Monday, June 30, 2008

How to Kill Cap-and-Trade

As politicians throughout the West contemplate how to respond to AGW hysteria, while still remaining electable, it is worth contemplating on why rising gas prices have hit the environmentalist movement so hard.
  • The contradiction behind the green lifestyle fad is the idea that we can reject industrial civilization -- and the fuel that powers it -- while still enjoying a modern, prosperous, "First World" standard of living.
  • ...truly consistent environmentalism demands the sacrifice of all prosperity. The only genuine way to slash your "carbon footprint" is to stop consuming goods. The "lifestyle" it really demands is not about hemp bracelets, bamboo textile skirts, and reusable burlap grocery sacks-the entire Whole Foods scene. It's really about abject, Third World poverty.
  • The Marxist-influenced Old Left believed in industrial socialism. Through "scientific" central planning, it was going to make industrial production even more efficient and lift the poor, exploited workers out of poverty.
  • The result was the New Left. Since socialism had not been able to raise the people of what was then called the "Third World" out of a primitive lifestyle, the New Left declared instead that a primitive lifestyle is the ideal, and that we should try to emulate it here. The centerpiece of that campaign has been environmentalism.
  • Environmentalism has become a major cultural force. But to steal a line from the Marxists of the Old Left, it is a force that contains within it the internal contradictions that will lead to its destruction.
  • is a choice between a discredited idea and an unappealing one.
Which, of course goes a long way to explain why so many voters are passive and exhibit a certain ennui about contemporary politics: too often their choice is between discredited policies and unappealing ones.

Old Labour, New Labour. Old Conservative, Progressive Conservative. Political divisions are arbitrary and transient. Either the candidate believes in more government control over the individual, or less. Centralized, collective control or individual choice.

Green politics is premised on increased governance, a lack of faith in individual competency and the necessity for societal conformity within defined dogma. All the appeals to scientific authority are just a smokescreen for ideological conformity within morally defined limits.

Climate physics and AGW

A new pdf has been published which falsifies the AGW thesis on the basis of fundamental physics.

Many of these same arguments were also contained in Essex and McKittrick's book Taken by Storm. After reading their book, I commented that:
  • Essex and McKitrick do an excellent job of outlining the basic science, underlying math and pervasive lack of true understanding that underpins the issue of global warming.Their tone is non-judgemental, unequivocal and principled. They ask fundamental intellectual questions, explain concepts using accessible examples and highlight how good science has been lost. It is a must read for anyone seeking insights about climate change and the broader interplay of politics and science.
I am still waiting for someone to explain specifically, what substantive errors exist and/or which assumptions are either false or incorrect, in the analysis by Essex and McKittrick. I suspect I will have to wait for any substantive response to this latest paper.

Rather, advocates of AGW will variously claim:
  • its irrelevant
  • the critique has no traction
  • its just more denialism
  • somehow its all paid for by nefarious oil concerns
  • we all know the science is settled
  • etc.
The problem is, this type of paper attacks AGW at its very basis: its scientific foundation.

  • if something is real and self-evident, how can its basic scientific principles be both suspect and presumptive? Should they not be clear, unequivocal and rational?
  • what distinguishes science from religion?

Principles are principles because they are truths observed in most situations. In contrast, dogma is the assertive language of power.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A load of hot air

Wind power and wind farms are the new in vogue, concept du jour for all things green and mighty.  No matter that there are inefficient. No matter that, for many, they are a blight on the landscape.  No matter that they must, of necessity, be in highly visible locations on the landscape, exacerbating their impact.  No matter that they are expensive.  They have been mandated.  Even if their construction doesn't actually reduce nor replace the need for added electrical capacity.
Simple lunacy.  How do we stop this madness?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It is science, not dissent nor denial

In response to a NRDC blog post which suggested that the science was settled and that legitimate dissent is absent, Richard S. Courtney (an IPCC Expert Peer Reviewer and, thus, a Nobel Prize Winner), posted this summation of the state of the science:

  • The present empirical evidence strongly indicates that the AGW-hypothesis is wrong; i.e.
    1. There is no correlation between the anthropogenic emissions of GHGs and global temperature.
    2. Change to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is observed to follow change to global temperature at all time scales.
    3. Recent rise in global temperature has not been induced by rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The global temperature fell from 1940 to 1970, rose from 1970 to 1998, and fell from 1998 to the present (i.e. mid-2008). This is 40 years of cooling and 28 years of warming, and global temperature is now similar to that of 1940. But atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has increased at a near-constant rate and by more than 30% since 1940.
    4. Rise in global temperature has not been induced by increase to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide. More than 80% of the anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide has been since 1940, and the increase to the emissions has been at a compound rate of ~0.4% p.a. throughout that time. But that time has exhibited 40 years of cooling with only 28 years of warming, and global temperature is now similar to that of 1940.
    5. The pattern of atmospheric warming predicted by the AGW hypothesis is absent. The AGW hypothesis predicts most warming of the atmosphere at altitude distant from polar regions. Radiosonde measurements from weather balloons show slight cooling at altitude distant from polar regions.
  • The above list provides a complete refutation of the AGW-hypothesis according to the normal rules of science.: i.e. Nothing the hypothesis predicts is observed in the empirical data, and the opposite of the hypothesis' predictions is observed in the empirical data.
  • But politicians and advocates adhere to the hypothesis. They have a variety of motives (i.e. personal financial gain, protection of their career histories and futures, political opportunism, etc..). But support of science cannot be one such motive because science denies the hypothesis.
  • Hence, additional scientific information cannot displace the AGW-hypothesis and cannot silence its advocates (e.g. Hansen). And those advocates are not scientists despite some of them claiming that they are.
It is truly Orwellian doublespeak that the empirical data are dismissed as denialism, whilst modeled projections based on ideological presumptions, are promoted as the truth.

Sadly, as Courtney points out, no amount of data are going to displace the accepted dogma.

It will be supplanted when it is no longer the accepted belief, because it will have been usurped by a different construct, also passing and in vogue, but hopefully more rooted in the real world.

And for those wanting to test their faith in environmental dogma, here are 10 questions for any proponent of AGW to answer.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mass Media Power Overrated?

This from Instapundit:
  • MASS MEDIA POWER OVERRATED? Say what you will about the underlying issue, there's been no topic -- even Iraq -- on which media coverage has been more one-sided and unrelenting than that of man-made global warming. And it's been worse in Britain than here. And yet . . . Poll: most Britons doubt cause of climate change. "The majority of the British public is still not convinced that climate change is caused by humans - and many others believe scientists are exaggerating the problem, according to an exclusive poll for The Observer. The results have shocked campaigners who hoped that doubts would have been silenced by a report last year by more than 2,500 scientists for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)."
  • Shockingly, almost two thirds think it's just a scheme to raise taxes.
Something nicely re-affirming about the independence of the human spirit that in spite of overwhelming attempts at indoctrination and widespread promotion of politically correct environmental dogma, the majority of Britons remain both skeptical and unconvinced.

My fearless prediction? That come November's US election, neither the environment nor climate change will constitute a significant issue for voters.
  • Sincerity: yes.
  • Integrity: yes.
  • Experience: yes.
  • Leadership: yes.
  • Environmental mantra: irrelevant.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Historical climate change

An upcoming publication documents climate change in Finland over the past 7500 years on the basis of a continuous tree-ring chronology. What it shows is that past climates were indeed warmer than today's and that climate is constantly changing:
  • Timonen et al. write "The warmest and coldest reconstructed 250-year periods occurred AD 931-1180 and AD 1601-1850. These periods overlap with the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA). The coldest and warmest of all reconstructed 100-year periods occurred AD 1587-1686 and AD 1895-1994, respectively".
  • ...the warmest period of the past 1,300 years occurred during AD 931-1180.
  • ...summer temperatures in Finland peaked in 1950 and have been cooling ever since.
Some see this persistent presentation of contrary data as dissent. Some call it denial. To me, it represents proper scientific method: go with what data you have, until it can be replaced by better information that you collect and assess because you acknowledge the limitations of the data you have in hand. But then, of course, good science to me does not involve actively promoting hysteria that fits your ideology but not the facts: that's politics, bad politics, but still politics and not science.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Junk Science

The Financial Post has run a series of articles this week to highlight Junk Science and its prevalence within contemporary policy making.

Illustrative examples included:
Sadly, these examples all show how science is utilized ideologically to promote an agenda of environmental hysteria and variously ignore or minimize significant benefits and aspects of human progress and advancement.

Despite the fact that Malthus has been proved wrong time and time again, environmental activism and politics are characterized by the persistant recycling of limits and austerity, rather than innovation and prosperity.

At least. now, in Canada, the political landscape has been clarified: the centralized, tax and impoverishment folly of Stephane Dion's proposed carbon tax on one side, and those who consider such a tax to be the height of practical, economic and political folly on the other.

Perhaps what is needed is some well-funded, peer-reviewed science to examine the issue....

At this point one really begins to appreciate the simple truth behind the Disney ride "Its a small, small world": stand still and all this will pass you by again on the next cycle....

If and when Mr. Dion ever gets the courage to back his convictions, Canada will have another Federal election, and perhaps here too, the regular voting stiff will think for him or herself and reject elitist stupidity precisely because it is both elitist and stupid (go Ireland!).

Before that, the US will have had its election and it will be interesting to see if the media can just ordain a new president or if they will actually have to have an election first: and what happens if the people elect the "wrong" guy (again)?

Democracy is funny that way: it is really all the people who get to vote and not just those who think they know better than every one about how people should think, and what they should think. Given a choice, people will usually opt for freedom over servitude.

Monday, June 16, 2008

FALSE ALARM: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told About Global Warming is Misleading, Exaggerated, or Plain Wrong

What do you do if you write a column critical of climate catastrophism and have it criticized for a "lack of scientific literacy"?  Well if you are Paul MacRae you do the research, formulate your response and write a book in response.
Here is his website. 
Welcome to the fray Mr. MacRae.  Probably your efforts won't silence your original critic: he probably won't even read your work, but you will help a lot of others read and decide for themselves what constitutes scientific literacy, political correctness and academic arrogance -- and, in the process, remove any audience for further self-promotion by your original critic. 

New findings may put dendroclimatology as metric of past temperature into question

Two links today to Anthony Watts' excellent blog 'Watts Up With that?'.

The first, highlights new research with potentially huge implications for how past climates are measured, interpreted and understood. Dendroclimatology is a specialized field which has become thrust into the forefront of policy discussion because of the important role dendrochonology plays in determining past climate reconstructions. Watts' post brings attention to research recently published in Nature that brings into question a basic assumption about past and present temperature changes:
  • The new findings not only challenge long-held precepts in plant biology, but could upend climate models that use tree rings to infer or predict past and present temperature changes.
  • "The assumption in all of these studies was that tree leaf temperatures were equal to ambient temperatures," lead researcher Brent Helliker told AFP. "It turns out that they are not."
Most activists in the discussion around AGW are not specialized scientists and blogs like Watts' and Climate Audit have been invaluable in bringing the underlying science into the foreground of the debate, raising awareness and keeping a wider audience apprised of developments in specialized fields.

Because of this activity, both Watts Up With That? and Climate Audit have achieved a high level of involvement from people from all aspects of the policy spectrum: activity that has made both blogs very popular but also subject to negative comments, leading both sites to grapple with the issue of how to moderate comments sections. Here is Watts' discussion of the dilemma he faces.

It is a sad commentary on the state of our civil society when reasonable, polite discourse is variously unwanted, derided, ridiculed, censured and/or otherwise sanctioned, with approved ideology or partisanship receiving more credence than reasoned analysis.

And then there's Hollywood.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Personal Ideology, education and change

Personal Ideology: What's yours?

Lindsay Meisel poses this interesting question, asking environmentalists to reflect on the confluence between individual values and political beliefs in the formation of their individual ideologies. Her question presumes that environmentalists have individual ideological perspectives that differ and can be distinguished from the collective dogma of the prevailing paradigm that (like most religions) requires the individual to buy the whole package of constructs rather than choosing from a smorgasbord of constructs in the development of an individual perspective.

Where does this learning and self -reflection occur? In part it is life experience. But when people are young or their life experience constrained by familiarity (for example, just observe how many people always order the same items in restaurants, frequent the same restaurants and participate in loyalty programs that signify their comfort level with the same service provider wherever they travel), the majority of their constructs are learnt and dependent upon their education for breadth of exposure and reflective versus structured learning.

So how is our educational system doing with respect to reflective learning, independent acquisition of constructs and breadth of ideology?

Well, it seems that kids will learn and want to learn, but the educational process does not always facilitate their learning style.

Moreover, once students enter higher education the system is predisposed to reflect only certain learning objectives and paradigms.

Recently, I reflected on my own experiences with academic freedom and its absence within the university system.

So, the question remains: are the majority of environmentalists capable of realizing an independent ideology, or will they remain bound and shackled to the limits of prevailing dogma?

One indicator this week has been the continued rhetoric and reaction of environmental activists to comments on articles that integrate the latest empirical data on climate and look to the future without presuming catastrophic AGW as a key parameter. Absent AGW, what does preclude us from perpetual progress? The reaction reveals that most activists accept AGW despite the contradictory empirical evidence precisely because their political beliefs are so well merged with their learnt constructs about the presumption of environmental limits and the desecration of pristine nature by humans.

Facts don't change an individual's perspective. Perspective changes an individual's facts.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The stasist prescription

  • Global warming has nothing to do with climate or science. What it is all about is the great, historic class struggle between working people and the ruling classes.

    Global warming is a great excuse for a massive expansion of government power. That, not science, is why the overlords, from the New York Times to the United Nations to Al Gore, so heartily embrace it.
From this post, here is an excellent article by Peter Ferrara who puts into words the feeling many of us have who reject the hysteria around AGW. Its not about the science. If it was, the discrediting of AGW would have seen widespread acceptance long ago. No, AGW is the latest, biggest and most sophisticated manifestation of environmentalism as a political ideology.

For a generation steeped in the mystique of Rachel Carson, the hopes of the Woodstock generation and the institutionalized acceptance of limits, small is beautiful and the culinary magnificence of tofu, AGW is the last bastion of anti-capitalism, over-consumption, first-world guilt and the inherent evil of anthropocentrism. Think of AGW as the environmental movement's Alamo (complete with leading apostle from Tennessee), all carefully and skillfully bundled in the rhetoric of moral authority and imperative for saving the planet. Its a lot to deny.

But, underneath, almost hidden at the very bottom of this axiomatic deck of cards, is the science. And when the science does not validate the prognosis of doom, all that is left is the same tired stasist prescription of centralized authority, constraint on individual freedom and elitism.

Demonology: more on the environment as religion

  • Through vilifying their opponents, demonologists attempt to close down discussion and debate. Such intolerance towards alternative and dissident opinions betrays the powerful anti-democratic impulse underpinning contemporary demonology...
And what heinous crime has prompted such superfluous moralism? Apparently, the church of global warming has become so axiomatic that to question its veracity, to practice good science and be skeptical of its modeled planet in the face of real empirical data, or to query the merits of centralized, state regulation in the name of the holy environment, is not just a crime of denial, of moral weakness, but of original sin manifest in every belching carbon footprint!

Sorry, got carried away with a touch of evangelical zeal and mixed metaphor: perhaps Obama needs another speech writer?

Nothing makes for bad politics like religious leaders dabbling in politics. In this instance, the demonology has found a willing supplicant and this, perhaps, will be the greatest legacy of the AGW hype: it was the last great gasp of the limits to growth, anti-development, anti-capitalist, anti-freedom, anti-progress church of the environment.

The problem with churches though is that there's always another one starting somewhere promising enlightenment in exchange for atonement. But unless the religion it is selling also offers hope and self-esteem, the parishioners will always re-locate when they hear the calling of a more authentic leader. And, fundamentally, there is the fatal weakness in environmentalism as a church: it is long on atonement and censure, very short on self-esteem and hope.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Big-Government Environmentalism Wears Out Its Welcome

So this is where the rubber hits the road: what happens to the "consensus" on AGW once the political momentum shifts to other topics that are safer, better supported by the voting public and more politic?
All environmental issues pass through the issue-attention cycle: early euphoria, widespread recognition, realization of costs of change, disaffection, replacement with other issues.
Global warming has reached the expiry date for its shelf-life as a mainstream political issue for anyone wanting to be elected -- it will remain within the platforms of the perpetual political fringe, but the centrist politics of electability have tried AGW as an issue and found the public cool,  not warm, in their reception.

The Best Global Warming Videos on the Internet

When I give talks or presentations, I am often asked for sources and materials that people can use to help counter the AGW dogma in the public domain and especially within the educational system.  Here, courtesy of Duane Lester, is a collection of videos that serve to summarize why many consider the science both far from settled and far from compelling on AGW.