Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

Beware The Planet Saviors!

2012/02/06 2 comments

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.

Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’ _by Professor Cliff Ollier

2012/01/28 2 comments

Infamous Soviet scientist Trofim Lysenko has become topical again after the recent WSJ “Don’t Panic (about global warming)” letter (read about it also here and here). In the interest of historical record, I am posting here the recovered text of “Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’” written some years ago by Professor Cliff Ollier and mentioned in this blog almost four years ago.

The original link does not work any longer (and the WaybackMachine hides the text for some reason). There is also a slightly different version in the Lavoisier Group website. (h/t Justin Ert)

Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’
by Professor Cliff Ollier

Trofim Denisovich Lysenko [Трофи́м Дени́сович Лысе́нко; pictured left] (1898 – 1976) was an insignificant agriculturalist who thought he had a new way of developing crops that would vastly increase food production in the starving Russia of Stalin. It was called ‘vernalisation’, and it included treating seeds before cultivation to affect their behaviour.

Significantly, Lysenko introduced his ideas first through politics, in which he benefited from weighty support. Some argue that his precepts had a Marxist flavour, because they asserted that biology could be modified in the way that communists wanted to control people’s behaviour. The government was anxious to increase food production and to quell disturbances among the growers, while Lysenko was an adept propagandist. He became a cult leader who impressed the peasants.

Lysenko was the head of the Soviet Lenin All Union Institute of Agricultural Sciences, and he ran the nation’s research in this field. He promised to triple or to quadruple crop yields.

He demonised conventional genetics, which again suited his masters, who believed this to be the basis behind fascist eugenics.

No Opposition Tolerated

Opposition to Lysenko was not tolerated, and was labeled ‘bourgeois’ or ‘fascist’. Lysenko used his position to denounce Mendelian geneticists as “fly-lovers and people haters”, which had serious consequences. From 1934 to 1940, with Stalin’s blessing, numerous geneticists were shot, and others exiled to Siberia. Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov [Николай Иванович Вавилов; pictured left] (1887 – 1943), for example, a truly great geneticist and biogeographer, was sent to Siberia, where he died of starvation in 1943, while Lysenko, in person, took over his role as Director of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Any survivor of the purge had to keep quiet. In 1948, genetics was officially labeled a ‘bourgeois pseudoscience’, and genetic research came to a halt. Krushchev also supported Lysenko, but, after his departure in 1964, the Academy of Sciences investigated the records, and a devastating critique of Lysenko was made public. The ban on genetics was finally lifted in 1965.

When Lysenko denounced Mendelian thought as reactionary and decadent, he also announced that his speech had the approval of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The parallel for the ‘Global Warming’ movement is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, which works through national and international organisations. The IPCC claims its reports are written by 2500 scientists, but in reality they are drawn up by only about 35 people, and are effectively ‘controlled’ by an even smaller number.

Opposition to ‘Global Warming’ is often likened to ‘Holocaust Denial’. We are repeatedly told that there is no debate – hardly a scientific approach. The influence of the IPCC has spread, and it has become increasingly difficult to get research funding without being a ‘believer in Global Warming’.

A New Religion

Why would governments be persuaded to follow this idea before it was scientifically evaluated? One reason may be that there was a rising tide of what some have likened to a new religion – ‘Environmentalism’. Of course, no politician wants to be seen as ‘anti-environment’, or to lose the votes of the ‘Greens’. The ‘Greens’, for their part, are happy to follow the climate-change line because it gives them enormous political power. As a minor party or influence they hold the balance of power, and the major parties dare not offend them.

The propaganda machine of the IPCC is magnificent, with its greatest tool being the Al Gore film, An Inconvenient Truth. This still has enormous impact, although the High Court in Britain did decide it could not be shown in schools without comment because it contained major errors. I suspect that this film was the reason that the Nobel Peace Prize was given to Al Gore and to the IPCC.

Another propaganda hit was the infamous ‘Hockey Stick Graph’, purporting to show that temperature was rising at an ever-increasing rate. This has been totally discredited, but it still seems to be branded on the collective mind of politicians and the public. Much Government propaganda has been lent to support ‘Global Warming’, and major media outlets, such as the BBC in Britain, have chosen to join in on the ‘Global Warming’ side.

No Siberia

Climate change, like Lysenkoism, is much easier to understand than the complexities of real science. This appeals to the public, and also to politicians and other influential people, who can talk as if they understand it. If questioned about details, they simply refer back to the IPCC reports.

So-called ‘independent reports’ on climate change have been produced by Nicholas Stern in Britain and Ross Garnaut in Australia. Both Stern and Garnaut make it plain that they are not scientists and have based their conclusions on the IPCC reports. Yet, both continue to make public statements warning about the increasing dangers of climate change. This merely keeps their reports in the public eye, and echoes the flawed science of IPCC ‘Global Warming’.

At a lower level, without the need for evidence, everything can be blamed on ‘Global Warming’ – droughts, floods, malaria, hurricanes, and even global cooling! The IPCC rhetoric continues, although their predictions have failed to come true, just as Lysenkoism continued when the promised crop-yield increases never arrived. The IPCC forecast ever-increasing temperatures, but average global temperatures have become lower since 1998. They have now put off ‘Global Warming’ for 15 years because some other factors have intervened. The models did not predict this, but such details do not affect ‘the faithful’.

Some scientists sided with ‘Global Warming’ in the early days, and are so committed that they cannot now get off the bandwagon. Others worked for the IPCC, but resigned when they realised how their work was being used, or that real science did not support the claims that were being made. Luckily, we do not have the equivalent of Siberia to deal with these scientists.

‘The Global Warming Affair’ has already lasted over twenty years, and many administrative and scientific research centres have sprung up – most of the latter involving computer simulators. Computer simulation has a part to play in science, but it should not replace observation, hypothesis-testing, and falsification. There are now ‘Departments of Climate Change’, for which read ‘Departments of Global Warming Blamed on Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide’.

A Lesson From History: Parallels With Lysenkoism

We should not forget a basic fact, namely that the one villain of the piece – and the one that is costing billions of dollars – is anthropogenic carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of ‘vernalisation’ in the Lysenko era.

In summary, the comparisons between Lysenkoism and ‘Global Warming’ can be rehearsed as follows:

1. Work first through political organisations;

2. Claim that the science is settled. There is nothing to debate;

3. Disregard, or deny, all the accumulating evidence that the predictions might be wrong;

4. Demonise the opposition (Mendelian geneticists; ‘Global Warming’ Deniers);

5. Victimise the opposition (execution and exile; loss of jobs or research funds, public and media humiliation);

6. Relate to a current ideology (Stalinism; Environmentalism);

7. Support a vast propaganda machine; and,

8. Create a huge bureaucracy where many people have careers dependent upon ‘the ruling concept’.

The parallel can be seen perfectly in a work by Helena Sheehan(1), who wrote of Lysenkoism:

“What went wrong was that the proper procedures for coming to terms with such complex issues were short-circuited by grasping for easy slogans and simplistic solutions and imposing them by administrative fiat.”

Lysenkoism was eventually replaced by real science. The same will happen to ‘Global Warming’, because real science will not go away. _____________

(1) Helena Sheehan, 1993. Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History. (Humanities Press International, Inc.).

Further Reading: Paul Reiter, 2004. ‘Passion and politics cloud the climate debate.’ (Nature 431, 739, October 14, 2004|doi:10.1038/431739c).

Killing FOI

2012/01/26 4 comments

(I have left this comment at Andy Revkin’s “A Legal Defense Fund for Climate Scientists”)

Andy – I’m very surprised by the phrasing of your FOI question. So what if there is “fishing” involved?

The important bit about FOI is that it applies no matter what the intentions of the requester are.

Otherwise every Government agency will always argue FOI exemption by claiming the requester is “fishing” for information. And especially so if the requester is a journalist (who is presumed to be looking for something to publish, therefore pretty much single-mindedly interested in “fishing”).

Intention-dependent FOI is not freedom, rather a gracious (and always temporary) concession on the part of the State. It’s like trying to define as democratic a Parliament you can vote for only if invited to the electoral polls.

Are you sure decades of struggle to get FOI in place should be considered as wasted just to defend publicly-funded scientists who can’t understand their rights and duties, and pretend FOI is a waste of time when in reality it’s a clerical activity?

ps I’ve been subject to FOI In the past and anything I write at work can potentially be used in a court of law

John Cook: Skeptical Science Is Unsuccessful and Counterproductive

2011/12/21 7 comments

You know things are going down the drain when an English Major interviews a Cartoonist to talk about psychology and the identification of scientific “myths”.

The level of absolute idiocy is reached of course when the owner of a website purportedly debunking 173 climate change “myths” and well-known for its unethical treatment of non-compliant commenters writes:

Debunks that offered three arguments, for example, are more successful in reducing the influence of misinformation, compared to debunks that offered twelve arguments which ended up reinforcing the myth.

and

Avoid dramatic language and derogatory comments that alienate people. Stick to the facts.

Who knows, John Cook might one day read his “Debunking Handbook” and ditch Skeptical Science completely.

NOTE TO ALL READERS: About Climate Or Anything Else, Don’t Let Up On The Bully

2011/12/18 2 comments

NOTE TO ALL READERS

If you see strange trackbacks on websites from “Ocasapiens” in Italian after I post a comment, there is this feckless Italian journalist whose main activity appears to be following me on Google in order to post abysmal bullying attempts at her blog.

I would feel proud of being an inspiration of anything, however if a blog is measured by the quality of its content, a blog where I am the content can’t be that good.

On The Slow, Painful (and Deadly) Demise Of The IPCC

2011/12/16 10 comments

Climategate 2.0 is helping filling some knowledge gaps, for example in the way the IPCC has been slowing killing itself, and several thousands humans to. The following concerns Regional Projections, and it’s a tragedy of communication.

Willingly or not, the IPCC has become a source of deadly confusion exactly because it has provided the information its audience wanted, even if it was scientifically unprepared to prepare that information.

Read more…

Live Microblogging Of Launch Event For “Poles Apart: the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism”

2011/11/15 6 comments

This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of the Launch Event of the RISJ publication “Poles Apart: the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism” (British Council, London, November 10, 2011):

  1. At The British Council for the launch of “Poles Apart:the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism” by J Painter
  2. Due to start at 6pm, slightly late. No @BBCRichardBlack
  3. Benny Peiser is here. I’ve said hello to chair John Lloyd, had met him years ago in Oxford
  4. Finally it starts. Delay was all the fault of video-linked @Revkin🙂
  5. Lloyd : report is unique. Climate change important. IEA says today that door is closing
  6. Video link not perfect. Painter says he’ll be brief
  7. Painter : “summoned by science” published 1 yr ago. Found difference in skepticism.
  8. Painter: people confused about different types of skepticism.
  9. Painter keeps mentioning academic research they wanted to complement
  10. “Is climate skepticism an Anglo Saxon thing”?
  11. Two newspapers per country, left and right leaning but not in China
  12. Focus on 2007 wg1 and wg2 IPCC publication time and Copenhagen time
  13. Shows increase in skeptical voices in US and UK around Copenhagen
  14. “What explains country differences? ” interviews suggest factors
  15. Media and extramedia factors (listed in report)
  16. India – CC as a nationalistic point
  17. Brazil- very large coverage. Journalists said strong science.units in newspapers
  18. Lalaland time
  19. Climategate moved some.uk newspapers away from the others
  20. Lots more analysis for the UK – skeptical voices more in right leaning newspapers
  21. Explanatory factors -.in the report again
  22. . @Revkin frozen in time. Video still imperfect.
  23. Rebecca Nadin talks about China. She’s been there for years to work on climate change
  24. Complex diagram showing interactions in China.
  25. Says mostly discussion is not about AGW vs natural
  26. Chinese government has strong position about AGW. It’s not politically contentious
  27. Over 2200 newspapers and many social media networks
  28. Very limited debate about integrity of climate scientists and no much nimbyism
  29. Pollution concerns very high.
  30. Core group at Beijing uni and academy of sciences debating speed and severity
  31. Mentions agriculture body saying production in inner Mongolia will increase
  32. Immediately adds a however
  33. Some.skeptics depicted as nationalistic nutters
  34. Sciama; starts.with Allegre and another skeptif
  35. . @Revkin alive again
  36. They’re using Webex not Skype
  37. French revolution replacing aristocracy with meritocracy and support for science
  38. Laments lack of skepticism in France?
  39. No coal lobby in France
  40. France is very centralized so importance of State intervention high
  41. He’s explaining belief in AGW in France in purely non-scientific terms!!!
  42. Ends saying opposition to.State.may.make climate policies impossible in uk and USA
  43. Revkin : report.defines skepticism others didn’t
  44. Skepticism and support are variegated
  45. Mentions Inhofe giving floor speech saying hoax is about catastrophe of global warming
  46. USA exceptional for many reasons. More fuel consumption and many climates
  47. Public discourse always degenerates in.shouting matches
  48. Policy debates are legitimate @Revkin
  49. Bob Ward laments the GWPF – skeptic voices given opinion pieces
  50. Revkin mentions Delingpole as selective and duplicitous. Liberal opinion makers in USA stretching “but”.
  51. Lloyd : ft not into entertainment. Penchant for combat eg debating societies
  52. Tom of ecologist magazine asks about treatment of skeptics in TV media
  53. Revkin talks of study about fox news. Pretty clear which way they lean.
  54. Networks fairly “progressive” on climate change
  55. Benny Peiser : report is comprehensive and balanced. Definition of skepticism but gwpf skeptical of policy
  56. Thanks Bob ward for the hits
  57. Gwpf focus not on science rather government approach so more media coverage
  58. Revkin says Peiser is.right problem is policies leftists is USA did.disservice making AGW a single sentence
  59. World will end soon
  60. Blogger mentions criticism of NYT by Romm.
  61. Another q: science cannot settle debates
  62. Phone rings at the Revkins
  63. Part of the news.process means being wrong.some of the time Joe Romm is.never wrong – laughs
  64. Painter talks of think tanks bloggers tradition of questioning the.science
  65. Revkin : even without fuel lobby there’d be not much action
  66. Difficult to.change as.fossil fuels still.cheap -.forces of.stasis.have an easy task
  67. Left.journalism to work on fostering innovation
  68. Meeting now of climate scientists about ozone.treaty
  69. . @Revkin gone.
  70. Online media amplifying skeptical coverage?
  71. Empirical evidence of coverage online depending on generating traffic
  72. Blogospheric.pressure in France? New.phenomenon
  73. People outspoken to generate traffic? Not in France
  74. Chinese blogosphere? Environment not.global warming
  75. Water pollution more meaningful to people’s life
  76. Rapley – skeptics talk of uncertainties to prevent action. Risk assessment?
  77. Painter : haven’t looked at framing. Quantitative analysis
  78. Should understand what kind of skeptics “we’re talking about”
  79. Climategate emboldened the daily express in mentioning skeptical voices
  80. More.questions showing French reaction not as in uk
  81. Elite debate in France for.years.
  82. Steve.Jones of bbc report fame. Says typical reporting strives for balance
  83. Media.don’t understand debate in.science?
  84. Due impartialityis important according to Painter
  85. Lloyd bbc criticized for having expoused. Climate change not easy for the bbc
  86. I asked.about need for academic findings so.report isn’t much good.
  87. Another q: more people.haved moved away from extremes.
  88. Another q: media lacking about political economy of climate change
  89. Not many people talk of policy?
  90. Nadin: change in degree of skepticism yes in China. Debate on adaptation.
  91. Talks of “climate change” forcing people to.relocate
  92. Sciama: science journalist talking science. (Maybe that’s problem?)
  93. Shift in position towards warming but natural
  94. More worried about disappeared climate reporting than space given to skeptical voices
  95. Datasets are academic conclusions less so
%d bloggers like this: