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A Traitor At The Court Of Global Warming

Global Warming

I was recently invited to participate in a workshop to discuss climate change. However, looking at the workshop’s website it became obvious that, despite the genuineness and warmth of the invitation, I would probably, soon after my arrival, become the most unpopular participant there. The following quotation taken from the workshop’s website was one of the many that I profoundly disagreed with: “The door is closing on our ability to keep climate change within safe levels.” The statement linked to a May 2012 Reuters article announcing that: “The chance of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius this century is getting slimmer and slimmer”. The problem with the Reuters’ statement is that the science has already changed since it was written. Just a few weeks ago climate scientists announced that they now believe global warming is occurring at a much slower rate than previously thought so the door is going to stay open for a while longer.

Now, I don’t want to quibble about rates of warming but there is in the global warming community a degree of certainty and unanimity about the future that belies the nature of the underlying science. In England where the weather is more variable than California, the inaccuracy of weather forecasts, even a few days out, is legendary. Almost in recognition of their inability to make accurate predictions, English weather forecasts cover as wide a range of possibilities as possible, like for example, “Monday will be cloudy with sunny intervals and the possibility of scattered showers.”  Edward Lorenz, the father of chaos theory rightly saw climate as, “a complex, non-linear, chaotic object” that defies long-term prediction.

But, even if climate change is not kept within ‘safe’ levels, what is there to be afraid of? Why is global warming thought to be such a bad thing? Throughout mankind’s history it is cold that has been feared not warmth. Sea levels will not rise overnight. For the last 5,000 years the rate of rise has only been about seven inches per century. There will be more than enough time for coastal residents to adapt. Furthermore, there will be more, not less biodiversity as most trees, plants, birds, and animals extend their ranges. The northern plains in Canada and in Russia will become warmer and will produce more food to compensate for any loss in production in the Southern Hemisphere. Anyway, it’s high-tech farming, not climate that has governed world food production since the 17th century. As Fred Singer and Dennis Avery note in Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years: “Any famines will be humanity’s fault, not the fault of the climate.”

In 1968 Paul Ehrlich said in his book The Population Bomb: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…” Unfortunately for Ehrlich the Green Revolution came along and spoiled his prophecy. So much for the prophets of environmental doom.

Climate change activists are unanimous that mankind is responsible for global warming and I certainly don’t deny that very real possibility, but let’s use some common sense here. Scientists can predict the motion of two bodies in space that interact with each other gravitationally. However, add a third body and the problem becomes so complex that it can only be solved in special cases. However, there are fifty or more factors involved in climate change ranging from ocean currents, magnetic fields and sun spot activity to cloud cover, cosmic rays and hothouse emissions. Complexity Theory as well as common sense tells us that where there are so many variables, the probability that one factor has a 90 percent responsibility for a particular action is extremely remote. Nevertheless, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claimed in 2007 that they were more than 90 percent confident that mankind is the main culprit for global warming. I am a great fan of science but when politics and science mix, generally good science goes out the window.

Another quotation taken from the workshop website was the following: “One of the ideas developed there was that if we are to stop people going in an unsustainable way from A to B then we have to offer them a better alternative C.”  The phrase ‘sustainable development’  seems to on the lips of everyone today who wants to limit growth and reduce consumption, however you will not find it in any economics textbook because the concept is vacuous and lacks meaning in a market-based economy. We are not going to run out of natural resources because knowledge is a multiplier of resources allowing us to extract more value from the same amount of physical resource. To illustrate this point, Ramez Naam suggests in his book, The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet, that readers melt down their iPhones and try to sell the raw materials: “The accumulated knowledge of materials, computing, electromagnetism, product design, and all the rest that we’ve learned over the last several centuries converts a few ounces of raw materials worth mere pennies into a device with more computing power than the entire planet possessed fifty years ago,”

Finally, some more quotations from the climate change website:

“the current slowdown in funding, shows that a ‘bottom up’ solution to the crisis will not be easily delivered”

“We will be bringing together leading thinkers from politics, science, technology, business and culture to work on how we plan a new economy.”

On second thoughts my blood pressure is rising and it’s clear that the ideas behind these quotations require a post of their own. Watch this space.

______________________

“The pace of global warming is accelerating and the scale of the impact is  devastating. The time for action is limited – we are approaching a tipping point  beyond which the opportunity to reverse the damage of CO2 emissions will  disappear.”  Eliot Spitzer

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About Malcolm Greenhill

Malcolm Greenhill is President of Sterling Futures, a fee-based financial advisory firm, based in San Francisco. I write about wealth related issues in the broadest sense of the word. When I am not writing, reading, working and spending time with family, I try to spend as much time as possible backpacking in the wilderness.

View all posts by Malcolm Greenhill

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67 Comments on “A Traitor At The Court Of Global Warming”

  1. Bill Hayes Says:

    Speaking against global warming might soon become an offense like Holocaust denial.

    I am wqith Jeremy Clarkson on one issue when he says..”I don’t have a carbon footprint, I drive everywhere!”

    Interesting read, I look forward to more on bottom-up solutions.

    Reply

  2. aurorawatcherak Says:

    When a climate-change alarmist or three can explain to me how the Vikkings were able to farm in southern Greenland 1000 years before the invention of the SUV — well, none of them have so far, so I’m not sure what I’ll do if one of them grows a prefrontal cortex.

    Reply

  3. NicoLite Великий Says:

    Geologically, we are still in an ice age. Glaciers were not exactly common in earth’s history. The size of insect fossils suggests that there was a substantially higher oxygen pressure in the cambric era, which is only possible when the mean temperature is also substantially increased. As you have pointed out, biodiversity would rather increase than decrease, and desertification wouldn’t be such an issue because the atmosphere would also harbor more water vapor. Subtropic desertification certainly is an anthropogenic problem, not because of global warming, but because of antiquated and ill-adjusted agricultural techniques. And yes, global warming is unstoppable, from our technological POV: The sun is slowly and constantly expanding, and within the next 3 billion years, before the sun bloats up to become a red giant, the mean temperature on earth will have risen to a level beyond the capacity to support life based on liquid water. But by then, humanity will not be what it is now; provided we don’t succumb to nuclear holocaust, we will be a galactically migrant civilization.

    Reply

    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      NicoLite, thank you. We are indeed in an ice age and some years hence, when our mild interglacial period is drawing to a close, the watchwords du jour will be “insulate,”, “adapt,” and “grow more food on less land,”.

      Reply

  4. Iris Weaver Says:

    I stopped worrying about climate change a few years ago. Over the billions of years Earth has been alive, the temperatures and carbon/oxygen levels have gone up and down, and changed here and there. I don’t have the brains this morning to say it more clearly, but I think to some extent the warming trend of our planet is part of a natural progression and eventually will go the other way. I support climate change initiatives only because they tend to have good ecological effects. Thanks for the article, nice to have someone who thinks more along the lines I do about this.

    Reply

  5. Richard Friesen Says:

    Sammy Sustainable wakes up and sees the earth as it is. He says,

    “Now that I have arrived on this planet, this is the way it should be. The number of species should not decline, the weather should not change, the earth’s elements should not be transformed and humans should not increase their numbers. I am the center of the universe and what I measure is the extent of it. Since I can measure the earth’s temperature, it should not change. Since I can count the population, it should not grow. Since I can measure the economy it should not expand.”

    Stephen Wolfram, in his book “A New Kind of Science” shows that even simple adaptive systems, with just a few variables cannot be predicted. We are indeed part of a large complex adaptive system with thousands of feedback loops, some we understand, many we don’t.

    What if Sammy Sustainable woke up 100 years ago? Would he have frozen our culture, economy and size at that time?

    What then is the psychological drive that entertains the belief that we can measure, predict and control the economy and global temperature? It may be the same need that created religious myths and gods to help us feel more secure in a dynamic, unpredictable world.

    And there are those that are willing to be the “gods” of the environmental movement and enjoy the adulation and power.

    This said, we all want to live in a clean world. We all want to reduce our impact. We all want to give our kids a cleaner world then we have. This is an excellent cultural goal.

    But the problem is that the environmental movement has become a “religion.” I grew up the son of an evangelical preacher. The religion had these basic elements.

    We are sinners (we pollute the pristine world)
    We need redemption (live sustainable lives)
    There are the righteous and the heathens (capitalists)
    There is and “end of time” in the book of Revelations (apocalyptic end of the world)
    There is salvation (if everyone lives a sustainable life and heeds the rules of the environmental bible)
    There are “preachers” who tell us how to interpret the bible (environmental leaders who tell us what to recycle)
    Science doesn’t change our faith (Carpool lanes produce more pollution but we believe in them)

    I am a consultant to a number of sustainable start-up businesses and it is amazing the number of myths they believe. If asked about them, they have no knowledge of the science, but simply believe on faith.

    It feels like environmental movement isn’t about finding the truth…but about converting the heathens to their faith. If feels just like the same process of the religion of my youth.

    Reply

    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      Rich, thank you. You make an excellent and eloquent case that much of the environmental movement has adopted the ‘feel’ of a religion. However, it may be that religions have been so successful at replicating their memes that environmentalists have simply adopted the marketing strategy of a successful ‘competitor’. As you say “we all want to live in a clean world. We all want to reduce our impact. We all want to give our kids a cleaner world then we have.” In other words most right thinking people share the goals of the environmental movement but some of us disagree with the tactics. Unfortunately, when big government gets involved everything tends to get corrupted. The climate research community has become massively dependent on billions of dollars per year in government research grants generated by the global warming campaign. Without global warming fears, grants and donations to environmental groups would plummet and university departments, government laboratories and whole divisions of NASA and the EPA would disappear.

      Reply

  6. chr1 Says:

    You’re probably better off skipping it, or going well-armed and speaking to the audience as best you can as a contrary voice. You’re not going to get too far, but you might reach a few people and actually leave some doors open.

    Aside from the science, this is an ideology, a belief system, and a huge money machine.
    For many, it looks like science, but really isn’t (you know who I mean). They’ve worked to get public opinion and the culture behind them enough that the market works for them in some cases, as they’ve spread their message through the education system.

    The truth was always to be worked out later, and the depth of the science is unknown to many of them.

    If you go, get well-armed with data, know their arguments, and know your audience. Use the science well and be prepared to dissipate the myths, beliefs, and poke the ideology a bit.

    Reply

  7. campfirememories Says:

    Years ago, I won a ‘slogan’ competition on Earth Day for a little eating establishment in a liberal college town. I wrote, “We walk so Al Gore can fly.” I was asked repeatedly by the college kids, “So, are you for the cause, or not? We can’t really tell.” I said, “If you can’t figure it out, then you should do your own research and decide for yourself.” Unfortunately, the flawed, overreaching research has been in the spotlight. Many sources are now revealing that more CO2 simply leads to a greener planet, not necessarily a warmer one. That’s great news, and no surprise, if you believe in a benevolent loving God. So maybe it does come down to religion, or the lack of.

    You’ve done it again Malcolm! Another engaging post. Thank you. I will stay tuned.

    Reply

  8. Jon Sharp Says:

    I do not understand why the subject of man made global warming causes otherwise rational intelligent people to dismiss the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion. I am not a scientist, but I do know that the laws of thermo dynamics and quantum mechanics underpin many things in our daily lives such as the heat exchange that occurs in our power plants that keep our lights on, that your TV works reliably every night and that keeps the earth from turning into a frozen ball of ice. We do not question these things, nor the science that underpins them. So why when it comes to man made climate change do people suddenly start claiming the “science” is somehow questionable? The science behind climate change is, at the basic level, very simple. CO2, methane and water vapour absorb more radiation than the other atmospheric constituents. Put more CO2 and release more methane into the air and it warms up. Warm air holds more water vapour and so on… It is also a matter of record that the climate is steadily heating up. Exactly how this manifests itself in terms of specific ground level temperature changes, sea temperature changes, sea level changes, acidity levels, and so on is extremely hard to model. There is a vigorous debate in the scientific community and in true scientific fashion there is a constant effort to improve these models and predictions. The scientific consensus currently is that man made global warming is happening and it isn’t good news particularly for poorer countries that will have a hard time adapting. I for one wish this problem would go away. But I am also pleased that the government is spending money to try and get a better understanding of what exactly is happening, the possible consequences, and what we may need to do about it going forward. I can easily understand how the politics upsets people when the government decides to put taxpayer money to work investing in electric car companies and pushing ethanol subsidies that distort the market. I think Malcolm hit the spot when he said that politics makes for bad science. Can we please try to not confuse the two? If you want to know more about the science behind climate change I have found this website to be useful. http://www.skepticalscience.com/ It tries to be non-alarmist and stick to the facts but does address many of the questions people have raised above. Reading the comments sections associated with the articles also gives some insight into the areas that are very much up for debate.

    Reply

    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      Jon, thank you for these thoughtful comments although you will not be surprised to learn that I disagree with you on some key points.

      It is important to distinguish between the statements, which are true, that there is no scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) will be a catastrophe or that “The door is closing on our ability to keep climate change within safe levels”, and the also-true claims that the climate is changing (it has always been changing) and that most scientists believe that there may be a human impact on climate.

      Furthermore, I don’t see how you can agree with me that politics makes for bad science and then say you are pleased that the government is spending money on studying the subject. It is this spending that is part of the problem not the solution, and it accounts for the skepticism of many of us who have spent a lifetime studying the unintended consequences of government intervention on behalf of so many ‘just’ and ‘noble’ causes. As Groucho Marx quipped, “Politics is the act of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” For starters do you think government funding on climate change is equally distributed along the spectrum of belief in AGW? In the real world AGW skeptics receive much smaller shares of university research funds, foundation funds and government grants as well as not being plugged into the well-heeled environmental special interest lobby. In addition, those who do receive these funds typically get more time free of teaching responsibilities, providing more time available for publishing activities. This is just the tip of the iceberg of unintended consequences of government spending on climate ‘research’. Do you now see why some of us are skeptical of claims of consensus?

      Reply

      • Jon Sharp Says:

        Hi Malcolm,
        Intelligent commentary from people I don’t agree with is the reason I like your blog 🙂 Though in this case I agree with your assertion of what is true “that the climate is changing (it has always been changing) and that most scientists believe that there may be a human impact on climate”. And it is because I also agree with your comment, “there is no scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) will be a catastrophe or that “The door is closing on our ability to keep climate change within safe levels” that I think govnt needs to be funding research. One of the problems with the climate debate is the surprising lack of data available. With the exception of Charles Keeling who famously resisted efforts to dislodge him from his CO2 monitoring project on top of Mauna Loa in Hawaii for nearly 50 years, there is no other data that has been collected consistently across the decades as pointed out in the recent Economist article in the May 11th edition. “Useful environmental measurements are made all over the world but tend to follow funding cycles, or the life of a satellite, and then are closed down”. I believe govnt’s should play a role in establishing a planet scale, consistent monitoring program over an extended period of time because I do not see why private enterprise would ever be motivated to do such a thing. Non-profits might do it, but might not. Without consistent, accurate data, I don’t see how the modelling effort will ever be anything other than open to skepticism. Tim Starr’s comment below that there is currently more modelling than monitoring is an interesting one. I believe a review of the fossil record provides sufficient evidence that climate change alone, let alone AGW, has the potential to seriously disrupt life on earth and warrants further investigation. If you don’t believe govn’ts should be doing it, then who do you suggest?

        Reply

        • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

          “I believe govnt’s should play a role in establishing a planet scale, consistent monitoring program over an extended period of time because I do not see why private enterprise would ever be motivated to do such a thing.”

          Jon, I could say the same thing about plenty of other unusual activities where there are no obvious material incentives, such as for example, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. However, are you aware that SETI is funded by private sources and receives no government funding for searches? Your mistake is thinking about the private sector solely in terms of “private enterprise” or corporations and not including the sum of all voluntary exchanges that take place in civil society which include charities, communes, cooperatives, religious organizations, grass roots mutual aid organizations etc. Historically people have banded together in such voluntarist associations for all sorts of selfless reasons where there were no material incentives to do so, and even where there were material incentives not to do so, a good example being the movement to abolish slavery.

  9. Tim Starr Says:

    Climatology is an observational science, where the subject being observed is a highly complex system. However, most climate researchers are computer modelers, in which their computer models are only capable of including a tiny number of the actual factors at work in the real climate. Thus, they are incapable of accounting for things like water vapor, clouds, ocean currents, etc. There was a massive increase in US Federal funding for such research in the 90s, with the result that lots of new people went into the field without any background in other fields (e.g., physics, oceanography, meteorology, etc.), and who were professionally committed to the research program being funded by the Feds – namely, global warming is being cause by humans, is bad, and justifies massive restrictions upon economic growth, mostly in the underdeveloped world, which just happens to require global socialism, freezing those who are currently the richest people in the world at the top of the global economic pyramid, and making Al Gore a billionaire as the Pope of Global Warming by selling indulgences for the sin of carbon emissions.

    Reply

  10. Warren Gibson Says:

    Malcolm, thanks for stepping in and “taking the heat” on this. What disturbs me is that opinions on this scientific question are almost entirely divided along political lines — libertarians/conservatives vs. “progressives.” That means that one side or both are motivated by politics, not science.

    Reply

    • Richard Friesen Says:

      Warren, great observation. I find that almost all issues are determined by political philosophy and its underlying beliefs. I gave a presentation to a politically mixed audience on psychology and politics and had two people get up and stand in front of me. I gave an affirmative state of a list of political issues (i.e. gun control, taxes, capitalism) and although I could not see their thumbs up or thumbs down, I predicted both their response every time to about 10 issues. Howe did I do that? I could tell by their interactions where their political philosophy was, and that told me everything I needed to know. (i.e. one was a progressive, the other a libertarian).

      So, we all have models of how the world works. Once we get settled in that model, we filter information, we congregate with others that have the same model, and we determine the results of using that model in positive light.

      The more insecure I am, the stronger I hold to my model as absolute. The more secure I am in myself the more I can see the model as such, and not ultimate truth.

      However, without models and heuristics, we couldn’t operate in the world. Too much information. The challenge that I have, is to step back from my current beliefs/models and test them and let them go when the data doesn’t support them. This is a continual challenge. I like the models I currently have and it is hard for me to look at them objectively. This is a hard problem, but is the right hard problem to work on.

      Reply

      • Jon Sharp Says:

        Well said Warren and Richard.

        Reply

      • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

        Richard, well said indeed. The relatively new discipline of behavioral economics teaches us that we have an entire litany of cognitive biases that we have to be continually challenging. For example, the ‘Over Confidence’ bias is always encouraging us to pay more attention to information that supports our opinions, while ignoring or paying less attention to the rest.

        Reply

      • Hanne T. Fisker Says:

        Richard, beautifully said. It is indeed worth the hard work, to gather the strength to step back and look again with fresh eyes. We can only see so much using binoculars and it looks quite sharp and clear and even obvious until we take them down and realize there is so much more to the picture. Having the courage to let go in order to broaden the view can be immensely frightening, all of a sudden there is nothing to hold on to but along with this we allow a wider and broader view to be seen and possibly understood before once again tuning in to specifics and hopefully for each time seeing deeper and with a knowing there is always more… What do we really know, when it comes to it? It definitely appears to change a lot what we thought we knew today, come tomorrow, and it might be a different story.

        Reply

    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      Warren,exactly right, so one solution is to attempt to de-politicize the subject. The easiest way to do that is to take the money out of the equation.

      Reply

      • Fred Moulton Says:

        The desire to de-polticize the discussion is shared. Can I suggest that one of the ways to begin this process is to make a distinction between a pollitcal philosophy and individual persons who claim the label of the philosophy. For me this helps eliminate the problem of persons who claim to be adherents of a political philosophy but actually are not and in many cases do not even understand the level of their own confusion. I find that further way to de-politicize is to avoid lumping political philosophies together becaise of the possibility of confusion; for example lumping libertarian and conservative makes no more sense than lumping conservative and progressive and of course even developing common definitions is a non-trivial problem.

        Persons critical of climate models would be more convincing to me if they took an actual climate model in use today by professional climate scientists and did a critical study and actually specified exactly what is wrong. For example there is a model here:
        http://nldr.library.ucar.edu/collections/technotes/asset-000-000-000-193.pdf
        that is supposed to have been widely used. If it is wrong then please state the exact errors. Personally I do no know how good a model it is because that is not my field.

        Also I would find the claims about people entering particular academic fields and their backgrounds to be more convincing if there were some reputable citations provided.

        Reply

        • Tim Starr Says:

          Well, Fred, it sounds like you’re referring to my remarks. I’m going to have to hand-wave in the direction of Fred Singer, as I’m going by what I heard him say in-person at the Eris Society conference in Aspen back in 2006. Also, look up what Chris Horner has published on the topic.

        • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

          Fred, I know this is not quite what you had in mind but getting under the hood of a climate model is not the only way test its validity. The following chart shows what I mean:

          All those colored lines are the temperature rises predicted by the different climate models, and below that, those dots indicate actual readings.

      • Jon Sharp Says:

        OK Fred, it’s a fair cop. But if you are going to insist that people actually understand what they are talking about before expressing opinions, then I think this topic is pretty much a bust already. As far as I can see nobody here understands anything about the science behind global warming and therefore we are simply repeating stuff we heard or read from someone else who’s political philosophy, or the publication it appeared in, we happen to agree with. I guess it’s time for the next topic… 😉

        Reply

        • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

          “I agree with your assertion of what is true “that the climate is changing (it has always been changing) and that most scientists believe that there may be a human impact on climate”. And it is because I also agree with your comment, “there is no scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) will be a catastrophe or that “The door is closing on our ability to keep climate change within safe levels”

          Not so fast Jon. Both you and I have used very different sources and have very different political philosophies, but according to you we are both in agreement on the above quoted issues which clearly sets us apart from the mainstream global warming community as well as the United Nations IPCC.

        • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

          I think this pretty much nails the significant global warming hypothesis for a while. As this post notes, even the New York Times thinks there’s something wrong:

          http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/13/no-significant-warming-for-17-years-4-months/

      • Fred Moulton Says:

        Malcolm; you suggested this chart

        I looked at it and the image did not have much detail about where it came from and what it represented. So I looked for the article associated with the image and found this article by the journalist Andrew Bolt
        http://papundits.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/climate-models-broken-warming-paused-warmists-should-say-sorry/
        which is I assume the article that lead you to the image. That article was short on details so I googled around the web for articles related to that image or similar topics. I did find a couple such as:
        http://judithcurry.com/2013/02/22/spinning-the-climate-model-observation-comparison/
        http://www.climate-lab-book.ac.uk/2013/updated-comparison-of-simulations-and-observations/
        which dealt with similar but slightly different items while appearing to be interesting. I would hope that the Bolt being a journalistist would have given links that both agreed and disagreed with his position but I did not see any.

        In my wondering about the web I found a webpage that is interesting to me from a presenation methods perspective
        http://www.skepticalscience.com/satellite-measurements-warming-troposphere.htm
        The site has three levels of explanation Basic, Intermediate and Advanced with atab for each.

        I am dropping out of this discussion because I have a full day of work tomorrow a
        nd plans for the rest of the weekend.

        Reply

  11. The Sicilian Housewife Says:

    Thank you for speaking out about the issues that undermine the hard line on global warming! It seems almost illegal to mention it could be wrong these days, perhaps because so many politicians have investments that mean global warming scaremongering will make them richer?
    So far I have never found a global warming fanatic able to explain to me why the current warming period is different from the medieval one, when you could grow grapes and make wine in England as far north as Yorkshire.
    And conversely, it’s also a bit hard to convince me that global warming is currently happening at all when the whole of Europe is having the coldest summer ever – it’s five degrees above freezing point in England, in June!
    The main thing is to be allowed to speak openly about it and actually debate whether it is truly happening, as the scientific method must be followed in this as in all other scientific enquiries – and as you say, there is no room for politicians in the pursuit of scientific truth.

    Reply

    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      “The main thing is to be allowed to speak openly about it and actually debate whether it is truly happening, as the scientific method must be followed in this as in all other scientific enquiries – and as you say, there is no room for politicians in the pursuit of scientific truth.”

      Agreed. The problem, as Bill has already pointed out, is that anyone speaking out is made to feel like a holocaust denier.

      Reply

  12. Tim Starr Says:

    Global temperature monitoring IS happening, via satellites, and shows no recent warming. Only ground-temperature stations show warming. Most of those stations are in places that have urbanized over the past few decades, and are thus subject to the “urban heat island” distortion effect. That was not true of the ones in Siberia, but they were shut down when Russia defunded them after the Soviet collapse. Coincidently, this loss of one of the coldest places in the world from the global temperature data set just happened to directly precede the “hottest” decade since WWII, according to the aggregate data set from these ground stations.

    Reply

  13. K Says:

    Thank you for checking out my blog. I have read a good portion of yours and I find it very interesting and quite well done. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  14. Gregoryno6 Says:

    “Why is global warming thought to be such a bad thing?” asked Malcolm, and suddenly knew what it felt like to be a ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah…
    According to our local climate expert Tim Grossly Overpaid For My Nonsense Flannery, Perth was due to be a ghost town by now. Dry as a bone. Devoid of all life.
    The GW craze looked suspicious from the beginning. The Science Is Settled, Al Gore declared, and anyone who dared question was a Gaia-raping thug in the pay of Big Oil.

    Reply

    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      Thank you. I had never heard of Tim Flannery before. As you note, he is clearly a GW moderate :-). According to Wikipedia, Flannery suggests that “a failure to act on climate change may eventually force the creation of a global carbon dictatorship, which he calls the “Earth Commission for Thermostatic Control”, to regulate carbon use across all industries and nations”. I wonder whether he would (very reluctantly of course) accept the offer of a job to run this circus.

      Reply

      • Gregoryno6 Says:

        He’d accept it without hesitation, I’m sure. His $180K pa job with the government in only a part-time position so he probably needs something to fill in the empty hours.

        Reply

  15. The Savvy Senorita Says:

    I think ‘global warming’ is just another natural cycle of the Earth. Nothing can stay the same forever. The world is progressing or moving always into chaos (physicists think so anyway). I know humans may have helped speed up the process with their antics, but an ice age occurred without there being one factory ever built, so maybe it is a subtle hint that it will be our time to shove off just like it was the dinosaurs time too. We all run our course; whether it is nature, climate and weather cycles or a species that has evolved and invaded!

    Reply

    • Richard Friesen Says:

      Yes, change is the order of things! What a relief to realize that we don’t have to maintain a static world in the face of constant flux.

      Reply

    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      Those are pearls that were his eyes:
      Nothing of him that doth fade
      But doth suffer a sea-change
      Into something rich and strange.

      Reply

      • The Savvy Senorita Says:

        Very true – the something rich and strange, we never know what will be!

        Reply

      • History of Capitalism Says:

        Don’t forget that that change can be terrible. Ecological disasters have destroyed civilizations before. Any “silver lining” about new shipping lanes will seem thin if the coasts continue to become more unstable for living. I find the debate about “climate change” too upsetting, the way it’s been positioned within out (failing) politic discourse too pathetic, to really have much vigor in attempting to discuss it. People who know how to talk about ecology, let alone ecology in interplay with human activity, are sadly far too rare.

        Reply

        • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

          I think it was Will Durant who said: “Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.”

          If ecological disaster is going to come so quickly there is no use worrying about it because there is nothing we can do about it. This is even more true because we are not sure what kind of disaster it might be, comets hitting the earth, global warming/cooling, the eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera etc. Hopefully change will be more gradual and we will have time to adapt. It’s what we have always done.

  16. Clay J Mize Says:

    Malcolm, I think you nailed this one. Great post.

    Reply

  17. Raunak Says:

    I think Global Tilting is a more serious issue than warming 🙂 We just have too many people in India and China (close to 3 billion!). The weight imbalance is causing the axis of Earth’s rotation to shift…its time to open borders and allow for better distribution of people 🙂 Now that’s a workshop I’d love to attend.

    Reply

    • The Sicilian Housewife Says:

      Ha haaaa!
      America’s practically empty, I mean honestly there ìs hardly anyone there at all. If you made every single person in America (including illegal immigrants) live in Oklahoma, they’d still have a slightly lower population density than Europe.
      That would free up everywhere else for about half of India and half of China! I bet you could just sneak them in and nobody would notice 😉

      Reply

    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      Well, if global warming does not work out I’m sure the environmental doomsayers will be happy to adopt Global Tilting as the next apocalypse du jour 🙂

      Reply

  18. Dapper Dan Says:

    “…when politics and science mix, generally good science goes out the window.”

    I agree. This essay by Michael Crichton greatly impacted my thinking in this area.

    http://www.crichton-official.com/essay-stateoffear-whypoliticizedscienceisdangerous.html

    Reply

  19. Malcolm Greenhill Says:

    Here’s an interesting update on the Global Warming debate. It actually looks like we are in for a little ice age:

    http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2013/03/little-ice-age-is-coming-in-2014-2585776.html

    Reply

    • realityrewards Says:

      Most people believe that the global warming models have been accurate. I would be interested in finding one that is? Does anyone have a reference to a model that predicted that last decade of temperatures?

      Here are some news articles that show issues with the models. (the sources may have their own prejudice.)

      https://duckduckgo.com/?q=climate+model+fail

      But science just doesn’t matter when its adherents are true believers. Global warming has all the same characteristics of a religion:

      – We are all sinners (polluters) – We need redemption (recycle, stop waste, cut back on emissions) – There is but one truth (anthropogenic global warming) – Heretics are to be cast out of the kingdom of heaven (global warming deniers) – There is a garden of Eden and heaven (pristine earth where people live in harmony with nature) – Apocalyptic end of days (Our earth will be destroyed by man’s sins) – There is redemption if you truly believe and have faith (Forget science, just believe) – Trust God for salvation (Trust government to stop the evil corporations)

      Since this is a religious belief, it makes discussions difficult without triggering strong emotional responses!

      But eventually, reality has a way of rearing its ugly head. And we will see a new update of the beliefs.

      Rich

      On Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 11:18 AM, Malcolm’s Corner wrote:

      > ** > Malcolm Greenhill commented: “Here’s an interesting update on the > Global Warming debate. It actually looks like we are in for a little ice > age: > http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2013/03/little-ice-age-is-coming-in-2014-2585776.html > “

      Reply

      • Jon Sharp Says:

        I don’t understand the conclusions in the article as they relate to the cited material. And by that I mean I really don’t understand – I am not agreeing or disagreeing. The cited material talks about a low level in sunspot activity (solar flare activity) given where the sun is at in it’s 11 year cycle and the shift in the sun’s magnetic field. Solar flares matter because they eject cosmic rays which, amongst other things, can play havoc with electricity grids in extreme cases. It says nothing about the levels of radiated energy affecting planetary warming. It all reads to me like 2+2=5 which is about where the level of popular public discourse is on this quasi-religious subject. As for the photos, well, they are meaningless. Could easily have been pictures of the recent massive drought in Texas, floods in Colorado or wildfires in Yosemite for all the use isolated weather events have in helping us understand this complex issue. The snow mass charts were interesting though, but even that is limiting. I was up in the Rockies a few years back and all of the glaciers were in full retreat all except one which was actually growing! I know a lot of climate change skeptics think the researchers are trying to feather their own research grant nests, but let’s face it, we need to understand better what is happening to the global climate. A mini ice age could be as problematic as global warming.

        Reply

        • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

          Jon, thank you. You correctly pointed out in an earlier comment that none of us seem qualified to comment on the scientific validity of these articles. I also agree with you that “we need to understand better what is happening to the global climate. A mini ice age could be as problematic as global warming.” I think you also agreed with me in an earlier comment that politics and science don’t mix too well. I think all that remains is to let scientists get on with the business of science with the least possible intrusion from politicians. Left to their own devices scientists have plenty of ways to differentiate between valid and bogus scientific conclusions.

      • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

        Rich, thank you for this comments which reinforce one of the points of the post, that climate predictions are inherently unreliable because there are two many interacting variables.

        Reply

  20. Malcolm Greenhill Says:

    “This unpredicted hiatus just reflects the fact that we don’t understand things as well as we thought,”

    The above quotation from the LA Times article below just about sums up the global warming debate confirming the whole point of the post:

    http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-climate-change-uncertainty-20130923,0,791164.story

    Reply

  21. Malcolm Greenhill Says:

    Our climate models are WRONG: Global warming has slowed – and recent changes are down to ‘natural variability’, says study:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3052926/Our-climate-models-WRONG-Global-warming-slowed-recent-changes-natural-variability-says-study.html

    Reply

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