This is going to be a VERY confusing post, but it answers the question of how human forcing of climate should be framed to create effective policy. Rather than build to a crescendo, Eli will state the obvious at the top:
There is a ferocious push back against Al Gore, Jim Hansen, Nicholas Stern and others who think that the world is in a dangerous situation because of all the greenhouse gases, principally CO2, that are being dumped into the atmosphere. Most discouraging is the joining in of those who in principle agree with Gore, Hansen, Stern and the Rabett, (using the other three as exemplars) but who differ on the way that these folk are speaking out. The joiners are attempting to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory for the sake of the middle, e.g. to appeal to some ill defined group, which is either the denialist herd (play nice now children) or, more commonly, those not paying attention. This is Niemoeller's fallacy.
- The policy debate between us and our allies is about means.
- The denialists want a debate about ends.
- We must ally with those who see the dangers of climate change.
- We must marginalize denialists, not those whose responses to and perceptions of the depth of danger differ.
- The factual, scientific basis allows us to do all this.
When the Nazis came for the communists,Bill Clinton fell for this fallacy with triangulation,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
The term was first used by President of the United States Bill Clinton's chief political advisor Dick Morris as a way to describe his strategy for getting Clinton reelected in the 1996 presidential election. . . . to be "more Republican than the Republicans." . . . One of the most widely cited capstones of Clinton's triangulation strategy was when, in his 1996 State of the Union Address, Clinton declared that the "Era of Big Government is over."The effect was that positions to Clinton's left were deligitimized as Newt Gingrich moved the Republicans even farther to the right. This made Clinton's middle the extreme left for the public, something the Republicans worked very hard to reinforce.
Clinton was in a box of his own making. Having condemned important parts of his own party, he could not say never mind and bring it back into play. The Democratic Party fell into disarray and the Republicans spent the next four years bear baiting. Clinton's 1996 victory was empty. The best he could do was to survive. A promising presidency was neutered. The US election of 2006 was a turning away from triangulation for many Democrats although not the Democratic Leadership Council. They enrage much of the rest of the party, not because of their policies but by their continual criticism of fellow party members and refusal to confront Republicans (see Joe Lieberman)
While many (see also third way and New Labour) say that the danger of triangulation is that it destroys the principles, Eli differs. The problem is that it moves the window in which the public discourse takes place away from your allies and towards your opponent's position. If someone on the center-left triangulates, the net effect is to legitimize the right and deligitimize the left.
The same thing is happening today with respect to climate policy, so the Rabett says to the middlers, be careful of what you write and how you write it.
If you are going to differ on the rate of sea level rise with Al Gore, start by saying, that there is a very serious problem which could have nasty effects within the next century and worse after. Lay out the facts why you think he should have put some time limits on the ultimate rise, discuss why the actual timing is very uncertain, but very dangerous and do not fail to point out that Inhofe is crackers.