Everything else, is a corollary….
From Bishop Hill’s “Nobel laureate on temperatures” (Feb 2012):
The question is not whether temperatures have risen or whether mankind has affected the climate. Temperatures have always risen and fallen and mankind has always affected the climate. The question is whether we have a problem on our hands. The poor performance of the climate models suggests that the problem is much less than we have been led to believe.
Actually, it’s much more than a problem of physics. It has vast policy implications.
If models are not useful in a decadal timescale, such as they can predict a strong warming for a period of minimal or even no warning, then what use is there for models? What government (apart from North Korea…) would make it difficult for people to heat up their homes in the next decade with the explanation that is going to be warm in 2070 anyway?
People do not average-out their lives across decades or centuries: each and every one of us have to go through each and every day first.
If I freeze to death today at -10C, I will not enjoy the warmth of July at +30C even if the average is +10C, perfectly compatible with human life. The same can be said of plants and animals. If I plant an olive tree in my London garden, it will die of cold in February even if the yearly average is in theory just enough to make olive trees survive in the open. If a nasty mosquito species migrates from warmer places during an August heatwave, still if that species cannot survive the following winter it will not be around until next migration opportunity during a future heatwave.
A purely statistical, multi-year approach to modelling the climate is in theory useless for policymaking (similar considerations could be made for non-regional projections, but that is too long a story here – read “How Space-Time Digested AGW” if interested). And if we end up with 15 years of incorrect projections without even a volcano for an excuse, then whatever physical explanation there is, policymakers would be much wiser in keeping climate scientists at arm’s length.
Nobody’s killed as many Communists as Stalin. Nobody’s killed as many Muslims as Osama bin Laden. That’s why whenever somebody wants to save me, maybe I don’t reach for a gun, but I surely prepare for self-defense against the saviors. As I wrote some time ago in “History, a Murderous Farce“:
Napoleon, the Emperor of the French, destroyed the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, thereby establishing the basis for the ascent of the German Empire that was going to humiliate France in 1871.
Prussia and Austria fought hard to establish their leadership over Germany. The result was a militarized Prussian class that killed Germany once in the First World War, and then again with its support for Hitler.
“Of course” Adolf, from Austria of all places, dedicated his life to the nationalist cause, with the result that Germany was annihilate and Prussia airbrushed from history at the end of World War II.
Those are not the only ironies of history. The end result of the Christian Crusades was the undermining of the Byzantine Empire, and the opening up of Eastern Europe to the Ottoman Muslims. Nobody has killed as many Communists as Stalin, or as many Chinese as Chairman Mao, and since Tamerlane perhaps nobody has killed as many Muslims as Osama bin Laden and his loose “organization”.
I am sure there are many more examples of unbelievably unintended consequences. Hadn’t it been for the continuous slaughter, History would be a topic to laugh very hard about.
And it’s the history that could as well repeat with contemporary environmentalism and its “green zealots”. From the recent James Delingpole Daily Mail op-ed:
[…] If you read the private emails of the Climategate scientists, what you discover is that most of them genuinely believe in the climate change peril.
That’s why they lied about the evidence and why they tried to destroy the careers of those scientists who disagreed with them: because they wanted to scare politicians into action before time ran out. This was not science, in other words, but political activism.
A similar ‘end justifies the means’ mentality seems to prevail among all those environmental lobby groups. They don’t exaggerate or misrepresent because they’re bad people. They do it, as a former head of Greenpeace once charmingly put it when accused of having overstated the decline in Arctic sea ice, to ‘emotionalise the issue’; because they want to make the rest of the world care about these issues as much as they do. […]
One of the grimmest ironies of the modern environmental movement is just how much damage it has done to the planet in the name of ‘saving’ it. Green biofuels (crops such as palm oil grown for fuel) have not only led to the destruction of millions of acres of rainforest in Asia, Africa and South America, but are now known to produce four times more CO2 pollution than fossil fuels.
Wind farms, besides blighting views, destroying topsoil and causing massive noise pollution, kill around 400,000 birds a year in the U.S. alone. Environmentalists, in fact, have a disastrous track record when it comes to predictions and policy recommendations […]
Somebody ought to start an environmentalist group to save the environment from the environmentalists.
Letter sent to the IHT-
So you’ve finally realized there’s a set of simple innovations that could save the lives of millions right now, help the environment and perhaps even slow down global warming (see John Tierney’s “A renegade climate idea that could work“, IHT, Jan 18, 2012).
The fact that those actions have been neglected thus far because of lack of “glamour” and an obsession with cutting carbon dioxide emissions tells everything one needs to know about the inhumanity sadly intrinsic to many environmental activist organizations.
Humans are not vermin. Children dying as we speak because of black carbon filling their lungs in windowless huts are not trade-offs to sacrifice in a fight to convince the world to use fewer SUVs.
Prof Roger Pielke Jr’s “iron law of climate policy” says CO2 emission cuts policies always lose against economic growth pushes. Such a rule ought to be expanded : because we’re humans, and we should remember our humanity. Therefore policies that save human lives have to take precedence over attempts at defining global environment-related treaties. Always.
Curiously, or tellingly, this piece of news hasn’t hit the headlines: on Dec 20, 2011, “the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced the closure of the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net)“, a 3-year-old effort.
According to the accompanying press release
Members of the web-based platform, which allowed companies, organizations, cities and states to showcase their climate neutral strategies, and to share and access information and ideas with fellow participants, are being invited to approach other similar platforms to continue their climate neutral efforts.Beginning with just 13 participants, the network today consists of 300 members, who have been aiming at different paces and scale to work towards low carbon growth.
Some 10 countries, 7 regions, 19 cities, 156 companies, 40 organizations and 11 universities joined CN-Net.
Highlights of the CN-Net campaign include “A Case for Climate Neutrality: Case Studies on Moving Towards a Low Carbon Economy” – a publication showcasing green business strategies from the network’s members – and projects on eco-tourism in Kenya and Tanzania.
Participants are now being invited “to build on their activities and continue to pursue a low carbon, climate neutral direction by joining other existing initiatives that offer paths that may be now better able to assist in evolving and achieving their long-term goals“.
So what does it all mean? The press release gives the faintest of hints (my emphasis):
In October 2011, UNEP in collaboration with the city of Arendal, convened a ‘webinar’ to discuss options for the future.
Following feedback from members, it was decided to close the platform and present the offer of handing over the campaign to the three platforms in order to better focus international and local efforts in this field.
In fact, the webinar presented some alarming wording already (my emphasis):
The conference will be an opportunity to share CN Net successes and challenges. Most importantly, It will enable the participants to discuss a range of issues concerning the continuity and ongoing viability of the CN Net programme. We strongly encourage CN Net participants to use this opportunity as a platform to share their experiences with other members as well as raise any issues.
The city of Arendal and UNEP had convened a “webinar” to discuss options for the future, but the response by members of CN Net has been disengagement.
In other words, nobody’s interested any longer.
Have environmentalism and climate change fear always been based on an unproven ideology full of hate against humanity and its material progress?
The Kings Hill Forest Act passed on St Vincent in 1791 was a remarkable piece of legislation. Above all, it was based on a novel climatic theory, that deforestation might cause rainfall decline. The objective of the Act was to “appropriate for the benefit of the neighbourhood the Hill …….and for enclosing the same and preserving the timber and other trees growing thereon in order to attract rain”. The fact that the Act was highly innovative was clearly recognised at the time. Governor James Seton commented that the Act is “of an unusual and extraordinary character”, not least in the powers which the state arrogated to itself to control land and to impose penalties for its misuse. In the language of today the Act thus conceived of two kinds of sustainability, at a local level, in terms of timber supply; and in a much broader climatic sense. It thus enshrined in legislation a highly sophisticated set of principles and was, in short, based on ‘scientific’ theory rather than on social structures or assumptions.
(more details about the Kings Hill Forest Act – fascinatingly, the actual text is very likely to mention clouds too, resulting in the wording “for the purpose of attracting clouds and rain”)
Environment worries? Check. Impending climate catastrophe caused by human greed? Check. Evil deforestation? Check. Strong-armed governmental intervention? Check. And yhe idea was not new. Already in Tobago (1764), Barbados and Dominica (1765) local authorities had been busying themselves in planting trees in order to get more rains:
an ordinance was passed in 1764 designating the mountainous part of Tobago a protected forest, “reserved in wood for rains.”This protected forest still exists within its original boundaries. The legislation that created it marked a critical watershed in the history of environmental concern, since it applied a universal scientific theory about earth-atmosphere processes (since shown to be substantially correct) to a local environment. It was thus the forerunner to all subsequent national and international attempts to control rainfall and climate change. The 1764 Tobago ordinance specifically recognized the need to restrict profits to sustain an environment in the long term. Moreover, the mechanisms used to set up forest reserves under the ordinance justified the alienation (in the face of much local litigation) of large tracts of private plantation land to colonial state control and implied a permanent role for the state, rather than the individual, in conserving forests and the atmosphere. In 1765, identical ordinances were applied to Barbados and Dominica.
Also in Mauritius (1769):
In a law of 1769, called the Reglement Economique, and in later laws passed after Poivre had left the island in 1772, an extensive system of forest reservations and riverside reservations was established in Mauritius, on the basis both of climatic arguments to protect the rainfall and to provide a sustainable timber supply
Pierre Poivre had already been extensively involved in attempts to transfer spice trees from the Dutch East Indies to Mauritius. In the course of trying to develop these and other objectives Poivre set up what was effectively a physiocratic state on the island. However, partly as a result of his experiments in plant transfer Poivre was already very interested in soil conditions and the effects of deforestation on moisture and local climate. He had developed these ideas in Lyons in the context of agricultural society meetings during the 1750s and in a paper written in 1763 made direct reference to what he thought were now well-established connections between deforestation and rainfall change. The provenance of these notions is not clear and further research would be needed to establish the source of Poivre’s very definitive desiccationist convictions. But it seems likely that the main source of inspiration for Poivre’s climate thinking came from the arboricultural handbooks written by his contemporary, Duhamel de Monceau. De Monceau, an anglophile, had in turn been very much influenced by the thinking of Stephen Hales, the pupil of Isaac Newton and the discover of the principle of transpiration. A Newtonian linking of trees and atmosphere was thus essential to early environmentalism.
Stephen Hales of 1677-1761, of course. There is another possibly complementary reason behind Poivre’s efforts though: the arrival in Mauritius in 1768 of botanist Jacques Henri Bernardine de Saint Pierre, later author of Paul and Virginie (1787) and clearly influenced by the thoughts of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. And what did Rousseau write in Emile: or, On Education?
Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of things, everything degenerates in the hands of man. He forces one soil to nourish the products of another, one tree to bear the fruits of another. He mixes and confuses the climates, the elements, the seasons. He mutilates his dog, his horse, his slave. He turns everything upside down, he disfigures everything, he loves deformities, monsters. He wants nothing as nature made it, not even man himself. For him man must be trained like a saddle- horse; he must be shaped according to the fashion, like trees in his garden.
There we go then: climate and geoengineering legislation officially based on science, but on a “science” in turn based on activism takings its inspiration from the science-free humanity- and material-progress-hating thoughts of a distant philosopher (Rousseau).
Nothing new under the sun. Science-based policy, it ain’t.
But, hasn’t it always been that way since the very beginning of the issue? The combination of perceived moral high ground mixed with the educated liberal mindset, combined with a dash of anonymity, in my opinion, leads AGW proponents to revert to tribal mannerisms in dealing with others whom they perceive as inferior in intellect and creed.
On the plus side, this very behavior, which seems to be omnipresent in AGW proponent circles, (though skeptics have a few bad examples too) is part of the reason why skeptics are winning the war of public opinion.
There is one important bit missing in the above. It’s not just perceived moral high ground mixed with the educated liberal mindset, combined with a dash of anonymity: there is also a strong war-like mentality, since the Cooks and dana1981s and taminos of the world are literally (in their view) protecting the planet against us evil skeptics.
When one believes to be at war, a war for survival no less, then there is little time for niceties and considerations about the feelings of fellow human beings. And just as well, the first casualty of war is truth and that’s why there isn’t much of it alive at Skeptical Science, or RealClimate, or Tamino, etc etc.