Not me. Though I agree with much of Make more political space in climate change discussions which is DO re-posting his own comment at P3, and the David Mitchell video is pretty good too, one of the best I've seen.
I am worried about lazily assuming climate change just happens to support your political view. Right-wing laziness is its mirror: reject the science rather than think about political solutions that would work
is an excellent point. I've seen it said - often, and correctly - that there is a right-leaning-libertarian-ish school of thought that goes "global warming, if it were a problem, would require govt intervention to solve, and I oppose govt, therefore the science of GW must be wrong". But there is also a left-leaning-grauniadista school that goes something like "I like govt intervention and dislike cars, therefore the most dire predictions of GW must be true" and this view is equally false.
Coincidence; I came to similar conclusions about the concept of Sustainability, even using the same hair shirt reference, a couple of days ago on the blog. It's all so negative. And has become too politicised and polarised (excuse the pun). I frequently see individuals on the weather blog I visit castigating others on the assumption of a difference of view without actually reading what those people have to say, and being critical 'in principle' rather than actually paying attention and thinking. I do it too sometimes.
Climate discussions have been lumped in the same pigeonhole as certain other life views - this serves the interests of those who obfuscate, not the nice people who try to actually deal with the facts.
Oo, ta for reposting! In a post a few years back, I wiffled about how (a) I thought it was very unlikely that scientific literacy was any higher on the left; I suspect it's pretty evenly distributed across political viewpoints, implying (b) many on the left accepting the science for the reasons we're talking about here and many on the right rejecting it. The same can be seen in reverse with GM.
Overnight, I've been wondering whether I'm either (a) a dreadful liberal apologist who's saying, "hey everyone, all points of view are equally valid" or whether I'm just not as much of leftie gruaniadista as I think I am. I know I think the price system is a helluva thing and that most of the people who get my back up often seem to think it's responsible for everything wrong with the world. Guess I'm a Krugmanesque liberal.
"Climate discussions have been lumped in the same pigeonhole as certain other life views – this serves the interests of those who obfuscate, not the nice people who try to actually deal with the facts."
Yes, that reflects my uncomfortableness (?) really well... and actually, I wonder if there's a theory there. Viewpoints on topics do tend to cluster - we all take heuristic shortcuts to decide what we believe in. I think that nails the sense I get listening to some left wing climate campaigners - it's an issue that they're able to slot tidily into their existing constellation of ideas.
Real left-wing is skeptical and it should have never jumped the AGW bandwagon. What a pity! Mr. FOIA understands this - read his massages (CG 2 & 3).
Sorry - messages!
False balance :)))! Nobody wishes that most dire GW predictions were true (except maybe some masochists). Yes, everyone has a bias, but left are lucky not to have ones that would oppose reality when it comes to GW. That some people overestimate doesn't make then "EQUALLY FALSE". And there are also people who underestimate (useless economic models helps legitimize that), while considering themselves to be on some imaginable middle ground.
I think B.Bickmore wrote the right thing long time ago: "Here’s my rule: There are always liars on both sides. But if one side is actually closer to the truth, they don’t HAVE to lie as much. So are there people promoting climate change action who are exaggerating? Absolutely. But the science is far enough to that side of the court that those in the mainstream over there don’t have to exaggerate at all. The people who are denying any need to act, however, are so far from the science that they CONSTANTLY have to stretch (or break) the truth to promote their view."
I would also like to add, that in my experience when someone has some extreme dire position on GW. Like climate sensitivity is ~6C, or in Europe we will have Ice Age due to collapse of gulf stream (in my country I heard this a lot). And someone (like Gavin on twitter for example) corrects them. Most people (although not all) doesn't have any problems to update their understanding into more "positive" light. Although this most probably could be based on this:
79 percent of those tested paid much more attention when their actual risk was lower than what they had initially guessed. After getting the good news, these subjects rated their risk for these events as significantly lower than they did earlier. In contrast, when they had underestimated their odds of meeting with a particular misfortune, they made less drastic revisions to their guess or none at all—clinging to their earlier belief that they would probably avoid the bad luck.
The situation to be explained is also skewed by confirmation bias:
"Who remembers a hot summer or a cold winter? The asymmetric effect of beliefs about global warming on perceptions of local climate conditions in the U.S."
Peter D. Howe & Anthony Leiserowitz
I clicked on all the links to find out what this was all about. The best I could come up with is the article by Naomi Klein which references among others Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre.
The problem with this article, Dan Olner's article and most of the comments is that they come across as pretty lame tone trolling.
Could you add a bit more meat to the discussion. The methane bomb discussion has been pretty much covered thanks in part to Michael Tobis. Any other specific "dire predictions of GW" that are being made by credible people that you would like to raise.
I am genuinely interested.
Hansen (et various al.), MikeH.
"Like climate sensitivity is ~6C, or in Europe we will have Ice Age due to collapse of gulf stream (in my country I heard this a lot). And someone (like Gavin on twitter for example) corrects them."
The second point was long ago a serious question (raised originally by Wally Broecker IIRC) , which I think is why it has some staying power in the public consciousness. But not gonna happen, to a significant extent anyway.
The first point has not been corrected, noting again Hansen's work (and referring here to Earth system sensitivity, to be clear). The big question is how quickly it could happen, which is mainly a matter of how fast the deep oceans and ice sheets can respond. Not too many years ago the assumption was that the response would be slow. Now, not so much, although many, possibly including Gavin, might argue with Hansen's assertion that significant effects such as multi-meter sea level rise (primarily from WAIS partial collapse) are possible this century if we keep on with anything like BAU. OTOH it's not clear to me why we should distinguish much between very bad things happening in 2075 versus 2175 or 2275.
“Like climate sensitivity is ~6C"
You mean like here
Thanks, MikeH. The graph reflects the timing issue I pointed out. But also let's not forget that it's based on a doubling of CO2, which at this point seems optimistic to say the least. Expect worse.
What this also demonstrates is the clear need to teach logic and empirical methods, starting in elementary school. And as well, teach people to discern the difference between thoughts and feelings.
Very often, opinions are formed by emotions racing ahead of reasoning. A bit of mindfulness can at least make people aware of it when it occurs.
Some scientific views continue to defy politcal characterization, beyond the impulse to pray their authors endorse the other side.
I wonder: if one spent 10 concerted minutes looking for words to the effect of "I don't want the government interfering in my life" and another 10 minutes searching for "I want the government interfering in my life," which 10 minutes would be productive of samples found?
I suspect there's an asymmetry to the fallibility of the generalizations applied to left versus right.
Acceptance that regulation by consent has a legitimate role is not the same as denying that there is a role for regulation. The latter is based on wishful thinking, the former on myriad case history involving such things as thalidomide, tetraethyl lead, DDT, failed silicon breast implants, not enough lifeboats on passenger ships, bus drivers falling asleep at the wheel, etc. None of those requirements for regulation were imaginary or wished for.
When I first became aware of the AGW denial issue, there were a number of leftist conspiracists around, whose view was that it was all a scam to generate a new market in carbon trading for capitalists. A kind of leftwing version of “Al Gore is fat”
CC seems to have moved on to become a touchstone issue for the far(ish) right – climate science denial is a totem which allows entry to the group. The fact that it’s nonsense actually strengthens the group.
It’s interesting to consider what similar touchstone issues exist for the left/green groups on climate. Nuclear power is an obvious one – and the climate issue has not at all dampened the green view of that, Monbiot excepted.
In what ways does CC challenge a leftist worldview? Most obviously perhaps in the impact on third world poverty from restricting fossil fuel availability, should that happen. On that the left are simply in denial as to the cost associated with renewables IMHO, and thereby ignore the issue.
The big problem with nuclear, besides fear, is that one cannot replace coal-fired plants with nuclear. There is too little mineable uranium. And, no one has figured out the economics for the price of nuclear-generated electricity to really be competitive. Not to mention time to build power plants, etc.
As for 3rd world poverty, how is a new coal-fired power plant better than a wind farm?
verytallguy, I don't think you fairly represent the spectrum of 'green' opinion on nuclear. Monbiot is far from being the only 'green' advocate of nuclear power and even within the Green Party itself there is an ongoing and active debate about it. In my experience whilst the majority of people remain anti-nuclear, in most cases they are not dogmatically so and there are a significant proportion who are either pro-nuclear on, reluctant, balance or strong advocates for a nuclear-powered future.
I'd be interested to know if there are any sigificant UKIP voices arguing for a realistic view on climate change? I don't see 'nuclear' as being an equivalent touchstone issue, but maybe that's because I'm seeing these things from a different perspective and there genuinely is an active debate on climate change going on in UKIP.
Hmmm. I posted that without actually researching relative costs, and just assumed that coal was cheaper (assumed because we subsidise wind). It looks as though in the US, onshore wind is actually cheaper than coal:
In the UK it looks as though wind is slighly more expensive, but not a lot
Although an earlier RAE report seems to conclude wind is about twice as expensive
Presumably wind varies widely according to geography.
I hereby promise to research first and pontificate later in future.
It does beg a question though. If costs are as close as this data seems to indicate, why do we need specific renewables subsidies to persuade generators to invest in wind?
UK Green Party statement on nuclear
The Green Party is fundamentally opposed to nuclear energy, which we consider to be expensive and dangerous. The technology is not carbon neutral, and being reliant on uranium it is not renewable. We consider its use, moreover, to be elitist and undemocratic. There is so far no safe way of disposing of nuclear waste. To a degree unequalled by even the worst of other dangerous industries, the costs and dangers of nuclear energy and its waste will be passed on to future generations long after any benefits have been exhausted.
I think I'd say that was pretty dogmatic, personally
verytallguy, quoting a party's official position does not tell us much about the debate on the issue within the party. The official position is probably always going to appear more dogmatic than the discussions which lead up to its adoption actually were. I'm sure there are still many people in the Green Party who are dogmatic in their stance on nuclear, indeed they may well still dominate, but that's not the case among people I know.
I'm also not sure why you see those words as being particularly dogmatic - presumably the Green Party would argue that nuclear is elitist and undemocratic because control over power supply would be in the hands of a small and powerful group of companies and also because the majority of people, I think, don't want nuclear. I don't see any notable dogma involved in that position. I would have highlighted the word 'fundamentally', which I think does smack of dogma.
Fair enough. The bit I highlighted just sounded a bit odd, rather like cold war propaganda, to me.
I'd be interested in a link to current debates in the Greens on nuclear if you have one.
Given that the conservative government of Angela Merkel is also dumping nuclear, the idea that post Fukushima being opposed to nuclear is a left-only stance is not convincing.
In any event this article referred to
"left-leaning-grauniadista school that goes something like “I like govt intervention and dislike cars, therefore the most dire predictions of GW must be true”
I am still waiting to find out what the "dire predictions of GW" that are apparently not true are.
there were a number of leftist conspiracists around, whose view was that it was all a scam to generate a new market in carbon trading for capitalists.
Indeed, that was the motivated reasoning of Alexander Cockburn, who surely qualified as a leftist:
...Today a world market in "carbon credits" is in formation. Those whose "carbon footprint" is small can sell their surplus carbon credits to others, less virtuous than themselves.
The modern trade is as fantastical as the medieval [trade in papal indulgences]. There is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of CO2 is making any measurable contribution to the world’s present warming trend. The greenhouse fearmongers rely entirely on unverified, crudely oversimplified computer models to finger mankind’s sinful contribution. Devoid of any sustaining scientific basis, carbon trafficking is powered by guilt, credulity, cynicism and greed, just like the old indulgences, though at least the latter produced beautiful monuments...
I'm not aware of any other high-profile "leftists" who take that position on AGW, however
MikeH: "In any event this article referred to “left-leaning-grauniadista school that goes something like “I like govt intervention and dislike cars, therefore the most dire predictions of GW must be true”...
This wasn't the argument. I'm not saying there's a leftwing mirror of right-wing extremism consisting of extreme alarmism. Not sure where that came from. My issue is that there is a very publicly visible group of climate campaigners who bring with them a particular bundle of political views. This 5 minute cartoon from the middle of Age of Stupid pretty much ticks off the whole bingo card.
Hadn't come across tone trolling before, that's a worryingly accurate description! Particularly like: "often complain loudly and target specific subjects, even though they may actually agree with their subjects's point of view." Exactly what I'm doing. The original post was a burst of ranting: my own views on this are still muddled, perhaps it's not wise to try and think through half-formed stuff on the internet...
My point is about stories, I think. That 5 min video is a perfect example, containing lots of little leaps of correlation (I didn't know slavery was abolished by the arrival of oil, did you?) to make a narrative. It's a powerful narrative - and stories themselves are powerful political forces. At this point I honestly don't know if I'm in the process of deciding that story is a bag of rubbish or whether I just think it risks crowding out other, important stories about our climate change future. As several people have point out, though, conservatives have a wealth of history based on stewardship - the stories are there. Modern conservatism is nothing of the sort, so I am happy to see e.g. the Conservative Environment Network making that argument. Traditionally Tory rural constituencies may fairly soon start realising (cf. Ugo Bardi on turning electicity into food) which way the wind's blowing.
It wasn't a constructive rant. Hopefully it'll prompt me to actually break down where I think the problems are and formulate some more clear ideas. But I'm ashamed of myself: I'm criticising a group of people who are willing to take actual direct action.
The Green Party is actually an interesting possible place for working out this stuff in detail. It mostly reflects the left narrative I've just described and slots neatly into transition-network stuff. AFAIK, they have quite a democratic process for doing so, though it does have to end up with one consistent policy. I mentioned GM: the new Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has come down against them; I've written about that here. From what I know of the science (and I know a number of geneticists / plant scientists) there's no more argument against GM than there is climate change. But at least, I sense, if I joined the Greens, there'd be a clearly signposted path to arguing that case.
Mal Adapted: "I’m not aware of any other high-profile “leftists” who take that position on AGW, however."
Perhaps not what you mean by `high-profile', but a lot of left-leaning academic analyses argue along the same lines. See e.g. This at Antipode, saying Copenhagen protestors "contested the neoliberal, market logics being promoted through the negotiations as tools for solving the climate crisis. Protesters refused to view climate change politics in isolation, but linked issues of climate change to critiques of the global economic crisis".
it's just a thing, a really
This is a particularly UK-centric problem, but I've been particularly alarmed by the presence of certain Trotskyist groups in the various 'climate alliance' meetings - I've been active in campaign groups before and seen these people actively try and either co-opt or, if that doesn't work, wreck, other people's work. All very Life of Brian - but none of that does much for the public image of climate campaigning either.
Wrote that in a text editor - last two paras "it's just a thing, a really" and the Trot stuff not meant to be there. Doh. Er, stoat, if you fancy deleting those bits and this comment, I wouldn't mind at all!
"there is also a left-leaning-grauniadista school that goes something like “I like govt intervention and dislike cars, therefore the most dire predictions of GW must be true” and this view is equally false."
I've never seen this in the real world. It seems akin to the argument that women get pregnant so they can have an abortion. Both beliefs are created by opponents and seem to have no connection to reality.
I probably favor government intervention in more circumstances than the average citizen, but it's not because I *like* gov't intervention, it's because in some circumstances it seems the best solution.
In the USA there is a clear connection between the denial of empirical facts and political affiliation. Evolution, AGW, healthcare and macroeconomics are strong indicators of party affiliation and/or political beliefs. In each of these policy areas the denial of empirical evidence is the home of the the same political party.
I struggle to find similar large issues where the mainstream left just flat out denies the empirical evidence - or attempts to create its own set of 'experts' to challenge the existing science.
I'll leave the macroeconomics as an exercise for the reader. We have just witnessed an economic shock where printing $trillions of dollars did little or nothing to interest rates or inflation. One group, conservative/libertarian economists predicted skyrocketing interest rates and hyperinflation. More liberal economists predicted the massive influx of money would have little effect on interest rates or inflation. Despite these past 5 years of what amounts to a real-world test of macroeconomic theory, few - if any - on the conservative side have abandoned their economic models.
...Alexander Cockburn, who surely qualified as a leftist:..
Most controversial statement of the day.
Apparently he had some very dodgy views, not just on climate change. I am not going to bother collecting supporting evidence for this but it is not hard to find.
Thanks for the response.
You say. "See e.g. This at Antipode, saying Copenhagen protestors “contested the neoliberal, market logics being promoted through the negotiations as tools for solving the climate crisis. Protesters refused to view climate change politics in isolation, but linked issues of climate change to critiques of the global economic crisis”.
Yes. I suspected that this is what the post was about. I can understand William objecting to that. And that is certainly what Naomi Klein and the "System change not climate change" environmental activists are arguing.
But decades of relying on neo-liberal capitalism to arrest carbon emissions has worked how?
You do not need to subscribe to "dire predictions of GW". You only need to read the WMO (no sign of carbon emissions abating) or the read the IPCC report.
Everyone has heard the quote "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". At what point would you decide that relying on market-based capitalism to wean itself off fossil fuels is insane. Even a man who was/is deeply embedded in American capitalism like Al Gore admitted recently on Australian television that corporate fossil fuel interests had "hacked" American democracy.
Forgive me for being a bit cynical about capitalism. We have just elected a climate science denier as PM. His environment minister claims "we accept the science" while they do everything they can to demonstrate they do not cheered on by the leading voices of Australian capitalism.
…Alexander Cockburn, who surely qualified as a leftist:..
Most controversial statement of the day.
No more (or less) controversial than any ideological label. Perhaps it's all in the eyes of the beholder:
Cockburn was also playing footsie with the USA isolationist right for a long time. For example Paul Craig Roberts, assistant Treasurer under Reagan, former associate editor of the WSJ and reputedly an architect of Reagonomics was and still is featured heavily at Counterpunch, Cockburn's web site. It was these contacts and probably his pathological hatred of Al Gore that lead him to climate denial.
MikeH: "Forgive me for being a bit cynical about capitalism. We have just elected a climate science denier as PM."
Abbott I presume? I just saw this last night re. CSIRO, and there appears to be a UK con-dem style bonfire of the quangos. I saw a talk recently by a SCIRO employee - clearly an excellent institution and it sounds like it has a lot of respect from Australian citizens generally too. Utter insanity - and I can't help but be reminded of Murdoch's tweet when the election result came in: "Aust election public sick of public sector workers and phony welfare scroungers sucking life out of economy. Others nations to follow in time." And lo! The public sector parasites are getting a kicking. Another related tweet capturing Abbott's mentality nicely: "public sector jobs are like jeans shorts. If you don't cut them enough, nobody can see you have balls."
MikeH: "Everyone has heard the quote “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. At what point would you decide that relying on market-based capitalism to wean itself off fossil fuels is insane. Even a man who was/is deeply embedded in American capitalism like Al Gore admitted recently on Australian television that corporate fossil fuel interests had “hacked” American democracy."
I completely agree re. the hacking of democracy by certain lobby groups. Something's gone deeply wrong with the power/energy/money nexus. The anti-capitalist argument is, that's an inevitable outcome of the capitalist system and it needs replacing. Not sure where I heard this recently, but it was a prominent climate activist who'd travelled the world talking to many businesses. Those without a vested interested in burning carbon - i.e. very nearly all of them - are not opposing the science and want action. It's a perennial problem even in the smallest organisational meetings - if someone in the room is bent on disrupting process, it's very easy to do. But that doesn't mean all businesses want to carry on as we are now.
"At what point would you decide that relying on market-based capitalism to wean itself off fossil fuels is insane?" This is predicated on arguing that something called "market-based capitalism" caused the problem. It's obviously a key factor, but it's much more complex. For a start, look at some of the collosal environmental disasters caused by non-market-based systems. Then there's China's market-based totalitarianism. People on the far left are often climate deniers too: communism was always about material progress and, certainly if you watch something like that age of stupid video, the less-far-left argument is very much that "material progress" is the problem - rather than how we've organised our use of material (or self-organised; there's no macro planning behind it).
I think market-based mechanisms are going to be one part, working at different scales. If you read something like Ha Joon Chang's Bad Samaritans, it's clear that the portrayed idea of `market-based capitalism' has never been a reality anyway - successful countries pursue specific industrial policies and nurture/protect them as they do. We should be doing that too - there's an entirely new carbon-free infrasture to be built. It breaks my heart seeing a finance sector who'd actually be willing to *pay* governments to hold their money for them (near zero interest rates plus inflation) at the moment but, rather than take that up and kickstart a massive programme of green growth, governments are mostly going in the opposite direction and retrenching. *That's* insanity.
There's also clearly a role for direct legislation/intervention - which is, AFAIK, exactly what the EPA is doing in the US re. carbon, and how that will impact on coal plant development.
But if you want to argue we should stop "relying on market-based capitalism", what do you propose we do instead? Arm ourselves and storm the power plants? I mean, that's not a completely insane proposition if one accepts that not doing so means civilisational suicide - but I'd like to think there were some rather more civilised options...
That was not so much confirmation bias as "search string bias" *. I have had a bit more of a look. My description "most controversial" was probably understated. Hosting articles trying to resurrect the blood libel and the Dreyfus libel is not left wing. His paper had no standards. He appears to have belonged to the conspiracy wing of the anti-GW-Science movement. Another one is Lyndon laRouche who has hosted Piers Corbyn's stuff.
provides some of the missing info.
"Thanks, MikeH. The graph reflects the timing issue I pointed out. But also let’s not forget that it’s based on a doubling of CO2, which at this point seems optimistic to say the least. Expect worse."
"Expect worse" doesn't do a lot to distinguish yourself from confirmation bias.
Part of the hubris of those advocating 'action' is that no one even knows if the population will be much higher or much lower a hundred years from now.
It ( the population ) is certainly getting much older, which beyond the propensity for old farts to keep the heat up, means lower per capita energy use ( and sadly, also productivity ).
Strangely, those societies ( US, Europe, Japan ) with economies developed largely with fossil fuels are the ones with both decreases in fertility ( due to female education and empowerment ) and decreases in CO2. Perhaps the best way to reduce CO2 is for developing societies to burn MORE fossil fuels?
BTW the chart is a load of huey. It conflates duration of feedback with extent of feedback. Water vapor is the king of the feedbacks and in the globally averaged seasonal mean, WV responds within a month - for all intents and purposes it's coincident.
The observation of climate 'sensitivity' is pretty simple. NOAA calculates ( based on the RF models ) a 'GHG' index - the forcing from all LLGHGs. Take the thirty year correlations between temperature and GHGs and pro-rate the result for a hypothetical CO2 doubling and you get 1.6K, which I provide here ( but you can easily reproduce this). That includes water vapor.
1.6K is what it is. But it is not indicative of the speculative ranges offered by some.
Hosting articles trying to resurrect the blood libel and the Dreyfus libel is not left wing.
I think you're risking the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. You're not claiming to own the definition of "left wing", are you?
> claiming to own the definition of “left wing”
It's not respectable, whatever wing it's infesting.
> stop “relying on market-based capitalism”,
> what do you propose we do instead?
simply this: quit thinking about decent land-use as solely an economic problem. Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
"...a particular bundle of political views. This 5 minute cartoon from the middle of Age of Stupid pretty much ticks off the whole bingo card."
Dan, thanks for the cartoon. I have to say, that video captures my views fairly well. I know it's simplistic, and I am actually more rational that that (and hopefully less ahistorical), but I think most of those points are fair. We know, for example, that Capitalism requires continual growth to maintain the illusion of future economic prosperity for all, and in fact continual growth is required to merely maintain the economic status quo. Is this not the unvarnished truth?
What are we going to tell our grandchildren when they ask us why we continued to pollute and strip-mine the Earth, when we knew that it was unsustainable and that the effects of climate change would be disastrous? And I mean disastrous economically, not just for coastal cities, agriculture and functioning ecosystems.
I'm with Hank Roberts as far as the quote above goes, but I think the video does a better job at outlining the basic set of problems to my non-science-educated peers than the land ethics arguments do.
"...a particular bundle of political views. This 5 minute cartoon from the middle of Age of Stupid pretty much ticks off the whole bingo card."
Dan, thanks for the cartoon. But I have to say that video captures my views fairly well. I know it's simplistic and glosses over a lot of history, but I think most of those points are fair. We know, for example, that Capitalism requires continual growth to maintain the illusion of future economic prosperity for all, and in fact continual growth is required to merely maintain the economic status quo. Is this wrong? If it's not wrong, exactly where are we going to find the land to support the massive increases in consumption this implies over the next 100 yeaers?
Why didn't we save ourselves when we had the chance?
Hank Roberts has it exactly right in the quote above, but I think the video does a better job at outlining the basic set of problems to my non-science-educated peers than Leopold's land ethics arguments do.
"Service not available" WAS A LIE!!
You’re not claiming to own the definition of “left wing”, are you?
Red herring. It was not my definition, but that of the search engines which reflect common usage. As we have seen searching for "leftist" and "far right" come up with different results and the description of Alexander Cockburn as
.. the living embodiment of the bridge between the far Right .. and the far left...
is not just an empty remark about terminology but conveys useful information.
Its more useful to ask whether the discussion about carbon trading which you report, is really at the root of A.C.'s hostility to climate science. We don't know for sure, but this is a relevant comment revealed by my search string:
That Alex Cockburn started off as a radical is not doubted but he died a reactionary racist who believed that conspiracies explained all.
(by Tony Greenstein).
We need better examples.
In his last decade or two Cockburn certainly had libertarian sympathies which certainly mixed nicely with conspiratorial thinking. Interestingly another nominal lefty dismissive of AGW is James Heartfield, who seems closely related to Spiked Online, which started out as a Trotskyist "Revolutionary Marxist Somethingortheother" and now I find difficult to distinguish from US libertarians. Scratch a denier, find a libertarian.
The controversy (here and elsewhere) about whether Cockburn was a "leftist", a "radical", a "libertarian" or some combination of those, nicely illustrates the limited utility of broad ideological labelling. Leopold's Land Ethic comes closer to my own ideology than anything I've yet seen in print, but judging by a search on "Aldo Leopold left-wing right-wing", it might as well be orthogonal to the Left-Right axis. I reject being placed on that axis myself, and I'll avoid doing it with AGW-deniers henceforth.