Sunday 18 September 2022

Net Zero is Newspeak

Suppose we suggest, as B.F. Skinner did, that science is a form of advice –
  • Follow this procedure and this is what you will see.
  • Apply this theory and these are the effects we expect to see.
Grossly oversimplified of course, but a powerful viewpoint just the same. Describing science as a form of advice links it to numerous other disciplines where traditional divisions obscure important similarities. From where to find a good plumber to a mathematical model to a soup recipe, a chemical analysis or an interpretation of Shakespeare, all may be viewed as forms of advice.

The power of linking disciplines via the common ground of advice is to distinguish useful advice from loaded advice where loaded advice is more demand than advice. A blurred distinction because teaching may include loaded advice, but a distinction worth making in this case. 

Moving on - it is worth focussing on loaded and often covert advice about the use of social and political language –
  • Say this and you are a good person.
  • Say that and you are a bad person.
Again, this is grossly oversimplified but it makes a point that there are social and political demands concerning the politically correct use of language - as we know. Demands which are a close relative of Newspeak. Linking disparate disciplines by recasting them as advice brings out the distinction between advice and politically loaded advice about language. It brings out the Newspeak within our own culture.

Woke culture is a framework of partially covert demands concerning the politically correct use of language, not advice about the real world. When applied to the real world it fails in real world terms. We cannot use language to place demands on the real world. Should be obvious, but in the political world it often isn't.

For example, the UK Net Zero policy is clearly not advice about the global climate. We in the UK cannot possibly affect that. Recasting Net Zero as advice brings out how absurd the advice is, because in the real world there is nothing we can do about the global climate whatever language we use. Net Zero is not advice about the behaviour of the global climate, but a framework of loaded advice about the use of climate and energy-related language.

Wind turbines and solar panels are the incidental products of this loaded political advice, where political power overrides real world competence. In other words, Net Zero is Newspeak. But we knew that.

And the chocolate ration has been increased to 20 grams.


DiscoveredJoys said...

It's possible to argue (see and ) that transitioning to green and renewable energy makes financial sense - cheaper electricity is a Good Thing. Offsetting Global Warming and reducing pollution are just happy byproducts.

Now that is a much better argument that emoting "Aiee! we are all going to die unless we learn to eat grass!". Plus any benefits arising from transitioning to green and renewable energy can be costed and brought to account rather than the bandwagon jumping and arm waving currently underway.

Sam Vega said...

Two points here. The first is that this highlights the climate bandwagon-jumpers' fear of testable predictions. "Do this, and you should find that". They should be able to tell us the weather next year, given enough information about emissions of CO2 and other variables. And surely someone is collecting the data, unless we are closing down chunks of our economy and risking pensioner hypothermia on a hunch...?

The other point is about the UK's inability to make even the slightest measurable difference even if the model is true. Those committed to the cause have told me that any tiny change to our lifestyle is worth it; just growing a couple of runner bean plants in a pot at home might tip the balance and prevent a jumbo jet from bringing a load of beans from Guatemala. Which might cause others to follow suit; which might then...

It seems to me to be a version of Christianity, where infinite power is swayed by our tiniest most insignificant thoughts or actions. Or a childhood game, where if you step on a pavement crack you will destroy the world.

James Higham said...

I’d like to see the Woke scaling skyscrapers without harness … gain a foothold that way.

A K Haart said...

DJ - one problem is that if global warming isn't preventable then the green investment is wasted unless it saves money, but markets should ensure that to begin with. If wind and solar were to acquire some advantages other than political leverage, then sooner or later we would probably use them anyway. To my mind, the primary problem is a public domain swamped by dishonesty, especially dishonesty about uncertainty.

Sam - fear of testable predictions seems deep-rooted. People generally prefer the security of procedures over projects because projects can fail. Bureaucracy over enterprise. Runner bean plants in a pot at home could tip the balance and put growers in another country out of work as well as jumbo jet manufacturers and their workers. Worth thinking about (:

James - should teach them something about themselves.