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James Lovelock Suggests Suspending Democracy To Save the World 865

Posted by timothy
from the summon-the-council-of-wise-men dept.
mosb1000 writes "Climate scientist James Lovelock claims it may be necessary to put democracy on hold to prevent a global climate catastrophe. He goes on to say that the best remedies may be adaptation techniques such as building sea defenses." Lovelock is famously the creator of the Gaia hypothesis.
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James Lovelock Suggests Suspending Democracy To Save the World

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  • by headkase (533448) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:21PM (#31679402)
    I thought it was an effective choice between two parties with both being in the pockets of big business? So really its one choice in reality and you don't have enough money to influence what happens. Ever.
  • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <.almafuerte. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:33PM (#31679582)

    That's all it is. This guy is a crackpot. He came up with a "theory" dressed up in science, that is nothing but wild speculation. Actually, it's not even speculation. It's Religion. He just decided the earth is a sentient being, without providing any kind of evidence for this ridiculous claim.

    He also makes ridiculously close predictions for the "end of the world" and other unscientific predictions.

    Now we know he's also against democracy.

    What a nice guy.

    Please, go ahead and try to measure him here http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/crackpot.html [ucr.edu]. My crackpot-o-meter went off-scale after trying to measure his theories.

  • Re: Democracy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tiger4 (840741) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:34PM (#31679588)

    That was foreign entanglements and factionalism we were to avoid. Parties had begun to form DURING the Washington administration, so he was clearly both aware of them and not directly opposed to them, just the power that they often tend to accumulate to themselves. Wiki Article George_Washington's_Farewell_Address [wikipedia.org] and the text itself. [wikisource.org]

  • by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:40PM (#31679668) Homepage Journal

    Lovelock is being taken out of context. A more full quote:

    But it can't happen in a modern democracy. This is one of the problems. What's the alternative to democracy? There isn't one. But even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.

    From the slightly-less-badly-edited interview at:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/mar/29/james-lovelock [guardian.co.uk]

    In other words, he's not calling for putting democracy on hold. He's predicting that it's going to reach a point where it's an obvious, impending crisis, like a war, and people aren't going to respond democratically to it.

    He doesn't believe people are going to take climate change seriously until it's too late. Or at least, not enough people. There will continue to be arguments and finger-pointing until it finally becomes obvious. Not that it's a good thing, just a thing he expects.

    Read the rest of the interview, and Lovelock sounds less like a monster than the article is trying to make him out to be. He's still elitist, proudly so:

    Science was always elitist and has to be elitist. The very idea of diluting it down [to be more egalitarian] is crazy. We're paying the price for it now.

    but he's not calling for an end to democracy. He's simply telling everybody they'll be sorry if they don't listen to him.

  • Crackpot (Score:4, Informative)

    by vandan (151516) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:42PM (#31679690) Homepage

    This guy has lost the plot. First nuclear power as a way to save the planet. Now 'putting democracy on hold' to achieve the same goal.

    Now, I'm under no illusions as to the state of our alleged democracy: we don't have one. We are wage slaves who delegate our power to representatives of the ruling class. But do we really want to be 'officially' handing over the keys like this?

    Surely the only way to achieve the kind of world-wide change we need is a world-wide democratic revolution ( and no, I'm not talking about American / Western style democracy, but REAL democracy ). Bring on the TRULY democratic, one-world government!

  • by The_Wilschon (782534) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:48PM (#31679774) Homepage
    I think you're missing the point, which is that the GP would rather die in a global climate catastrophe than live in a world without freedom. I applaud her/him for this sentiment.
  • by mangastudent (718064) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:49PM (#31679794)

    We've got the world's most capable military by a very large margin, more than half our citizens own guns and know how to use them (to quote the Japanease Admiral, a rifle behind every blade of grass), etc. etc. etc....

    Only an egghead from a country that started to disarm it's subjects almost a century ago (the Bolshevik revolution terrified the U.K. ruling class) could suggest such lunacy.

  • Re:Democracy? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:58PM (#31679892)

    Why do idiots always fail to realize that a republic is a democracy? It's called a representative DEMOCRACY for a reason.

    Aside from that, the idiot's right.

  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:04PM (#31679974) Journal

    In terms of practical historical precedent, not so much. This sort of thing tends to end badly.

    While I don't disagree, it's interesting to look at the example of Britain in World War Two. In effect, the major parties all banded together to form a single wartime government, thereby suspending true democracy for the greater good. However, in 1945 Labour immediately left the coalition and contested the general election in opposition to the government.

    I think the point this guy is trying to make is that in the face of a sufficiently serious threat, partisan differences become an impediment to effective action. He might have done better to suggest that political parties need to overcome their differences and regard climate change and the need for a response to it as a settled, undeniable fact rather than a field for political dispute and point-scoring. But that would have got him fewer headlines.

  • by lilfields (961485) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:17PM (#31680164) Homepage
    Capitalism and Democracy (direct or representative) go hand-in-hand, and it's very difficult to separate the two. How can you have true political freedom if you don't have economic freedom too?
  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:24PM (#31680274) Journal
    As usuall words are being taken out of context here. If you look at the full interview linked to from the article you will find the full quote is as follows...

    "What's the alternative to democracy? There isn't one. But even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while."

    This "whack-job" maybe 90yo but he's not a senile fool, he basically invented modern Earth Science and in recent years has attacked the green movement for it's dogmatic stance on nuclear energy (which has softened recently largely due mainly to Lovelock's arguments). What he is saying is AGW is as big a threat as war and needs a similar response in terms of unified societal effort. You may or may not agree with that but either way he is not saying "Oh sorry, your freedoms are inconvenient."

    Of course the real wack-jobs will use his words as evidence for their NWO conspiracy theories.
  • Re: Democracy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by The_Wilschon (782534) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:38PM (#31680490) Homepage
    Thanks for the links. You can find a summary of Washington's views on the dangers of political parties [wikipedia.org] in the appropriately titled section of the Wiki Article you linked us to. He warned us to avoid them, just as the GP says.
  • Re:Um..no (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:41PM (#31680526) Homepage

    Except that US hasn't ever had a war on its on land besides Independence war.

    And the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War. During none of these were elections canceled.

    It's possible we might have if we were a European country in WWII, but frankly I find it doubtful.

  • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:08PM (#31680842) Homepage Journal

    A republic can be a democracy. They are non exclusive terms.

    It seems like in the US somebody is disseminating this nonsense since very often people in this venerable website claim this fallacy.

  • Re:Um..no (Score:1, Informative)

    by Grail (18233) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:10PM (#31680866) Journal

    Perhaps someone needs to read the poem "My Country" by Dorothea Mackellar. Australia has always had long dry spells (in Australia, a drought is a dry spell that lasts longer than two years - as opposed to the UK or New Zealand where a drought is a dry spell lasting more than a couple of weeks). We've had massive floods before - this is nothing new. The droughts are getting longer and more frequent, but that just exacerbates the problems of heavy rainfall leading to flooding. Ask a soil scientist about the water-holding capability of claypans versus loamy soil, and the contribution of water-holding capability to flooding during heavy rainfall.

    It's interesting that you link to the "Climategate" Wikipedia entry with the words "suspect at best" when the article seems to indicate that most reviews of the "climategate" situation indicate that the "massaging" was required to get sets of disparate data to use the same scale of units (eg: massaging temperature records from Darwin to cope with changes in measuring equipment, and later relocation of the measuring post from a post office to an airport).

    The freezing of Europe (temperature extremes at both ends of the scale, and subsequent ice age) is one of the outcomes predicted by global warming researchers (the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" was based on the book "The Coming Global Superstorm") - I don't see how pointing out that the freezing is actually happening constitutes a rebuttal of Global Warming Science which predicts the freezing will happen.

    One flood in Australia does not refute global warming science. Droughts followed by floods are nothing new for us, and we've often had floods followed immediately by long dry spells which become droughts. The droughts are getting longer and drier and closer together, so yes, Australia is drying up - and the floods are getting worse because of the drying up.

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:11PM (#31680874) Homepage Journal

    "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. " - William Pitt

    LK

  • Re:Um..no (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@gm a i l . c om> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:23PM (#31681004) Homepage Journal

    Strangely enough this is the kinda crazy talk that my very very far right leaning stepfather has been saying they were trying to make happen with the whole global warming debate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:33PM (#31681126)

    I don't think so...at the same time, this guy has to be the first environmentalist to speak the truth behind their extremist message: it's about controlling people's lives, and less about the environment.

    wait a minute: you're saying that the goal of environmentalists ( all or at least the majority ) is to control people's lives, NOT ACTUALLY to save the environment for future human inhabitants?

    you sir, are a silly goose.

  • Re:Um..no (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:35PM (#31681148)

    I just want to take this opportunity to remind you all that the "American Third Position" that the above poster is endorsing is a nativist, racist organization. You don't have to take my word for it. If you want to give them hits, you can click through to the link he so helpfully provides and see for yourself that these are just nazis without the cool uniforms, pushing an agenda of "returning America to it's "European" (white) roots" and racial purity.

    They're just very polite about it and use very careful, if transparent, language. Here's an example from an article on their site called "US - Ours Much Longer?"

    "Americans of European descent must awaken to the very real occurrence of our political and territorial dispossession. Unless our people band together at some point in the near future, children born of our kin, today, will live to see a time when their fair skin is a rarity and civilized society only the phantom of a bygone era." ...blah blah blah, you get the idea. God forbid "fair skin" should become a rarity. You know what that leads to? Rhythm music right from the jungle. Next thing you know, our children will be doing all sorts of wild dances and having relations with Jews and Negros.

    They're concerned with maintaining America's "ethnic proportionality". Real nice bunch of fellas.

    "Third Position" I can't stop you from posting here, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let you take off your uniform and try to blend into a community I care about. Like Lt. Aldo "The Apache" Rain, I like to be able recognize my nazis.

    -PR

  • Re:Um..no (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:36PM (#31681156) Homepage

    It's interesting that you link to the "Climategate" Wikipedia entry with the words "suspect at best" when the article seems to indicate that most reviews of the "climategate" situation indicate that the "massaging" was required to get sets of disparate data to use the same scale of units

    What you think the words he uses to link the page represent a reasoned analysis and a sincere attempt to understand what he linked to? Ha! Not a chance. It's "Climategate" and the name alone proves it's all a fraud, that's all he needs to know, contrary facts need not apply.

    It's why he says that the last decade showed cooling when that's patently false, and only appears to be true if you just compare 1998 (a record year) with 2008 (a cool year compared to recent trends though still one of the hotter years ever). If you instead compared 1999 (a much cooler year than 1998) and 2009 (the 2nd hottest year recorded) you could say ZOMG Epic Warming! But climatologists don't do that, because that's disingenuous. Yet he's the one who supposedly knows what's up. See the trend here?

    One flood in Australia does not refute global warming science.

    Yes it does, if you're the kind of person who thinks "Global Warming? Ha! We had record snow here in New England!" and "Climate Change - Ha! The climate has always been changing!" are reasonable arguments. Of course they had already decided global warming science was false from the get-go, and thus only seek out the arguments that confirm that bias and never attempt to discover if the argument has any merit.

    Aaaaand of course always accuses climatologists of having the faults they themselves exhibit with every sentence. Wait for it, no really.

  • Re:Um..no (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:45PM (#31681270)

    Everyone, be aware, "Third Position" is an American Neo-Nazi group that calls for "preservation of the European heritage" of the American population.

    They're concerned that in a few generations our children won't still have such fair skin.

    When you see this guy acting all normal, like one of the gang, bear in mind you're just dealing with Colonel Hans Landa with his uniform packed neatly away in storage.

    I aim to make sure that as long as he posts here, the swastika on his forehead shines brightly. I'm just sorry I've already modded in this discussion, or I'd sign this little warning label, as I have done before.

  • Re:Um..no (Score:5, Informative)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @01:00AM (#31683058)
    It takes a criminal mind to want to be a tyrant. And anybody who says such things as this moron, in their secret heart, wants to BE the absolute tyrant...

    A 90-year-old man doesn't have time to be a tyrant. If you take the trouble to read the article, Lovelock isn't advocating the suspension of democracy as a Good Thing(TM), be is making the point that people are too fucking stupid and inert to put aside their petty little squabbles for long enough do anything about bigger issues.
  • Re:Um..no (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @02:27AM (#31683600)

    And what have you to say about the change in CO2 levels? Currently 380 ppm, and climbing, versus 280 ppm for millions of years.

    You do realize that a billion years ago CO2 made up 20%(ish) of the atmosphere, and O2 was almost non-existent, right? Where did all that CO2 go? It had to go somewhere, and something had to put it there. Hmmm... lets think about that for a minute.

    It was integral for the formation of life on this planet. The original bacteria that all life began as may not have formed at all if the earth's atmosphere were rich in oxygen. They make up the largest bio-mass on the planet by a large margin. They are extremely industrious too, in fact they were pivotal in taking our atmospheric CO2 levels down and raising the O2 levels that are necessary for more complex life to evolve. Where the hell do you think all that oil we've been burning comes from? Bacteria put it there, over and over and continuously. I can tell you they are still doing it, because I work on an oil field and hydrogen-sulfide gas - which is produced by live bacteria is extremely deadly - comes up with the oil, and builds up in oil storage containers because of the bacteria. These bacteria are still performing the same processes that put the oil in the ground millennia ago.

    Furthermore, warming trends have always been a boon for life on the earth. Life has thrived the most when it was warmest, and on a geological time scale we are in a warm, but not peak, period.

    Steady for millions of years, then a climb starting around 1750, the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution.

    The Mann "hockey stick" study was debunked a decade ago, originally by a pair of Canadian statisticians, but others who have tried to reproduce his results have failed (he has refused to release his raw data, as well). It has only stayed in usage for political reasons - it is the only study that shows a pronounced spike for the current time period while showing . Mann's methodology was seriously flawed - in fact, 90% of his data came from a single tree ring (which covered up to 1850), the rest was from various weather station reports from 1850 onwards. Furthermore, he smoothed his data. That's not uncommon for data coming from multiple sources, you throw out the extremes and take the mean, but it is uncommon when your data comes from a single source, like Mann's. When other tree cores are taken from the surrounding area are added to the study the picture changes, and when you take cores from around the globe the picture becomes even clearer.

    The Mann "hockey-stick" graph absurdly unrepresentative of the truth. In fact, other more comprehensive studies have shown that about 1,000 years ago temperatures were on par with what they are now, with some decades being even warmer than now - particularly just before the "Little Ice Age" that started in the 1300's and ended around 1750.

    Go back about about 16,000 years ago (primarily ice core data and sea floor sedimentary rock cores) and you see a sudden, massive spike in temperatures over the course of about 50 years or so as the earth came out of an ice age. The global temperature rose about 20 times higher than it has in the last 150 years, and it did so in 1/3 the time. It also peaked at a higher global temperature than it is now, and on average over the last 15,000 years the temperature has been slowly dropping. There have been several surges back up and a couple significant drops, but on average it is going down even if you include the current upward trend. There were only about 5 million people on the earth at the time of this great warming period; it could not possibly have been man made. It was part of a natural glacial/intraglacial cycle that has been going on for ages (and I mean that in the literal, millions-of-years sense).

    Not many people doubt that the global temperatures are on a current warming trend. What people doubt is the absurd notion that mankind is the sole cause of such war

  • Re:Um..no (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @02:34AM (#31683670)

    Global temperature change would likely be beneficial to as many areas of the planet as it would be detrimental.

    According to the geologic record, global warming is almost universally beneficial to life, while global cooling is almost universally detrimental. The exception to that are areas that are prone deserts. The funny thing is, when the warms, the big deserts get bigger because there are geographic reasons they cannot get water, and higher temperatures don't help that. However, when it cools, the big deserts shrink a little, but smaller "cold deserts" start popping up all over the place. This is because the Earth's atmosphere holds more water when it is warm. More water + warmer temperatures = larger tropical regions, which are the densest areas of life on the planet.

  • Re:LOL (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @02:53AM (#31683792)

    Don't you mean "authoritarians"? Authoritarianism, of which fascism and communism are subtypes? Yeah? Guy?

  • Re:Um..no (Score:4, Informative)

    by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:46AM (#31684110)

    . I can't see how big problems like global overpopulation can be solved while we are trying to keep everyone happy -- in the end, some people will have to make sacrifices for the greater good. Obviously going about this in a Stalin like manner isn't the solution, but some changes are going to need to take place. Say what you will about China, but you can't deny that they are one of the very few countries with their population size under control.

    Actually, all Western democracies have very small - and many of them negative - population growth rate. In fact, according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], the only continent with significant growth is Africa.

    In other words, the problem seems to be solving itself, without the need for human sacrifice.

  • Re:Um..no (Score:5, Informative)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:21AM (#31684340) Journal

    An '-ism' is a belief. Beliefs make you blind to anything which disagrees with your belief. This guy's belief is an idealized fervor for the ecosystem. It's his dogma to help the environment at personal cost. He's blind to the fact that others won't do that.

    As pointed out in, of all places the Kevin Smith movie Dogma [imdb.com], "I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can't generate. Life becomes stagnant."

    People often think only religions that talk about supernatural beings foster beliefs and blindness to the differences of others. I think any kind of unquestioning blind faith is bad, even if very smart people promote their own variety.

  • Re:Um..no (Score:4, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:02AM (#31685328) Homepage Journal

    To say global warming is going to destroy life on earth, when evidence from the geologic record says the exact opposite, is downright dishonest. We are not going to turn the Earth into Venus by pumping CO2 which has already been in the atmosphere in the past back into the air. It isn't going to happen. Sea levels won't rise forever, they will eventually stop, and when they do (it will happen again eventually with or without our influence) the majority of the earth will be prime real estate for life, instead of having to hang out toward the middle.

    Warm periods don't kill life, cold periods do. That's a fact.

    The problem with your notion is that mankind has rendered much more of the earth incapable of turning this situation around. We've engaged in deforestation on a scale probably not seen since the dinosaur killer. You need plant life. It is entirely possible for the climate to be disrupted to the point where no modern civilization survives in its current form, while still not rendering the planet sterile.

  • Won't happen (Score:2, Informative)

    by zogger (617870) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @12:23PM (#31689110) Homepage Journal

    I don't care what studies come out, the planet, including all the governments, aren't going to shut down the oil industry. Right off the bat, you would have global famine within one crop season. I'm a farmer, I can state this with 100% confidence. Right off the bat 2, all the militaries would squawk, all their toys run on petroleum. There are numerous other reasons, but those two right there negate any idea of exxon or any other oil companies being shut down. If they get charged some huge carbon tax, guess what, they *don't care*, not a bit, not for one second do they care, they will still sell all their oil, every drop, and you and the other consumers will pay what it costs. See above, you like to eat? We can make electric cars, sure, but you aren't readily replacing all the huge diesel equipment, the stuff that makes modern life possible, out there with electric alternatives anytime soon.

    So you are going to need a much better plan B than hoping that humanity will stop using oil products, no matter whose studies you look at. All those studies..the point is just moot without a viable alternative in place. The only one I can think of is an emergency push to find a REALLY suitable set of crops and techniques to make biodiesel.(our battery tech is not even close to good enough to make huge land based electric equipment on any scales needed. there are a few examples of all electric equipment, but to think of replacing all the tractors and combines and crawlers and..all of it..batteries ain't gonna cut it, so it needs to be diesel or biodiesel)

        Something a lot better than what we have now for biodiesel, which is primarily soybeans, canola or palm oil derived. Industrial hemp on huge scales could make a small dent in the volume right now, that's about it. a small dent. They keep talking about algae, but that would have to be multi-government seized research, no patents, massive funds and studies thrown at it, then release the results to the world in an open source fashion to get the scale up once they come up with something that works. We can do it on a smaller scale now, it does work, but to have a full replacement.....not happening at this time. exxon and whatever are in no danger of going out of business right now. You are really going to have to concentrate on replacing coal before petroleum, that is way more doable with the tech we have now, solar, wind, fission, hydro, tidal, etc.

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