Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Copenhagen Collapse

Towards year's end and time for lots of people to comment not only on the past year but the past decade.  Based on the collapse at Copenhagen, Lorne Gunter makes this valid observation that environmentalism is just the latest manifestation of authoritarian control, of stasis incarnate:
  • ...saving the planet is not what environmentalism is all about. Saving the planet is just the excuse. Controlling other people’s lives and redistributing global wealth is the true goal.
  • I’m not saying there is a conscious conspiracy by old socialists meeting in secret to rebrand themselves as new environmentalists so they can revive their Cold War-era campaign for international governance and regulation.
  • Rather, it’s a mindset.
  • When socialism collapsed as an intellectual movement in the 1990s, the intrusive, holier-than-thou, we-know-best attitude behind it did not disappear, it merely refashioned itself in the last decade as environmentalism.
  • To be happy, they have to be telling others what to do based on a self-assured belief in their own moral and intellectual superiority.
Change is a constant in life.  The essence of sustainability is the capability of communities to adapt to change, something current environmentalism ignores to its detriment.

Rather than embracing change as the essence of sustainability, stasist politics seeks to control change and environmentalism to direct change towards ideological pre-determinism.  They are mutually reinforcing bedmates: stasist politics supplying the tools of enforcement, environmentalism the moral imperative for intervention.

It is an ideology that neither seeks, nor values, individual empowerment. In contrast, globalization is predicated upon a massive increase in individual empowerment from information technology.  The Copenhagen collapse is evidence that stasist politics is a bankrupt ideology, and so is environmentalism.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

the medium is the message

One of the most basic tenets of politics is controlling the message, spinning the information that is in the public domain and framing the way issues are viewed.  As McLuhan famously observed, the medium is the message and no where is this more true today than with the default public record of "fact", Wikipedia.

So, if you wanted to embed science within pre-dominant political consciousness, a key component would require a communications strategy to:
  • bring the mainstream media on board by special access, the use of alarmist scenarios and iconic graphics that overwhelm any sublte nuances of the real scienc
  • block anyone who disagreed or might disprove your ideas from publishing in normal, recognized media, say refereed journals
  • establish a blog that frames your view of the "real" science and refuse to publish comments that fail to conform to your "consensus", and, lastly
  • establish control over the on-line source of facts, Wikipedia.
The Climategate papers show exactly how the conventional dogma for climate utilized all of these strategies to frame and  package their perspective of the science for political consumption.

Of course, the final step was then to demonize anyone who still disagreed, questioned or otherwise objected to this force-feeding of conformity, as a denialist. It was the perfect Orwellian use of newspeak. 

Skeptic became a pejorative for the lunatic fringe, rather than a descriptor of essential scientific practice.  But since so many within the AGW fraud had already dispensed with such other scientific staples as transparency and empiricism, what was the problem?  Their reaction to the Climategate papers continues these tactics.  But authoritarian regimes only exist up until the point the public is no longer scared by the bully tactics and the fear the regime seeks to engender. 

The political wind has now changed.  Copenhagen revealed the extent to which neither the science nor the environment were ever really central to the politics.  They were a convenient contrivance.  Now their 15 minutes of political limelight is done and the realpolitik of wealth, wealth transference and corruption, sorry influence, will resume normal broadcasting.  Watch for a new round of celebrity faces to endorse the new message and whatever path to enlightenment is to be used to package and sell the politics it embraces.

Update: the Team's guy on the inside has had his status as Wikipedia administrator revoked. 
It will be interesting to discover if Wikipedia can or "can't handle the truth!". Apparently not.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

burden of proof and the precautionary principle

I have always enjoyed Brian Micklethwait's writing. He has a nice economy of style and a keen insight.  Here is his latest post and take on Climategate.  He links to the Monckton video that challenges the Team to come clean about their deceit and suggests that the burden of proof in the debate on climate is changing.

Others are less convinced.  One primary corollary is the observation that climate alramism and ecomyths are vested in the precautionary principle and not the certitude of their science. 

As I have posted previously, slavish adherence to and reliance upon the precautionary principle is the very lifeblood of ecomyths.  Their zombie-like ability to morph into new parables for the demise of humanity rests on the continued acceptance of the precautionary principle as both reasonable and beneficial.  

The precautionary principle exploits the possible, the "what if?"  angst of cultural fears and societal anxieties: it neither requires nor respects the probabilities of scientific observations.  

The most damning indictment arising from Climategate is the arrogance and conceit of the scientists involved who thought they could control the politics of precaution they embraced.  Little do they realize the speed with which those politics will dispense with them now they are an embarrassment to its cause.

Mind you, nothing seems to be a political embarassment to climate nihilism.

Monday, December 14, 2009

climate nihilism

Over at Breakthrough, Shellenberger and Nordhaus have posted a provocative commentary on the Contrivance in Copenhagen.  Their preface:
  • From the opening ceremony's video of a little girl running from an earthquake to the promises of emissions reductions, everything taking place in Copenhagen is contrived. The outcome of climate talks -- no treaty, no emissions reductions -- was known in advance. And yet participants pretend there is an unfolding drama. As such, Copenhagen is history's first completely postmodern global event. It's a festival of phoniness. With the ambitions of Versailles but the power of Davos, Copenhagen creates a cognitive dissonance for its creators, which results in ever-more manic displays of apocalypse anxiety and false hope. In the end, Copenhagen tells us more about ourselves -- our post-American world, our fragmented media environment, and our hyper-partisanship -- than about any attempt to slow global warming.
After setting the stage by delineating the post-modern realities and politics of the global  political climate, they suggest that:
  •  Lacking any power to effect reality, Copenhagen has thus become a kind of spiritual pilgrimage. But the pilgrimage is postmodern and the faith is bad.
  • Nihilism is the phenomenon of going to church, saying confession, and sometimes even praying to God, even though you no longer believe that God will do anything for you.
  • Climate nihilism is the phenomenon of going to Copenhagen, promising to reduce emissions and pretending to believe the promises, even neither though you nor anybody around you has any intention, plan or funding to do so.
  • Copenhagen is what you get when science lacks the power to re-shape economies, rich nations cannot tell poor ones what to do, and a supposedly common global threat divides rather than unites the world. Copenhagen represents the twilight of modernist idols.
It is a brilliant and incisive piece.  It reveals the realpolitik challenges of post-modernism and the failings of post-modernity to create positive, viable narratives for sustainability and future prosperity.

The present generation of youth have never not known environmental awareness.  They are immune to protests, posters and placards, the staples of an environmental ideology external to the locus of power. If nothing else, Copenhagen establishes the very political correctness of contemporary environmentalism.  It is no longer radical, chic and daring.  It is the bureaucratic mainstream of inactivity and broken promises. Its zenith is climate nihilism.

It is in response to this reality that the present generation seeks leadership and empowerment.  The Copenhagen conference offers symbolism, not integrity.

Nothing fuels a revolution quite like the discovery that the information you have been fed is dogma, not the truth.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

something is rotten in Denmark

From todays National Post:
  • Sunday marked the coldest Dec. 13 in Edmonton’s history.
  • Environment Canada recorded a frigid -46.1 C, or -58.4 C with wind chill, at the Edmonton International Airport at 5 a.m., Environment Canada meteorologist Pierre Lessard said.
  • The old record of -36.1 C was set last year, he said.
  • “To break a temperature by 10 degrees is very exceptional,” said Lessard.
  • Countries like China and India say the industrialised world must make bigger cuts in emissions and help poor nations to fund a shift to greener growth and adapt to a warmer world.
  • Richer countries say the developing world's carbon emissions are growing so fast it must sign up for curbs in emissions to prevent dangerous levels of warming.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

the harry read me file

Many will have heard about Climategate.  Some will have heard the dismissals that the leaked emails and files are not important to the larger narrative of human induced climate change, which has now supplanted the previous narrative of human induced global warming.

One of the key reasons the leak matters is that it provides a window not only on the conduct of many of the leading scientists in creating the narrative, it goes straight to the claims of scientific robustness and accuracy of the data upon which the claims of crisis are based.

Here is a summation of the Harry Read Me file. It reveals the extent to which the very base data for climate modeling and policy development is presumptive rather than definitive.  That's a polite way to say more fiction than fact.

An example:
  • getting seriously fed up with the state of the Australian data. so many new stations have been introduced, so many false references.. so many changes that aren’t documented. Every time a cloud forms I’m presented with a bewildering selection of similar-sounding sites, some with references, some with WMO codes, and some with both. And if I look up the station metadata with one of the local references, chances are the WMO code will be wrong (another station will have it) and the lat/lon will be wrong too.
  • I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. There are hundreds if not thousands of pairs of dummy stations, one with no WMO and one with, usually overlapping and with the same station name and very similar coordinates. I know it could be old and new stations, but why such large overlaps if that’s the case? Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight.

Now I have no problem with the fact that the data are incomplete, complex and contradictory.  I would expect that, especially since climate itself is a complex, dynamic system about which we really know very little.  My objection is the warmist, alarmist insistence on proclamations of data certainty and the necessity for immediate policy actions that are counter-intuitive to the uncertainties and gaps in our knowledge.  

It is the deceit and the assertion of ideological dogma in the name of science that offends me:

  • The Party wants the Earth to be warming, so that its members can establish their power over every aspect of our lives. The Earth has not warmed in a decade, in fact it has gotten colder. But the Party says warmer, and further, says that the warming is due to human addition of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Come clean, and admit the whole narrative is a political artifice and stop trying to hide behind a sheen of science and claims to a superior environmental morality.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Christopher Essex also teaches at the University of Western Ontario where I am a professor. He offers this succinct exposition of those who remain skeptical of the climate change dogma.

Three simple questions form the basis for our concern :

  • Is there really a problem at all? Who says? Oh yeah, how do they know?
  • What? You thought there’s something more to skepticism’s talking points than simple questions that any reasonable person would ask? But that’s all it ever was about.
  • There is no political wing of some mystery faction. Scepticism isn’t an ideology. There is no hidden agenda. There are no meetings to plot talking points and define positions. It’s not funded by anyone
  • The skeptics, who have actually spoken out, are a motley crew of individuals, who don’t only question the party line, but each other as well.
  • The big money never was in skepticism, although there was some talk about cashing in with a famous skeptics pinup calendar. But we don’t actually need money. We have a secret weapon. Despite the money power fame and influence we are up against, we know that neither the IPCC nor its supporters know what climate will do. No one does.
Sorry, no conspiracy. Some of us even have brand new laptops of our own and have no need to steal one from another professor, nor surreptitiously purchase one from eBay "no questions asked". Nor are we jealous of the limousines, the air travel and the fawning UN entourage. We are mostly just insulted that our resistance to the imposition of dogma should call our own intellectual motives into question.

Meanwhile, for the latest exposition of skepticism and skeptics there is this open letter to the UN.

And, lastly, here is a succinct summation of the whole Climategate fiasco, its relevance and key links to comments, excerpts and the raw leaked/hacked files themselves.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

When is data adjustment really data fraud?

So, the Copenhagen boondoggle has commenced and the hypocrisy is rampant.

Amongst the most galling claims are those that proclaim the changes in climate to be increasingly dire and that the email revelations from Hadley CRU are irrelevant as they do not significantly alter the "facts".

The problem is the emails do call the very facts that undermine the AGW theory into question because they do suggest that the very base data upon which the IPCC process is based are themselves suspect and the product of self-fulfilling manipulation: we know the result that is needed and here it is. The emails provide evidence to suggest this, but in the absence of an audit of the data themselves this remains assertion.

Well here is evidence that moves this claim past assertion and into the realm of substantiated cause for concern.

So, if the science really does matter, more of this type of specific audit of the base climate record is required to demonstrate that the data have not arbitrarily manipulated and biased.

However, if climate change is really only about the politics of constraint and guilt, then the science is irrelevant anyways.

  • ...delegates in the Danish capital have practically glossed over the CRU “Climategate” leaks. That’s partly because they refuse to let the facts get in the way of their cause, but it’s mostly because Copenhagen isn’t about climate change as a physical phenomenon, but rather climate change as an opportunity to regulate people’s lives and incomes on a global scale.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Your Politics Are Showing

The take home message from this latest post by Roger Pielke, J. is simple and direct:

  • The American public may not understand the details of climate science, but they know politics when they see it.
Apparently, some within the scientific community are beginning to awaken to this point -- many are still deeply in denial, which seems justly ironic somehow.

Even the CBC in Canada has noticed what's up:

An excellent summation and clarification of the issues here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Lack of climate debate hobbles policy

Not much I can add to this particular commentary by Nigel Lawson. As always he is succinct, reasonable and eminently sensible.

I am pleased to be posting this link here for wider consumption and for those people with open minds who wish to think and find blogs a good source for contrasting perspectives.

Sadly, my post here is unlikely to be read by most of my own departmental colleagues or the graduate students they instruct. The reaction to my earlier emails on this topic was at first stony silence, then an email from a senior graduate student with a re-assertion of the "science is settled, nothing to see here" circle the wagons variety to "correct" my emails and lastly a final "do not wish to engage in an extensive debate by email" dismissal by a senior colleague.

Well, I am suitably chastened. Naturally we don't wish to engage in extended debate and certainly not by email. Its not as if we are a university, concerned about higher education, free thought or the integrity of science. And the science is all settled anyways, so what is there to debate?

Well, lots actually. Four main issues arise:

  • that climate scientists controlled the publishing process to discredit opposing views and further their own theory
  • they manipulated data to make recent temperature trends look anomalous
  • they withheld and destroyed data they should have released as good scientific practice, and
  • they were generally beastly about people who criticised their work

Some mind find offense to any and all of these actions. Others will shrug and say it is a storm in a teacup. But the reason these actions are important and relevant is why they occurred:

  • Jones and his team began to produce work that contradicted the established picture in 1990 - and CRU was able to do so from both ends. By creating new temperature recreations, it could create a new account of history. By issuing a monthly gridded temperature set while making raw station data unavailable for inspection, it defined contemporary data. So CRU controlled two important narratives: the "then", and the "now".

Two ideas occur to me:

  1. if the science is all so settled, why do we still need further research on this stuff? and
  2. if the political support for the importance of climate change does indeed evaporate over the immediate future as is perfectly possible as part of the fall out of the Hadley "episode", who are the academics whose research grants will disappear?
Once science gets into bed with politics, its not possible to ignore the politics once it turns inconvenient.

Ostrich anyone?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

out in the open

Slowly but surely the mainstream media is being forced to cover the leaked emails from the Hadley CRU and the ramifications therein.

Some good examples from the National Post are here, here and here.

Its way too soon to see if the story has legs but the viral nature of its extensive coverage on the Internet suggests that it might. Why does it matter? It matters because the story has yet to emerge from underneath the allegations and smears that warmists have thrown up as an initial knee-jerk response. Steadily, however, the tide of comments is turning. The realists are not the loony posters any more. Rather they now represent the voice of quite reason and the shrillness is entirely within the die-hard alarmists going the seven stages of AGW death: shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression and acceptance.

Somewhere around the guilt and anger phase, some of the key players will either resign or be encouraged to take early retirement -- right now shock and denial are common, with the last chance hope that the bargaining at Copenhagen will somehow yet pull a rabbit from out of the climate change looking glass.

The news that many world leaders will still attend the Copenhagen talks is seen a life raft for those wanting to jump from the AGW ship. Conversely, the Copenhagen talks can be viewed as the meeting where world leaders collude, sorry -- reach "consensus" -- on the new language to frame their social engineering efforts now that AGW has morphed into climate change and added the moniker "discredited".

Look back at the sixties Rachel Carson inspired framing for environmentalism: pollution became limits, became sustainability, became precautionary principle, became global warming, became climate change. With the events of the past few days, it is expedient to morph from climate change and re-frame the dominant environmental ideology as "stewardship". Same stuff, new packaging: recycle, re-use and reduce. Don't think of anything new, just re-use the existing ideas, recycle the existing constructs and reduce everything to a false moral dichotomy of good (conformity to the dogma) versus evil (non-conformists, individuals, realists, skeptics, deniers...people we don't like, won't let play with our ball).

Alarmism is the basic currency. Chicken Little is employed as chief media consultant and the framing of the problem is adjusted decade by decade but the underlying concepts and defining constructs are not measurably altered, extended nor deepened in sophistication. The ideology is enforced by dogma that the data do not substantiate and each phase of the indoctrination is revealed by the iconoclast who dares question the hegemony of axiomatic assertion: first Julian Simon, then Bjorn Lomborg and now, Steve McIntyre.

But then it only takes one person to identify the truth. Its up to the rest of us to wake up and recognize it and then be empowered to overcome the oppressive forces of authoritarianism in politics, in science and within civil society.

The real shock for many greens, is to discover that far from being the agents of change, they are the forces of oppression. Human beings are not a cancer on the planet. But authoritarianism, in whatever guise it takes, is a cancer on society.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The CRU of a sinking ship?

The issue of the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia Hadley Climate Research Unit continues to gain traction. The UEAs rather defensive press release further fuels speculation that the emails were leaked rather than hacked.

At the same time, analysis and explanation is appearing that clarifies the true nature of the malfeasance documented by the leaked files. One of the best concerns the conduct of the CRU in response to various Freedom of Information requests.

Clearly, this is an issue that is continue to play over both the short term and medium future. It appears to me, that continued stonewalling, deflection and denial are not going to be enough and that the various protagonists represent the CRU of a shrinking ship: AGW.

But a word of caution also is in order. It was Bertold Brecht who wrote:

  • The dog of war is dead. But do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.
And in that vain, the guys at Climate Resistance suggest viewing the CRU leak and the possible demise of AGW in a wider perspective.

  • The point is that any detected or projected rise in temperature does not speak for itself, no matter how sound the science behind it actually is. Any such data needs to be interpreted. That is to say that before you know what ’science says’, you have to know what has been asked of it.
  • In the logic of environmentalism, the sensitivity of climate to CO2 is held to be equivalent to the sensitivity of society to climate. But this, again, has no basis in science. Instead it is an entirely political, or ethical precept, centered on the concept of ‘balance’ and ‘harmony’ with ‘nature’. The function of ’science’, in what follows from environmental logic, is the search for ‘evidence’ of the status of this mythical balance. But, again, ‘evidence’ does not speak for itself, because, again, it requires interpretation. Anything that is not ‘normal’, implies ‘imbalanced’ in this way of thinking.
  • The mistake many sceptics have been making appears to be the mirror of the mistake that environmentalists have been making – they both assume that the argument for environmental politics emerges from environmental science, either correctly as a process that produces objectively sound analysis, or as an institution prone to corruption. It doesn’t.
  • to understand the ascendancy of environmental politics, it must be seen principally as a political phenomenon. The politics is prior to the science.
Environmentalism as an ideology does not rest on the certitude of its science. It co-opts and utilities whatever science is convenient to the political argument it is seeking to make at the moment. What drives environmentalism is not the science but the politics of the precautionary principle.

Ultimately, what will sink the AGW ship will not be a scandal about it's shoddy constituent science and practices. No the undoing of the AGW myth will be the desertion of its political cache. Politicos like to launch ships, not go down with them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Hadley CRU emails

The major topic of a lot of blogs is obviously the release of the hacked/leaked emails from the Hadley CRU.

This summation seems accurate to me:

  • I have seen the files—not all of them, there are too many—and my early take doesn’t change the view I have already formed: climate models have no skill beyond about one year. The models predict warming, but the warming isn’t there, therefore the models are wrong. Why they are wrong is an interesting question, and worth investigating. Many of the emails responsibly take this tack. And they should.
  • I have not seen open acknowledgment that the premise that forms the models is false. That is, that it is possible, even with the observed small increase in atmospheric CO2, that that gas has at best a marginal effect. As far as I can tell by my early reading, all the folks in those emails truly believe their models (it’s the observations they don’t love).
  • There is no conspiracy, as far as I can tell. A conspiracy would obtain if the participants knew their stated beliefs were false, yet the still espoused them with the goal of winning either money, or power, or control, or whatever. My early, and admittedly incomplete, judgment is that all of these people really are convinced that catastrophic warming is on the way and that it will be caused by mankind. Further, they believe it fervently.
Until the basic premise is questioned, alarmist climate change will persist as an ecomyth.

What these emails do is add credence to the claims that belief in global warming is just that: a belief. Moreover, it is a widely held belief amongst many committed scientists. But belief, even that of qualified scientists, is not science: it is ideology. The models of climate are not real, they are virtual. The real climate is the observations and empirical data, and those do not seemingly want to play nice with the warmist beliefs despite their many and varied attempts to have the data conform to their wishes. These emails reveal the extent to which the Team sought to enforce conformity of belief, a consensus on science that by its very definitions is predicated on skepticism and not conformity.

Perhaps this revelation will be enough for the questioning of AGW as an axiomatic construct to commence, which is about all climate realists and skeptics have been seeking.

Friday, November 20, 2009

biggest scandal of the day

So here is a difficult one: which of the following represents the biggest scandal?

  • the complete lack of profile and media attention paid to the UN summit on food security?
  • the revelation that an extensive and highly embarrassing set of files and emails from the Hadley climate center has been hacked, leaked and publicly disclosed? or
  • that cheating in sport is acceptable if the "right" team ends up winning and qualifying for the planet's biggest sports event, the world cup of soccer?
Wow! Tough call.

Political indifference. Corruption. Arrogance. Absence of integrity.

Everywhere you go -- politics, science, sports -- the same ethics appear to be manifest.

Still, where's the harm? Its only the poor, the free thinkers and the Irish that have suffered. And what's the point of principles anyways?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Consensus on climate change

The problem with politicizing science is the inevitability that the science will always be subservient to the politics.

The nail in the coffin of climate alarmists are polls such as this one from the UK.

The one trait all successful politicians share is the ability to accurately interpret polling data. In every jurisdiction, public opinion polls have turned and AGW has officially lost political traction.

The conference in Copenhagen will be more of a wake than a celebration and the only real question that remains is what issue will emerge as the newly framed disaster for widespread alarm, dogma and boondoggling to replace the politically defunct AGW.

Environmentalism suffers from the malaise of moral certitude. Consequently, political framing of environmental issues tends to be partisan and, in the case of AGW, has given rise to climate McCarthyism.

Here is good discussion on the continuing way environmental issues will be framed for political discussion:

  • The green movement isn’t really a movement at all. At best, it is a phenomenon of individuals whose only thing in common is their sense of disconnect and disorientation. At worst, it is a self-serving elitist club.
Even more alarming for environmentalists and scientists alike is the realization that the politicization of climate may completely backfire:
  • Indeed, science often has the quality of a quasi-religious dogma these days, especially in the arena of climate-change alarmism.
  • (which)...actually serves to undermine the pre-eminent authority of science today.
  • (reflecting)...the erosion of the line between science and moralising
Politics involves the manipulation of emotions for control and the expression of power over people. When science gets into bed with politics, it too becomes infused with manipulation and emotion, bias and moral certitude. At this point, science becomes just another ideological construct, subject to the same prevarications and predilections as other ideologies. In short, it becomes more used than useful.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Double Standard About Bias in Journalism

One of my favourite TV correspondents is John Stossel. I find his reporting is consistently forthright, provocative, challenging to axiomatic ideas and both well presented and well researched. In short, what good journalism ought to be.

Stossel has recently changed networks, switching from the politically accepted ABC to the unfashionable (read right of center) Fox. Here is his take on the situation. (Also see here).

Interesting. A journalist is upfront and candid about his politics and is vilified (of course, his are the wrong politics). On the contrary, an explicit declaration of ideology removes bias and clearly identifies the author's advocacy of that ideological perspective: bias is the manipulation of data or facts to align with an ideological perspective that remains implicit and surreptitious.

Keep these constructs in mind, especially when reading blogs and especially in the mainstream media's reporting of environmental issues. Ask yourself:

  • what is explicitly ideological and therefore advocacy?
  • and what is assumptive in its perspective, implicit in its tacit acceptance of axiomatic ideas and biased in its presentation of politically correct dogma?
Now, no ideology is immune to corruption or abuse. But Stossel is right when he says that only one perspective is labeled as biased and objectionable. Just ask the guys over at Superfreakonomics.

Besides, the UK is only one step away from making environmentalism the official state religion and everywhere else, it is the de facto alternative to the evils of capitalism: things like freedom, prosperity, wealth, a free press....thank goodness for George Orwell. Without him, we'd have to conjure up a new term for doublespeak (spin?) to assist people in differentiating advocacy from bias. Of course, Penn and Teller have a more succinct phrase.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Terrance Corcoran has another excellent article today discussing the emergence of "climatism" and the imposition of a stasist green state.  He notes that:
  • Formal state corporatism is unmarketable as a political model, but green industrial statism looks like a winner.
The hype leading up to the Copenhagen debacle is beginning to ramp up.  The trouble for warmists is that not only have they lost the general public's attention, they now have lost most politician's.  Climatism signals the end of AGW as a real concern: it has done its job and fixed climate into the political lexicon as a dominant motive for government intervention, regulation and sibsidy.  The Copenhagen conference will say very little new nor incisive about actual climate mitigation or adaptation.  Rather, it will lay the justification for social engineering in economic policy, energy and resource management, all on the axiomatic imperative of a change in climate that is neither unprecedented nor alarming. 
AGW is best thought of as a great global swindle based on inconvienient truths wherein real climate data have failed their climate audit.  This leads to climate resistance by climate realists, who demand debate about junk science that is not evil, just wrong and fails to address the question, watts up with that?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

green power is not sustainable

One of the basic requirements of sustainability is that economics be integrated with environmental and social concerns.  Ignoring basic economics of reality in the name of those concerns, both perceived and real, is not sustainable.
But in socialist imposition of government policy, all governing rules of common sense are ignored:
  • Under the new Ontario electric power and green energy plans, personally directed by the minister, everybody is protected and subsidized except consumers.
  • Billed as a North American first, the new Ontario green energy plan involves imposing hidden taxes on electricity consumers to fund an industrial strategy based on government directives, subsidies and trade protectionism — all for the benefit of a select collection of rent-seeking corporate interests.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

no longer just broken, the hockey stick is finally dead

I ended my last post by saying that data do not change your perspective, your perspective changes your data: a by-line for this blog. Some see the wisdom of this contention, others query it, or just think it odd, disagree and reject it.

The latest support for the insight of the contention is provided by the ongoing sadness of the hockey stick fraud that was further evidenced with the revelations of this week. They are outlined by Anthony
here, with many accompanying links and enough comments and explanations that those with and without any background can fully appreciate the import of the latest audit findings. (Direct links to Steve's work are here and here).

In short, not only was the infamous hockey stick for global warming produced with faulty methods and suspect data, it is now clear that the data utilized then and subsequently were selectively employed to bias (falsify?) the results. This was done by a small coterie of experts consistent with the prevailing ideology and justification that AGW had to be sold as the public policy crisis of the present era.

These revelations follow hard on the embarrassing admission that data critical to the AGW myth are just not being withheld from scrutiny, they are in fact simply missing: maybe the dog ate them?

Will anyone from the scientific climate community actually step up and sanction the climate alarmists who sought to distort and deceive? It is not the character of academics to do their laundry in public but one has to hope that some strong repercussions at least in the court of public opinion are finally forthcoming to the "Team" for their shameless self-promotion at the expense of scientific integrity

Follow up:

here is an excellent summation of the whole mess by Ross McKitrick, which concludes

  • The IPCC review process, of which I was a member last time, is nothing at all like what the public has been told: Conflicts of interest are endemic, critical evidence is systematically ignored and there are no effective checks and balances against bias or distortion.
  • I get exasperated with fellow academics, and others who ought to know better, who pile on to the supposed global warming consensus without bothering to investigate any of the glaring scientific discrepancies and procedural flaws.
And here is another good summation from Jennifer's blog.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

latest climate data

Many people want to disregard the politics surrounding climate change and AGW. Despite comments about ideology and politicization of science, there are those who still want the whole mess to be just reduced to the facts: what do the data indicate?

Here is a site that presents the data, in historical context, in as neutral, objective a fashion as I have seen.

A recent example is this pdf which contains graphs of temperature, temperature change and CO2 from each of the four sources of temperature data, such as this one:

The author offers these comments:
  • Most climate models assume the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide CO2 to influence significantly upon global temperature. Thus, it is relevant to compare the different global temperature records with measurements of atmospheric CO2, as shown in the diagrams above. Any comparison, however, should not be made on a monthly or annual basis, but for a longer time period, as other effects (oceanographic, clouds, etc.) may well override the potential influence of CO2 on short time scales such as just a few years.
  • It is of cause equally inappropriate to present new meteorological record values, whether daily, monthly or annual, as support for the hypothesis ascribing high importance of atmospheric CO2 for global temperatures. Any such short-period meteorological record value may well be the result of other phenomena than atmospheric CO2.
  • What exactly defines the critical length of a relevant time period to consider for evaluating the alleged high importance of CO2 remains elusive, and is still a topic for debate. The critical period length must, however, be inversely proportional to the importance of CO2 on the global temperature, including feedback effects, such as assumed by most climate models.
  • After about 10 years of global temperature increase following global cooling 1940-1978, IPCC was established in 1988. Presumably, several scientists interested in climate then felt intuitively that their empirical and theoretical understanding of climate dynamics was sufficient to conclude about the importance of CO2 for global temperature. However, for obtaining public and political support for the CO2-hypothesis the 10 year warming period leading up to 1988 in all likelihood was important. Had the global temperature instead been decreasing, public support for the hypothesis would have been difficult to obtain. Adopting this approach as to critical time length, the varying relation (positive or negative) between global temperature and atmospheric CO2 has been indicated in the lower panels of the three diagrams above.
So the data show 40 years of cooling, followed by a 20 year period of temperature increase, followed by the present period of another 10 years of cooling.

In the midst of the warming phase the dogma for AGW was established and has been developed as the central platform for ideological environmentalism since then.

Science gives us measurement. Meaning is provided by us.

And what meaning is applied to those measurements varies with ideology, politics, values and agendas of those framing the public policy issues that arise from the meaning they apply to those data. The data may be neutral: the meaning they are given is never neutral nor free of ideology.

Data do not change your perspective. Your perspective changes your data.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Growth first, climate later

So the major topic of the day is Obama's speech to the UN on climate (well, other than the dust storm that shut down Sydney -- no fear, someone somewhere will manage to link the two, causally: meanwhile see this).

Here is a particularly pithy but accurate take on events:

  • U.S. President Barack Obama more or less shuffled climate control policy off into the great dreamscape of unattainable plans and long range objectives.
  • Like equality for all and peace in our time, the world will have to wait for sweeping and binding climate policy.
  • On the urgency of climate policy, Mr. Obama used language with enough drag coefficient to stop an ocean liner, even one with the momentum and power of climate change.
Other comments of interest include this and this.

So how soon before the careerist advocates of ecomyths abandon the AGW meme and re-surface with another vehicle for their dogma, abandoning climate science to the scientific obscurity it had prior to its Warhol moment of fame?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Tomorrow marks first showing at my local Fine Arts cinema of the re-release of the classic Monty Python film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.   Python humour is deeply ingrained within the cohort that grew up watching all of the original episodes on English TV and re-enacting them all the following morning.  To this day, members of that generation can recall with great accuracy their favourite skits: the cheese shop, the dead parrot, the upper-class twit race, the Bishop and nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!  We may falter at Shakespeare, our Latin and Greek is passed recall, but Python sketches, we have them!
What prompted this reminiscence, was the exchange over at the Roger Pielke Jr. site concerning the pathologies in climate science, the subsequent illustration of tribalism in climate politics and the continued confirmation that nobody expects the Spanish inquisition when they posit reasonable propositions only to be scorned.
Sadly, as Climate Audit continues to document, all climate science is not equal, nor do people practice what they preach.
Over at Climate Resistance, they discuss the status of climate porn and make this observation:
  • ....climate change isn't something difficult for governments to cope with. It is actually convenient.
  • The political establishment's absorption of environmentalism allows it to substantially lower the standard by which it is measured, and gives authoritarianism a legitimising basis.
  • The looming, inevitable environmental crisis instructs the public to lower their expectations accordingly. It means that rather than finding a way through problems such as energy supply, water and travel infrastructure, and of course, raising expectations, politicians can turn the normal business of politics around, and redefine the problem as one of individual morality.
  • The statement that the public must use less electricity, must travel less, and must consume fewer resources is a statement that the public must expect less of politicians and politics, and behave themselves.
  • The failure of the establishment's collective imagination is what drives 'climate change ethics'.
  • The search for international agreements and legal frameworks to 'combat climate change' is a way of externalising what cannot legitimately be done domestically. Once in place, politicians can reasonably argue that punitive climate laws are a matter of international obligation; we are all bound by them, and cannot do anything about them. It defers politics and political accountibility to the strange, undemocratic, inaccessible space that exists between states.
It was Harold Wilson's England that gave rise to Monty Python's particular brand of satire.  Hopefully the current state of political ineptness will serve as similar fodder for new comedy.  Until then, there is this and, of course, the renewed quest for the Holy Grail.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Comment Sense

Two excellent comments today from the National Post.  Lots of journalism is for effect, much of it sensationalist.  Much comment is political opinion and as laden with as much rhetoric as the best spin.  But some, some, offers comment that reflects regular common sense: what I shall call comment sense. 
The first is from Lawrence Solomon, continuing his series on "green" energy alternatives, a topic he has followed for longer than the topic has existed.  His latest words of comment sense concern the future prospects of coal in a "de-carbonized" society:
  • We can be confident that coal use will keep on growing for decades to come, in line with official projections that show worldwide demand soon doubling —without coal for electricity production, most jurisdictions will be unable to keep the lights on.
  • We can also be confident that communities will successfully fend off many if not most of the carbon storage schemes that threaten them and their environments.
  • Finally, we can be confident that governments, after spending tens of billions on carbon storage schemes of dubious benefit, will conclude that the safest place to store today's relatively high levels of carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere, where it now resides.
The second snippet of comment sense is courtesy of Peter Foster, who discusses the ramifications of disputing the politically correct consensus on global warming: which in certain social circles is a dubious, if not heinous, sin:
  • We rely on authority for the vast majority of what we believe, but global warming theory does not rank as knowledge of the same order as whether Iceland exists or the moon is made of green cheese. My reason for believing in the existence of Iceland is that a conspiracy to conjure it out of geographical thin air is passing unlikely. But anthropogenic global warming is different. Far from being an established fact, it is a hypothesis whose allegedly disastrous consequences will occur sometime in the relatively distant future. It also comes attached to considerable psychic satisfactions and political advantages for its promoters.
  • It conforms to a broad view — long and fondly promoted by fans of Big Government — that capitalism is essentially short-sighted and greed-driven (just look at the subprime crisis!). This stance is not merely appealing to activist politicians and bureaucrats, it is pure gold for the vast and growing army of radical NGO environmental lobby groups, whose raison d'ĂȘtre — and fundraising — are closely related to the degree to which nature is seen to be "endangered." It is also appealing to rent seeking businessmen who see the profit potential in the vast array of controls and subsidies.
  • However, once you get people believing in "authority," then you're pretty much home and dry. Authority relieves us of the anxiety of uncertainty and the pain of thought. If the issue can also be portrayed as "moral" (millions of poor people dying from biblical droughts and floods!) then to question it is not merely cause for rejection but censure. Skeptics must be either crackpots or in the pay of Big Oil or Big Coal.
Comment sense reminds us that, despite the dogma peddled in the name of environmentalism, skepticism is scientific and consensus is political. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pockets of sanity getting more prevalent

One advantage of taking a hiatus from daily scrutiny of world events, environmental ideology and policy implementation, is that one realizes the virtue of patience.  Eventually this too shall pass.  The world may be largely an insane entity with only pockets of sanity, but eventually those pockets of sanity are revealed both to those who seek them, and by the excesses of those who prosper from the perpetuation of global insanity: common sense is humanity's saving grace in its quest for sustainability. 
Some recent examples of emerging sanity:
  • What America has today is government by lawyers, ideologues, social engineers and rent seekers. Congress has nary a real engineer, and precious few members with any business background or ability to figure out basic cradle-to-grave energy, resource, economic and pollution equations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks natural gas is an "alternative to fossil fuels.
  • The sad truth is that global warming scare was nothing less than a hoax. Much like the "ice age" scares of the 70's, it was a ginned up "crisis" that socialists in the environmental movement used in an effort to destroy capitalism. Fortunately, the world is watching their theories fall apart due to the current cooling trend.
  • Three cheers for Jairam Ramesh! India at last has an environment minister who is willing and able to denounce the hypocrisy and immorality of the West in twisting the arms of India and China to curb their carbon emissions. He is right to make it clear that India has no intention of signing the new 'climate change' treaty in Copenhagen in December, which would put curbs on the carbon emissions of the Third World.
  • Those development economists and sundry celebrities, who on the one hand, want to see the end of world poverty and on the other, to curb Third World carbon emissions, should be ashamed of themselves for advocating the latter path which will make the former goal impossible to achieve.
In the coming months we are set to be inundated with a full-court press of hype ahead of the next climate conference in Copenhagen.  One fact remains indisputable, what the developed economies of the world do or don't do no longer determines the fate of the world by themselves:
  •  ...each year the increase in Chinese CO2 emissions alone is greater than those produced by the entire British economy. On the fashionable assumption that climate change is entirely driven by CO2 emissions, the effect on global temperatures of Britain closing every fossil fuel power station would be much smaller than the statistical margin of error: in effect, zero.
So when you are exhorted to panic and run around like a chicken with its head cut off because the end of the world is nigh, as doubtless the rhetoric of the coming months will imply, resist the urge, reflect quietly and serenely on your world this past year or so and commit to doing your part to being a little happier, a little more tolerant and a little more involved: be empowered, be engaged but don't be dictated by dogma into irrelevance, poverty and serfdom. 
Remember, "the greatest story teller ever" spun fairy tales from Denmark.  Good place for a climate conference.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

When the student is ready: the teacher will appear

I have recently begun reading again. I underwent back surgery in January, and, during my recuperation, I found I had neither the physical capability nor the mental desire to read. Subsequently, the dearth of postings on the blog for the last couple of months.

This was the longest period of my life since I learnt to read without reading. Normally, I am a voracious reader, with two or three books on my active list, another couple lined up and daily consumption of websites, news and sports. It was odd but strangely enlightening to be not reading anything substantive. I thought, I reflected but did not feel any compulsion to read. Moreover, aside from sports, I found that most of what was on the web was a repeat of previous crises, events and history: that which we do not learn from, we are condemned to repeat.

This past week, I started to read Len Deighton's examination of the Second World War, Blood, Tears and Folly, and Paul Theroux's Fresh-Air Fiend, a collection of his travel writings.

Travel writing is a new genre for me. Usually I travel and make up my own mind about places but as I am teaching a course on Tourism next academic year, I was intrigued to read Theroux.

Strange how these things work. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. The book you are reading, is the book you need to read now in your life.

Theroux writes in his introduction that he finds the information age

...misleading, creating the illusion of knowledge, which is in fact the most profound ignorance.

Connection has made people arrogant, impatient, hasty, and many ways connection has been disastrous. We have confused information (of which there is too much) with ideas (of which there are too few).

We are awash with information, most of it a cacophony of white noise, which people struggle to tune and filter into something relevant to their own daily lives and well-being.

What we lack are ideas.

Particularly ideas that benefit people's daily lives and positively affect their well-being. That is:

  • ideas that have information that substantiates them, rather than invalidating them
  • ideas that empower the individual, rather than making them subservient to authoritative dictate, and
  • ideas that sustain life and prosperity, rather than impoverishing and constraining choice in the realisation of socially engineered dogma.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Understanding energy options post AGW dismissal

Another in a fine series of articles by Lawrence Solomon contains these wise words:
  • Yes, it's important to identify the correct problems, and the non-problems, not just on global warming but on energy policy.
  • More nuclear, wind and solar as a solution to high fuel prices and oil imports? Not a chance, at least not anytime soon.
  • First, nuclear, wind and solar cannot today substitute for oil, which primarily fuels cars and is a feedstock for plastics. Nuclear, wind and solar are primarily used to produce electricity
  • In large part, nuclear, wind and solar are uneconomic for the same reason: They are inflexible technologies that cannot be dispatched.
  • Unlike other methods of generating electricity — from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas or from falling water — nuclear, wind and solar systems cannot moderate their output to meet society's fluctuating demands for power.
  • ...the world's oil reserves have increased by 36% over the past two decades, excluding the massive unconventional reserves in Canada's tar sands and America's oil shale.
  • As for American dependence on hostile countries, this is more myth: America's only suppliers that could be considered hostile are Venezuela, which meets about 6% of U.S. needs, and Russia, which meets 2%.
  • The entire Persian Gulf meets only 12% of U.S. needs, and that 12% comes from three allies: Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.
  • ...decades of environmental pressure has led to immense improvements in coal and other fossil fuel technologies, making them no less virtuous than many renewable fuels.
Pesky things, facts.  Totally get in the way of a perfectly good ecomyth.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where's Walden?

An ugly illness that afflicts liberalism is:
  • ...the patronizing puritanical attitude of those who think that material prosperity is a dead end and that they know better than people who do seek prosperity.
  • This is the Luddite snobbishness that leads liberals to shut down opportunities for those in need, barring the trade that third world countries need for their economic improvement, and preaching self-destructive anti-materialistic nonsense that ends up hurting everyone in the service of allegedly higher goals
And the wellspring of much contemporary liberalism is the seminal work of Thoreau: much revered but seldom actually read by those who embrace his environmentalism and ideology.

Thoreau, whose name is invoked as part of the essential catechism of liberalism,
is thoroughly critiqued in this recent essay:
  • I thought I would delight in the eloquent prose of a journey of self-discovery and celebration of life.

  • Instead, it turns out to be ... pseudo-sophisticated claptrap; a merciless collection of false profundity and Puritanism.

  • Thoreau's ignorance of economics is absolute. His hostility to material prosperity and spiritual invocations to "simplify" are nothing more than the old asceticism of Savonarola transplanted into a quaint country cabin.

  • Not just ignorant, but ignorant in that colossally self-righteous way reserved only for youths.

  • He routinely utters the most sophomoric riddles and paradoxes designed to infect us with his reactionary preference for the allegedly more meaningful life of savages and rural villages, while ignoring the ravages of poverty, disease, illiteracy, ignorance, loneliness, monotony, hierarchy, and darkness that such a life actually represents.

  • There is no doubting that materialism can be a cause of spiritual emptiness and no doubt there are a lot of people who "starve for want of luxuries."

  • But it is always easy to regard another man's things as superficial and another man's pursuits as greedy, while one's own belongings have sentimental value and one's own pursuits are profound (or at least harmless indulgences).

  • It is even easier for self-righteous 30 year olds to regard older men with families as leading lives of desperation, while impressing themselves with the depth of their spiritual access.

Ecomyths persist and propagate not out of pure ignorance but from the imposition of dogma that is inherently ignorant is its composition and construction (e.g. see this manifestation which is a direct translation of Thoreau ideology in a contemporary setting).

Thoreau and Rachel Carson are emblematic of a presumptive moral superiority within contemporary environmentalism: their continued status as revolutionary icons underscores the intellectual poverty of environmentalism as an ideology of real change.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dearth Day, Illustrated

Several sites have posted
this image (or provided links to it): it provides a graphic illustrating of the relative effects of ideology on prosperity.

Korea is one country culturally, in language and geography. All that divides poverty in the North, from prosperity in the South, is prevailing ideology.

Poverty is the default condition of all societies. It is wealth that must be created.

Without wealth, there is no environmental protection, no social justice, no sustainability. We can manage and alter the software of capitalism, but its hardware is non-negotiable, a fact that eludes many ideological environmentalists

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Belief in utopian tyrannies

There is common sense environmentalism, the kind most people practice and identify with:

  • don't waste things unnecessarily
  • value wildlife and nature
  • practice conservation to lower your own bills
  • don't litter or pollute but dispose of waste safely
  • seek a healthy environment, especially for your kids
This is environmentalism characterized by an awareness and appreciation for the natural world balanced with the practical economics of survival and personal security. It is an environmentalism enabled by the general wealth and well-being of the society that practices a responsibility for its own lifestyle.

In contrast, there is ideological environmentalism. The environmentalism of Earth Day, of AGW advocacy and as a political movement. This is environmentalism as an ideological alternative to capitalism, an
ideology of believers, of moralism and social engineering to achieve a vision of low carbon, low consumption, conformity with strict stasist regulations developed and enforced by the "enlightened" elite to save the planet.

This is the ideology of the
  • The believer...begins with an acute sense of alienation from his own society. A secularist, he nevertheless yearns for redemption, so finds a "secular shariah" in any totalist world... "where no individuality exists, and where human estrangement is thus impossible."
  • The believer does not seek truth, he seeks submission to a movement.
  • The price for this cultural orphan's acceptance in his adoptive "vast community" is the amputation of residual emotional ties to his own. Henceforth, the believer must see the flaws of his own society as the keys to all the world's evils. Once inducted, losing membership in the community becomes unthinkable.
  • And so he stops thinking. Logical and moral contradictions disappear. For now he needn't "know" what is plain to see about the ever more oppressive real-world effects — the suffocation of free speech, the arbitrary imprisonment, gulags, terror bombings and stonings — of the utopian system he commits to.
Zealotry is a universal trait of all stasist ideologies. Dogma, the corruption of education and the use of mass media to inoculate the moral pre-determinism of key constructs are the tools of all totalitarian ideologies. Sadly, contemporary environmentalism fits this description.