Tuesday, December 06, 2011

death of a delusion

Dateline Durban: the final death throes of the AGW climate delusion.
  • A week ago, the annual climate change diplomatic cycle convened here in Durban. Global interest in COP-17 goings-on can be gauged by the fact that the media contingent is half what it was in Copenhagen and only 12 heads of state—mostly from Africa—are planning to drop by. Even the activist contingent seems dispirited. When nobody important is paying much attention and nothing significant is likely to be at stake, then, as the Durban draft negotiations documents show, even diplomats can and will say any silly thing that they’d like.
  •  Delegates from 190 countries have gathered in this seaside resort town to see if they can salvage anything from nearly 20 years of climate change negotiations. The prospects are dim. A review of the amalgam of draft negotiating texts [PDF] released this past weekend at the half-way mark of this 17th Conference of the Parties (COP-17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), suggests that few delegates are even trying to pretend that these negotiations are going anywhere. Some countries are making demands for greenhouse gas emissions cuts that are about as credible as Soviet Five-Year plans.

And of course, without China, nothing is possible and China is not remotely interested in the AGW delusion:
  • ...Xie’s statements at the Durban press conference on Monday amount to a kind of octopus ink cloud of diplo-speak designed to confuse credulous activists and over-eager negotiators about its real intentions and goals. If it works China hopes to escape Durban without being blamed for its "failure." The Chinese have no intention of agreeing to an international treaty that would limit their greenhouse gas emissions any time soon. 
Watch the media very closely.  Sometime in the next year a brand new eco-catastrophe is going to be discovered.  It may be a mutation of AGW hysteria, it might be a modification of green energy fetishism but it most certainly will be the coming of Armageddon.  Again.

politics not process

How far and how systemic is the fraud of green energy?  This report on the findings of Ontario's Auditor General offers both insight and depressing clarity:
  • The Auditor-General leaves little to the imagination in his incisive dissection of the government’s top-down, to-hell-with-economics power trip. Even the Cabinet appears to be an after-thought. 
  • In a pointed note at the beginning of comments on renewables, the AG highlights the wilful neglect that continues to dominate electricity policy. “We did not rely on the Ministry [of Energy]’s internal audit service team to reduce the extent of our audit work because it had not recently conducted any audit on renewable energy initiatives.
  • No economic analysis or business case had been prepared.
  • In the belief that politics can defy economics, politicians all over the world are making the big bet that they can overturn the hard rules of supply and demand, the role of prices and the limits of innovation by pushing the right policy buttons. 
  • For a decade to come, Ontario will likely have surplus electricity. Under contracts signed with green-energy producers and others, the government will pay electricity generators billions of dollars to not produce electricity.
Ideology and political manipulation of scientific data are mainstays of ecomyths.  A certain absence of transparency also is common.  But the green energy fraud has reached new heights in the abuse of due process and concomitant assertion of dogma:
  • Mr. McGuinty’s green dream has rapidly become an $8-billion nightmare for Ontario taxpayers and electricity users. Almost no new net power will be generated by all the green-energy projects hastily funded since the bill was passed, but the average residential consumer will see more than $400 a year added to his power bill for a decade to pay for all the bad contracts with and subsidies to eco-friendly power suppliers.
  • ...the whole scheme was largely designed by environmentalists and green-industry lobbyists — “stakeholders” in the government’s euphemistic rhetoric.

Ontario recently had an election.  The perpetrators of Ontario's green energy commitment were re-elected.  On the surface this would suggest a political mandate in support of their ideas and program.  This is not the case.  Not only did the majority of the electorate not vote for the party that "won" the election, a problem arises from the fact that the use of the franchise is only one check and balance that presumes the government is already in compliance with it's own rules, procedures and processes.  As the Auditor's report spells out, in Ontario at least, the government is completely by-passing even its own cabinet, the house and the party to assert the dictatorial fetishes of an inner elite headed by the Premier.  This is not democracy, it is eco-fascism alive and assertive.

Rex Murphy discusses how the situation in Ontario happened.  He concludes:
  • Green is the easiest virtue. All it takes in most cases for politicians is simply to say the word often enough and whatever they propose — for a time — gets a pass.
  • ...that’s where this green obsession leads. It promotes a policy on its moral virtues, not on its real-life impact. 
  • It also has one other feature that politicians are totally unable to resist: Being totally green, they are able, for once, to posture as forward thinking, daring, innovative — even risk-taking — leaders, champions of the Earth, saviours of “the children.” They get to play Superman and Boy Scout at the same time.
And this picture was published showing a windmill bursting into flames as a result of high winds:

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

the inherent contradiction of stasism

This quote of the day from Samizdata is both accurate and pithy: 

  • "“Green” will never be quite the same after Obama. When Solyndra and its affiliated scandals are at last fully brought into the light of day, we will see the logical reification of Climategate I & II, Al Gore’s hucksterism, and Van Jones’s lunacy. How ironic that the more Obama tried to stop drilling in the West, offshore, and in Alaska, as well as stopping the Canadian pipeline, the more the American private sector kept finding oil and gas despite rather than because of the U.S. government. How further ironic that the one area that Obama felt was unnecessary for, or indeed antithetical to, America’s economic recovery — vast new gas and oil finds — will soon turn out to be America’s greatest boon in the last 20 years. While Obama and Energy Secretary Chu still insist on subsidizing money-losing wind and solar concerns, we are in the midst of a revolution that, within 20 years, will reduce or even end the trade deficit, help pay off the national debt, create millions of new jobs, and turn the Western Hemisphere into the new Persian Gulf. The American petroleum revolution can be delayed by Obama, but it cannot be stopped." Victor Davis Hanson.
Once more we see an example of progress despite stasis intervention and interference from government.  How much better off and how much quicker would prosperity extend to all if government was more dynamist and undertook to get with the program, instead of always needing to be the program  and/or to curtail the very engine of innovation that drives progress?

At this juncture one of my more engaged and educated students would usually chime in with the perceived central flaw of my question, which is of course the presumption of an inherent contradiction within capitalism.  Supposedly, capitalism is incapable of compassion and is inherently doomed to contradict itself into demise and failure.  Theory, not practice mind you but a good polemic nevertheless.

Those that hide behind this canard are also those that fail to see the even more glaring inherent contradiction of stasist governance, in practice, namely:
  • It takes a capitalist country to afford a communist government. For communism’s best results, the country it rules should be free enterprise. Wealth that hasn’t been created cannot be redistributed, no matter how much a government needs it.
  •  All governments are communist. Please, relax. What I mean is that all governments expect to be recompensed, not according to the value of their contributions to society, but according to their needs.
  • For a government to derive maximum benefit from the communist formula “to each according to his needs,” it’s better for the economy not to be communist. If it is, it might not be able to meet the government’s needs.
Once again, the difference between theory and practice is larger in practice than in theory.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

climategate 2.0

So the timing is either suspect or very carefully planned, but either way the morass that is Climategate was given a new lease of media fame this week with the release of a second round of emails further damaging the reputations of the climatocacy, the Universities of East Anglia and Penn State in particular and those in the media who were so obsequious for so long to the cadre of climate conspirators.

This is not a story that will blow over quickly nor easily.  AGW hysteria is already on the wane. Politically, climate is no longer a sexy topic for upwardly mobile politicos.  For the public, energy, and especially rising energy costs, has supplanted the nebulous possibility of climate change with an immediate policy concern that has tangible cost and lifestyle implications: windmills are done, dusted and stigmatized; solar has been Solyndra-ized and exposed as a fraudulent waste of taxpayers money, and; the opportunities afforded by shale gas will burn the last bridges of the limits crowd.  Globally, poverty and political freedom, not weather, remain the main challenges facing humanity.

Climategate 2.0 will finally elevate the whole sorry debacle out of the confines of the climate wars and into a broader consideration of:
as might be expected, the plethora of indictment within Climategate2 has eviscerated the remaining shreds of credibility of many climate activists and revealed the personal doubts several had about the public mantra of alarmism and certainty.  

Stupidly, some political activists insist on asserting what is now a very disgraced narrative.  For this, they are being called into account.  This example from Delingpole was too good to bypass:
  • Have you noticed that whenever our beloved Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne speaks his lips never move, only his butt cheeks? It was the same again on BBC Question Time last night. "But Huhne, this is just arrant nonsense," you kept wanting to scream at the TV. "And either you know it's nonsense in which case you're a liar. Or you don't know it's nonsense, in which case you're more incredibly stupid, more badly informed and more ill-advised than any Minister of the Crown has any decency to be."
  • Delingpole then goes on to present the much more polite but even more dismissive letter to Huhne from Lords Lawson and Turnbull.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

life, liberty and social change

Ever since my first exposure to the writings of Virgina Postrel, one of my favorite reads is the magazine Reason, not so much in its print version but certainly its on line manifestation.  Along with being home to Postrel for a while, Reason also acts (or has acted) as host to insightful posts by John Stossel, Ronald Bailey and Nick Gillespie amongst others.

One of the contributing editors at Reason is Radley Balko, a worthwhile read in his own right and an editor with an astute sense of proportion and justice. Here is Balko in response to an interview published by the Economist (h/t Samiizdata quote of the day)

  •  In theory, libertarians share about half of our positions with the right, and about half with the left. Broadly speaking, we're social liberals and fiscal conservatives. The problem is that once in power, neither side pays much heed to the issues they have in common with libertarians, because that would require them to voluntarily put limits on their own power. And politicians don't generally seek higher office for the purpose of limiting what they can do when they get there. So the libertarian stuff is where they're most willing to compromise. And it's what they're least willing to spend political capital defending. 
  •   I think there's reason for some optimism for libertarians. The generations raised on the internet will be more educated, aware, and informed than any before them, and I think that has instilled in them some naturally libertarian instincts, particularly when it comes to issues like government transparency, accountability, censorship, and police power.
  • George Orwell wrote of government power, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever." He may still be right, but there's now a decent chance someone will be there with a cell-phone camera to post it on YouTube. And exposing abuse of power is half the battle.
One of the staple exam questions in my 3rd year course on sustainability and change, is to ask " what are the prospects for widespread adoption of dynamism?".  Balko's remarks give me cause for optimism that the firmament for continued progressive change is intensifying.  And, that in an era of globalized information accessibility, empowerment and personal publishing, a libertarian dynamic is in the ascendency.  Hopefully so, because there is precious little sign of it within the halls of academia.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Reforming the money system

Much of the furor over ecomyths gets conflated with -isms: capitalism, corporatism, consumerism, etc. . Environment becomes an emotional sub-set of a larger, ideologically constructed narrative within a stasist prescription necessitating greater levels of increased governance.  The most recent incarnation is the Occupy Wall Street event and its affiliated franchises. 

Which leads to the central question of fiscal reform and the world's banking industry which is patently no longer suited to the globalized reality of today's economy.  So the question that arises is: how to address the failings of the system and the systemic inflation, under-employment and lack of economic sustainability of many nation states?

Here is one voice who seems to know what to do and, more importantly, what not to do.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Matt Ridley on heresy

Very happy to assist in disseminating this excellent talk by Matt Ridley.   One of the most erudite public speakers on environmental issues, Matt is speaking about scientific heresy, which naturally enough leads him to discuss climate.

He states:

  • let me be quite clear. I am not a “denier”. I fully accept that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, the climate has been warming and that man is very likely to be at least partly responsible.
  • So what’s the problem? The problem is that you can accept all the basic tenets of greenhouse physics and still conclude that the threat of a dangerously large warming is so improbable as to be negligible, while the threat of real harm from climate-mitigation policies is already so high as to be worrying, that the cure is proving far worse than the disease is ever likely to be. Or as I put it once, we may be putting a tourniquet round our necks to stop a nosebleed.
  • I’ve looked and looked but I cannot find one piece of data – as opposed to a model – that shows either unprecedented change or change is that is anywhere close to causing real harm.
  • A theory so flexible it can rationalize any outcome is a pseudoscientific theory.
  • So to say there is a consensus about some global warming is true; to say there is a consensus about dangerous global warming is false.
  • We are below even the zero-emission path expected by the IPCC in 1990*
  • Does it matter? Suppose I am right that much of what passes for mainstream climate science is now infested with pseudoscience, buttressed by a bad case of confirmation bias, reliant on wishful thinking, given a free pass by biased reporting and dogmatically intolerant of dissent. So what?
His "so what?" conclusion is that, yes, it does matter a great deal.  Stasism relies upon the perpetuation and indoctrination of conformity.  Politicization of science is conducted to provide the desire for stasist control of society with a sheen of compelling logic and self interest.  The present climate debate is fraudulent in that it less about the integrity of the sconce and more about the manipulation of society for the purposes of elitist social engineering.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

is the damage already done?

So while Donna Laframboise applies the last rites to the credibility of the IPCC, a lingering question remains: is it too late?  Has the damage already been done?  Is the climate narrative too deeply embedded within the political and social fabric of contemporary society for sanity to prevail?

Perhaps.  Matt Ridley offers this excellent discussion on the relative merits of shale gas and windmills as newly acquired sources of energy, their peceived acceptability and media profiles:

  • To persist with a policy of pursuing subsidized renewable energy in the midst of a terrible recession, at a time when vast reserves of cheap low-carbon gas have suddenly become available is so perverse it borders on the insane. Nothing but bureaucratic inertia and vested interest can explain it.
Bureaucratic inertia. Check.
Vested interest. Check.

Ecomyths persist long after they are scientifically exposed as fraudulent precisely because they conform to the predominant dogma of the ideology that serves and justifies bureaucratic inertia and vested interests.  

Environmentalism is no longer the ideology of reform, of rebellion, of revolution: it is fully co-opted as the dominant dogma of stasist conformity and control.

the IPCC as environmental problem child

Judith Curry has posted this review of Donna Laframboise's new book on the IPCC The Delinquent Teenager.  I have been a bit slow off the mark, and have not completed my reading of the book yet and was going to promote it once that was done, but delaying further seems unnecessary.

If you are a regular reader to this site, you are probably already well aware of Donna's meticulous documentation in a series of posts exposing the fraud of the presumed moral authority of the IPCC.  Judith's excellent review clearly confers on Donna's work the very stamp of legitimacy that The Delinquent Teenager strips from the sorry shell of the IPCC edifice.

Are the politics of climate still as polarized and toxic as ever?  Or is there a new spirit of reform and cordiality?  Reactions to Donna's book will be extremely telling.

Friday, September 30, 2011

the governance problem

The problem with contemporary governance is twofold:
  1. theory:  the perception that the primary purpose of government is to provide, rather than to enable, and
  2. practice: the self-serving, sanctimonious idiots who appear to hold sway and influence within the corridors of power.
I can't decide in this particular case of chicken and egg which needs to be addressed first because clearly, in this case, theory and practice are mutually re-enforcing.  (Also see here, here and here.) 

Whereas once governance was a balance between policy development and administration, today's entitlement paradigm is a nasty network of insidious insiders moralizing about their self-perceived assertion of values and the imposition of regulations on the "others" who require the direction and social engineering the ruling elite ascribe.

I was not born into the ruing class and a healthy streak of bloody mindedness and self-assertion has successfully removed me from any inclusion in the inner circles of the contemporary green bubble of environmental dogma and indoctrination.  Mostly I don't mind but when such foolishness becomes the very lifeblood of authoritarian control and paternalism, I am offended.  I am doubly so, when its proponents call it "governance".

So there is an opening.  Part Groucho Marx, part V for Vendetta and part Jonathon Swift, we have need of a contemporary leader to rescue us from our malaise, our coma of complacency and the corruption of political values that undermines the ability of the individual to ignore the paucity of good governance presented at the ballot box.  Only one thing is truly limited today: leadership.


Of course the most natural answer is education and most consider more education to be essential to achieving change.  But not if that education is purposely designed by the state to both oppress and minimize individual liberty in subservience to the state.

See this post on the role of the state in education (none) and this video on why.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

the last laugh

Also from this summer's headlines:

Convincing new science.  Wow, You would think the mainstream media would be all over this.  You would think academia and educators would be all over this.  But, apparently, in the new order of environmental dogma, convincing new science is an oxymoron.  We are now in the era of pre-conceputal science.  Dogma outlines the truth, the way, the path.  Science is then those data that confirm the pre-conceived constructs of the dogma and all empirical evidence to the contrary is irrelevant, wrong or just a vast libertarian conspiracy. We are truly lost in paradigm space.

Or we can look at the CERN study and logically assess its meaning for the politically-driven agenda of AGW.

Sustainability, stupidity and progress

So, where are we?  Is today’s political landscape resplendent with potential and progressive innovation?  Or is it still entrapped in a plethora of dogma and adrift in a sea of stupidity?

Well let's consider the narrative from the summer months:

  • The world's economy has fundamentally changed and continues to undergo serious revision.  Despite the improvements in human welfare from globalization, the ideology of environmentalism remains entrenched in the dogma of eco-imperialism which ignores facts in favor of spouting moral rhetoric about environmental justice and fairness.  
  • This moralism is a guise for ideological money laundering. It is exposed by the fallacy that is green growth, most evident in the energy sector, which continues to force supposed green energy non-solutions.  The two most popular currently are windmills and solar panels, which are promoted primarily on moral grounds precisely because their economic justification is untenable. 
  • The answer to our energy needs (cheap energy, especially in developing nations) is, actually, more efficient and effective use of our existing resource base.  
  • Instead, politicians from all over the developed world are on a binge of tax imposition, in the name of environment and in deference to the continued use of the global warming scare, despite its constant refutation and lack of scientific validation. 
  • But why the need to constantly refute and slay the myth of global warming?  In part because those truths are systemically obscured and obstructed, ignored as inconvenient by celebrity activists and/or misconstrued, perverted and misrepresented in the junk science that predominates the environmental landscape today. 
  • That dogma is pervasive and affects public policy not only in areas such as energy and development but also into lifestyle regulation and social engineering fear mongering about obesity epidemics, the perils of junk food and the moral failings of the very development that is improving the human condition.
    So although we have the capacity to be sustainable, we appear locked into a cycle of political stupidity, promoted and promulgated by an environmental activism that seemingly rejects sustainability as a primary concern for the human condition, for improved human welfare.

    Environmentalism remains an ideology of the intellectual elite. Moreover, it is an ideology of the economic and political elite, the ruling classes.  They view their intellectual hegemony as "truth", their dogma as "science" and their politics as "justice". Worse still, in their arrogance and conceit, they fail to see where they are stupid and not sustainable.

    Sustainability is not stupid, stupid is not sustainable

    What makes something sustainable? What defines sustainability?

    To be sustainable an activity, action or policy must first satisfy a need, want or desire.  In short, a demand must exist.  The first fallacy of sustainability is to correlate sustainability with supply: sustainability is not a function of supply, it is a function of demand – existence of a substance does not define its potential as a resource, its utility does.  An entity having use, utility and a perceived worth to users, has a functional value and thus, constitutes a resource for which a demand exists. As technology changes, so does our sense of value of substances as to their value as a resource.

    So, first condition of sustainability: demand.

    Secondly, sustainability is defined by effectiveness.  Any activity, action or policy that is ineffective should by definition, be considered as inherently unsustainable.  If sustainability is the continued, progressive improvement from a base condition, any action, activity or policy that is ineffective, that exacerbates rather than improves the base condition, is therefore antithetical to sustainability, it is inherently unsustainable.

    So, a second condition of sustainability: effectiveness.

    Thirdly, sustainability is defined by efficiency.  Sustainability is the progressive improvement of the human condition.  To do more, in more places, more often, for more people is the very essence of efficiency.  Sustainability of any activity, action or policy is contingent upon economies of scale and context, the efficient delivery of change in a manner that make the activity, action or policy valuable to users and a perceived improvement in their living condition and situations.  Demand moves from quality to quantity as the free-market rules of economics are applied. Attention and application of efficiency is the fundamental law of economics which determines which innovations are sustained and life changing and which are fads, passing fancy and whims for which no imposition or government fiat can enforce their widespread adoption.  Without efficiency, an idea is just that: an idea.  Efficiency is essential to the successful implementation of any sustainable activity.

    The third condition of sustainability is efficiency.

    But what of ideology? Of defined “greenness”? Of perceived necessity for ecological salvation, world peace and/or sky falling pandemic?  None of these elements define sustainability, nor can they pre-empt either of the three essential and inherent conditions described above.
    Activists may seek to impose any activity, action or policy in the name of whatever contemporary ideology is in fashion and in the political ascendancy.  Declaring something green, trotting out studies that indicate the necessity for any prescribed activity, holding mass rallies of support and/or corrupting and co-opting whole systems of governance can not obviate nor hide the essential character of any proposed activity, action or policy.  And if the advocated change is not sustainable, it is unsustainable and, thus, stupid.

    But, wait, can’t something just be neutral?  Neither good nor bad?

    No.  That is the crux of sustainability.  There is no steady state, no neutrality.  Every activity, action or policy has implications, effects and affects that either move societies and individuals towards an improved state or preclude that movement, act to facilitate positive change or hinder its achievement.  To stand still is to lose ground as change is constant and innovation and the human condition must continue to progress alongside those natural changes: any dead fish can float downstream, progress comes from the constant application of efforts to improve, to develop, to innovate to sustain the human condition. 

    Sustainability is human progress defined by demand, effectiveness and efficiency.  Nothing is sustainable that does not satisfy these three conditions.

    Moreover, if one accepts that improving the human condition is the most important and valuable activity, action or policy one can engage in, any change that precludes, hinders or otherwise slows the implementation of sustainability through a lack of demand, ineffectiveness and/or inefficiency, is stupid.

    So, where are we?  Is today’s political landscape resplendent with potential and progressive innovation?  Or is it still entrapped in a plethora of dogma and adrift in a sea of stupidity?

    Smart vs. stupid

    Smart is not just knowing what you know, it is also knowing what you don't know.

    Stupid is when you either don't recognize what you don't know or you refuse to acknowledge that there are things you don't know.

    When people make mistakes and errors in judgment, this is usually the problem, not basic intelligence but a refusal or inability to acknowledge what one does and does not know.

    The world is full of officials who confuse education with learning, think they are smarter than they are, lack creativity and instead go around trying to regulate and control people whose talent and creativity both frightens and intimidates them. Nothing scares a bureaucrat more than a free thinking creative spirit who does not conform to the rules the bureaucrat imposes to bring everyone down to their level of comprehension.

    What people do not understand scares them: first they seek to control it, and what they can not control, they then set about destroying. Fear is an much easier emotion to use politically to control people than trust: which is why so many people of limited capacity gravitate to government and administration -- they seek to impose power on others to make up for their own creative inadequacies.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    peer-reviewed? not

    The last line of defense regarding the AGW mantra for any advocate of human induced climate alarmism is always the 2007 IPCC report.  Not only is it consistently cited as the definitive perspective on climate, it is robustly defended as being the consensus of over 2,500 scientists and the best of science because it is peer-reviewed.  Inferred in that defense is that the IPCC is to be trusted as the authority because it is so unlike all those pesky blogs that have ripped holes in the IPCC science, the consensus and the combination of inaccuracies, mistakes and ideological contrivance that is the IPCC report.

    Unfortunately for AGW advocates the credibility of the IPCC process and its report suffered in the wake of Climategate, Himalyagate, Amazongate and the rest, the collapse at Copenhagen and the general ignoring of Cancun.  Despite this, many have persisted with the peer-reviewed, best science narrative as their rationale for retaining both their belief in AGW and their assertion that the IPCC should be trusted.

    Over at her blog, Donna Laframboise has slowly but methodically been scrutinizing the both IPCC and its report, first ripping apart its claims of wide consensus and participation, and now, its claims to peer-review gold standard excellence.  Seems fully 30% of the citations contained within the 2007 IPCC report do not originate from peer-reviewed sources.

    So, to re-cap.  Not only do we know that the IPCC process contrived to exclude data and papers that contradicted its dogma, we now have evidence that 30% of those sources that were used were non peer-reviewed.

    Trust: not so much.
    Authoritative: hardly.
    Driven by ideology: definitely.

    We only get answers to the questions we ask.  The IPCC was never mandated to ask the right questions.  Still isn't.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    why climategate won't go away

    The mainstream reaction to Climategate within both the climate orthodoxy and within academia more generally, has been to hang tough and downplay its significance.

    The preferred narrative is still to portray Climategate as a theft of emails, an illegal hack of irrelevant personal "boys will be boys" jocularity and mischievousness: oh, those naughty climate guys.  In best British tucker it is sometimes OK to admonish the lead climateocracy mafia with a simple "awfully bad form old chap" and the US equivalent has been to rally a well orchestrated and funded round of media spin and redemptive pap.

    Academics largely don't sully themselves with such mundane politics and, thus, the prevalent institutional and individual response within academia has been to hunker down, keep the peer review, graduate studies and grant treadmill ticking over and wait for the winds of outrage to blow themselves out.

    Well, despite these best attempts at ostrich personification by the academy, Climategate simply refuses to go away. 
    First, James Delingpole's various postings and characterisations of CRU and Phil Jones in particular were validated by the British Press Council.  Showing it had learnt nothing from the Climategate debacle, the University of East Anglia had objected to Delingpole's language and characterisation of Jones as “disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing”.

    You would think the lessons would have been learned by now.  But no.  The Team and their respective institutions continue to obfuscate and drag their heels rather than simply comply with FOI requests and the requirements for data disclosure.  Which only makes their continued reluctance more damning when further evidence of the real reasons behind the Climategate leaks slowly become more apparent as they have with this post over at Climate Audit, nicely summarized for the non-technical by the Bishop.

    Climategate now appears to be a deliberate leak to point out the true nature of the data manipulation and selectivity driving the hockey stick and the perpetuation of the myth of contemporary climate change being unprecedented.

    The silence from other climate scientists is deafening.  In particular, other reputable climate scientists need to step up:
    • condemn the actions of the Team revealed by Climategate
    • not defend those actions as irrelevant
    • not dismiss the Hockey Stick as unimportant to the AGW narrative, and
    • accept that we do not have enough definitive knowledge to either verify the original IPCC premise of CO2 driven AGW, nor to sustain its pre-emptive focus within climate study
    Climate changes.  The time has come to remove climate science from the political spin of the IPCC and re-insert it back into the realms of scientific enquiry and discovery free of public policy obligations and political agendas.  Moreover, the time has come to recognize that climate change was used as a contrivance to hijack and define the central narrative for environmental politics. 

    Update: time enough to add another excellent cartoon from Josh 

    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    the winds of change

    Change in axiomatic constructs always is slow but it is both insistent and inevitable once reasonable people beginning questioning assumptions and examining, causality rather than merely accepting ideological assertions.  Today, I want to highlight two examples of the extent to which orthodoxy and dogma are no longer being automatically accepted as axiomatic.

    The first is the latest in a series of studies that examine the actual performance of windmills as a power source.  The significance of this latest study is that it was commissioned by an environmentalist organization predisposed ideologically towards the promotion of wind as a power source.  The study finds that wind power is not only unreliable, but actual generation of power occurs less than 20% of the time in over half the installations and power generation is less than 10% pf capacity in over 30% of cases.  Simply put, wind power is not only massively inefficient, it also is massively ineffective: current wind power technology will never be anything but a small sporadic supplemental power source.

    The second example is a wonderful summary of the latest research on the potential (apparent?) influence of solar variation on climate change.  The presentation is available as a YouTube video and is an excellent example of how science will eventually act to right itself.  The IPCC models and mantra are dismissive of solar as a forcing mechanism within climate change, partly from a lack of understanding and appreciation, but mostly from an ideological commitment to the exclusive promotion of CO2  as the sole driver of climate change. Coutillot's presentation is informative and summarizes much of the latest research.  However, it also alludes to the ongoing difficulty still facing scientists who work outside the parameters of the IPCC agenda. 

    People of integrity expect to be believed.  And when they are not, they let time prove them right.

    Monday, April 04, 2011

    good reads from down under

    In the wake of the floods this Spring and the continued uncertainty over the Federal government, the issue of climate change continues to be more central within Australian politics than to other jurisdictions where it has quietly slid on to the back burner (and beyond in some instances).  In a policy climate that continues to be volatile, it is gratifying that this week two postings emerged that illustrate a balanced and credible delineation of the issues.

    The first is a post on Roger Pielke Jr.'s blog by Neville Nicholls which discusses the causes of the recent extreme rainfall in E. Australia. He concludes that the cause was the record La Nina event, but, no, that event is not related to AGW, nor was it driven by human induced climate change. Moreover, to conflate the true cause, the extreme ENSO, with AGW-related aspects of global warming, is not scientifically credible.

    The second  was over at Judith Curry's blog and was an essay by Don Aitkin on the current state of the climate debate.  Aitken offers a wonderfully balanced summation of the contrasting perspectives of both the supporters of the AGW orthodoxy and its dissenters, offering a description of the myriad a variants inhabiting both broad perspectives.  Along the way, he offers an accurate asse4ssment of why the climate debate has faded from both public and political centrality over the past 2 yrs. and the challenges that the invigorated blogosphere discussion of climate presents to another orthodoxy, that of academic peer review.

    Too often discussion and perspective are subsumed within a morass of confirmation bias, ideology and self-interest.  These two posts illustrate that intellectual discussion does not have to be that way.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    embedding myths

    It has long been a contention of mine that ecomyths are embedded into public consciousness by ideologues, who are often well intentioned but usually are intellectual elites seeking to impose on the world their notion of what is correct, required and necessary for others.  They are stasists in thought and method and the very antithesis of the dynamism necessary for the implementation of sustainability.

    Of course, such elites merely espouse sustainability as a construct: they have no real allegiance nor commitment to human sustainability, freedom or development.  No, ecomyths exist primarily as a tool for their own exercise of control, the desire to exert power of the direction and characteristic of the life others should lead.

    Two examples today of how:
    • ecomyths become embedded in the public domain
    • elites use a selective interpretation of science as an apparent imperative to justify their ideology and,
    • the politics of eco-activism, governance and intellectual elitism, are mutually reinforcing elements that drive stasism.
    The first example describes the mis-use and abuse of science by eco-activists in a demarketing campaign designed to stigmatize fish farming, embedding in the process the well-worn ecomyths of toxic pollution, health risks and the anti-environment narrative of commerce and technological advancement (even when that progress provides employment, food and health benefits).

    The second is the latest in a series of articles debunking the myth of obesity.  It suggests that
    • obesity crusaders remain unaware that there is an absence of scientific evidence to support their assertions
    • the success of the obesity crusade rests not on the truth of its science, but on the way in which the obesity entrepreneurs use that science to change policy.
    The policy fields vary tremendously but the defining characteristics do not:
    • a self-appointed and self-serving coterie of aspiring officials, bureaucrats, politicians and activists
    • funding an ambitious cadre of scientists
    • a compliant and non-intrusive media
    • a phalanx of celebrity enablers, and 
    • a mutual distaste for, and disregard of the masses, their thoughts and values and livelihood.
    There is no large scale conspiracy here. Just the latest manifestation of the centuries old imposition of elite ideology on the rest of society.  The only difference is that the tools are now the very implements and features of enlightenment that were meant to remove the imposition of oppression: information, science, media, literacy, democracy.

    There is, however, one crucial difference between today and previous generations: the masses are neither ignorant nor compliant.  As with climate, the continued mis-use and abuse of science will only serve to remove the trust the masses place in those elites who hide behind ecomyths to justify their policies.  Politicians are right to be wary of the Tea Party and its local variants.  Academics are wise to be wary of blogs and peer to peer accountability. Freedom is indeed scary to those who wish to impose power over people rather than empower them.

    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

    caught with the hand in the cookie jar...

    There are those who still contend that Climategate was (a) a theft  (b) much ado about nothing and (c) confirmed as such by the "independent inquiries" that have "exonerated" the leading protagonists of the climatocracy revealed by the emails to have fatally corrupted the IPCC process in subservience to the interests of the CRU/Team.  Some are trolls who pop up on blogs, repeat their mantra, throw in a snide ad hominem remark and then retreat back to their morally superior perches of privilege and ignorance.  Still worse are those in the larger academy who ignore the whole affair in the hopes that no one will see that the behaviours and actions of the climate coterie are not that unusual within the venal corridors of higher education.  Indeed, as long as those activities bring substantial amounts of funding and prestige, they are both officially sanctioned and praised by administrators who view the academy as them and professors as mere minions to serve at the administrators' directive.

    Feigned ignorance just got more difficult. Denial of inquiry whitewashing and soft-pedalling just got more difficult. Defence of the Team and its actions just got more difficult.  Academic endorsement by subtle, tacit acceptance of the necessity of the Team's actions just got more difficult. 

    Just as Climategate confirmed much of what skeptics had alleged and criticised about the IPCC process, the antics of CRU and the bully, expertise politics of the climatocracy, so there are now revelations and confirmation that indeed, emails were deleted by request, truth was obscured and that the inquiries established to root out these issues, did not do this job.

    Simply put: the game is up and sooner or later it will get very messy and legal.

    Any academic now has a final chance to demonstrate and rescue their intellectual and personal integrity.  To continue to ignore, excuse and otherwise endorse the actions of the Team in the development and promotion of the Hockey Stick meme is to lose any pretense of objectivity and self-respect.
    Cartoons by Josh.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2011

    theory vs. practice redux

    Theory is interesting.  It starts with someone's ideas, intuition or ideology.  It builds momentum using selective data until the point it becomes an accepted, axiomatic construct, the mainstream narrative.  It can only be challenged by a counter explanation, but the counter explanation requires far more evidenciary traction and explanation than the original hunch, guess or bias because that prevailing theory has now become the dogma with which people have emotional investment.

    Let's deviate away from the strict ecomyth to illustrate this dynamic and use instead the housing and financial mess in the US as an exemplar.  Most know of the situation but rely on either the mainstream media or their selected on-line sources for their understanding of the actual circumstances and explanatory constructs: why let facts interfere with confirmation bias?  Moreover, in this like many other situations, our actual knowledge tends to be indirect and subject to ideological interpretation.  Despite this, there is a dominant narrative, a theory that has gained acceptance as the "correct" explanation for what happened.

    But what if these are not in a strict sense, fully accurate? Truthful, but only in the details, not the intent and not so far as the origins of the crisis?  We only get the facts we ask for.

    Here is an alternative explanation that does look to cause.

    And, here is an actual example of the dynamic in play with its results.

    If nothing else, Obama will leave the US presidency with at least one clear legacy: crony capitalism as the new community.  

    The art in politics, as always, is selling the people on the narrative of what you claim to be doing and not on its substantive details.  

    The art of the myth.

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    The difference between theory and practice is greater in practice than in theory...

    The title for this post comes from a reply to a comment in response to this post by Willis Eschenbach.

    As with many people I am familiar with in the blogosphere, I have never met Willis in person.  Indeed, I know of him only through his posts at Climate Audit, at WUWT and at Climate Etc..  He has always impressed me with his insight, his candor and his constructive ideas.  In short, Willis thinks rather than merely reciting from dogma. Thus, I was very intrigued to get his back story and impressed that he took the time to reply to all the anonymous and sometimes very personal attacks at him personally as a result of his sharing his ideas.

    Shaw once said that youth was wasted on the young.  I think if he was alive today, he might be tempted to say that education is wasted on academics.   An educated mind should be an open mind.  It is one of life's most perplexing paradoxes for me that so many academics are closed minded.

    Willis puts many in the discussion of climate and environmental change to shame.  The dialogue would indeed be that much more engaging and productive if all involved were as sanguine.  Having letters after your name does not make you smart, informed nor enlightened.  It should, however, confer a requirement for open mindeness and intellectual curiosity.  Sadly, it does not.

    The difference between theory and practice is greater in practice than in theory...