Selling Indulgences

The Nexis database is useful in many ways, but particularly in letting the reader see the divergent manner in which the same news story is covered in journals and on blogs. Type in ‘global warming’ with a parameter of the last month and you’ll see lots on ‘Climategate’: click on Blogs and you’ll see 90% of entries are angry libertarian sceptics from the US, in all likelihood astroturfing; click on Magazines/Journals and you’ll get some more balanced stuff like this, from a surprising source.

On the same topic, I liked this from today’s Guardian:

[James Hansen] has irked some environmentalists by espousing a direct carbon tax on fuel use. Some see that as a distraction from rallying support in Congress for cap-and-trade legislation that is on the table.

He is scathing of that approach. “This is analagous to the indulgences that the Catholic church sold in the middle ages. The bishops collected lots of money and the sinners got redemption. Both parties liked that arrangement despite its absurdity. That is exactly what’s happening,” he said. “We’ve got the developed countries who want to continue more or less business as usual and then these developing countries who want money and that is what they can get through offsets.”

Personally I’m thinking our response to this indulgence-selling should be less Martin Luther, more Thomas Müntzer.