Home > AGW, Climate Change, Global Warming, Omniclimate, Science, Skepticism > Parallels between Lysenkoism and AGW

Parallels between Lysenkoism and AGW

Timely broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s “In Our Time” series, about NOTE UPDATED LINK Lysenko and “lysenkoism”, the propaganda-based “science” that Stalin’s agricultural adviser managed to sell as “truth” from 1928 to 1962 at least.

In 1928, as America heads towards the Wall Street Crash, Joseph Stalin reveals his master plan – nature is to be conquered by science, Russia to be made brutally, glitteringly modern and the world transformed by communist endeavour.

Into the heart of this vision stepped Trofim Lysenko, a self-taught geneticist who promised to turn Russian wasteland into a grain-laden Garden of Eden.

Today, Lysenko is a byword for fraud but in Stalin’s Russia his ideas became law. They reveal a world of science distorted by ideology, where ideas were literally a matter of life and death. To disagree with Lysenko risked the gulag and yet he damaged, perhaps irreparably, the Soviet Union’s capacity to fight and win the Cold War.

The MP3 of the programme can be NOTE UPDATED LINK downloaded here.

What makes it relevant to the climate debate is the list of parallels that can be made between Lysenko’s “Soviet biology and genetics” and contemporaneous thoughts of Anthropogenic Global Warming:

(a) Results, and success are declared before an experiment has completed (at position 12m10s, in the mp3 file above). In AGW, just look at the innumerable papers that take AGW as established truth, even as the debate on “attribution” is still very much open among mainstream scientists.

(b) Proponents always declare “victory”, no matter what happens, and are always ready to shift the ground (mp3 position: 14m15s). That’s quite common in AGW circles: nowadays, if the planet warms up or cools down, it’s anyway compatible with AGW theory.

(c) Science is presented as a series of “solutions”, not simply as “knowledge” (mp3 position: 19m45s). AGWers cannot disentangle research from advocacy: for example, the IPCC is politically active, to the point of qualifying for a Nobel Peace Prize.

(d) According to the scientists, central planning is better than free capitalism (mp3 position: 35m45s). From Al Gore to London School of Economics’ Professor Lord Giddens, there is only one thought: free markets are not good enough, and a big State intervention is needed to save the planet from climate doom.

Ironically,  the BBC guests laughed only up to a point to the witty remark made by one of them: that Lysenko’s personality and attitude would have made him a “guaranteed success in British science today” (mp3: 24m15s).

Even more ironic is the fact that Lysenko himself did come up with a geoengineering way to change the climate of Siberia (by planting trees in clusters, so that the weakest ones would sacrifice themselves to let the most resistant plants survive).

And in case you wonder: no, it didn’t work…


  1. 2008/10/22 at 23:10

    From Cliff Ollier, Emeritus Professor and Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, an essay on “Lysenkoism And GW

    A consensus appears to be forming 8)

  2. 2008/10/22 at 01:38

    1 thing is certain if this ends up in court nd i think it will the radicals will be ducking for cover ,there is not one bit of evidence that c02 can control the weather and it is impossible for any model or anyone to predict the weather in 100yrs its far too complex ,they cannot even predict it in the near term ,what is their real agenda i wonder ? given that even common sense tells you that no country can survive with out industry ,why is it that the radicals never even question the radical countries or try to stifle them as they do in the west ?It is great to see people like yourself standing up for the truth ,germany might have lost the war but they are sure taking control of a lot of countries with the eu and this scam .

  3. 2008/10/09 at 18:57

    Thank you for spotting that Michael. I have update the links

  4. Michael
    2008/10/09 at 16:56

    Is the .mp3 still working and available? I can’t download it or play it.


  5. Umbongo
    2008/06/11 at 17:39


    Doubly wrong there: rather than an impartial provider of news and comment (as required under English law) the BBC is in the forefront of the AGW propaganda effort. Indeed after a court case in the English High Court which found that effectively “An Inconvenient Truth” was a tissue of lies, Roger Harrabin – the BBC’s environment reporter (now promoted – maybe demoted – to “environment analyst) proposed in an internal BBC email fisked on this site that the court’s decision should be downplayed (or, better, ignored or, whatever happened, “interpreted” to save Gore’s face). It is inconceivable that the BBC would broadcast – let alone contemplate making – a programme like “The Great GW Swindle”.

  6. trzupek
    2008/06/09 at 19:42


    Du-Oh! Sometimes I can be a really dumb Yank. It was shown on Channel 4 originally, wasn’t it? Maybe the best way to refer to is as “British producer Martin Durkin’s documentary.

    Sorry ’bout that…



  7. trzupek
    2008/06/09 at 16:34

    My Dear Evdebs,

    Assuming that you still have an open mind, you should watch the definitive BBC documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. Real scientists. Real science. And none of them funded by Exxon-Mobil! (Nor is this scientist, by the by – but if the good folks at Exxon-Mobil would like to share some of the love, who am I to say no?)

    Watch. And be happy.



    [Rich: it was not a BBC documentary – maurizio]

  8. 2008/06/09 at 08:43

    To evdebs: they can huff and puff as much as they want. The reality is that AGW is so mainstream, very rich people fly off to Caribbean islands to state their concern about the future of the climate. A Nobel Peace prize, an Oscar, a UN juggernaut called the IPCC, wholesome occupation of all airwaves, tons of books, flocks of businessmen hearing the world is going to end within 50 years at a Goldman Sachs conference…what else would you want to recognize that AGW is far from being concealed, modified, revised??

    You’re mixing up internal US politics with the overall outlook for Science.

  9. evdebs
    2008/06/09 at 08:36

    It’s somewhat ironic that Lysenko should be cited (can Lamarck be far behind?). In the U.S. scientist after scientist has disclosed pressures by the energy corporation-controlled Bush adminitration to conceal, to modify, to revise into pablum, definitive statements and findings that demonstrate the danger of AGW. We have Exxon and Halliburton hacks laundering the findings of legitimate researchers and trollopes such as Fred Singer being touted as other than the panderers they are.

    The parallel of Lysenkoism is apt, except that George Bush is now playing the role of Josef Stalin.

    I would suggest a read of George Monbiot’s “Heat” (2007) for a scathing critique of the denialist industry.

  10. krissmith777
    2008/06/09 at 00:21

    Hey, great post!!

  11. 2008/06/08 at 20:28

    Trofim Lysenko reminds me of a modern day James Hansen.

  12. trzupek
    2008/06/08 at 19:46

    Most excellent my friend. As a scientist and a skeptic: thank you. Keep it up. We all need to continue spreading the word.

    You may be entertained by my take as well:





    Rich Trzupek

  13. 2008/06/08 at 18:04

    In my opinion, the parallels are so eerily similar that anyone who can’t see them doesn’t want to. And as far as I’m concerned, history seems to be repeating itself.

  14. Alex Cull
    2008/06/08 at 18:00

    I find it ironical that in the West, with our much-vaunted intellectual freedom, propaganda can still take root and thrive as much as it does – not quite as effectively as in a police state though, thank goodness. But given the historical parallels with Lysenkoism, it would pay to be vigilant. Good post.

  15. Fran Manns
    2008/06/08 at 12:27

    “BIG OIL” only has 7% of current resources in the world, and the rest (93%) are in the hands of inefficient, unwieldy, and uncompetitive national oil companies, the usual suspects: Russia, Venezuela and our other friends. It is fair to call these supergiants “REALLY BIG OIL”.
    We and ‘BIG OIL’ are in for a fight. Most politicians know the truth about CO2 and the petition of 31,000 scientists who agree that CO2 is beneficial to life on the planet (released at the Washington Press Club), and that Kyoto would severely affect prosperity for the poor and those on fixed incomes. However, ‘real scientists with Ph.D.s’ (Doctor of Philosophy degrees) is not a constituency and this is an election year. Pols now cater to an humanist educated mass of humanity who are lured by demagogues and driven by fear or worst case fictional scenarios.
    It is clarifying to quantify the scale of the economy and our heavy industrial boot on the neck of the environmental construct: Some examples:
    British Columbia: The mines in British Columbia have a footprint of 0.06% (6/10,000s) of the total land area of the Province. The prosperity of BC and the world has been enormously assisted by copper mining.
    Oil sands: At the present time, after 30 years of mining the footprint of open pit mining in the oil sands is 0.06%; the pits will be backfilled and reclaimed with clean sand. The rest will likely be developed by underground thermal methods. The Alberta-Saskatchewan tar sands spill may penultimately have an equilibrium foot print of 0.10% mining and following reclamation – 0.0%. Considering that the oil sands outcrop and bleed into the river in the summertime, Suncor and the others are cleaning up one of the largest (natural) oil spills on the planet.
    Montana: The palladium/platinum mines of Montana have a footprint of 641 acres. That is (1/147,165 square miles) 0.00068% of Montana.
    Alaska: Thanks to horizontal drilling, the 2000 acres of Alaska requested from the ANWR have a footprint of 4.7 x 10-4 % or 0.00047% of Alaska.
    The risk: reward ratio of these projects is de minimus.
    De minimis is a Latin expression meaning about minimal things, which is used mostly as part of de minimis non curat praetor or de minimis non curat lex, to say that the law is not interested in trivial matters. De minimis, in a more formal legal sense, means something which is unworthy of the law’s attention. In risk assessment, de minimis refers to a level of risk that is too small to be concerned with. Some refer to this as a “virtually safe” level.[1]
    [1] Wikipedia

  16. 2008/06/08 at 10:16

    thank you Pangolin. In truth, I have elaborated (albeit briefly) on each and every point. Until you come up with some point-by-point rebuttal, may I suggest you look into a mirror to find a source of idiocy

  17. Pangolin
    2008/06/08 at 08:11

    You’re an idiot. You somehow ended up on the wordpress home page and it must have been by random selection. Those aren’t even arguments and you have absolutely no reference to anything other than your opinion.

    You’ve got turtles all the way down bub.

  18. 2008/06/07 at 17:05

    Thank you John. Great minds, as they say, … 😉

  19. 2008/06/07 at 14:49
  1. 2012/01/28 at 11:01
  2. 2008/10/23 at 02:40
  3. 2008/06/10 at 22:52
  4. 2008/06/08 at 21:55

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