Joe Kaplinsky

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Joe Kaplinsky 2007 or 2008

Joe Kaplinsky is a science writer and researcher and is associated with the libertarian anti-environmental LM network. He has written for Living Marxism, Culture Wars and Spiked, contributed to the Institute of Ideas [1] and WORLDbytes, [2] spoken at the Battle of Ideas, Manifesto Club [3] and Manchester Salon and is a shareholder of Spiked Ltd. [4] He has also contributed to books by James Panton and James Woudhuysen.


He is currently a postdoctoral fellow (studying immunogenomics in the lab) at Imperial College London in the Institute of Chemical Biology, and has been supervised by Professor Richard Templer and Dr Oscar Ces[5]. His current project is entitled 'Nanodigestion and analysis of a single cell plasma membrane', uses a proteomic approach[6], and is working towards microfluidic cell identification and separation techniques. He is also part of the ICL research group called the 'single cell analysis project'[7]. Kaplinsky became involved in writing for the LM network in the mid-1990s. He contributed four articles to Living Marxism between 1995 to 2000. He also wrote for 38 articles for Spiked between 2001 and 2012. He appeared at every Battle of Ideas event between 2006-2010, appearing on six panels often alongside other LM Network associates, but has not appeared since then.


Energy work

LM network resources

In 2006 he contributed a chapter defending nuclear power to the book Science vs. Superstition: The case for a new Scientific Enlightenment published in collaboration with conservative think tank Policy Exchange.[8] Policy Exchange received a 'D transparency rating' Who funds you, (where A is the most transparent and E the least).[9]He is also co-author of the book Energise! with James Pollard Woudhuysen, which argues that the world needs to generate more energy and that reducing energy consumption is the barrier towards energy production innovation and human advancement. In a video interview on WORLDbytes Kaplinsky summarises the book, acknowledging that climate change is influenced by human activity, but questioning the pace it will have an influence. He rejects the thesis that warming will be catastrophic and, somewhat contradictorily, concludes that adaptation to climate change will only be possible due to innovation if the pursuit of more energy production is unhindered:

We really make two points about climate. The first point is that climate change is certainly influenced by human emissions of carbon dioxide, from energy, amongst other things, and that is now reasonably understood. But the pace of that climate change is not the catastrophic disaster movie that a lot of greens are going to paint and tell you. It is a fairly well understood process that is going to unfold over the next few decades over the next century. And so we have got time to restructure our energy supply and clean it up over the next fifty years or so, as is necessary...the second point that we make about climate change and global warming is that...it is likely to be much less catastrophic than some greens suspect because human beings are actually quite adaptable to changes in temperature. So even if the world warms up 3 degrees say people will be quite capable of solving all the problems like drought or disease and famine, floods, all the things the greens say will be catastrophes caused by climate, if we have sufficient economic development, if we have sufficient innovation, then people are going to flourish in that warmer world anyway. So in conclusion really, climate change is a problem that we are going to take in our stride as we produce more energy rather than something that we should see as the defining challenge of our times.[10]


Educational background

He graduated from his PhD at Imperial College London (ICL) in 2012. His thesis was entitled Single cell analysis and cell sorting with application to circulating tumour cells[11]. Prior to this, in June 2010, he won a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style competition showcasing student entrepreneurship for the ICL, which had been organised by one of his supervisors, Dr Oscar Ces, and was sponsored by Imperial Innovations[12]. Whilst studying at ICL he has worked as a writer for the ICL’s Reporter magazine on a Master of Research (MRes) conference for the talk 'Martyna Snopek ‘Preparation of NMR sample for the studies of MyoA‐MTIP complex’'[13], and presented a joint paper on 'Microfluidic cell sorting for single cell proteomics'[14].

Prior to this he undertook a Masters at ICL, focused on Protein and Membrane Chemical Biology, preceded by an MSc in Structural Molecular Biology from Birkbeck University[15]. This may have overlapped with his time as a patent analyst, during which time his author description notes state that he wrote about a wide range of energy technologies, from the handling of nuclear waste, the liquefaction of coal, gas turbine generators and drilling for oil through to the management of power in consumer electronics[16]. Prior to this he studied theoretical Physics at the University of Manchester and stayed on in a research role for a time[17].

Views

Living Marxism 1995-2000

Patenting Genes 1995

Kaplinsky’s first article for Living Marxism, in 1995, argued strongly against the patenting of genes, specifically related to the need for an invention to occur and the possibility of an alternative to be plausible for IP not to create an absolute monopoly:

The whole idea of patenting genes is of course absurd. Patenting is supposed to be applied to human inventions. In what way is the human gene responsible for cystic fibrosis an invention? Patenting genes makes as much sense as patenting diamonds or the air we breathe. Governments, scientists and ethical committees which have studied the matter on the whole agree that patenting of genes is ethically wrong. Most also accept that it is too restrictive because it creates monopolies. After all, if a company patents one form of painkiller, another company can discover a different type. There is, however, no alternative to studying the gene responsible for a particular illness[18]

Patenting Genes 2003 (in Spiked)

The idea was later revisited from a new angle 8 years later with Spiked in 2003, although the tone had shifted to questioning indigenous rights to IP or using the ‘prior informed consent’ mechanism, whilst defending the need for IP protection in capitalist society:

Many argue that the inequalities of the intellectual property system could be rectified by giving ‘traditional’ or ‘indigenous’ knowledge more protection. But these proposals can result in a romanticisation of rural poverty and the blocking of economic and scientific development - and as such, are potentially more damaging for the developing world than the expansion of intellectual property itself…

And the Intellectual Property Rights Commission notes that there is a conflict of interest between the developed and developing worlds. Since most intellectual property is held by the developed world, it makes little sense for the developing world to implement tighter intellectual property laws. On the other hand, a modern capitalist economy requires protection for intellectual property, so any country that wants to develop needs to find a difficult balance. Under the patent system, a temporary monopoly is granted to private interests in order that we all share in the longer run. Giving indigenous people a veto over the use of biodiversity, meanwhile, fixes knowledge as the property of one particular group, and ties people to their traditional roles[19]

However, his argument had shifted from seeing the corporations and government attempts as seeking to maximise profits to downplaying the significance of patenting genes:

The debate about intellectual property is blurred by hype about the ‘knowledge economy’, which accords intellectual property a more central economic role than it deserves. It is often forgotten that intellectual property is only an idea that can be applied in economic production, rather than economic production itself (businesses that assumed that DNA patents would be goldmines are now realising this)[20]

Spiked 2000-2012

Writing for Spiked, Kaplinsky’s main focus became energy expansion, linking to the topic of his co-authored book Energise and particularly defending nuclear expansion, whilst criticising the environmental movement and 'their' use of the term 'Science' as well as seeking to portray environmentalism to have captured elite political and economic circles.

Environmentalism's elite capture

That energy is talked about without reference to productivity shows how much environmentalism has come to dominate mainstream economics nowadays[21]

Environmental movement anti-humanist

The anti-environmentalist rhetoric is cloaked in a humanist discourse which seeks to represent the environmental movement as fatalistic, as well as implying all climate change models ignore any human agency as a factor for consideration:

The rise of models has coincided with the evaporation of the concept of human agency, of human beings consciously gaining and applying new insights through struggle. While we’re supposed to realise that climate change demands the most profound spiritual and lifestyle revolution for each and every person on the planet, in computer models of the future we are consigned to a fate that is pretty much pre-ordained. Such a view demeans the capabilities of people, distorts policy, and is also simply unrealistic. In the real world, human beings do not wait for things just to happen to them; we react, adapt and innovate around problems as they arise[22]

'Alternative' energy sources

Kaplinsky also argues against the environmental movement by arguing that alternative energy sources are shot down by environmentalists. However, to back up this assertion he uses as examples tar sands, methane hydrates[23], and coal liquefaction as examples of new technologies shot down by environmentalists, ignoring the huge contribution to climate change expected from the exploitation of these new techniques:

In order to create a crisis, the pessimists have to discount so-called ‘unconventional’ sources of oil, such as tar sands, as too dirty or uneconomic; methane hydrates are apparently too speculative; coal liquefaction would take too long to come on line; and so on. Every alternative is shot down[24]

Climate engineering, risk and an anti-precautionary principle

He also argues in favour of climate engineering and questions ethical considerations against research in this area, linking to the anti-precautionary discourse and risk management strategies of the network. In this instance climate engineering is elevated to the area of research where most funding should be directed in the struggle against climate change by implication:

You might think that the only problem with the idea of climate control is that we don’t know how to make it work. But today, ethical objections are raised against research that attempts to change this[25]

Similarly in a WORLDbytes video, he argues against the precautionary principle to argue in favour of genetic engineering based on an assumption that the new technology will inevitably provide more benefits than costs:

even in … new technologies that were once considered green, like biofuels, when people start talking about genetically engineered bio-fuels, again the whole question of risk and fear comes up, holding up those new technologies[26]

Downplaying risk

Kaplinsky also seeks to downplay the risk of current energy sources when he argues that nature can be equally, if not more, devastating to species than human activity:

Of course oil comes with problems. But a balanced assessment would find that the problems of oil are far outweighed by its benefits.

Furthermore, the long-term consequences for wildlife, even of larger oil spills, are not serious. Ecosystems have to be resilient and be able to bounce back from different disasters. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have survived millions of years of evolution.

The life of seabirds, whether ended by oil, disease, starvation or dashed to pieces in a storm, is brutish and short. According to Dr Paul Kingston of the Centre for Marine Diversity and Biotechnology at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh: ‘On a rocky shore, the animals don’t live very long anyway….Storms kill most of the animals every year so they’re adapted to recolonise very quickly[27]

Energise! 2009

In 2008/2009 Kaplinsky published a book he co-authored with James Woudhuysen entitled 'Energise!: A Future for Energy Innovation (Beautiful Special)'[28] The introduction to the book argues 'if the world could be more thoughtful about energy supply, we could all afford to be thoughtless about our personal use of energy'[29]. The thesis of the book essentially acknowledges climate change is influenced by human activity but, contrary to what may seem logical from such an analysis, argues the answer to this is the expansion of energy usage to spur technological innovation:

When we looked at the whole discussion around energy…The conclusion we came to was that the real problem is the world needs to generate a lot more energy. So…a lot of other people seem to think that the main problem is climate change…and we thought that is really the wrong starting point…like looking at the problem through the wrong end of the telescope. Instead of taking climate change as the starting point what we are taking as the starting point is the need for innovation in energy and the creation of a lot more infrastructure. For example, all the calls nowadays for people to consume less and use less energy, we think, is wrong headed. The answer to that is to produce as much as people need…another thing we wanted to look at is what are the limits and barriers to producing a lot more energy today. So a lot of environmentalists will say that the problems are natural limits, like running out of oil, or putting too much stress on eco-systems and so-on, and what we wanted to explore is what are the real political and economic and social limits to generating a lot more energy so that those can be overcome and so that we can help people move past them[30]

There is also a section of the book devoted criticising 'environmentalists' and 'greens' as anti-humanist and fatalistic. Describing this section in a WORLDbytes interview Kaplinsky notes:

Misanthrope is just the word that means ‘hates humanity’, ‘hates people’ and we used that really to label a few of the environmentalists who we are critical of. They always see people as the problem, rather than the solution. So they are always seeing people as polluting, as creating waste, as destroying the environment. They are never seeing people as the source of creative solutions…inventions, new sources of energy....There is a real disregard for people’s desires and for the way they want to live their lives. So they seem very happy introducing new regulations, bans on lightbulbs, telling people how to live, which really represents a quite contemptuous approach.

[31]

Thirteen of twenty people named and thanked in the aknowledgements section of the book are well connected to the LM network and can be assumed to have assisted in the development process of the book to some degree. The full aknowledgements list was as follows: Ian Abley, Daniel Ben-Ami, Bernhard Blauel, Robert Clowes, Sean Collins, Bill Durodié, Claire Fox, Frank Furedi, Tony Gilland, John Gillott, Alex Gourevich, Mark Harrop, Philip Hammond, Rob Lyons, Kevin McCullagh, Phil Mullan, Peter Sammonds, Paul Seaman, Antti Silvast and Phil Slade[32].

Career Chronology


Education Chronology

Other Affiliations

Other Links with the Network

LM Network Panel Appearances 2003

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010


WORLDbytes videos

2008

  • September 5 2008 - ‘Chill out about leaving the lights on’[48].
  • October 4 2008 - ‘Chill out with our scientist on waste’[49].
  • November 13 2008 - ‘Chill out with our scientist on water’[50].
  • December 11 2008 - ‘Chill out about GM foods’[51].

2009

  • 2009 - ‘Energise’[52].
  • February 13 2009 - ‘Chill out about stem cell’[53].
  • April 10 2009 - ‘Chill out desk: Nuclear fusion & Fission’[54].
  • June 4 2009 - ‘Chill out about Animal Experimentation’[55].
  • July 20 2009 - ‘Chill out about Deforestation’[56].
  • September 18 2009 - ‘Chill out about DDT’[57].
  • October 21 2009 - ‘Chill out about Designer babies’[58].

2011

  • May 19 2011 - ‘Don’t shout at the telly – vote for what?’[59]


Publications

1995

1998

2000

  • Joe Kaplinsky, 'Nuclear reaction', LM 129, p. 20, April 2000.
  • Joe Kaplinsky, 'Sir William phone home', p. 52, Last Magazine, Summer 2000.

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2012

Resources

Facebook Joe.Kaplinsky1
Profile Joe Kaplinsky Battle of Ideas

Notes

  1. "Intellectual Property and Developing Countries", Institute of Ideas website, accessed 8 May 2010
  2. Joe Kaplinsky WORLDbytes website, accessed 6 October 2013
  3. See Joe Kaplinsky Manifesto Club website, accessed 6 October 2013
  4. Companies House, Spiked Ltd. AR01 Annual Return 2010
  5. As of 18 January 2015. Also see postdoctoral staff profile, Imperial College London website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  6. The term proteomic combines the words protein and genomics and was coined in the late 1990s.
  7. See Imperial College London website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  8. Joe Kaplinsky ‘A disaster Waiting to happen – Why are we so anti nuclear?’ in James Panton and Oliver Hartwich, Eds Science vs Superstition Science vs. Superstition: The case for a new Scientific Enlightenment, University of Buckingham Press, Policy Exchange, December 2006.
  9. See who funds you website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  10. See 'Energise', WORLDbytes, accessed 19 February 2015. Quote has been transcribed.
  11. Not available from the EThOS service. Abstract available here: EThOS,British Library website, accessed 18 February 2015.
  12. See Events page, Imperial College London, accessed 16 December 2014.
  13. See 'CBC-MOAC-White Rose Joint DTC conference' programme, Wednesday 12th August 2009, Imperial College London website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  14. See Ibid.
  15. See author note, The Register, 9 February 2009, accessed 16 December 2014
  16. See Speaker biography, Battle of Ideas website, 2010, accessed 16 December 2014
  17. See author note, The Register website, accessed 16 December 2014
  18. Joe Kaplinsky, 'Joseph Kaplinsky, 'Futures: Who owns your genes?', Living Marxism, No. 77 - March 1995, p. 34.
  19. Joe Kaplinsky, ''Protecting superstition Patents on indigenous knowledge are blocking development' Spiked website, 22 May 2003, accessed 16 December 2014.
  20. Ibid.
  21. James Woudhuysen, Joe Kaplinsky, and Paul Seaman 'How to make blackouts a thing of the past: The key to providing for our energy needs is technological development, not sterile rows about energy sources', Spiked website, 4 October 2012, accessed 16 December 2014.
  22. James Woudhuysen & Joe Kaplinsky, ‘Let’s fight back against the new Model Army: Like voodoo forecasts, computer models of climate change are being used to stifle political discussion and resign man to his fate’, Spiked website, 12 July 2007, accessed 16 December 2014.
  23. Which have been described as 30 times more damaging for global-warming forecasts, than CO2 emissions on the BBC. See: Richard Anderson, 'Methane hydrate: Dirty fuel or energy saviour?', BBC news website, 17 April 2014, accessed 16 December 2014.
  24. Joe Kaplinsky, ‘Inflaming the oil crisis: There seems to be no danger of running out of pessimistic predictions about the end of oil’, Spiked website, 3 June 2004.
  25. Joe Kaplinsky, ‘Bring back the weathermen: Controlling the weather is nearly within our grasp. We shouldn't shy away’, Spiked website, 12 February 2004, accessed 16 December 2014.
  26. Joe Kaplinsky, 'Energise', WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  27. Joe Kaplinsky, ‘Slick arguments: The Prestige oil spill is not an ecological disaster - and far from the 'worst ever' spill’, Spiked website, 21 November 2002, accessed 16 December 2014.
  28. James Woudhuysen and Joe Kaplinsky, Energise!: A Future for Energy Innovation (Beautiful Special), Beautiful Books Limited, 2009, London. The 2009 version of the book is available online here: Energise!, accessed 16 December 2014
  29. James Woudhuysen and Joe Kaplinsky, Energise!: A Future for Energy Innovation (Beautiful Special), Beautiful Books Limited, 2009, London
  30. See 'Energise', WORLDbytes, accessed 19 February 2015. Quote has been transcribed.
  31. See 'Energise', WORLDbytes, accessed 19 February 2015. Quote has been transcribed.
  32. James Woudhuysen and Joe Kaplinsky, Energise!: A Future for Energy Innovation (Beautiful Special), Beautiful Books Limited, 2009, London.
  33. See Joe Kaplinsky, 1 March 2003, Culture Wars website, accessed 18 February 2015.
  34. See [http://instituteofideas.com/documents/Genes.pdf/ 'Genes and Society Festival', 26-27 April 2003, Institute of Ideas, accessed 4 March 2015.
  35. It is unclear when exactly this was but is indicated on his Battle of ideas profile from at least as early as 2007. See: Speaker profile, Battle of Ideas website, accessed 16 December 2014. A Nexis search for "Joseph Kaplinsky" OR "Joe Kaplinsky" and "patent" yields no results. It seems likely it was between at least 2003-2008 as both of the author biographies in the books to which he as either co-authored or contributed chapters to state he is a patent analyst, rather than was and his bio-note for the genes and society festival indicates he was a patent analyst in 2003.
  36. See author archive, Spiked website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  37. See Author biography, Imperial College London website, accessed 16 December 2014
  38. See Harvard Catalyst website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  39. See Joe Kaplinsky, 12 May 2008, May 12 2008, Internet Archive capture of Climate Resistance website as of 30 July 2014, accessed 18 February 2015.
  40. See Joe Kaplinsky, WORLDbytes website, accessed 18 February 2015.
  41. See [http://instituteofideas.com/documents/Genes.pdf/ 'Genes and Society Festival', 26-27 April 2003, Institute of Ideas, accessed 4 March 2015.
  42. See 'Nature's Revenge?', Sunday 29th October 2006, Battle of Ideas website, accessed 16 January 2015.
  43. See 'Particle Physics is Sexy', Sunday 28 October 2007, Battle of Ideas website, accessed 16 January 2015. Video of the event also available on the Battle of Ideas Channel, on Youtube website, accessed 16 January 2015.
  44. See 'The science and politics of climate change', Sunday 28 October 2007, Battle of Ideas website, accessed 16 January 2015. Video of the event also available on the Battle of Ideas Channel, on Youtube website, accessed 16 January 2015.
  45. See 'Nuclear fusion and the future of energy', Sunday 2 November 2008, Battle of Ideas website, accessed 16 January 2015. Video of the event also available on the Battle of Ideas Channel, on Youtube website, accessed 16 January 2015.
  46. See 'A New Nuclear Age?, Sunday 1st November 2009, Battle of Ideas website, accessed 16 January 2015.
  47. See 'The energy challenge: can we keep the lights on?', Sunday 31st October 2010, Battle of Ideas website, accessed 16 January 2015. Video of the event also available on the WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 January 2015.
  48. See Worldbytes, September 5 2008, accessed 16 December 2014.
  49. See Joe Kaplinsky, October 4 2008, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  50. See Joe Kaplinsky, November 13 2008, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  51. See Joe Kaplinsky, December 11 2008, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  52. See Joe Kaplinsky, 2009, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  53. See Joe Kaplinsky, February 13 2009, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  54. See Joe Kaplinsky, April 10 2009, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  55. See Joe Kaplinsky, June 4 2009, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  56. See Joe Kaplinsky, July 20 2009, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  57. See Joe Kaplinsky, September 18 2009, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  58. See Joe Kaplinsky, October 21 2009, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.
  59. See Joe Kaplinsky, May 19 2011, WORLDbytes website, accessed 16 December 2014.