Category Archives: AGW

Savant Idiots

There was a commenter at a blog I shall not mention who simply could not get anything I mentioned. Anything at all.

There was the blog owner at another unmentioned site who simply could not see anything wrong in people describing a prominent climate skeptic’s work as non accidentally cherry picked bad statistics [that] generated misleading graphs – all in the comments section of a blog post allegedly questioning where the dividing line stands between scientific criticism and libel (on the back of Mann’s latest juridical foray).

There was the anti-GMOer who turned pro-GMO for reasons that virtually coincide with all that’s good in climate skepticism, and still refused to abandon the “planet is doomed, skeptics are evil” party line. And he was not alone.

There was the superstar multimedia physicist who simply could not make any reasonable point about climate change, and wrote what was probably the longest badly thought-out column in the history of the Multiverse. And he was not alone.

There was the accidental Nobel Prize winner who wrote column after column about how fearful climate change is, and how wrong it is to live in fear. Sadly, those points never appeared in the same column.

There was the famous environmentalist who took a February flower for the end of the world, in the first recognized case of weather-related anthophobia.

There was the climate scientist who became the best thing that ever happened to climate skeptics, and would not have been able to win a debate against a primary-school Year-1 distracted opponent.

There were countless climate scientists who were so specialized in their own little field, they started reading and linking to the almighty pile of scientifically sounding garbage written by a cartoonist and the climate blogger with the biggest conflict of interest imaginable, a site where no research was safe from manipulation.

When climate alarmism is around, rooms really look clever.

The Climate Elusion

Some early morning realization here…

What Steven Goddard, suyts, WUWT, the Bish, McI and many others are writing about (and myself at times during the years) is not so much what climate science should be and actually isn’t. Climate science is obviously being done somewhere else. You need time, money, political support, access to mainstream media, and much more, in order to do public health policy-affecting climate science.

They/we are describing the elusion that has taken over much of what passes as climate science.

It was surface temps before it was heat hiding in the deep oceans. It was decreasing snow before it was increasing snow. It was ice extent before it was ice volume. Etc etc. Whatever happens, there is always a new story devised/concocted to “explain” that whatever is happening is wholly compatible with AGW and especially with the “it’s worse than we thought” meme.

And sadly that’s all true. Whatever happens _is_ wholly compatible with AGW. We all know that there is no possible observation that would disprove the idea that the climate is changing for the worse (if anybody knows of of any, please do tell). This has made the whole enterprise extremely foggy, and constantly bordering between science and faith.

We have no way to tell what is scientifically plausible to think about future climates.

Hole in the Fog: an extraordinary visualization of UHI

Says Wikipedia

An urban heat island (UHI) is a metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. The phenomenon was first investigated and described by Luke Howard in the 1810s, although he was not the one to name the phenomenon. The temperature difference usually is larger at night than during the day, and is most apparent when winds are weak. UHI is most noticeable during the summer and winter.

Does UHI have a large role to play in global warming? Maybe. Maybe not. But it surely has a very visible impact in the Po Valley in Italy.

This is a Eumetsat picture from sometimes on Dec 8, 2013. Can you spot where the city of Milan is?

Po Valley, Italy, Dec 8 2013

Of course you can. It’s the hole in the fog. With just 8 million people and a GDP of $150 billion (not far from New Zealand’s) Milan wouldn’t affect its weather, would it? /sarc

As a rough guide to the areas involved, Milan covers 70 sq mi, and the fog on that day around half of the Po Valley‘s 17,760 sq mi (4 parts in 1000).

(H/T Meteogiornale where the original news appears)

Guardian’s Nuccitelli linked to leading alternative energy company

Remember when rabid arch-warmist Dana Nuccitelli of Skeptical Science and Guardian fame was discovered to be in the pay of an “oil and gas” company (Tetra Tech) (aka Dana’s Dirty Little Secret) and thus probably the worst person to pontificate about eg how bad coal and tar sands could be for the world’s climate?

It actually gets worse.

It turns out that Tetra Tech has a subsidiary company called Tetra Tech Construction, Inc. And what do they do? For example, they do “energy” (of the ALTERNATIVE variety that is):

Tetra Tech Construction expertise in the alternative energy field allows us to support and deliver energy-related projects using engineer-procure-construct (EPC), design-build and/or bid-build models. We provide design and construction services for wind, solar, hydroelectric, cogeneration, geothermal, natural gas drilling and extraction, combined-cycle, waste-to-energy, and electric transmission projects. […]

Surprise, surprise, they are also big in…”wind energy“:

Tetra Tech Construction brings our expertise to support and deliver energy related projects using engineer-procure-construct (EPC), design-build, bid-build models. We provide design and construction services for solar, hydroelectric, cogeneration, geothermal, natural gas drilling and extraction, combined-cycle, waste-to-energy, and electric transmission.

[…] We have completed construction services to clients on 19 wind construction projects in the past two years valued at more than $340 million. These projects supported nearly 1,700 MW of power, over 1,000 foundations, and over 600 turbines installed in states from New York, Alaska, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Texas, Idaho, to Oregon. In fact, the Tetra Tech family of companies has experience on more than 250 wind projects in 34 states and Canada, totaling more than 20,000 MW of wind power generation. Our experience in the construction of wind facilities provides a more practical understanding of front-end activities, including environmental compliance and engineering, thus providing a more complete perspective for achieving project goals.

Wind power is so important for Tetra Tech Construction, it takes special pride of place in their Projects portfolio map:

Tetra Tech Construction, Inc.
Tetra Tech Construction, Inc.

It also means Tetra Tech Construction is in trouble if wind power subsidies disappear, as mentioned in a newspaper article published just two days ago. In what has to be a fantastic coincidence, Tetra Tech is juxtaposed to “interests” linked to “fossil fuels” and the “XL pipeline”:

Renewal of the wind tax credit, which can provide up to $1 million to developers of a large turbine, is a politically contentious issue. In addition to tea party congressional Republicans, opposition to continuing the wind credit comes from the American Energy Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based industry group linked to petrochemical interests that promote expanded drilling for fossil fuels, including in the protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, and approval of the proposed XL pipeline to bring Canadian tar sands oil to refineries in Texas and the Gulf Coast.

“This lack of certainty over the wind credit creates a boom and bust cycle, which is really detrimental to wind project developers,” said Valerie Strauss, executive director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York, an Albany-based lobbying group for alternative energy companies.

One such local business is Gloversville-based Tetra Tech Construction. Its website says it has built 21 wind projects in the U.S. It is currently involved in building the Orangeville wind farm outside of Buffalo, owned by Chicago-based Invenergy, and the only wind farm project under construction this year.

A Tetra Tech official declined comment, referring questions to a corporate office; phone calls to that office were not returned.

The article continues revealing another fantastic coincidence: Tetra Tech’s fortunes go down with the expansion of fracking.

Wind energy plans have been shrinking in the state, as the industry faces a glut of cheap natural gas from hydrofracking, uncertainty over federal support and dwindling financing. The amount of wind power expected to one day plug into the state’s electrical grid has fallen by more than two-thirds since 2009 as developers shelve projects.

I think that’s digging enough. Dana Nuccitelli, rather understatemently described by a reticent Guardian as “blogger on environmentguardian.co.uk […] environmental scientist and risk assessor, and also [contributor to] SkepticalScience.com” has for all intents and purposes an undeclared conflict of interest the size of a planet.

I’ll let readers decide how much such an individual can be trusted with speaking anything near the bare, honest, transparent scientific truth in anything climate change, global warming or even energy in general.

Disclaimer: I never blog or tweet or write on facebook about my day job exactly to avoid any conflict of interest. Because if you write positively about the company you work for, everybody will be entitled to believe you’re brown-nosing or worse. And if you write negatively, you’re immediately out of a job.

The day I got snipped at Climate Audit

Plenty of gnawing of teeth by newly-famous heat-discoverer Robert Way, having been found out as a McIntyre Supporter, or rather, as a singularly scientifically well-prepared SkS “secret forum” member who behaved in public very, very differently.

In the course of today, Steve McI decided to remove a comment of mine, here reproduced for future reference.

Mr Way may have a point. This thread allows him to bring himself into disrepute, if only because duplicity and lack of integrity is the opposite of an excuse. Whoever thinks any good of Albert Speer?

You see, somebody like Buzz [see thread at CA] can always find refuge in ignorance and inability to understand. For example I have demonstrated him that “secret” doesn’t mean “private” because a forum of strangers cannot be considered as “private”. Yet his answer completely misses the point.

That’s different from a person who we now know was fully aware of what was going on. Way’s intellect is way above the SkS average, that is, his behaviour is way below.

As for motives, I find this assertion [by Way] particularly revealing: “I was speaking reflectively on the history of exchanges with climate scientists as a whole rather than this individual case”. So Way’s Crusade has been fuelled by a desire to defend “climate scientists”, with whatever means one suspects. In other walks of life, it is not hard to imagine Eugène Terre’Blanche possessed a very good intellect too, and put it to work to “defend” people he believed to deserve defending with whatever means was necessary. And whoever thinks of any good of Eugène Terre’Blanche?

And just to clarify, when Way asked “Really? Comparing me to a white supremacist?” I replied (comment also removed)

No. Comparing your behaviour to the behaviour of some other people, notorious for their behaviour. As for who is the real you, I have no idea.

(For some reason, Way didn’t find issues regarding the mention of Speer)

This being my blog, let me state that I am not too comfortable with Steve McI’s approach to the topic. First of all, given that he wasn’t born yesterday, he surely must have know that the revelation that Way had supported CA’s stance time and again, would have put Way in deep trouble and caused him the aforementioned gnawing of teeth. As per another comment of mine:

Imagine [Way’s] PhD discussion…a large room with a giant desk, a small army of stern-looking professors sitting as if to surround Candidate Way.

A balding, goatee-sporting professor starts roaring with an even sterner voice: “Tell me, boy…what do you agree with MCINTYRE on?”

A sound of thunder fails to break the icy silence. In the boy’s mind, a portion of fries, and a customer to serve…

I suspect this comment is still live because Way didn’t understand the obscure references especially at the end.

Secondly, Steve McI went way out of his way for Way…to the point of meaninglessly snipping comments a-way:

All these snips are meaningless. These guys [Way and friends at SkS] think the worst of the author of this blog, and deserve protection from imaginary abuse as much as a rhino needs band-aids after stampeding through a china shop.

Anyway, since … cannot be named and … cannot be named either, does anybody know of any historical figure that has been found to be secretly candid and publicly a follower of the party line? WIth 1933-1945 … impossible to mention, I shall presume the state with Moscow as capital is out of bounds as well.

I would just like to know how people who behaved similarly in the past, went on to become great citizens and pinnacles of their profession, that’s all.

(I am still looking for such individuals)

The end result is that we do not have any idea if the CA post was the coldest of revenges, or an invitation to work together in the future.

 

Calvin and Hobbes explain why Climate Change alarmists are almost invariably rabid about it

From the strip first published on 7/7/1995:

Enmity sells

From a Calvin and Hobbes search engine:

Script
I’m writing a fund-raising letter. The secret to getting donations is to depict everyone who disagrees with you as the enemy. Then you explain how they’re systematically working to destroy everything you hold dear. It’s a war of values! Rational discussion is hopeless! Compromise is unthinkable! Our only hope is well-funded antagonism, so we need your money to keep up the fight! How cynically unconstructive. Enmity sells.

Description
Calvin is writing a fund-raising letter. He tells Hobbes the secret is to depict everyone who disagrees with you as the enemy. You explain how they’re destroying everything you hold dear. It’s a war of values. Rational discussion is hopeless. We need your money to keep up the fight. Hobbes says that’s cynically unconstructive. Calvin informs him that enmity sells.

When Dilbert channeled a hairy Mann

Incredibly or maybe not, the media collapse of AR5 is being responded by the usual Great Communicators meeting the usual Great Communicators, trying to figure out who is so evil as to prevent them from greatly communicating (when, in fact, it’s obviously their dumb selves).

Soul-searching what are you.

With climate change “science” reduced to a marketing exercise by marketing amateurs, it’s time to remember two Dilbert strips from exactly three years ago.

Marketing isn't a real thing, is it?
Marketing isn’t a real thing, is it? (Oct 1, 2010)
Baby-eating hobos (Oct 2, 2010)
Baby-eating hobos (Oct 2, 2010)

Replace “baby-eating hobos” with “deniers”. There is obviously something about the goatee.

 

Calvin and Hobbes explain…the IPCC

Dramatic foretelling by Bill Watterson of why the IPCC has become such a risible failure. It also explains why so many unknowledgeable people are so enthusiastic about the work of “scientists” when it suits their pet causes:

Calvin and Hobbes
Calvin and Hobbes

(original run: Sep 21, 1993 – above taken from a recent copy of the IHT)

Calvin (looking at a book):

The more you know the harder it is to take decisive action. Once you become informed, you start seeing complexities and shades of gray. You realize that nothing is as clear and simple as it first appears. Ultimately, knowledge is paralyzing.

Calvin (throwing the book away):

Being a man of action, I can’t afford to take that risk.

Hobbes:

You’re ignorant, but at least you act on it.

Whatever happens to old Climate Scientists?

They hang on awaiting vindication of their idea, that’s what happens…

George Kukla (born 1930) …became [in 1972] a central figure in convincing the United States government to take the dangers of climate change seriously. Kukla and geologist, Robert Matthews of Brown University, convened a historic conference, themed: “The Present Interglacial: How and When will it End?” Kukla and Matthews then highlighted the dangers of global cooling in Science magazine and, to President Richard Nixon.

The Nixon administration reacted swiftly to their letter, which described calamities such as killer frosts, lower food production and floods, to come. By February 1973, the State Department had established a Panel on the Present Interglacial, which advised Drs. Kukla and Matthews that it “was seized of the matter” and numerous other government agencies were soon included.

Kukla was co-author of a chapter in the book “Natural Climate Variability on Decade to Century Time Scales” published by the National Research Council.

Kukla believes all glacial periods in Earth’s history began with global warming (understood as an increase of area-weighted average global mean temperature). He believes Earth’s recent warming is mostly natural and will ultimately lead to a new ice age.

An interestingly but flawed report of what was going in 1972 is available via Google Books.

BBC Archives confirm Global Cooling as scientific ‘orthodoxy’ of the early 1970s

Who knew? In 1999, long before selling its soul to climate catastrophism, the BBC had no problem in letting its listeners know that scientists in the 1970s were convinced about Global Cooling. And that contemporary scientist-activists about Warming are just recycling arguments used agains Cooling.

From the BBC Reith Lectures of 1999, RUNAWAY WORLD by Prof Anthony Giddens; Lecture 2 – RISK – HONG KONG

Or consider where we stand with world climate change. Most scientists well versed in the field believe that global warming is occurring and that measures should be taken against it. Yet only about 25 or so years ago, orthodox scientific opinion was that the world was in a phase of global cooling. Much the same evidence that was deployed to support the hypothesis of global cooling is now brought into play to bolster that of global warming – heat waves, cold spells, unusual types of weather. Is global warming occurring, and does it have human origins? Probably – but we won’t, and can’t, be completely sure until it is too late.

In these circumstances, there is a new moral climate of politics, marked by a push-and-pull between accusations of scaremongering on the one hand, and of cover-ups on the other. If anyone – government official, scientific expert or researcher – takes a given risk seriously, he or she must proclaim it. It must be widely publicised because people must be persuaded that the risk is real – a fuss must be made about it. Yet if a fuss is indeed created and the risk turns out to be minimal, those involved will be accused of scaremongering.

Giddens’ solution is not complicated really, the total opposite of many’s attempts at shutting down debate by proclaiming “scientists say”:

We cannot simply ‘accept’ the findings which scientists produce, if only because scientists so frequently disagree with one another, particularly in situations of manufactured risk. And everyone now recognises the essentially sceptical character of science. Whenever someone decides what to eat, what to have for breakfast, whether to drink decaffeinated or ordinary coffee, that person takes a decision in the context of conflicting and changeable scientific and technological information.

Giddens (now Baron Giddens) is a sociologist, obviously from an era when sociology didn’t just produce a Lew.

 

 

National Geographic Sep 2013 – what kind of house would want it in?

John M. Fahey, Jr.
President and CEO
National Geographic Society
1145 17th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-4688

London, Sep 10, 2013

Dear Mr Fahey

As an expiring subscriber let me convey the profound dismay in regards to the inane publication you have the opportunity to direct. With a little thank you though, for some aspects of the September 2013 “rising seas” issue are unlikely what you expected them to be.

After decades of uninterrupted reading I gave up a few months ago, having seen the Magazine slide (fall) from its geography mission to open, fear-based “environmental” advocacy (with a lowercase “e”). It seemed and still seems there is no low you would avoid to reach in order to describe the planet or mostly cute species as either ultimately doomed or irremediably ruined: by evil humans, obviously, including one suspects all of your readers.

I stopped reading the magazine with my son, as there was simply too much to skip over what looked liked unwarranted alarmism. Who in their right mind would want to teach their children how intrinsically ‘evil’ they have been found to be (on a scientific basis!!) just because they are humans.

I was actually ready to send you back the September 2013 “rising sea” issue because, as they say, enough is sometimes enough.

An inundated New York City with a half-submerged Statue of Liberty did look more than enough. Is that something likely to happen? When? Did I really want my son to consider the possibility that our very civilization were going to cause such a major disaster by burning fossil fuels (by living, that is)? And didn’t such a picture look exactly what British leftist think-tank IPPR described in 2006 as “Climate (insert a four-letter word starting with P and ending in ORN here)”, the gratuitous depiction of apocalyptic climate-change related visions of the future? A depiction that titillates the worst parts of the readers, increases circulation and ultimately convinces people there is nothing one could possibly do to care for the environment.

In summary: had the National Geographic gone either completely insane or dishonest?

Then I looked at the front-cover a little better. And it actually said “NO ICE”. It’s almost invisible, but it’s there under the large-font cover title. So the Statue of Liberty would be half-submerged if there were no ice at all on the planet? Interesting. But not alarming at all, in fact: because suddenly it was not a matter of dishonesty; rather, as I said, of inanity.

Say, how long before there is no ice in the world? The inside pages tell us. It’s 5,000 years. Let’s just imagine we can make such a prediction for sure. 5,000 years, that is the seventy-first century. How’s that supposed to be today’s problem? Who would be silly enough to even remotely consider what the issues of the year 7000 will be?

Imagine people of 5,000 years ago, thinking about the internet and globalization? Me neither. Most of them had seen no agriculture yet, there was the third Pharaoh ever, and the first version of Troy was getting founded (source: Wikipedia). Them for us and us for them, we might as well be talking about alien worlds.

Perhaps rising seas will affect the 60th century? Or the 50th? Or even the 30th? Once again, imagine people of the year 1013AD, what could have they remotely done to understand/help us of 2013AD? Stop burning wood? Bury horse waste at sea? Repent for their sins? Obviously, it would all have been pointless. They had no idea about polluted rivers, nuclear waste storage, abandoned plastics. Come to think, even the people of 1973 would have only a rough idea about the issues of 2013, apart from a troublesome Middle East.

So the underlying message of your submerged Statue of Liberty is, in fact, a mix of “don’t care too much about it” and “someone else’s problem”. Well, what can I say, thanks! That’s a good message for the children, at last: “stop fearing the future”. Should be told to them as matter of course, no? Even if, I surmise, it’s not the message you wanted to convey, as it went from insane, to inane.

With that in mind I can now sit and enjoy in peace one of my last National Geographic issues. Look, there is even a map of the world as it would be were there no ice. And it’s an amazingly small area of some continents’ coasts that would disappear (that is, become bountiful, shallow seas). Poor Africa for once will be spared. Oh the boredom of it. Get those flying cars of the 55th century to move a little inland, will you.

Do we need to endanger the well-being of seven billion humans for that? Do we need to spread psychological terror among children with scary stories presented as established facts?

Those people of the 71st century better get used to their world, whatever it is. Just like the people of 3000BC. Is there any other way? Let’s do likewise. It’s called Geography. Not that it appears much anymore in “National Geographic”, alas!

Perhaps one day you will stop wasting time in planetary smut…do let me know if that happens, I’ll resubscribe at once!

(signed, with address)

Obama’s Climate Déjà Vu

Transcript of President Obama’s Inaugural Address (Jan 20, 2009):

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood […] each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

Transcript of President Obama’s Inagural Address (Jan 21, 2013):

We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

Note how climate change with Obama keeps leading to energy, as always.

Editorial, The New York Times, “New Day on Climate Change”, Jan 26, 2009:

In one dramatic stroke, President Obama has removed any doubts that he intends to break sharply from President George W. Bush’s policies on yet another vital issue — this time repudiating Mr. Bush’s passive approach to climate change.[…] after eight years of inaction, this is a wonderful start.

Michael D. Shear, The New York Times in “Obama Sets Goal to Broaden Equality”, Jan 21, 2013:

The president also singled out the issue of climate change, a subject that he raised in his first Inaugural Address but has struggled to make progress on in the face of fierce opposition in Congress and in countries around the world. In his 2009 speech, he warned about environmental threats to the planet; on Monday, he vowed to confront them.

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

Mr. Obama left the details of his second-term agenda for his State of the Union speech in three weeks. But he hinted at the two major legislative battles that he has promised to wage: reform of the immigration system and new laws intended to reduce gun violence.

Note how climate doesn’t make it into the “two major legislative battles” ahead.

Yawn.

Four years ago, I surely thought AGW would

slowly wither away, ironically under an AGWer President just as it kept on growing during the 8 years of an anti-AGW White House Resident

In truth, it disappeared completely from the Presidential campaign. Is AGW coming back now? Or are these renewed empty promises a surefire sign the President doesn’t have much of positive he himself believes in his grasp?

The only thing to worry about is worry itself (and densely networked self-selecting intellectuals…)

or so tweeted on Jan 14 Mark Lynas of various fame including a Six Degrees” book I analyzed numerically a few years back, and recent GMO repentance.

One should be forgiven for finding the juxtaposition peculiar to say the least. Shouldn’t Mark be wary of scares, having just discovered years of activism were not based on science?

Or perhaps he belongs to the category of people that really need to find a worry to be scared about, if only to be activists about something. I suggested

It is actually the right time for making such a guess. Edge.org has chosen angst for its 2013 theme

2013 : WHAT *SHOULD* WE BE WORRIED ABOUT?

(Twitter hashtag: #edgeq13)

There are 152 contributions at that site, too many to mention and probably too many to make a wager about too. Here’s an initial list:

  • Chinese eugenics
  • Black swans
  • Ingenuous viruses
  • Rejection of Darwinism applied to humans
  • Misplaced worries
  • Catastrophic risks
  • Misinformation about science
  • Planetary catastrophes
  • Collective delusions
  • Internet drivel
  • Abandoning politics
  • Debt implosion
  • Search engines as arbiters of truth
  • Shortage of valuable mates
  • Tech fascism
  • Censorship
  • Data-controlling power
  • Loss of patience
  • Underpopulation
  • End of big experiments
  • Tools too strong for our own good
  • Infectious diseases
  • Search for ecstatic experiences
  • Pessimism that makes us accept human destruction as inevitable
  • Cultural homogenisation
  • Misunderstanding free will
  • Prolonged lifespans
  • Limits in science
  • Anti-intellectualism
  • Criminal-controlled states
  • Misunderstanding of probability
  • Missing out on non-human sentience
  • Myths about men
  • Science by social media
  • Public lying and cheating
  • The Singularity
  • Nuclear war
  • Squandered opportunities
  • Wrong incentives
  • Misunderstanding of quantum mechanics
  • Enforced global psychiatric standards
  • Too much focus on novel findings in science

On the positive side, it’s not just a collection of miserabilism. I particularly liked this one:

Unfriendly Physics, Monsters From The Id, And Self-Organizing Collective Delusions
John Tooby
Founder of field of Evolutionary Psychology; Co-director, Center for Evolutionary Psychology, Professor of Anthropology, UC Santa Barbara

[…]Because intellectuals are densely networked in self-selecting groups whose members’ prestige is linked (for example, in disciplines, departments, theoretical schools, universities, foundations, media, political/moral movements, and other guilds), we incubate endless, self-serving elite superstitions, with baleful effects: Biofuel initiatives starve millions of the planet’s poorest. Economies around the world still apply epically costly Keynesian remedies despite the decisive falsification of Keynesian theory by the post-war boom (government spending was cut by 2/3, 10 million veterans dumped into the labor force, while Samuelson predicted “the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced”). I personally have been astonished over the last four decades by the fierce resistance of the social sciences to abandoning the blank slate model in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is false. As Feynman pithily put it, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” […]

 

Something happened on the way to Climate Change heaven…

What if (C)AGW is a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing? So they were asking at COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009.

What indeed. But it’s not 2009 any longer. What have we learned?

  1. Enthusiasm for green projects has already damaged the environment eg by producing biofuels from forests and especially rainforest
  2. The Mohammed al-Ajami story has shown that human rights are too easily trumped by green considerations
  3. Green thinking has let dubious claims pollute the scientific discourse, or even kill it
  4. The BBC has lost its face and a lot of money for nothing at all in 28Gate
  5. There is lots of aimless activity on the CO2 emission side
  6. Plenty of bankruptcies and broken green promises in the fields of energy generation and cars

The list could continue for ever and ever. What if there is a Brave New Climate World in front of us instead?

CAGW Science – or what if Velikovsky had won

The LRB recently dedicated some thoughts to the Science/Pseudoscience battle at the times of Immanuel Velikovsky. It’s especially interesting considering what has happened since, with catastrophism ruling for years in matters of climate science.

The review (by Steven Shapin) is available for free and in full at the LRB website.

It really reads like a slightly modified version of contemporary CAGW, starting from its enormous, mysterious popularity, inclusive of some cult-like admiration for The Man:

[…] By the late 1960s and 1970s, Velikovsky’s books must have been in most American college dorm rooms. […] Velikovskianism had gained so much traction in America that in 1974 there was a huge set-piece debate over his views at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His scientific opponents reckoned he was ‘quite out of his tree’, while some of his acolytes – and these included an assortment of scientists with appropriate credentials – were of the opinion that Velikovsky was ‘perhaps the greatest brain that our race has produced’.

There was also something akin to the invention of the Hockey Stick accompanied by the deletion of the Medieval Warming Period:

Although Worlds in Collision was a pastiche of comparative mythology and planetary astronomy, its major purpose was a radical reconstruction of history.

Mainstream science of course was not on Velikovsky’s side. Still, the behavior of the “community” won’t surprise anybody familiar with Climategate:

Elite scientists, notably at Harvard, reckoned that they might be able to control what Macmillan published when it was represented as science. A letter-writing campaign was organised to get Macmillan to withdraw from its agreement to publish the book; credible threats were made to boycott Macmillan textbooks; hostile reviews were arranged; questions were raised about whether the book had been peer-reviewed (it had); and, when Worlds in Collision was published anyway, further (successful) pressure was exerted to make Macmillan wash its hands of the thing and shift copyright to another publisher. The editor who had handled the book was let go, and a scientist who provided a blurb and planned a New York planetarium show based on Velikovsky’s theories – admittedly not the sharpest knife in the scientific drawer – was forced out of his museum position and never had a scientific job again.

Just like with Climategate, none of that made the “elite scientists” look any good:

From an uncharitable point of view, this looked like a conspiracy, a conspiracy contrived by dark forces bent on the suppression of free thought and different perspectives – and the Velikovskians took just that view. […] ‘Perhaps in the entire history of science,’ Velikovsky said, ‘there was not a case of a similar violent reaction on the part of the scientific world towards a published work.’ Newsweek wrote about the spectacle of scientific ‘Professors as Suppressors’ and the Saturday Evening Post made sport of the establishment reaction as ‘one of the signal events of this year’s “silly season”’. […]

Einstein, in whose Princeton house Velikovsky was a frequent visitor, was one of them. Interviewed just before his death by the Harvard historian of science I.B. Cohen, Einstein said that Worlds in Collision ‘really isn’t a bad book. The only trouble with it is, it is crazy.’ Yet he thought, as Cohen put it, that ‘bringing pressure to bear on a publisher to suppress a book was an evil thing to do.’

So why would the scientists be doing evil things?

It was American scientists who went ballistic over Velikovsky, not historians, and one purpose of Michael Gordin’s probing and intelligent The Pseudoscience Wars is to ask why they responded to Velikovsky as they did. […] Scientists in the years after World War Two were upset by Velikovsky because, Gordin argues, they felt insecure, uncertain of the new authority and influence they had apparently gained by building the bomb and winning the war. […]

First, there was concern that political support might translate into political control. […] And there were the McCarthyite witch-hunts, some of which targeted distinguished scientists. How much autonomy did American scientists actually have? How vulnerable was that autonomy to the dictates of politicians and to the delusions of popular culture? No one could be sure.[…]

We know that the climate answer to that has been a full cooperation between some politicians and some scientists, mutually supporting each other.

In another analogy with the present, the pseudoscience side went for self-fulfilling diagnoses of mental illness among opponents:

The greatest ingenuity of Velikovsky’s thought lay in its merging of naturalistic catastrophism and psychoanalytic theory. […] what was the violence of scientists’ opposition to Velikovsky’s ideas but a persistence of that same tendency to deny the catastrophic truth of what had happened to the human race, how very close it had come to obliteration? The fact that the scientists were leagued against him was precisely what Velikovsky’s theories predicted. It was further evidence that he was right. What the scientists needed, indeed what the culture as a whole needed, was therapy, a cure for collective amnesia.

Shapin turns the table around, and embarks in a good explanation on why so many people are attracted to catastrophism, an explanation that applies to Velikovsky fans like to Gore supporters:

Here are the reasons for the enormous appeal of Velikovsky’s theories to Cold War America, and, specifically, to the young, the angry and the anxious. Lecturing to campus audiences, Velikovsky told the students what they already knew: the world was not an orderly or a safe place; Armageddon had happened and could happen again:

  • The belief that we are living in an orderly universe, that nothing happened to this Earth and the other planets since the beginning, that nothing will happen till the end, is a wishful thinking that fills the textbooks … And so it is only wishful thinking that we are living in a safe, never perturbed, solar system and a safe, never perturbed past.

Alfred Kazin, writing in the New Yorker, understood that this was part of Velikovsky’s appeal, and tellingly linked the great pseudoscientist with the Doomsday warnings of orthodox atomic scientists: Velikovsky’s work ‘plays right into the small talk about universal destruction that is all around us now’, he said, ‘and it emphasises the growing tendency in this country to believe that the physicists’ irresponsible scare warnings must be sound.’

The review ends with a brief discussion on how to evaluate what is scientific knowledge (with Shapin strangely unfamiliar with Sagan’s famous quote “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“), plus a history of how the term “pseudoscience” came into being, once again reminding the reader of contemporary debates, in this case about blogging:

By 1964, some of Velikovsky’s scientific critics were drawing a […] lesson from the affair: the nuclear chemist Harold Urey was concerned ‘about the lack of control in scientific publication … Today anyone can publish anything,’ and it was impossible to tell the signal of truth from the noise of imposters. We must return to the past, Urey urged, when there was a proper intellectual class system and a proper system of quality control: ‘Science has always been aristocratic.’ In a society insisting on its democratic character, that was not a wildly popular position, though doubtless it had appealed to the scientists who tried to prevent the original publication of Velikovsky’s book and who sought to block his later efforts to publish in mainstream scientific journals.

Even the very end of the review is still relevant:

if it struts around the barnyard loudly protesting that it’s a duck, that it possesses the very essence of duckness, that it’s more authentically a duck than all those other orange-billed, web-footed, swimming fowl, then you’ve got a right to be suspicious: this duck may be a quack.

And that’s where mentions of 2,500 IPCC scientists and 97% consensus spring to mind.

 

Global Warming? Nevermind the Warming, still nobody knows if it’s Global…

first reported by Fabio Spina on Climatemonitor.it - in Italian

How Global is Global Warming? A very interesting slide from the “WMO Technical Conference on Meteorological and Environmental Instruments and Methods of Observation organized by CIMO WMO (Commission for Instruments and Methods of Observations of the World Meteorological Organization) (Brussels, Belgium, 16-18 October 2012).

The slide is from “Introduction on WMO Priorities” by Wenjian Zhang, Director, Observing and Information Systems Department, WMO. It was in the second presentation for the day, after the introduction by the CIMO President. One might logically assume that Zhang’s was one the most important presentations of the whole conference.

The slide shows Dr Zhang’s thoughts on the “key challenges” as “identified through widespread consultations with experts of key communities“.

Remember, this is from the people that actually observe the globe:

Challenges in Climate Observations
Challenges in Climate Observations

Every “key challenge” would be interesting to explore but of course the one about “Data” is particularly telling: “The current availability and quality of climate observations and impacts data are inadequate for large parts of the globe“.

For all the discussions and conferences and proclamations we have been having since the IPCC AR4 in 2007, one has to wonder how little we have moved on the basics.

Five years ago in fact, two thirds of the landmass was still forgotten from the WG2 chapters. And with 96% of Significant Changes coming from Europe alone, the open question was if “Global” Warming could be just European.

We have twice as many changes that are INCONSISTENT with warming in Europe, than CONSISTENT with warming in the rest of the world.

Thousands are waiting in Qatar right now for COP18 to open in a few hours. This news can’t be good. Unless, as suggested by Fabio, every area of the world is equal in importance for the global climate, but some are more equal than others…

Climate Scientists Are Always Right…Yes They Are!

(originally published on Nov 17. 2007. The Italian version is here.)

Read scientist Vincenzo Ferrara, former Climate Change advisor to the Italian Environment, explain how to become a famous Climatologist (from ”Rivista di Meteorologia Aeronautica”, Vol XLII n. 1, Jan-Mar 1982):

(The following is an abridged translation)

If you are a climatologist and you want to survive as a climatologist, perhaps even increasing your reputation, all you have to do is provide the exact diagnosis and prognosis that people expect.

To the question “Is the climate changing?“, by all means, never, ever reply “No, everything’s normal“, or “It’s just fakery pumped up by newspapers and on television“: because people would unanimously conclude that you understand nothing about metereology, and nothing about climate.

It would be the end of your career.

The only sensible answer is: “Of course it is changing! It’s a well-known fact, scientifically confirmed and one that none cannot argue against“. You can then launch yourself in forecasting for the next hundred years a climate identical to the current one, amplifying the latest phenomena to extreme consequences.

If it is cold you’ll therefore predict “ice ages“, if it’s warm a “torrid period“, and if there are signs of strong variability “short-term climatic extremes” and more-or-less the same climate in the long term.

You may be wondering, how can a serious climatologist provide impossible, mutually-excluding forecasts without looking silly? Fear not: science will provide all the support needed.

Because climatology has already thought of everything and will supply the right solution in every circumstance, even in the most hopeless cases.

So if it is cold, here’s what you will have to say: “The climate is changing and we are approaching an Ice Age.

This fact has already been scientifically assessed because since 1940, the average temperature of the northern hemisphere has diminished by approximately 0,4°C, probably because of a decrease in atmospheric transparency due to air pollution.

The cooling of the air causes an increase in the extension of glaciers and of snow fields, furthering lowering temperatures with their highly reflecting (high albedo) surfaces. Glaciers therefore increase even more, in a positive feedback that will bring us to a new Ice Age in a hundred years or even less“.

What if it is warm? Then the discourse becomes: “The climate is changing and we are approaching a Torrid Age.

This fact has already been scientifically assessed because since 1850 the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere has progressively increased and just in the last twenty years has gone from 315 to 334 parts for million. That means that in 2020 the accumulation of carbon dioxide will have more than doubled, taking into account the continuously increasing energy demands and consumption of fossil fuels.

The increase of carbon dioxide reduces the Earth’s long-wave emissions to space (greenhouse effect) so within half a century the average air temperature will increase by approximately 2 or 3°C; the polar ice will dissolve and a sizeable sea level increase will submerge several coastal cities“.


History (at NASA) shows what’s wrong with “Scientific Consensus”

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. (NIV)

Quotes from NASA’s Earth Observatory pages about Alfred Wegener:

  • the international geological community’s reaction to Wegener’s theory was militantly hostile.
  • Wegener’s […] cogent and comprehensive work […] was impossible to ignore and ignited a firestorm of rage and rancor
  • most of the blistering attacks were aimed at Wegener himself, an outsider who seemed to be attacking the very foundations of geology.
  • Even though Wegener assembled many interlocking pieces of evidence to support his ideas, they were so radical that he was often ridiculed.
  • Because of this abuse,Wegener could not get a professorship at any German university.
  • In 1926 Wegener was invited to an international symposium in New York called to discuss his theory. Though he found some supporters, many speakers were sarcastic to the point of insult.
  • the merit of much […] of his supporting evidence was not widely recognized at the time.
  • As a result, most geologists eventually dismissed his theory as a fairy tale or “mere geopoetry.”

Past performance suggests any date between 2018 and 2091 as the year CO2-based CAGW (or CO2-CAGW) went the way of the dodo.

A History Of Scientific Uncertainties (on their way to policymaking oblivion)

I know this story well about climate science. I am pretty sure it happens all the time in every scientific field that has social implications.

  1. The scientific paper details the uncertainties
  2. The IPCC chapter mentions the uncertainties
  3. The IPCC SPM (summary for policymakers) contains some indication of the uncertainties inside one item in the bibliography
  4. The Press Release doesn’t have space for the uncertainties apart from a side remark in the middle of the text
  5. The interviewed scientist is not asked about the uncertainties
  6. The journalistic article isn’t interested in the uncertainties
  7. The policymaker either doesn’t know the uncertainties exist, or pivots all his/her career about some of the uncertainties as reported to him/her third- or fourth-hand.

Broken telephones all around…

Unbelievable #FAIL at “Forecast the Facts”

Another proud moment for the Organization with the Stupidest Name

See if you can spot it, before I explain it (and before they edit the original page):

Obama bin Laden

Yes Ladies and Gentlemen…it’s “OBAMA BIN LADEN”!! Brad “My Breivik article has been temporarily disappeared by Joe Romm” Johnson going for the proverbial Freudian Slip

Plus of course it’s a Press Release so who knows how many newspapers and websites will simply reprint it as-is propagating a rather nasty and completely unfounded rumor about the President of the United States!!

How To Become A Connect-the-Dots Campaigner

  1. Take the IPCC SREX report
  2. Find any mention of unusual weather
  3. Remove all words, adjectives, adverbs that indicate uncertainty
  4. Change all verbs from future to present (or near-past) tense
  5. Claim that the resulting mangled mess is “science” and that it is on your side
  6. Scour the planet in the hope somebody, somewhere has had their life ruined by an atmospheric event – collect dramatic pictures about it
  7. Go out on 5/5/12 and shout antiscientific fakehoods to save the planet

The Immoral Judgement behind Climate Activism

Judith Curry has a very concise summary of the latest Nature Climate Change shot-in-the-dark, called “Climate change and moral judgement” (by Ezra M. Markowitz and Azim F. Shariff, NCC, vol.2, April 2012).

The study is based on the usual wholesale vapidity of bombastic statements made meaningless by the absence of any quantification

The climate science community has arrived at a consensus regarding both the reality of rapid, anthropogenic climate change and the necessity of urgent and sustained action to avoid its worst environmental, economic and social consequences

Having switched off their brains to accept the ‘consensus’, the authors forgot to turn them back on before writing gems like

Unlike financial fraud or terrorist attacks, climate change does not register, emotionally, as a wrong that demands to be righted. As a result, many individuals, even those who believe that climate change is a problem, may feel complacent in delaying immediate — and costly — ameliorative action, such as investing in alternative-energy technologies or reducing one’s own energy use

Markowitz and Shariff clearly don’t understand that “climate change” belongs to the future, whilst financial fraud and terrorist attacks belong also to the past and present. They don’t even understand that “ameliorative action” has nothing to do with “reducing one’s own energy use” (a wishy-washy commitment for anybody bothering to do the maths), and that “investing in alternative-energy technologies” is pointless unless the cost is linked to some benefit, with the benefit being larger than the cost that is.

Another classic:

the more space there is for uncertainty the more wishful thinking we have

As if. Markowitz and Shariff are dangerously toying there with the idea of becoming totally anti-scientific. As per another of Curry’s posts, “Uncertainty is a necessary ingredient in the recipe for discovery. Certainty gets in the way of discovery because we are not inclined to investigate further the things we think we know for certain“. From this POV, “certainty” is the realm of the uninterested ignorant, the last type of people that is who could possibly do anything meaningful about climate change.

There are more signs of science having taken a leave of absence from Nature Climate Change in this case. The authors list “six psychological challenges posed by climate change to the human moral judgement system” (table 1) and “six psychological strategies that communicators can use to bolster the recognition of climate change as a moral imperative” (table 2). Perish the thought that having six items on both tables suggest there is not science behind, rather the style of self-help manuals (aware perhaps of the problem, the blog minimolecule recommended by Judith forgets to mention the 5th item of table 2, “Expand group identity“).

Anyway, the biggest flaw of the study lies elsewhere. It appears deeply contradictory. If the

in depth cognitive processing required to negotiate our way through these problems leads to poor activation of moral reasoning

the authors should have demonstrated first if and how their own moral reasoning hadn’t been properly “activated”. The same applies to all other points in table 1. Psychomagically, the authors believe themselves immune from something they claim is affecting a large part of humanity.

This sounds clearly and deeply immoral, just like the continuous underlying suggestion that people who don’t believe it’s time for unspecified “costly ameliorative action” are somehow anti-environment (this is a common anti-ethical thinking trait of climate activists, as demonstrated by its ugly head rearing again in the description of the upcoming Policy Exchange event “A Greener Shade of Blue” in London).

And as for the topic of the paper: IMNSHO the biggest obstacle in moving forward on climate change is that activist-communicators keep trying to reduce an issue that is “complex, abstract and cognitively challenging” to “It didn’t snow last January” or “March was weird”. And those are clear evidences of “poor activation of moral reasoning” on the part of those communicators.

Is anybody reading Real Climate any longer?

An interesting side-story about HadCRUT4. Look at RealClimate, March 20, 2012 “Updating the CRU and HadCRUT temperature data” by gavin:

the difference between 1998 and 2010 is in the hundredths of a degree, and most of the attribution work on recent climate changes is looking at longer term trends, not year to year variability. However, there is now consistency across the data sets that 2005 and 2010 likely topped 1998 as the warmest years in the instrumental record

Compare that now to Skeptical Science, April 18, 2012 “First Look at HadCRUT4” by dana1981:

In HadCRUT4, the hottest years on record are 2010 and 2005, with 1998 right behind in a statistical tie.

From the quotes above, it is difficult to ascertain if Gavin Schmidt has any understanding of the meaning of a difference “in the hundredths of a degree” (hint: for all scientific intents and purposes, it’s a difference of zero). The point that “there is now consistency across the data sets” seems to indicate an obsession with numbers and a forgetfulness of the underlying physical aspects of climate.

Even Dana Nuccitelli, amid the usually flurry of anti-skeptic rants and dubious interpretations passed as Truth, appears to have a better grasp on science itself.

Note that among the scarce number of comments (83), a couple of people try to make this simple point, only to be told by the likes of tamino that it doesn’t matter because of evil skeptics of course. As if surgeons would regularly use subpar anaesthesia justifying themselves by saying there are evil doctors out there doing far worse.

Dr Robert Wilson is not listening

(a comment of mine published at Bishop Hill)

Dr Wilson is not listening. All, please do save yourselves the trouble of trying to explain to him anything…he will still not listen.

The fact that this obviously leaves him a total ignoramus of anything that is discussed on this website, is apparently not a concern for him. Why? Because he is not listening.

He won’t even notice what kind of sorry figure he’s cut of himself now, despite having started from the enviable position of having actually sat through a presentation by the Bish.

Anyway, I am not feeling sorry for him, as I actually envy the people who don’t understand…they’ll always be the ones beaming about, happy and content.

Inability to listen is of course a trait of Climate Change Believers. What a coincidence.

Official IPCC Words: We Do Not Know If The Climate Is Becoming More Extreme

SREX is out in full.

FAQ 3.1 | Is the Climate Becoming More Extreme? […] None of the above instruments has yet been developed sufficiently as to allow us to confidently answer the question posed here.

Full text follows.
Continue reading

What The HadCRUT4 Update Means

Building up on Paul Penrose’s comment at JS:

How is this news if the results are not statistically significant? Or do people not know what that means? Once you take that into account what they are saying is: News flash – global temperature has not increased since 1998!

Actually, the news flash should be that, since 1998:

  1. Global temperature has not increased in any meaningful manner
  2. Northern Hemisphere temperature has not increased at all (some bits of the Arctic aside)
  3. At most we could talk of an Arctic, not Global Warming
  4.  All of the above, despite all the continuous fudging and cooling of the past

Once again…Whatever Arctic warming there’s been, it’s also been inconsequential. And if HadCRUT4 doesn’t kill Global Warming, it certainly helps putting it in the right place..

A Sea-Surface Miracle!

Overlong “On the adjustments to the HadSST3 data set” blog post just out (after a few technical glitches) at Judith Curry’s comes to a conclusion that aounds like yet another climate-related miracle

HadSST3 selectively removes the majority of the long term variations from the pre-1960 part of the record. ie. it removes the majority of the climate variation…

…that cannot be attributed to anthropogenic global warming!

How unexpected!

Two Matters Of Logic (And Timewasting Avoidance)

A couple of timewasting avoidance schemes when dealing with anti-skeptic Defenders of the Faith in Science:

(1) The Congealed Minds

Some people pop up in skeptic blogs commenting in a way similar to swashbuckling (or marauding), making statements such as “I believe the scientists doing the research are a much better judge of that than you are“.

That’s a very good sign that we’re dealing with people who:

  • Worship mainstream scientific literature
  • Are willing mouthpieces of somebody else
  • Routinely misrepresent science as an organically growing process where past interpretations are cast in stone
  • Act like those philosophers who would reply to Galileo continuously quoting Aristotle and the Aristotelians, rather than accept to reason by themselves

The only question to ask them is: Is there anything anybody could ever say, show, write, demonstrate, ask or explain in a blog or comment to a blog, that will make you change your mind?

The answer will of course be “No”. Therefore there is no point debating with them.

(2) The Deferrers

Another common anti-skeptic tactic is to invoke some Higher Authority, eg: “I won’t presume to substitute my non-professional judgment for that of someone who’s dedicated his career to a pursuit of unbiased scientific knowledge, just as I wouldn’t substitute my judgment for that of an oncologist or a neurologist treating myself or someone close to me“.

That’s a completely meaningless statement, because it is supremely illogical. If a person defers judgment to somebody else, obviously what that person writes has no value at all: we should always be looking for the opinion of “somebody else”. Anybody arguing “don’t listen to me, listen to somebody else” is a prisoner of twisted logic, as the first part of that sentence negates the second one. Therefore there is no point debating with them.

Here's Why Mann Is So Bothered About His "Enemies"

Much of the contents of [Mann’s] book is old news“, according to Peter Gleick. In fact, an entire day spent at a website owned by somebody who interviewed the Man, has turned out nothing more than statements accompanied by “that’s nothing new” and “for those buried in the intellectual wastes of the Murdoch media – it will be brand new territory“.

IOW the general consensus appears to be that there is nothing in Mann’s book that has not already been mentioned, described or referred to somewhere on the web (and, I suspect, in the Climategate emails). Somebody tried to make the point that, according to agiographers, Mann’s book contains enough “to spark a dozen Master’s theses“. But that is not the point.

The point is, what would one find in Mann’s book that is nowhere else? Who knows…an insight, a revealing detail, whatever, anything as long as it is new. There has to be a reason to buy and then read the book, right?

According to Mann’s own supporters, the answers to those questions are still “nothing” and “none”. Well, no wonder Mann is ever so bothered about his enemies…with friends like Mann’s, no one needs enemies!

Threatener In Chief

There are 2,830 hits for @BBCRBlack on the BBC News site. Of them, 785 include the words “threat” or “threaten”.

That’s 28%.

Environment reporting is a subset of professionalised scare.