Garth Paltridge, in the Australian literary magazine Quadrant, warns that the scientific establishment’s uncritical rush to climb on board the Anthropogenic Global Warming bandwagon seems liable, in the continued failure of predictions of imminent disaster, to inflict grave damage on that establishment’s credibility and prestige.
we have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem—or, what is much the same thing, of seriously understating the uncertainties associated with the climate problem—in its effort to promote the cause. It is a particularly nasty trap in the context of science, because it risks destroying, perhaps for centuries to come, the unique and hard-won reputation for honesty which is the basis of society’s respect for scientific endeavour. Trading reputational capital for short-term political gain isn’t the most sensible way of going about things.
The trap was set in the late 1970s or thereabouts when the environmental movement first realised that doing something about global warming would play to quite a number of its social agendas. At much the same time, it became accepted wisdom around the corridors of power that government-funded scientists (that is, most scientists) should be required to obtain a goodly fraction of their funds and salaries from external sources—external anyway to their own particular organisation.
The scientists in environmental research laboratories, since they are not normally linked to any particular private industry, were forced to seek funds from other government departments. In turn this forced them to accept the need for advocacy and for the manipulation of public opinion. For that sort of activity, an arm’s-length association with the environmental movement would be a union made in heaven. Among other things it would provide a means by which scientists could distance themselves from responsibility for any public overstatement of the significance of their particular research problem.
The trap was partially sprung in climate research when a number of the relevant scientists began to enjoy the advocacy business. The enjoyment was based on a considerable increase in funding and employment opportunity. The increase was not so much on the hard-science side of things but rather in the emerging fringe institutes and organisations devoted, at least in part, to selling the message of climatic doom. A new and rewarding research lifestyle emerged which involved the giving of advice to all types and levels of government, the broadcasting of unchallengeable opinion to the general public, and easy justification for attendance at international conferences—this last in some luxury by normal scientific experience, and at a frequency previously unheard of.
Somewhere along the line it came to be believed by many of the public, and indeed by many of the scientists themselves, that climate researchers were the equivalent of knights on white steeds fighting a great battle against the forces of evil—evil, that is, in the shape of “big oil” and its supposedly unlimited money. The delusion was more than a little attractive.
The trap was fully sprung when many of the world’s major national academies of science (such as the Royal Society in the UK, the National Academy of Sciences in the USA and the Australian Academy of Science) persuaded themselves to issue reports giving support to the conclusions of the IPCC. The reports were touted as national assessments that were supposedly independent of the IPCC and of each other, but of necessity were compiled with the assistance of, and in some cases at the behest of, many of the scientists involved in the IPCC international machinations. In effect, the academies, which are the most prestigious of the institutions of science, formally nailed their colours to the mast of the politically correct.
Since that time three or four years ago, there has been no comfortable way for the scientific community to raise the spectre of serious uncertainty about the forecasts of climatic disaster. It can no longer use the environmental movement as a scapegoat if it should turn out that the threat of global warming has no real substance. It can no longer escape prime responsibility if it should turn out in the end that doing something in the name of mitigation of global warming is the costliest scientific mistake ever visited on humanity. The current redirection of global funds in the name of climate change is of the order of a billion dollars a day. And in the future, to quote US Senator Everett Dirksen, “a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon we’ll be talking about real money”.
At the same time, the average man in the street, a sensible chap who by now can smell the signs of an oversold environmental campaign from miles away, is beginning to suspect that it is politics rather than science which is driving the issue.
UK Independent, News > Environment, Charles Onians, Monday 20 March 2000:
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Britain’s winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.
Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain’s culture, as warmer winters – which scientists are attributing to global climate change – produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.
The first two months of 2000 were virtually free of significant snowfall in much of lowland Britain, and December brought only moderate snowfall in the South-east. It is the continuation of a trend that has been increasingly visible in the past 15 years: in the south of England, for instance, from 1970 to 1995 snow and sleet fell for an average of 3.7 days, while from 1988 to 1995 the average was 0.7 days. London’s last substantial snowfall was in February 1991.
Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6Â°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties.
However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.
“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.
Max Kennedy looks on approvingly as his daughter Noah slaughters baby seals.
Bobby Kennedy’s ninth child, Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, yesterday provoked amused astonishment when he posted the above photo on Facebook, accompanied by the message:
Noah and me working with Canadian wild life officials to cull seal population near Rankin Inlet. Over population of seals is causing great damage to local fisheries. Thousands of seal pups must be culled each year. We worked with trappers who taught Noah how to identify the weak ones.
Put another way—here’s a photo of my daughter shooting baby seals.
Imagine the veins-bulging outrage from liberals, animal rights groups and anti-gun activists if the teenage daughter of nearly any prominent conservative was photographed doing the same. Or Sarah Palin for that matter.
Justin Gillis, in the magisterial New York Times, explains that climate science predictions of dramatic warming were wrong and climate scientists do not know why, but the failures of their theory don’t really matter. “More than a century of research thoroughly” proves that they are right.
It must be “natural variability” and the felicitous intervention of “deep ocean” cooling or the blocking of sunlight by air pollution in China or any of half a dozen explanations recently invented. But the basic science remains certain and established and agreed upon, even if none of its predictions have actually come through. One of these days, Gillis assures us, whatever is stopping the correct theory from working will just stop, and Sha-zam!, we will get: “an extremely rapid warming of the planet.”
Just keep believing.
As unlikely as this may sound, we have lucked out in recent years when it comes to global warming.
The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.
The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists. True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts.
But given how much is riding on the scientific forecast, the practitioners of climate science would like to understand exactly what is going on. They admit that they do not, even though some potential mechanisms of the slowdown have been suggested. The situation highlights important gaps in our knowledge of the climate system, some of which cannot be closed until we get better measurements from high in space and from deep in the ocean.
As you might imagine, those dismissive of climate-change concerns have made much of this warming plateau. They typically argue that “global warming stopped 15 years ago” or some similar statement, and then assert that this disproves the whole notion that greenhouse gases are causing warming.
Read the whole thing, and hold on to your chair as you laugh.
Winston Churchill as a boy owned, played with, and undoubtedly cast and painted lead soldiers. He owned something like 1500 hundred of them—probably one of the largest juvenile collections ever on the planet—, and no one ever thought Churchill intellectually impaired.
The Left, as we all know, has Science on its side, and its regime of experts intends to govern us guided by the insights delivered by established science.
The Left’s supposedly science-based policies, however, have a tendency to resemble primitive superstition, frequently incorporating Ousiaphobia (My own neologism: “the fear of substances”) which in every way resembles the sort of fear that primitive natives manifest toward things declared taboo by tribal witchdoctors.
Our own witchdoctors come with Ph.D.s, of course, and our politicians enthusiastically embody taboos in legislation. One particularly notorious example was the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 which banned ever-more-minute levels of the taboo element LEAD (symbol: Pb) in children’s toys, &c.
That particularly absurd piece of legislation had much more far-reaching implications than banning the importation of toys painted with lead paint from China. It effectively prohibited the sale of used (and antique) toys carrying traces of the forbidden metal, and when the law (passed under George W. Bush, mind you) went into effect early in 2009, it was thought also to ban all children’s books printed before 1985, because (oogah, boogah!) back then printers’ ink contained minute quantities of lead. The act banned lead in levels of 300 parts per million, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission promised that it would enforce the ban since “[g]iven the way that kids tear and chew through library books… it’s unlikely that libraries have many children’s books that are more than 24 years old.”
Our federal government has declared all children’s books printed before 1985 taboo on the basis of the belief that children customarily eat books.
Apparently, the book purge is still underway, four years later. A commenter on a publishing blog (read by my wife) reported yesterday.
My regional library system got hit hard by the requirement to riff all the older kids books (lead in the ink, natch). That really flubbed up their budget. I suspect they are not alone in this. The Friends of the Library group has stepped up and done a lot, but I’ve noticed the number of new acquisitions is declining.
Most people in America go to school for sixteen long years. They get science courses, and learn that Darwin proved that life arose spontaneously by chance, and that Natural Selection is good as a basis for rejecting traditional religion, but is absolutely not to be tolerated in human society. I presume everyone gets Chemistry courses and learns that lead is an element, is a metal, and is heavy. Chemistry courses probably inform people today that compounds of heavy metals tend to be very poisonous, but it is clear that the relationship, or lack thereof, between very poisonous and “300 parts in a million” is very evidently not made clear. Neither is the obvious necessity of employing common sense and testing theories against historical fact.
If exposure to books with infinitesimal amounts of lead in the ink they are printed with really impacted children, every youngster who was so foolhardy as to devote significant time to reading would have to be presumed to have damaged his intelligence. In reality, it’s the children who read a lot who went on to get scholarships to Yale.
Winston Churchill monkeyed around with lead during his childhood on a scale which would obviously appall today’s scientific experts. You can bet that he handled, fondled, ordered and re-ordered, and played with every single one of those 1500 lead soldiers. He undoubtedly was additionally equipped with molds for making more of them, and he doubtless, like most hobbyists of his ilk, poured melted lead and cast his own lead soldiers which he then trimmed, tidied up, and painted. The boy Churchill’s hands were, you can count on it, soiled with lead on many a day.
I fished with lead sinkers as a boy, and during some periods, I too used a lead pot, casting my own sinkers. I also learned to handload ammunition, and cast bullets. Amazingly Churchill lived to the age of 90, and I’ve made it into my sixth decade myself.
Harry Binswanger, in Forbes, commences what, after years and years of demonstrable non-warming, is likely to becoming a growing chorus of mockery of the greatest scientific fraud in human history.
I’ve grown old waiting for the promised global warming. I was 35 when predictions of a looming ice age were supplanted by warmmongering. Now I’m 68, and there’s still no sign of warmer weather. It’s enough to make one doubt the “settled science” of the government-funded doom-sayers.
Remember 1979? That was the year of “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, of “The Dukes of Hazard” on TV, and of “ Kramer vs. Kramer” on the silver screen. It was the year the Shah was forced out of Iran. It was before the web, before the personal computer, before the cell phone, before voicemail and answering machines. But not before the global warming campaign.
In January of 1979, a New York Times article was headlined: “Experts Tell How Antarctic Ice Could Cause Widespread Floods.” The abstract in the Times archives says: “If the West Antarctic ice sheet slips into the sea, as some glaciologists believe is possible, boats could be launched from the bottom steps of the Capitol in Washington and a third of Florida would be under water, a climate specialist said today.”
By 1981 (think “Chariots of Fire“), the drum beat had taken effect. Quoting from the American Institute of Physics website: “A 1981 survey found that more than a third of American adults claimed they had heard or read about the greenhouse effect.”
So where’s the warming? Where are the gondolas pulling up to the Capitol? Where are the encroaching seas in Florida? Or anywhere? Where is the climate change which, for 33 years, has been just around the corner?
A generation and a half into climate change, née global warming, you can’t point to a single place on earth where the weather is noticeably different from what it was in 1979. Or 1879, for that matter. I don’t know what subliminal changes would be detected by precise instruments, but in terms of the human experience of climate, Boston is still Boston, Cairo is still Cairo, and Sydney is still Sydney.
After all this time, when the continuation of industrial civilization itself is on the table, shouldn’t there be some palpable, observable effect of the disaster that we are supposed to sacrifice our futures in order to avoid? Shouldn’t the doom-sayers be saying “We told you so!” backed up by a torrent of youtube videos of submerged locales and media stories reminding us about how it used to snow in Massachusetts?
Climate panic, after all, is fear of dramatic, life-altering climate changes, not about tenths of a degree. We are told that we must “take action right now before it’s Too Late!” That doesn’t mean: before it’s too late to avoid a Spring that comes a week earlier or summer heat records of 103 degrees instead of 102. It was to fend off utter disaster that we needed the Kyoto Treaty, carbon taxes, and Priuses.
With nothing panic-worthy–nothing even noticeable–ensuing after 33 years, one has to wonder whether external reality even matters amid the frenzy. (It’s recently been admitted that there has been no global warming for the last 16 years.) For the climate researchers, what matters may be gaining fame and government grants, but what about the climate-anxious trend-followers in the wider public? What explains their indifference to decade after decade of failed predictions? Beyond sheer conformity, dare I suggest a psychological cause: a sense of personal anxiety projected outward? “The planet is endangered by carbon emissions” is far more palatable than “My life is endangered by my personal evasions.” Something is indeed careening out of control, but it isn’t the atmosphere.
Jim Geraghty, in his emailed Morning Jolt, was today in a mood to fight back against the community of fashion’s blame game.
One of my nuttier ideas was taking a Twitter conversation between Cam Edwards and Kurt Schlicter envisioning a rightward sitcom answer to HBO’s “Girls” entitled “Dudes” and trying to turn it into an actual script.
At one point, I had a character in that script rant:
I’m a married middle-aged guy with a house in the suburbs who goes to work, pays his taxes and takes care of his kids. When the hell did I turn into the villain in society? Chris Brown still walks the streets! In the time it’s taken me to finish this sentence, “Shawty Lo” has impregnated three more women and Kim Kardashian’s been on four more magazine covers! I think one of ‘em’s a fishing magazine!
Yet somehow Madison Avenue considers me to be their go-to stereotype as a doofus, I’m the butt of every joke, sneered at for unsophisticated tastes, dismissed as a relic of a fading past, accused of not paying my fair share in taxes and insufficiently globally conscious because I’m only taking care of what’s directly in front of me instead of glaciers or the Gaza Strip. How am I the problem in the world today? What the hell did I ever do?
I remember a comment from Mark Steyn a few NR cruises ago, and I’m going to paraphrase it now: “Americans are first citizens of a global superpower with no interest in conquest. We don’t want other territory, we don’t seek to subjugate other nations, we’re not trying to wipe out any culture we deem inferior. And yet through the rhetoric and of the environmental movement, you, driving your SUV and drinking your Big Gulp and eating your Big Mac, are accused of literally destroying the planet! Not even history’s most brutal dictators faced an accusation on that scale!”
Our political culture and our popular culture are the one-two punch contending that you, ordinary American, going to work or looking for work or looking for better work and just taking care of your families, have somehow become the root of the biggest problems facing the country. It’s your fault.
In Friedrich Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans, when the enchantress Joan of Arc preaching her visions and prophesies, inspires the French Army to heroic efforts and panics the English into flight, the dying English commander Talbot complains:
„Unsinn, du siegst und ich muß untergehn!
Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.
Erhabene Vernunft, lichthelle Tochter
Des göttlichen Hauptes, weise Gründerin
Des Weltgebäudes, Führerin der Sterne,
Wer bist du denn, wenn du dem tollen Roß
Des Aberwitzes an den Schweif gebunden,
Ohnmächtig rufend, mit dem Trunkenen
Dich sehend in den Abgrund stürzen mußt!
Verflucht sei, wer sein Leben an das Große
Und Würdge wendet und bedachte Plane
Mit weisem Geist entwirft! Dem Narrenkönig
Gehört die Welt.
Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
Against stupidity the very gods
Themselves contend in vain. Exalted reason,
Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
Wise foundress of the system of the world,
Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou,
Bound to the tail of folly’s uncurbed steed,
Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd,
Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.
Accursed, who striveth after noble ends,
And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans!
To the fool-king belongs the world.
James Delingpole is feeling a lot like John Talbot these days, listening to the leaders of the world spouting nonsense about Climate Change.
As regular readers will know I’m in such a continual state of foaming fury about the idiocies of the world that I sometimes go over the top. “Truly, there aren’t enough bullets”, I’m wont to cry in exasperation. ...
[T]hat’s me, completely buggered then. Maybe, since words are my stock in trade I should end it all now.
Problem is, every time I look at the internet or read the newspapers or watch something on TV I’m yet again reminded by just how right I am to feel the way I do. Truly, there really aren’t enough bullets.
By way of further proof, I give you two speeches made by politicians this week: Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey’s speech to the Royal Society; President Obama’s State of the Union Address.
Both were on the subject I try to mention as little as possible on Bogpaper because I don’t want to sound like a one-trick pony. Suffice to say that in both cases, both men were talking unutterable bollocks on a subject on which I know quite a bit: certainly a hell of lot more than they do.
And it wasn’t just disputable bollocks. It was unquestionably, demonstrably wrong bollocks. Almost every statement each of these politicians made was a flat-out untruth. They made scientific claims which were not remotely backed up by hard evidence.
Now whether they were themselves deliberately lying or whether they were merely badly misinformed we shall never be able to prove. But it really doesn’t matter, the more important point is this: this week two politicians in positions of enormous power made keynote speeches which will have a major impact on people’s lives. What they said was wrong in almost every way: yet serious public policy is going to be based on it.
Stupidity doesn’t always win, of course. It just wins most of the time.
The saga now playing out in La Jolla Cove is the epitome of regulatory stupidity. In a rocky area by the cove once open to people but now fenced off for safety reasons, the feces of cormorants and seagulls just keeps piling up, generating a stench that can carry as far as a mile. Dry conditions, a hot summer and other factors have made this a gross everyday problem for the cove area, not an occasional annoyance.
So why can’t city work crews simply take care of the problem? Why can’t biodegradable cleaning products be used to make the stench disappear, as suggested by San Diego Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who represents the area? Why can’t any reason or common sense come to the fore?
Because of complex environmental rules stemming from the cove’s designation as a state-protected “Area of Special Biological Significance.” Officials say it could take two years to get various state agencies to OK cleaning procedures.