How cyclists and environmentalists sometimes might differ

If I may whine, I do find it personally distasteful when climate change skeptics are spoken of as though they are evil. Can I not hold onto some healthy skepticism, yet ultimately side with climate change scientists, either as a precaution, or in my case, because I derive aesthetic delight from frugally? Better to walk the walk, but not talk the talk, than have it the other way around, I would suggest. If it provides any solace, we cyclists do have lower carbon footprints than most of our neighbours, whether we care about, or believe in, climate science or not.

But you know, damming skepticism is a greater offense to science, than doubting a consensus of scientists. Scientists, real ones, want to be doubted. They want to be forced to provide empirical proof, for to get by while skimping on proof, would be an unwinding of the enlightenment. (’tis a pity, it’s true, that we cyclist are often drawn into ungentlemanly debates such as these. We are though, so let’s work this post through). Okay, the very notion of a "consensus of scientists" defies logic. It would only require one scientist to find empirical proof to the contrary, and whatever theories the consensus once held, will be thrown onto a heap with the theory of a flat earth, or the four elements theory—you know, earth rain wind and fire.
Fellow cyclists, when you find you need to harness the political backing of Green politicians, just remember, they are seeking a moral high ground, not an intellectual one. Take whatever political leverage you can from them, then get on your bike. I mean literally. Go for ride. Remind yourself what you want from the deal. Don’t be subsumed by their religious world view, where one speaks of believing in climate science, as though the words "belief" and "science" could ever be put in the one sentence.  

This bee in my bonnet today, is there thanks to Philip Adams’s radio discussion with Brian Collins, Chief Scientific Adviser with the UK Department of Transport. My desperate snide comment in response is as follows:
I don’t mind hearing a presenter say his house is 300km from his office. Neither do I mind hearing a presenter scoffing at climate change skeptics. But the same presenter? In the same show? Am I to take from your example Philip, that mocking critical thought (remembering someone can be skeptical, yet still on-board with the scientists) will score me more points than reducing my carbon emissions? 

He left my comment, and one other agreeing, there for a few days, then took them down. Fair enough. No-one likes being told they’re a hypocrite; again, better to advertise yourself as a hypocrite and paradoxically always and never actually be one (a little play with double negatives, for your reading pleasure). But whatever, after all this, I have had to go and cleanse myself with some Bjorn Lomborg. He’s a climate scientists who speaks on the subject with more reason than feeling.


  1. Anonymous says:

    His bike is made of wood!?!

    Burn him and his bike!

    • Steven says:

      I just noticed also, that it’s a walk-a-bike. No cranks or chain. But then environmentalists are known to use bikes (along with many other “green” items) purely as signs. Talking the talk, but not riding the ride.

  2. Steven says:

    a very apt use of language 🙂

  3. scaredamoeba says:


    The self-styled skeptics are NOT sceptics. A true scientist is inherently sceptical. That is they are persuaded only by the balance of evidence when taken in the round, wherever that leads. Genuine scepticism is an honourable act.

    Whereas, in contrast skeptics AKA pseudo-sceptics, reject the entirety of scientific evidence, excepting a few shreds of science and pseudo-science that seem to support their case. Skeptics also have a notorious tendency to accept as evidence, deeply-flawed papers that typically have failed peer-review in ISI journals and that are unpublished, save for pseudo-journals that bear more similarity with children’s comics than scientific journals.
    A diagnostic indicator of a skeptic is believing several mutually incompatible ideas.

    • scaredamoeba says:

      Re: Skepticism=Pseudo-scepticism

      Oops! Posted prematurely.

      Skepticism starts with an ideology. Often political; religious or derived from an income source – i.e. powerful vested interests.

      Skeptics are notoriously resistant to reason and logic. They often accuse critics and those who they disagree with, of political bias.

      As Ben Franklin and Johnathan Swift said:
      ‘You cannot reason a man out of an opinion into which he was not reasoned to begin with.’
      Just look at these for a lot of pseudo-sceptics it seems their claims are mysteriously aligned with their funding.

      ‘Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science’

      ‘Koch Industries Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine’

      Politicians receiving Dirty Energy Money.

      Of course, there’s lots more.

      • Steven says:

        Re: Skepticism=Pseudo-scepticism

        scaredamoeba, your considered response indeed behooves my blog greatly. Can I remain just a wee little skeptical though, and not lose you as a much valued reader, that is, one who is not afraid to air an opinion? I agree, the balance of evidence overwhelmingly supports the human made global warming thesis, and on the basis of that evidence MUCH more aught to be done, than democracy or human nature seems willing to ever allow. “Evidence” though, is not quite the same as empirical “proof”. I take skepticism to mean the retention of a questioning attitude (just nicked that definition from wikipedia, I must confess). That would make a climate change skeptic a good thing to be. Better than being an unquestioning sheep. My sense is your comments are aimed at what I would call climate change “deniers”, the kind who smoke and speed in their cars not wearing seat belts, because those things can’t kill them either. Am raving a little. I beg your pardon 🙂

  4. Just a wee observation, as a climate change campaigner and cyclist: people seem to love to generalise about both those categories on the basis of a small number of bad experiences. Seeing a couple of cyclists go through red lights a couple of Wednesdays in a row becomes “All cyclists are lawless scum”; a conversation with a sanctimonious environmentalist or two becomes “All climate change campaigners are hypocrites”.

Leave a Reply to Steven Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *