Why do so many people believe in all this? My perspective on ‘climate change’ #8

Five years ago I wrote a piece for Judith Curry’s Climate etc website called ‘How did we all get into this?’, which was my attempt at an analysis of the dynamics underlying what seemed then the general public acceptance of AGW and the need for governments to do something about it. The essay was quite long, and received more than 700 comments. Some were supportive and others were critical (and others still galloped off in different directions). But I learned a lot from the discussion, and would have written a much better essay had I had the opportunity to do a second edition. You can see a later summary of it here.

At the time (it is not so true now) the proposition that AGW was a real problem was the orthodoxy of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Governments, and of the scientific establishment (academies, universities and the like). A good deal of daily politics was about attempts to ‘combat climate change’ through carbon taxes and ETSs. To ask questions about the reality of it all was to reveal yourself as a ‘denier’ or ‘denialist’, a quasi-religious denunciation. Yet if you looked hard at the theoretical and observational support for the scare, it was shaky. The reasons for its shakiness have been set out in essays #1 to #7 in this domain, and I won’t rehearse them here (new readers need to go to the ‘My Perspective…’ section on the home page).

As a former adviser to Ministers, and the chairman of a number of research-funding bodies, including a few years as the chairman of a research  assessment committee in Canada and in other research-policy jobs there, it seemed to me ten years ago that what had happened with respect to research and our politics was quite new. In terms of government policy what I was seeing had some of the characteristics of a religious movement, or revival, in which belief was far more important that evidence. How had this occurred? For it had not been the case when I was a young researcher in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Then the orthodoxy had been ‘scholastic’ — everything had to be backed up with unshootable references or solid data available to the reader. All your working-out had to be on display. ‘Belief? That’s not what research is about!’ As the researcher, you wrote in the third person — the awful first person pronoun was never in evidence.

The change did not happen overnight, at all. But my summary in 2011 went like this: what has occurred is a slow and essentially unplanned process over two generations that involves a substantial increase in the wealth of our societies, technological changes that have helped us communicate on a global level in an unprecedented way, a strong rise in the educational levels of the population, the rapid rise in the importance of science and research generally, a decline in the importance of organised religion (though not in the USA), an associated decline in the belief that materialism will suffice, the growth of an environmental movement that has some of the characteristics of a belief system, and the rise of lobbying organizations and especially of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that purport to speak for, or act for, what they claim to be unrepresented groups of people or poorly understood issues. 

The commenters in 2011 added other contextual bits: the changing role of the mass media as gatekeepers in deciding what ‘issues’ were, the long-standing threat of nuclear holocaust, the social upheavals of the 1960s, the sudden end of the Soviet Union (and the consequent need for sympathisers to find something else to find fault with in Western society), and the growth of a ‘guilt’ feeling within Western societies as we began to see, through televised news, just how badly off some others in the world actually were. There had also been environmental episodes that reinforced the feeling of guilt — Australia had not yet been cleaned up, Sydney Harbour was not fit for fish to live in, the disposal of sewage was often careless, and many cities had smog. There will always be perceived environmental problems, which is one reason why the Greens seem to me to have a long life in front of them. Environmentalism came in to supply an altruistic, spiritual dimension to Western life that organised religion had once provided.

Out of these changes came a lot of needed environmental protection, which continues today, as does the growing number of national parks, as well as a new political party, the Greens, a political protest from the Left against rapid urban development (‘Vote Red for a Green Australia’). The Greens were able to capture and develop a sentiment that humans have been responsible for the ‘despoliation’ of the planet, which needs to stop. They never captured a majority of the electorate, but their success in winning about one vote in ten, and the anxiety about what would happen to the distribution of their preferences, meant that both sides of politics had to develop policies that dealt with, or appeared to deal with,  these environmental themes. It was John Howard as Prime Minister who set up the Australian Greenhouse Office in 2004, to indicate that his Government did understand that greenhouse gases were important.

The ALP, for its part, saw the Greens at once as an attack from the Left, and some of its most senior people thought that Labor needed to be more green than the Greens, in order to attract old supporters back and to stop further leakage. Some became believers, too. Others in the party thought this was a great mistake, and that Labor should concentrate on issues important to its core supporters, especially where the outcome of greenish policies was likely to cause job losses. That debate continues in the ALP today. In practice, governments like issues in which there is a sense of public guilt. It helps in the management of the electorate, and it is an easier way to raise revenue than most.

Out in the electorate, as a result of all these changes, has come a widespread acceptance that there is something to the AGW scare. No one knows quite what it is, and it’s not happening tomorrow, but (some) ‘scientists’ say it’s important, and they are the new clerics. The scare has produced a lot of money for research, and the great bulk of the money that supports research in our country comes from public funds. Some of it has gone into research and research-related activities that simply assume that the scare is real, and go on from there. There are tens of thousands of peer-reviewed articles, all over the world, that start with a reference to the IPCC’s latest report, and then go on to model outcomes that purport to show that dangers to certain species, public health, transport, fisheries, education and so on will occur by a projected future date that is well ahead of us. The mass media run these stories without checking them, because there are so few journalists left to do any checking; in any case many of them also believe that what the IPCC says is true. Of course, some of what the IPCC says is true, but its reports lack a lot of knowledge and discussion that ought to be there, and the IPCC is far too keen to push its own agenda. AGW has become’ orthodoxy’, something that all putatively responsible people know about.

I have written before about public opinion and the AGW scare (for example, here). To summarise, a properly conducted survey would, I think, find that AGW or  ‘climate change’ was very low on most people’s list of priorities for government action. But if the interviewer were then to bring the matter up, and ask what the respondent felt about it, you would be likely to find that about half thought there was something in it, and that it was something for governments to respond to. A small percentage would feel passionate about the need, and an even smaller percentage would feel passionately that it was a sham, a hoax, a conspiracy or something like that. It is only a real ‘belief’ for a few, but their influence is out of all proportion to their number, especially when they are scientists themselves; some of the leading scarers have been prominent scientists, like James Hansen, Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt and Raymond Pierrehumbert.

Governments everywhere have now lost their zest for carbon taxes and for heavy subsidies of renewable energy sources, but the scare won’t go away quickly. The scare has been going for thirty years, a Paris Agreement has been agreed to unanimously (a sign of emptiness if anything could be), there is far too much money available for the right kind of research (dissidents in universities and other research organisations keep their heads down or lose their status), the media love it, and much of the public service, at every level of government, has a handle on it. As someone wrote somewhere (I don’t always write down the source of these bons mots) AGW is not powerful because it’s true; rather, it is true because it is powerful. And another one, to finish, global warming is not a problem, but the fear of it is a problem.

Next: But wouldn’t it be useful to move to alternative energy anyway?

A lot of what I have written in the AGW area has touched on the themes in this essay. Somebody will write a good book on it one day but I have no wish to be the author. It nonetheless fascinates me, as a political scientist and historian, that so many people appear to be absolutely certain and completely confident about an issue whose theoretical and observational bases are so rocky. No doubt there have been other examples in the past, but I can’t think of one where the issue lodges in the natural sciences.

And finally, a little bit of relevant humour to lift the spirit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niv3_YWfn9U

And a new book by Michael Mann, here’s the cover. Enough said.

manns-madhouse

 

nino3_4

Join the discussion 125 Comments

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    There must be a PhD thesis in the fear of something, the effects of which most people will not live to see.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Yet they look out their windows, undismayed, by the effects of excessive immigration on their lifestyles, their environmental amenities, and their economic future, and say “we need more migrants/refugees”

    The Sky Fairies will not save us, and we will not go gently into that good night. It will b a bloody and inglorious end. Fortunately, I will not be here to see it.

  • David says:

    “For it had not been the case when I was a young researcher in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Then the orthodoxy had been ‘scholastic’ — everything had to be backed up with unshootable references or solid data available to the reader. All your working-out had to be on display.”

    This is such romantic revisionism! Up until the 1970s homosexuality was still included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a disease. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, eventually had to remove a reference to black women being naturally promiscuous. So tell us Don what unshootable references or solid data did the medical scientists of the 1950s use to derive these scientific conclusions?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      The ones that were then available, I imagine. I’m not a medical scientist. At the same time Wegener’s theory of continental drift was only just beginning to become orthodoxy, so a lot of geology departments would have relied on older anti-Wegener theories. There’s nothing static in the progress of research.

      • David says:

        “The ones that were then available, I imagine.” So what data do you imagine?

        “There’s nothing static in the progress of research.” Until AGW apparently.

    • Peter Kemmis says:

      David

      Those good examples you cite of inadequate research, were legacies of previous prejudice and ignorance. They did not arise from 1950s research. You would know of the opprobrium and imprisonment suffered by Oscar Wilde, in the closing decade of the 19th century. The other example you provide had likewise been a prevailing misconception for decades, probably arising from European misunderstanding and ignorance of other cultures and circumstances, free of evidence and objective analysis. The expansion of knowledge and associated tools following WW2, encouraged not only investigation into new fields, but challenge to many existing understandings. The shooting down of those two legacy fallacies are good examples of the effects of the rigour of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

      The growth of knowledge has been ever thus. We kid ourselves if we think that every pronouncement we make today will never be disproven. One has but to look at the chain of predictions made by “climate scientists” over the last twenty five years about the climate, to find how incorrect they have been. There is quite a string of other common perceptions of today, where I think rigour has been absent, and I await its application.

      • David says:

        Peter, we kid ourselves if we think that the 1950s and 60s were some golden age of scientific objectivity ruled by the rigorous analysis of data. Note the date. Many more examples can be found.

        Homosexuality: Disease or Way of Life? (Berger MD, 1956)
        “ACCORDING to the popular definition, a homosexual is a person who derives his sexual excitement and satisfaction from a person of his own sex in contradistinction to a heterosexual, who is sexually attracted only to members of the opposite sex. The popular theory also accepts the subdivision that separates those who are exclusively homosexual from the “bisexuals” who allegedly divide their attention between both sexes.
        The popular definition is less than a half-truth :
        1. It accepts the parity between homosexuals and heterosexuals as a matter of fact, and hence becomes a useful argument in the homosexuals’ advocacy of their perversion;
        2. It ignores the fact that homosexuality is a neurotic disease;
        3. It neglects the fact that specific neurotic defenses and personality traits that are partly or entirely psychopathic are specifically and exclusively characteristic of homosexuals…”

        Pastoral Psychology June 1957, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 49-52

  • Ross says:

    Your not a climate scientist either, Don, but here we are at perspective #8.

  • Ross says:

    Now we have the ‘rigour’ of citizen scientist on blogs all over the world. Yes, Don. Things certainly have changed.
    I’ll stick with the science produced by…actual scientists. Just like we did in the 50s, eh Don?

    • dlb says:

      So what are you doing here?

    • Alan Gould says:

      For the ‘Science’. I stick with that too, Ross, persuasive when fact is allowed its fuller perspective.

      You’ll know the Sceptic names among the Scientists, and the and the authority of their qualifications. There’s a lot about authority moiled in this controversy, is there not, as your above remarks betray.

      It is the intelligibility of the discourse that wins me to the side of challenging AGW. Making a case intelligible is the first consideration, I would think, of the ‘actual’ scientist when informing ‘citizen’ scientist, which is why your sneer at the latter is unworthy of you. Intelligibility will win the day, not this febrile reflex to defer to authority from some chimaera called actual Science.

      • Ross says:

        Intelligibility? Do you mean, simple enough for you to understand?

      • David says:

        Allan which skeptic argument wins you over? There is quite a few to chose from. Off the top of my head.

        1. The data are unreliable
        2. The data are homogenized
        3. A mean temperature is not reflective of climate
        4. The mean temperature is going down
        5. If you cant predict the weather you cant make statements about climate and causation.
        6. Factor X arguments.(Sun spots etc)
        7. CO2 is plant food argument
        8. Global warming is good
        9. A reverse causality argument that natural global warming is causing CO2 to increase.
        10. All of the above.

        Do you have a favorite ?

        • Lenny says:

          David, the one that wins me over every time is the measured data, even if it is fiddled with, does not match the models.

          As an engineer I see models and reality not aligning frequently. I always follow what I can see / measure etc over a model. If the model is close enough then it is a useful tool, if it is way off like most of the models presented by the IPCC then to me they are useless.

          You can argue about all of your 10 points above but bring is back to basics. The models are just a tool, they either predict with a reasonable level of accuracy or they don’t.

          • David says:

            I suppose we can argue forever about what constitutes a reasonable model.

            In economics, there is the idea that betting markets can effectively predict outcomes. As you may know David Evans a well-known sceptic and Brian Schmidt a warmist have a long term bet about the temperature rise. The details are here.
            http://sciencespeak.com/climate-bet.html

            They have an even money bet around a 0.15°C temp increase per decade, using a 5-year running mean of NASA’s GISS data. Evans has gone low and Schmidt high. The first bet concludes in 2020. As of 2016 the result is pretty much line ball, perhaps slightly favoring Schmidt because of the record temperatures this year. Given that 2016 will sit in the 5-running average until 2020 I think Schmitt will collect the money. We shall see.

            But my point is that the agreed to coefficient of 0.15° has proved to be an excellent predictor of actual temperature rise over the first 6 years of the bet and will be very close to the actual rate by 2020. At least this betting has proved to be an excellent model.

        • gnome says:

          Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof David. If you can’t refute all those arguments why bother to try to refute any of them? If any one stands good, your entire thesis is bad.

          Why should a sceptic bother to pick and choose particular arguments against total nonsense?

  • Peter Kemmis says:

    A very thorough summary, Don. We have to wonder, when will the dawn break? The slow march of reality is already causing many ordinary Western people to start to question. The dawn will not be heralded by the “climate scientists” – they will be the last, and they will go down fighting. Already they are struggling. A warmist friend sent me the limpest of utterances from NASA’s GISS – here’s the reference, as it is good for a laugh at strawman arguments – if this is the best they can do today, they must be feeling fragile.

    It was perhaps a couple of years or more past that I sensed that the goal posts were shifting. Instead of persistently producing “evidence” about global warming, much attention was being given to renewable energy. The rhetoric is as intense, just the attention is diverted. Rather like “anthropogenic global warming” being altered to “climate change” – a form of Newspeak, I suppose. With the renewables argument, I am reminded of the old story of the grandmother who always cut the lamb leg to fit the small roasting baking dish she used; the practice was continued by the daughter, despite her oven and baking dish being sufficiently large to accommodate an uncut leg. The grand-daughter continued the same practice, quite unaware of the supposed reason, “but we always do it that way”.

    I have on my desk right now, a brochure from the Australian ACT Government: a draft “ACT Climate Change Adaption Strategy . . . living with a warmer climate”. No thought about whether we might need to adapt to cooler times, as we were warned back in the early 1970s? So here in this brochure, our attention is drawn to dealing with “extreme weather events”, and a raft of dire warnings, such as by 2030 “twice as many fire ban days”, by 2050 “in some locations, half the species present may be different”, and by 2070 “the energy required to cool the family home may be at least double”. Hmm, I wonder whether we might be more concerned about warming the family home, which frankly in Canberra, has always been for me a much greater cost. But never mind, we’ll forget about the rationale driving our renewable energy, and now driving our adaptation strategies – we’ll just put our heads down, our shoulders to the wheel, and that way we won’t notice our wallets being lifted from our back pockets.

    The slow march of reality . . . when does one stop believing in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, whatever? For most of us, awakenings are a slow but steady realisation, and that’s how it is with the AGW fairy story.

    • Ross says:

      Peter, the term ‘Climate change’ was introduced by corporate spin doctors as an alternative to the term ‘global warming’. No one can deny that the climate ‘changes’, can they? Human induced global warming demands a response, while ‘climate change’ means shrugging ones shoulders and saying “so what”. Subtle, but you see difference. Who’s fooling who?

      • gnome says:

        The UNFCC dates from 1992 (Bush Snr/Clinton administration period). The tale that Bush Jnr’s spinners told the world to stop saying “global warming” and call it “climate change” because it is so much less worrying, is much exaggerated.

        • Ross says:

          I didn’t say anything about Bush. Junior or senior. What was that tale?

          • gnome says:

            That was the tale that Bush Jnr told the world to stop saying global warming (that’s the Phillip Adams version – full of sound and fury, a tale of Donald Rumsfeld and comb-licker Wolfowitz). I’ve put a 1992 UN FCC on the table. Do you have a reference for your fanciful tale that “corporate spin doctors” introduced the term “climate change” as an alternate to “global warming” sometime prior to the 1992 UNFCC?

  • David says:

    I have come to realize this blog is as much about aging as AGW. I saw a great interview of Penny Arcade on One + One with Jane Hutchin, where she spoke at length about aging. She strikes me as a very interesting person.

    • margaret says:

      She’s both fearless and honest. She also admits to being not quite comfortable in her own skin. A very interesting 66year old.

  • Alan Gould says:

    Don,
    Fear not David’s charge of ‘romanticism’. I measure the premium placed on Scientific dispassion in the mid-decades of the 20th Century by my father-in-law’s ethic; he was a prominent plant geneticist and occasionally I would type up the report on a PHd he had done, or overlook a piece of his writing. Being an author, I would sometimes ask, “Can you ever allow yourself a metaphor?” and with sad amusement he would shake his head in the negative. Indeed this insistence on citing the evidence overlapped into the liberal arts with English and history students urged always to back argument with quotation from ‘primary’ source. It was an ethos, no question; you would need to have been blind to have missed it across all fields and levels of study. And a proper thing it was.
    I do wonder if there might be another ingredient in the AGW ferocity you have not mentioned. This is that, out of the anti-war, social ferment of the ’60’s and ’70’s, Science ‘got’ morality. Regarding nuclear weapons, napalm, defoliants, chemical arsenals, cadmium in the air etc, Scientists had been put in a sticky position because Applied Science had created these menaces. ‘Social Responsibility In Science’ is a lobby group I recall from Anti-Vietnam days, a not infrequent sheepishness in the countenances of my BSc pals in the protest meetings and palaver.
    This pressure to apply compassion where assessment was more usually dispassionate, particularly when felt by Scientists who have been made suddenly conspicuous (Nobel Prizes, Big Chief etc) by their good works in their own fields of expertise, is made immediate by media pestering, and so the moil of balanced evidence and responsible moral overlooking gets carried to the everyday with some energy. Think about it. Here is a powerful personal and social tension. Scientists are educated people; no educated person likes to voice unpopular views to any group of people under the sway of some scare. So one models feverishly until the scare is an orthodoxy.
    In my own arguments around the AGW topic I have been disgusted by the feral and reflexive reactions that supplant intelligent response. It is not, “But Alan, surely the clincher is…” Rather, it is a knowing wink to others at table with “Alan’s a little peculiar on this issue,” or the generalised groan. These response mechanisms, issuing from both my science-trained and non-sci acquaintance, are the defensive squeaks and parries of an orthodoxy, not a viewpoint bristling with persuasive substance that can slap my dissidence down. One legacy of that ‘dispassionate’ ethos of the ’50’s and ’60’s is that I frequently find scientists will discourse, but they will not HEAR their own discourse, so its moral stridor may well show no profile in their own self-appraisal against the “overwhelming data” and “consensus”. I’d make three years of Eng Lit a prerequisite for a science degree…you learn the ‘how’ of discourse before getting some tips on the ‘what’.

    • David says:

      “One legacy of that ‘dispassionate’ ethos of the ’50’s and ’60’s…..”

      Alan, so how does Berger MD, (1956) fit in with your characterization of a dispassionate’ ethos in scientific analysis during the 50’s and 60’s.

  • Ross says:

    Hi Alan, Imagine being sheepish about helping to develop cluster bombs? What a pack of blouses, eh?
    That was the day the music died for you.

    Don, seems to think it’s about guilt. Funny thing is, this never appears on any graph or modelling that I have seen.
    But perhaps, you learned gents are correct, and our only salvation rests with the ‘citizen scientist’ blogging around the world.
    May have taken a little longer to reach the moon that way, but science is now a democracy, right?
    My perspective? Your opinion is an emotional reaction to getting old, and feeling no one is listening to you anymore. It’s good that you can express your anger with the world on blogs like these. Probably even healthy. But, heck, as I said, that’s just my perspective. As is Don’s. Feel free to be disgusted by my reflexive reaction to your rather self important post.

  • Doug Hurst says:

    Not all about oldies frustrated at being ignored, Ross. The problem we all address is the abandonment of facts and reason as the backbone of science. Some beliefs of the 1950s and 60 were wrong, but continued research to discover the facts eventually proved them wrong, whereas today we have a hypothesis regarding AGW, and far too little effort to consider the facts we all know that seem to invalidate it.

    The whole issue is now political and social, not scientific, and the widespread efforts to protect the orthodox against all contrary evidence have reached the point where this quote I recently read is not entirely a joke:

    ‘I disagree with what you say and will defend to the death my right to prevent you from saying it.’

    It is attributed to someone called Dominic Cleary. I have never heard of him, but I suspect he is an unhappy observer of modern science.

    • Ross says:

      Hi Doug,
      I was probably was a bit mean, so accept my apologies for any offence taken.
      But, Doug, you can say what you like. I even think you should have a ‘right’ to say it! (Don disagrees with me here, but that’s another story)
      Just be aware of it’s importance (or lack of) in the great scheme of things. I apply this to myself, as well. (Oh, you scoff).
      I am an unhappy observer of the rise of ‘Citizen Scientists’. I fear I’ll just have to learn to live with them, eh?

      • Doug Hurst says:

        I don’t take offence over discussions like this Ross – life is too short. Wrt ‘Citizen Scientists” I think we owe them a huge debt for helping expose the pseudo science of so many so-called scientists in the AGW sphere.

  • margaret says:

    I’m assuming that some of you who are such rational impartial sceptics have ‘wives’ (I use italics because I increasingly choke on using the term husband and wife even though I’m married). I even expect that progeny have issued – I do hope some are daughters. You see these days daughters don’t necessarily expect to be sole caregivers of infants and charming ‘wives should always be lovers too, run to his arms as soon as he comes home to you’ type of women as that so comfortable time for men, the fifties and in Australia, the sixties were.
    Apologies again for going of on a tangent but to reference Alan’s comment I expect it was the wonderful canon of English Lit – written by men but not men called George Elliot that was studied – so entrenching one’s ideas of male superiority.

    • margaret says:

      ‘Was’ for the English language experts.

    • whyisitso says:

      Oh how sad to see you choke. These days of course, sex I (oops I MUST learn to say ‘gender’) is optional from day to day. I guess you and your husband have days when you are male and he female. Of course there would also be days when you’re both one or the other. Must be interesting, although sometimes that damn nuisance, biology, probably gets in the way. Oh well, just be patient – one day in the not too distant future science will fix that for you.

    • margaret says:

      Oh I do mean comfortable for men who were of the right persuasion – not comfortable for example for the great Alan Turing.

      • dasher says:

        Margaret not surprised to read you are well into the current fad of gender fluidity (I choked on that!) . I hate to think what you tell your kids….oh and assuming they are being encouraged to believe that gender is what you want it to be, when do you think you will have to retrain them to face the real world? Shock! reports now say there are indeed differences in gender, and boys and girls will still be boys and girls!….deal with it Margaret.

        • margaret says:

          Hi Dasher – I am happy to accept that gender difference exists, but I won’t ever reinforce the stereotypes.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            I am the grandfather of a transgender child, and have been involved with all that means for several years now. So I do know that transgender issues are real for those concerned, and no something that can be easily dismissed.

        • margaret says:

          In the 19th century Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote:
          Man for the field and woman for the hearth;
          Man for the sword, and for the needle she;
          Man with the head, and woman with the heart;
          Man to command, and woman to obey;
          All else confusion.
          We have evolved from these stereotypes.
          Don has mentioned a transgender grandchild, one of my daughters is part of a same sex couple. This is the reality Dasher. Deal with it.

          • dasher says:

            Folks, in my extended family we have one bi, one lesbian and one gay man (plus his mate) . We all get together at christmas without the slightest problem. However we don’t obsess about reality…absolutely nobody ever talks about gender fluidity, nor do we ever wring our hands about stereotypes we just get on with it. Simple really. No retraining for the many grandkids necessary. Oh, and Don of course there were moments when some had to accept that this was reality and for my sister the mother of the bi this was traumatic…not solved by telling kids that there is no difference between boys and girls, that’s just dumb.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Dasher, my extended family includes a lesbian couple, about whom the family is both proud and completely together. Yes, we juts get on with it. The lesbian couple are not especially interested in gay marriage — not opposed to it, but it’s not in their scheme. They’ve been together for twenty years or so. All the kids and grandkids just take them for granted.

  • Neville says:

    The big problem is the fact we live on planet earth, not some fantasy planet that has emerged from the fevered imagination of silly delusional people who should know better.
    In 2010 Willis Eschenbach listed all the data that they claim fuels their CAGW case and found nothing unusual or unprecedented at all. Big surprise. Here is the link to his post and many updates at the end. After all data should conquer religious dogma, but some people always seem to prefer their make believe.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/13/congenital-climate-abnormalities  /

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/13/congenital-climate-abnormalities  /

  • Neville says:

    The big problem is the fact we live on planet earth, not some fantasy planet that has emerged from the fevered imagination of silly delusional people who should know better.
    In 2010 Willis Eschenbach listed all the data that they claim fuels their CAGW case and found nothing unusual or unprecedented at all. Big surprise. Here is the link to his post and many updates at the end. After all data should conquer religious dogma, but some people always seem to prefer their make believe.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/13/congenital-climate-abnormalities

  • Neville says:

    Ross I’m looking at real data not your irrational religious dogma. There is a difference, check out Willi’s links.

    • Ross says:

      Knock yourself out, Nev.
      In fact, why don’t you wander down to the CSIRO and present these findings, and crack the thing wide open. There a lot of major ( and very rich) corporations that will thank you, dearly.
      You would be world famous, Neville! Go for it!
      Stop wasting your time reblogging other peoples rebloggings.

  • PeterE says:

    It’s a very good essay. The one factor that you touch on (but otherwise tend to shy away from) that ought to be given much more emphasis is the deliberate plotting and planning by what are best described as neo-Marxist-Leninists. One such individual who proudly announces her philosophy is the Secretary of the recent Paris climate change conference, Christiana Figueres. She has many fellow travelers and they dominate our universities and they are tough and ruthless where anyone dares to disagree with the ‘line,’ on whatever subject they happen to be pushing at the time. They also provide the basic drive of the Greens. They are surrounded by the naïve, the idealists, and many other useful idiots but, as Mosca said, an organized minority will always outwit a disorganized majority.

    • Ross says:

      Could be on to something there, Pete. You should definitely follow up that lead, and get back to us here when you have something more.

    • David says:

      Using “neo-Marxist-Leninists” in a sentence, I am guessing you must be in your 80’s, comrade.

      • Mike says:

        So only the young can have any worthwhile opinions? Sounds like narrow minded bigotry to me.

        • David says:

          Did not say the opinion was not worthwhile.

          • Mike says:

            Give us a break you know damn well what you’re trying to say. Take your bigotry elsewhere please.

        • margaret says:

          I think forever young is attitudinal – there were times of duress when I wanted my mother to ‘grow up’ – as in be more of a conventional granny but now I see that was misguided. Of course I can only see that in hindsight unfortunately – the ‘Peter Pans’ of this world have always had a place … so why not the Peta Pans.

    • Lenny says:

      Peter, spot on.
      AGW is mostly about control, movement of wealth to atone for our first world sins, and there needs to be a bureaucracy globally to mange this problem. It will require money and people. Don has written about this before under the 4th arm of government.

  • John Quiggin says:

    So, no one thinks that the fact that temperature records are being broken at an alarming rate (if you don’t believe the lying BOM, why don’t you step outside your front door and check), is a reason why people might believe “this stuff”, in preference to the politically-motivated anti-science being pushed by unqualified rightwingers. Judging from the comments, it would seem not.

  • Mike says:

    This is an excellent post Don I found it a very worthwhile read. I think you said you thought this was unprecedented, I would argue not so.

    “Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impeding crisis and points to a way out.

    This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists politicians and celebrities around the world research is funded by distinguished philanthropies and carried out at at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high school classrooms.

    I don’t mean global warming. I’m talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.

    Its supporters included Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Winston Churchill. It was approved by the Supreme Court justices Oliver Weld, Wendell Holmes and Lewis Brandeis, who ruled in its favour”. The author of this goes on to explain in detail of how well it was supported and the order of the support was much the same as climate change. What was it? Eugenics and these days we forget how terrible it was. It culminated in the death camps of Nazi Germany these days most think it was an aberration of the Germans. Not so the underpinning “science” was believed in most Western nations.

    This comes from a book published in 2004. “State of fear, Michael Crichton” yes a fictional book but he researched it very well and at the end of the book there is the author’s message, appendices 1 and 2 as well as a 16 page bibliography. Crichton was a incredibly intelligent man who made his fortune by writing fairly trivial books for the masses. Despite that there is enough writing still about on the web showing what a thinker he was. He was the first I read who made a reasonable argument that the environmental movement has all the trappings of a revivalist religion.

    One key factor of the followers of such religions is to belittle and insult by any means possible those who oppose them.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Yes, eugenics is a case, and some of its consequences were horrific. But there was not the same remarkable buttressing of the the eugenics case from the science community. Of course, it was much smaller then.

    • margaret says:

      Oliver Wendell Holmes quote – “Three generations of imbeciles is enough” – referring to compulsory sterilization of inmates in institutions.
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_v._Bell

    • Mike says:

      “The famous names who supported it include Alexander Graham Bell inventor of the telephone, activist Margaret Sanger; botanist Luther Burbank; Leland Stanford founder, of the Stanford University; and the novelist HG Wells; playwright George Bernard Shaw; and hundreds of others. Nobel Prize winners gave support. Research was backed by the Carnegie and the Rockefeller foundations. The Cold Springs Harbour Institute was built to carry out this research, but important work was also done in Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and John Hopkins. Legislation to address the crisis was passed in the states from New York to California

      These efforts add support of the National Academy of Sciences, the American medical Association, and the National research Council. It was said that if Jesus what were alive he would have supported this effort.

      All in all research, legislation, and moulding of public opinion surrounding the theory went on for almost half a century. Those who opposed the theory was shouted down and called reactionary, blind to reality, or just plain ignorant. But in hindsight, what is surprising is that so few people objected”.

      So I disagree there was the same remarkable buttressing of the eugenics case from the science community.

      • margaret says:

        dlb this is an essay on Don’s perspective on ‘climate change’ (his italics denoting that it doesn’t really exist and is one of those hysteria scares that beset societies through the ages – but of course he does acknowledge that it occurs as a natural part of the planet’s evolution).
        So then I get into another topic because someone else draws a parallel to eugenics (I forget how) – so I respond that eugenics had many facets one of which was that young women of vulnerability in institutions were to be given tubal ligation so that they didn’t further produce unwanted children. Contraception didn’t exist in any reliable form and as you know that’s why women like my grandmother were one of seven plus children.
        So now, one hundred years ahead we have the pill and its counterparts that is providing the same service to vulnerable young women in remote communities (and elsewhere) – it’s still eugenics – but for the good of the women. What I find appalling is that it has to be done because people lack agency and determination over what happens to them. Anyway I’m giving it a rest now because I’m sick of all of this.

        • Bryan Roberts says:

          “it’s still eugenics – but for the good of the women”
          Well, in the 70s, Catholic nuns in Chicago were advocating abortions for poor black teenagers to prevent the birth of destitute black babies. You might find references in the archives of the Chicago Tribune, or you might not, but I was there. Sometimes you have to deal with society as it is, not as you wish it to be.

  • Neville says:

    Gore’s fantasy Sci-fi movie was found to contain 9 errors by a UK judge. So you have to wonder what Hansen and Pearman were doing allowing this nonsense to indoctrinate and brainwash school kids and group thinkers throughout the world.
    I think we meed another proper court case to test this fantastic con point by point. Anthony Watts has listed 10 issues highlighted by Gore over the last 10 years. He and others have called Gore a bare faced liar who is running a racket. Certainly when you check out this list that doesn’t come as any surprise. I’m sure a court would find that there isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant spending trillions of $ for decades to come for a guaranteed zero result. Simple maths easily proves the case.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/01/25/state-of-the-climate-10-years-af ter-al-gore-declared-a-planetary-emergency-top-10-reasons-gore-was-wro ng/

    • dlb says:

      Neville, are you trying to out do David in the number of links posted?

    • Ross says:

      Bully for Al Gore either way, Nev. he represents himself. But it would be fun to have Anthony Watts out in the open defending all his claims under cross examination. (Total fantasy, I know) Because let’s be honest here. The constant nit picking, diversions and blatant untruths constantly reblogged throughout the world, have had exactly zero effect on either the vast majority of scientific opinion, or government action. Zero.
      So maybe a court case would be a good way to go Nev, because on any reading, the ‘citizen scientists’ and their blogs, achieve nothing.
      Frustrating, perhaps. But the actual reality, none the less.
      It’s what makes Don sad. Perspective #1001 coming your way.

  • Neville says:

    Ross I’m not interested about your fantasies or my opinion, but I’d like to see the data tested. We know from maths experts like Dr Chris Essex that climate models are a joke, so we shouldn’t be spending trillions $ because they think something bad may happen in 50 or 100 or 300 years.
    We know today that human co2 emissions are about 32+ bn tonnes and are projected to be 45 bn Ts by 2040. And over 90% of the new emissions will come from the non OECD developing world , not OECD countries. Look up the EIA data and IEA to confirm what I’m telling you.
    By all means let’s do more R&D and spend our now scarce borrowed funds on sensible action like adaptation to whatever may happen in the future.
    BTW it looks like the GBR is doing okay after some NATURAL bleaching and COTs etc. In fact up 19% in just 3 years.
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comm ents/not_dead_yet_great_barrier_reef_coral_cover_up_19_per_cent_in_thr ee_years/

  • Ross says:

    Yes, Neville, I think we’ve finally met in the middle. Let’s spend our scarce borrowed funds for R&D on sensible adaption and renewable power sources. We’ll make mistakes, sure. But that’s how good science works.
    Hey, maybe we can even get those international corporate swines to pay their tax. That would free up some funds.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’? There two contrasting stories. One says it was done by the Republicans because climate change was thought to be less worrying than global warming (http://www.climateaccess.org/sites/default/files/Villar_Global%20warm ing%20vs.%20climate%20change.pdf)

    and the other, which I can’t find a reference for right now, is that the orthodox decided to make the change when global warming levelled out in the early 2000s.

    Maybe there were two separate causes…

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Michael Mann, mentioned in the essay, has a new book coming out in September, and I’ve reproduced the cover at the end of the essay. He is not the sort of of guy I would like on my side in any debate about anything…

    I’ve met a few like him (just a few) in my time in higher education: totally sure of themselves, unreliable about facts, and not to be trusted.

    • David says:

      “Totally sure of themselves? Don do you have any capacity for self reflection? At least Mann is a practicing climatologist, with degrees in mathematics, physics and geology.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        David, every working scientist knows that if you win a Nobel Prize, you get to meet the King and Queen of Sweden. Mann KNEW he hadn’t won a Nobel Prize, but claimed it anyway. I wouldn’t trust him to call me a taxi.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        Yes, he has those degrees, and he is also unreliable about facts, totally sure of himself and not to be trusted. Go and do some work on him, for goodness’ sake. He is avoided by most of the orthodox, and his work has been heavily criticised. He is part of the reason why there is so much distrust about the AGW scare.

    • Ross says:

      Still… A plug is a plug. Kudos, Don.

  • Neville says:

    I think Don’s on the money describing the Mann. But Mark Steyn’s best selling book ” A Disgrace to the Profession” catalogues what many scientists around the world think of this fool, in their own words. And none of the quotes are very flattering when they describe “Mr upside down Mann” and his hockey stick. Mark Steyn is a very clever and hard hitting genius when it comes to verbal fisticuffs and Mann must curse the day he decided to sue him.
    http://www.steynstore.com/product133.html

    • dlb says:

      So when is this coming to trial? I bought my popcorn years ago and it has well and truly gone stale. My guess is that it will all fizzle out, a bit like global warming.

      • David says:

        dlb if you think global warming is about to fizzle out check out the status of the bet between Evans and Schmidt. Evans and Nova are on track to loose $6k.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Only if there isn’t a la Nina on the way. Have you looked? The el Nino spike has dropped very quickly.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            I’ve added the current position at the foot of the Mann cover page.

          • David says:

            Yes, I looked. The bet is using a 5 year running average of the GISS data set. Details here.
            http://sciencespeak.com/climate-bet.html

            The bet concludes in 2020.

            Even Nova and Evan were not prepared to bet in favor of a temperature decline, which if their Notch theory was worth the paper it is printed on they should have been willing to do so. Instead for all his bluster Evans’s bet indicates that he think a 0.15 degree rise over 10 years is a 50/50 chance.

            When it comes to their money even the celebrity skeptics Nova_Evans think temperatures will rise. Smell the coffee!

          • David says:

            If el Nino spike has dropped very quickly and we are still experiencing record temperatures that is even more concerning. Sydney posted a record temperature for April. Professor Quiggin makes a good point Don. Step outside your door.

            http://www.theguardian.com/weather/2016/apr/06/sydney-swelters-in-342c -on-hottest-recorded-april-day

          • Don Aitkin says:

            David,

            First, I don’t live in Sydney.

            Second, I have already explained that where I live all we have had is a longer summer than usual — nothing particularly hot about it.

            Third, you and John Quiggin are confusing ‘weather’ with ‘climate’. The el Nino and la Nina episodes are part of weather, and no one has yet shown, or even claimed, that greenhouse gas emissions cause that oscillation. If you take out the other el Ninos since 1998, we are left with the tiniest amount of warming. I know you see AGW everywhere, and see its dark shape every time there is a headline. I think the rational position is to wait and see. If you’re right we’ll know in ten years or so. But the IPCC wasn’t right ten years ago… Why should you be?

  • Neville says:

    A wonderful freedom speech by Mark Steyn to the IPA. It’s got humour and, hard hitting facts about the left forever trying to shut down debate and the severe penalties involved when the thought police hunt you down.
    For example a scientist was attacked because he made a 12 second indiscretion at the start of his speech at some conference. That finished his very long career after the extremists made an example of him. But many other examples are included from OZ and around the globe. Just incredible bigotry and intolerance from these left wing loons.
    That heavens will still have people like Mark Steyn.

    http://www.steynonline.com/

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      I followed that up. He and his wife eventually received some sort of justice, but they left England.

      And he was absolutely correct. Women in labs do cry, although I didn’t find myself in love with any of them, nor they with me.

      I agree with you – Steyn made a memorable speech, and he was correct. There SHOULD be more people on the ramparts.

  • Neville says:

    Last line above should start- thank heavens.

  • David says:

    Don,
    Mann seem reasonable to me. For example Hansen recently published some preliminary results on further sea level rises. This was what Mann has said

    “Michael Mann, a prominent climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, said the revised paper still has the same issues that initially “caused me concern”.
    “Namely, the projected amounts of meltwater seem … large, and the ocean component of their model doesn’t resolve key wind-driven current systems (e.g. the Gulf Stream) which help transport heat poleward,” Mann said in an email to the Guardian.

    “I’m always hesitant to ignore the findings and warnings of James Hansen; he has proven to be so very prescient when it comes to his early prediction about global warming. That having been said, I’m unconvinced that we could see melting rates over the next few decades anywhere near his exponential predictions, and everything else is contingent upon those melting rates being reasonable.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/mar/22/sea-level-rise-james-h ansen-climate-change-scientist

    This seems to be perfectly normal academic behaviour to me. Ideas are shared and discussed on their merits. This is not the comment of someone who blindly accepts CAGW, regardless of the evidence.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    As far as I know, that it the only statement Mann has made in twenty years that is in any sense critical of the orthodoxy, and its appearance was noted right around the world (in the community interested in this arcane field, of course).

    Can you find another? He is really quite outrageous in his labelling of those who disagree with him.

    • Ross says:

      Oh, so it’s a personal thing, Don?

      • Don Aitkin says:

        No, there are others as well — they’re named in the essay. I can’t think of scientists in the past who would say that those who didn’t agree with them were deniers, ignorant, shills in the pay of some interest, or things like that.

    • David says:

      Don I suspect the reason Mann’s behaviour may annoy you is that you see a lot of yourself in his behavior.

      • dlb says:

        Now a psychological expert!
        Ross will be proud of you David for upholding the Dunning Kruger school of thought that attracts him to this blog.

      • dasher says:

        I wish I had $50 for every tipping point and apocalyptic prediction that has come and gone without a murmur……I don’t know whats happening (apart from the fact that the climate has always changed) ..but I suspect that no one else really knows either….better to do a bit more research before spending more trillions worldwide on what might be a complete waste of money with an opportunity cost. Oh and the precautionary principle is surely just another statement of our ignorance. in this hideously complex area.

  • John Quiggin says:

    So, I wonder what kind of evidence would convince readers of this blog that the thousands of scientists working on this problem are right and that their amateur, politically-motivated rejection is wrong. Something like this perhaps

    http://www.theonion.com/article/climate-change-deniers-present-graphic -description-51129

    • JimboR says:

      Even then, I reckon there’d be a few here that would cling to natural variation, and quite a few more who’d want to put it all down to the mysterious Factor X.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Once again, John, welcome. But could you get past the hand-waving and provide some argument and data?

    • dlb says:

      John, “The Onion” is a satirical news site and that article was definitely OTT. So you think climate science is pretty certain in its predictions? Have you not considered it could well be an inexact science much like your own discipline, prone to fashionable theories and political leanings of researchers. As for the motivations of commenters here, some are obviously rusted on conservatives, but what about the supporters of climate change orthodoxy surely they are not apolitical? Greens and Lefts do have much invested in this theory.

    • dlb says:

      Instead of reading articles in “The Onion” try this article at “The Guardian” http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/07/the-sugar-conspiracy-ro bert-lustig-john-yudkin

      It’s about nutrition science in particular the dietary fat controversy, but the parallels with climate science are remarkable. The take home message for me is not that sugar is the new evil, but how science can be corrupted by fashion and charismatic researchers. Being a sceptic I would tread cautiously about whether sugar is the devil insucrate.

      The article has multitudinous quotable lines, but rather than being a bore I shall only quote one.
      “We tend to think of heretics as contrarians, individuals with a compulsion to flout conventional wisdom. But sometimes a heretic is simply a mainstream thinker who stays facing the same way while everyone around him turns 180 degrees”

      Read the article and think how it applies to other fields.

      • spangled drongo says:

        “If ever there was a case that an information democracy is preferable to an information oligarchy, then this is it”

        Yes, dlb, information democracy would certainly be good in the climate discussion.

    • spangled drongo says:

      John, evidence, you say? How about when the signal exceeds the noise?

      After two centuries of very little warming since the end of the LIA [the coldest extended period in civilisation] and the corresponding start of the industrial revolution our world has warmed just a fraction of the natural climate variability that has occurred in recent millennia.

      When that happens it may be time to be a little more concerned over the possible a problem.

  • JimboR says:

    “The el Nino and la Nina episodes are part of weather, and no one has yet shown, or even claimed, that greenhouse gas emissions cause that oscillation.”

    Don, there you go with that C-word again that you black-n-white sceptics are so fond of. Either A causes B, or A has no relationship to B, with nothing in between. Some scientists (from our own CSIRO no less) have hypothesised that AGW increases the likelihood of much larger amplitudes in that oscillation. We’ve now had three super-El Niños in a space of just over three decades.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Jimbo, we have not, so far as I know, had three super el Ninos in three decades. Who has provided this terminology? That of 2010 was just another el Nino. The word ‘super’ is simply media talk. El Ninos do come fairly regularly. And of course people make such claims (about AGW), but without any supporting evidence. Unless you have some. Do you?

    • JimboR says:

      “El Ninos do come fairly regularly”

      And big El Niños are coming more regularly (1982-83, 1997-98, 2015-16) then they used to. But my point was that your claim that “no one has … claimed that greenhouse gas emissions cause that oscillation” is silly. No doubt true, but silly nonetheless. It adds no value and denies the fact that some real climate scientists think there is a connection between AGW and the magnitude of those oscillations. The fact that you don’t agree with their findings doesn’t mean their findings don’t exist.

      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v504/n7478/full/nature12683.html
      http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n9/full/nclimate2743.html
      http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n2/full/nclimate2100.html

    • JimboR says:

      [I’ll try again with less references in the hope of avoiding the moderation jam]

      “El Ninos do come fairly regularly”

      And big El Niños are coming more regularly (1982-83, 1997-98, 2015-16) then they used to. But my point was that your claim that “no one has … claimed that greenhouse gas emissions cause that oscillation” is silly. No doubt true, but silly nonetheless. It adds no value and denies the fact that some real climate scientists think there is a connection between AGW and the magnitude of those oscillations. The fact that you don’t agree with their findings doesn’t mean their findings don’t exist.

      http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n9/full/nclimate2743.html

  • Don Aitkin says:

    These are not ‘findings’ at all Jimbo! They haven’t found anything.

    What the abstract tells us that these guys have been model-building, and they ‘expect’ certain things to happen on the basis of their model and other people’s models. If these things happen happen then they expect certain other things to happen. There’s not a finding there to bless yourself with.

    I don’t agree that they have findings at all, and therefore I see no reason to resile from my view expressed above, that no one has shown that AGW produces, or will produce, let alone how it might produce, more extreme weather events in the Pacific as a result of the SOI.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Jon, can I suggest that you read #6 Are the seas rising? in the Perspective set.

      Very briefly, the land there may be sinking or there may be some other local circumstance, apart from Hurricane Sandy. Flat marshy swamplands behind coastal dunes are greatly affected by storms. As far as sea-levels are concerned, the basic datum is that where coastlines are stable, as around Sydney and southern NSW, sea-levels are rising at about 1.6 mm per year, have been doing so for a century and much more, and see to be doing the same into the future. The warming hypothesis about Antarctic is unproved and would in any case take thousands of years to have any discernible effect.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Tide gauges are the best long term indicators of SLR but they also record data on storm surge [like Sandy] which really doesn’t have much to do with true SLR as the amount of SLR generated by storms depends a lot on wind strength and low BP. Based on fine weather [around normal BP] king tides our old family seaside home now enjoys SLs up to 250mm lower at Highest Astronomical Tide of the year compared with 1946. None of these tides in recent years have come within 100mm of the tides of 70 years ago. The greatest sea surge during cyclones of course is always higher and was at its highest in the 1930s.

    This is in the Moreton Bay area but even in Sydney where there has been only 65mm SLR during the last century according to Fort Denison TG, recently there has been a GPS chip fitted that shows even this tiny amount of SLR to be questionable.

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