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?