know exactly where/when you grew up but the sixties were a statistically cool (as in lower temperature) decade.

    3. Not saying you are necessarily wrong, but your personal anecdote is worth about nothing as evidence.

    4. Fifty years ago this weekend (as I recall personally and as I have confirmed by looking at news photos of the JFK funeral procession), all the leaves were off the trees in the DC area. Today, a lot of them have fallen, but there are still a surprising number still on the branches. If that’s because of some reason other than warmer temperatures, I’d be interested in hearing it.

  13. When I was a reporter in Central America, I was introduced to the concept of “lying for justice” by some supporters of the Sandinistas who explained to me that sometimes one had to tell lies in order to be heard.

    Which explains someone like Rigoberta Mench?… or Climate Change, for that matter.

  14. I’ve been enjoying your coverage of this conference, RB. Or to hang it on a Simpson;s reference, ‘that’s some mighty fine shooting, Lou.’

  15. There are still few actions that would advance the cause of reducing carbon emissions further than lynching every member and contributor to the organizations involved in the walkout, given the anti-nuclear stances of Oxfam International, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth International.

  16. If the truth is on your side, then you’re arguing against yourself if you tell a lie to support it.

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