I’ll believe the sincerity of the Open Letter to the Heartland Institute when, say,
- Mann’s twitter account will display a little less bile and won’t say incredibly stupid stuff like “[Climategate] was a crime against humanity. It’s a crime against the planet“
- Schmidt will allow discussion on RealClimate, instead of focusing on “simply deleting all of the attempts to draw attention to [whatever he dislikes to talk about]“
- Overpeck will come clean on the trouble of normalizing proxy reconstruction in a misleading way for policy makers
- Dear Kev will explain why Wolfgang Wagner had to apologize to him of all people, when resigning about publishing a paper that wasn’t retracted;
- Santer will clarify how exactly to tell the “human fingerprint” in global warming
- Karoly will apologize about personally attacking a climate scientist himself
- Bradley will clarify why he kept his concerns very private on a very public HS matter
After all, these are climate scientists that keep writing the patently-untrue, such as passing as “fact” this total fantasy
Climate change is already disrupting many human and natural systems.
that is contrary to the latest IPCC assessment.
No surprise there.
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.
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.
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).
UPDATE: For those interested in abrupt climate changes of the past
I recently surmised Peter Gleick be an astroturfer trained to make greens look less than…bright. This article would be compatible with that hypothesis, as the author shows no grasp of the history of climate, including what are known as Younger Dryas and the PETM.
It should also be obvious to all that the longer we look in the past, the lower our ability will be to discern one decade from another, and then one century from another. The climate might as well have changed dramatically every year a million years ago, still the paleo traces will only show some kind of long-term average of it.
We cannot seriously compare contemporary records with those of the past without considering that. It would be like saying more things happen now than in the Middle Ages just because more people write now than in the Middle Ages.
The continuous mentioning of the fabulously flawed 97% figure (it’s 97% of 77 out of 1,372) is just the cherry on the cake. Is Exxon funding the Pacific Institute?
It’s been a source of constant surprise the fact that Simon Singh, “a British author who has specialised in writing about mathematical and scientific topics in an accessible manner” would be willing to tell Wired wholly antiscientific statements such as in response to a question “How are we supposed to know what’s true?“:
Don’t come up with a view, find everybody who agrees with it, and then say, “Look at this, I must be right.” Start off by saying, “Who do I trust?” On global warming, for example, I happen to trust climate experts, world academies of science, Nobel laureates, and certain science journalists. You have to decide who you trust before you decide what to believe.
Throwing oneself into the hands of the experts? That’s a total abdication from reason, an open-armed welcome to complete foolishness as a tool for scientific debate, and a justification for chiropractors if they had any working brain cell left. It’s the “death of knowledge“, as pointed out by Karl Popper in “The Myth of Framework” (already mentioned here by Nicholas Hallam Mar 31, 2011 at 2:43 PM):
[…] in my view, the appeal to the authority of experts should be neither excused nor defended. It should, on the contrary, be recognized for what it is – an intellectual fashion – and it should be attacked by a frank acknowledgement of how little we know, and how much that little is due to people who have worked in many fields at the same time. And it should also be attacked by the recognition that the orthodoxy produced by intellectual fashions, specialization, and the appeal to authorities is the death of knowledge, and that the growth of knowledge depends entirely upon disagreement
Simon Singh’s presentation was memorable, but unfortunately mostly for the wrong reasons. He set up what he called a credibility spectrum, with scientists and academies on one side and sceptics on the other and called on us to trust the establishment on the climate change issue. His whole presentation, while outstanding in terms of slick delivery, was an intellectual void, amounting to little more than ten minutes of argument from authority, a point later made by Graham Stringer. It struck me as a little ambitious to even try this sort of fallacious approach to an audience that was likely to be both hostile and well informed on climate science itself. As catcalls of “what about the hockey stick?” rang out, it was clear that many people knew exactly what has been happening. Asking these same people to trust the word of the scientists struck me as a foolish mistake.
It’s a point made also by Fraser Nelson:
the argument “trust the experts” is becoming less persuasive as the information revolution progresses. Hierarchies are being flattened in every walk of life, and this includes intellectual hierarchies. As Mark Penn says, elites are more impressionable than the masses — so more likely to be persuaded by a scientific consensus. The public want to be persuaded, not told that they should believe the Clever People.
Fraser goes on to describe Singh’s foolishness number two, the complete misunderstanding of the debating point:
Simon Singh […] seems to be anxious to have a ding-dong with someone who doesn’t think the planet is warming and that mankind is, at least in part, responsible. I’m afraid I can’t help. My problem is with the political response to the science.
As for foolishness number 3, well, nothing better than having Singh write a web article about global warming showing zero-to-nothing knowledge of the topic beyond a quick reading of the IPCC and an insane trusting of Skeptical Science.
It’s a catalogue of offenses against thoughthood (sadly, same applies to others who should know better, such as Phil Plait and Bill Nye), a completely irrational behaviour that had been left unexplained. Until now. Note in fact how during the debate, Singh had some sort of slip of the tongue, saying that “the smart money was in Global Warming“, fully justifying James Delingpole’s rebuttal:
Unless Singh can raise his game and actually engage with the argument rather than bullying his opponents with the help of Sleb Twitter pals and his Ipse Dixit logical fallacies, I think we all know who the real muppet is.
However, if we look at it from a different point of view, it had all been described by George Orwell in “James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution” (my emphasis – there’s more to it but I’ll leave that to a different blog):
Power worship blurs political judgement because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. […] Within the space of five years Burnham foretold the domination of Russia by Germany and of Germany by Russia. In each case he was obeying the same instinct: the instinct to bow down before the conqueror of the moment, to accept the existing trend as irreversible.
There we have poor Simon Singh then, simply continuing an established tradition among intellectuals. He believes that the pro-AGW lobby is winning, that the IPCC and the Skeptical Science’s of this world are where the “smart money” is: therefore, he “decides” to “trust” them, “decides” to “believe” in them (note the mixing up of science and faith), even roam the world to proclaim his servile, antiscientific, unreasonable stance on the topic.
Just wait until the climate wind changes then, and in 2021 Singh will be out presenting a new book on “Why people wrongly believed in catastrophic climate change“.
Live Microblogging Of Cardinal George Pell’s “One Christian Perspective On Climate Change” For The GWPF
This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of “One Christian Perspective On Climate Change”, the GWPF Annual Lecture by the RC Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell (Oct 26, 2011) (not exactly a staunch traditionalist, apart perhaps from his views on the family), presented on the evening by Benny Peiser with:
[…] In this week’s issue of Church Times, the weekly journal of the Church of England, Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester and one of our Trustees and who, I am happy to say, is with us tonight in the audience, wrote:
“The Churches have tended to follow climate alarmism with uncritical enthusiasm, but it is now time to take stock. The moral issues surrounding climate policy, as well as the underlying scientific and economic issues, are much more complex than is usually acknowledged. It is time for the Churches to recognise this, and to lead a debate which helps our society to a more sensible set of policies.”
I believe that nobody has done more to raise these awkward questions within the Catholic Church than Cardinal Pell. It is an irony of our bewildering times that it is a courageous churchman who dares to question one of our society’s most entrenched dogmas – but that is exactly what he will do tonight.
- Reached Cardinal Pell’s lecture some 30 minutes late Will microblog whatever is left
- Cardinal Pell talking of English wines and warm Greenland
- Room quite full, more than 100 people for sure Yes, there’s a podium and a microphone
- Now mentioning the globality of the medieval warm period
- Maya civilization collapsed during MWP
- Conclusions: Western world unlikely to develop further of money is spent to fight global warming
- “Extreme weather events are to be expected but are always unexpected”
- “Money should be spent to prevent vulnerability”
- Too often people approach climate change with assumptions not questions
- Need a cost benefit analysis economically and morally
- Any benefit apart from more money to governments via taxes and to whoever works in the AGW sector?
- Long applause 30 minutes of questions
- Q: AGW nonsense is a cult or a biz opportunity or political? Q: Roman Catholic concerns on climate change? Even Pope
- A: no judgment on people’s motives A substitute of religion for some $10B/y for years Not much global government
- A: 9 years Chairman of Caritas Australia so has seen the world and third world
- Speaking as individual – RC is a Church with no competence on scientific claims
- Cardinal Pell sees his speaking as a way of telling the truth People may disagree but he’d like to see good policies
- Q: oil running out, new extractions make environment worse Q: Political divergence between Australian parties?
- A: eventually we will run out of fossil fuels Past predictions spectacularly wrong Technology will provide alternatives
- No apologies for the mistreatment of anybody anywhere Some commercial developments are very rough Try minimize costs
- Says he has not much opinion on either Australian political parties
- Q: why the IPCC never cares about the advantages to the world of increased CO2? Q: theology of husbanding resources
- A: no mention of advantages? (Talks of Bob Carter’s book) People reluctant to admit anything contrary to previous belief
- A: husbanding the world for the future yes
- My Q: do Cardinals talk about AGW when they meet up? Q: responsible for future? Pope might disagree with Pell
- A: never discussed AGW among Cardinals Opinions evenly divided in a conference
- A: pontifical academy of science also contains differing opinions Husbandry important but what are the facts?
- Follow Church for morality and religion not obligated to follow the PAS on science
- Q: Attenborough mention of changes due to climate change Will make claim that humans are partially responsible
- Q: (more theology)
- A: Attenborough’s changes? Things have always changed We can pick and choose anything for any argument
- A: always look at evidence Disagreement among scientists
- many geologists doubt catastrophesA: too many unknown unknowns No way of computing the future of climate
- Q: did AGW replace Marxism? What right to keep poor nations poor by preventing use of fossil fuels?
- Q: AGW is taught as a fact Is that moral?
- A: people need a religion so there’s something in people finding comfort in AGW
- China very polluted and would need free press We can’t impose impossible fuel standards
- There’s been global warming during last 100 years but we don’t know if it’s dangerous and how much humans contribute
- Some Christians feel uneasy about their faith so concentrate on feminism or social psychology instead
- Q: (inaudible) Q: important points made Opinion on Carbon tax? How can we help poor by taxing them?
- A: balance and trust are based on truth Worried about unscientific words uttered by scientists
- A: no problem when disagreeing with other people in the Church
- end of session with Lord Lawson