Global Warming and Global Government

I have long contended that the global warming/climate change/climate catastrophe/ whatever they’re calling it this week had less to do with the environment than with political power. It is nice to see myself vindicated straight from the Warmists’ mouths. Here in Scientific American is a piece by Gary Stix called “Effective World Government Will be Needed to Stave Off Climate Catastrophe“. I am sure Mr. Stix did not intend it, but this is a truly horrifying post. Since the post is short, I will quote the whole thing.

Almost six years ago, I was the editor of a single-topic issue on energy for Scientific American that included an article by Princeton University’s Robert Socolow that set out a well-reasoned plan for how to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below a planet-livable threshold of 560 ppm. The issue came replete with technical solutions that ranged from a hydrogen economy to space-based solar.

If I had it to do over, I’d approach the issue planning differently, my fellow editors permitting. I would scale back on the nuclear fusion and clean coal, instead devoting at least half of the available space for feature articles on psychology, sociology, economics and political science. Since doing that issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that the technical details are the easy part. It’s the social engineering that’s the killer. Moon shots and Manhattan Projects are child’s play compared to needed changes in the way we behave.

A policy article authored by several dozen scientists appeared online March 15 in Science to acknowledge this point: “Human societies must now change course and steer away from critical tipping points in the Earth system that might lead to rapid and irreversible change. This requires fundamental reorientation and restructuring of national and international institutions toward more effective Earth system governance and planetary stewardship.”

The report summarized 10 years of research evaluating the capability of international institutions to deal with climate and other environmental issues, an assessment that found existing capabilities to effect change sorely lacking. The authors called for a “constitutional moment” at the upcoming 2012 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in June to reform world politics and government. Among the proposals: a call to replace the largely ineffective U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development with a council that reports to the U.N. General Assembly, at attempt to better handle emerging issues related to water, climate, energy and food security. The report advocates a similar revamping of other international environmental institutions.

Unfortunately, far more is needed. To be effective, a new set of institutions would have to be imbued with heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers. There would have to be consideration of some way of embracing head-in-the-cloud answers to social problems that are usually dismissed by policymakers as academic naivete. In principle, species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors would be a sine qua non, but that kind of pronouncement also profoundly strains credibility in the chaos of the political sphere. Some of the things that would need to be contemplated: How do we overcome our hard-wired tendency to “discount” the future: valuing what we have today more than what we might receive tomorrow? Would any institution be capable of instilling a permanent crisis mentality lasting decades, if not centuries? How do we create new institutions with enforcement powers way beyond the current mandate of the U.N.? Could we ensure against a malevolent dictator who might abuse the power of such organizations?

Behavioral economics and other forward-looking disciplines in the social sciences try to grapple with weighty questions. But they have never taken on a challenge of this scale, recruiting all seven billion of us to act in unison. The ability to sustain change globally across the entire human population over periods far beyond anything ever attempted would appear to push the relevant objectives well beyond the realm of the attainable. If we are ever to cope with climate change in any fundamental way, radical solutions on the social side are where we must focus, though. The relative efficiency of the next generation of solar cells is trivial by comparison.

There is a lot that can be said about such folly, but I will say just this. A government that has the power to make “species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors”, that has “the ability to sustain change globally across the entire human population” would have to be totalitarian on a scale that would surpass Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China. Since sociopaths and power seekers are drawn to such power like flies to honey, there is simply no way to ensure against a malevolent dictator, no matter how benevolent the founders might be. No doubt Gary Stix envisions an ecotopian paradise ruled by people of like mind, but it is far more probable that the world government he desires would be a totalitarian hell and people like him would be among the first to be sent to the Antarctian gulags.

Life Under the One World Government

Tornado Warning

We’ve had a bit excitement here with tornado warnings throughout the Midwest. There were no touchdowns in my immediate area though. There seems to have been quite a lot of damage, though fortunately only two deaths.

Update: The death toll is up to thirteen.

Liar, Liar

Some time ago, I referenced Richard Feynman‘s famous 1974 Caltech commencement address, in which he discussed what he called “cargo cult science“. I think it might be a good idea to remember a small part of that address.

I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science,
but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool
the layman when you’re talking as a scientist. I am not trying to
tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your
girlfriend, or something like that, when you’re not trying to be
a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We’ll
leave those problems up to you and your rabbi. I’m talking about
a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending
over backwards to show how you are maybe wrong, that you ought to
have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as
scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.

Feynman was not engaging in abstract moralizing. Science simply cannot function without that kind of integrity. It is essential to the enterprise of learning about the world we live that those who do the research be as honest as humanly possible about their findings. The credibility of science depends on this honesty.

This brings me to some recent developments in the conflict between the global warmists and the nefarious deniers. It seems that one Peter Gleick, the head of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security acquired  electronic documents from the Heartland Institute under false pretenses. He planned to expose these deniers for the scoundrels they are and disclose the members of the secret cabal that is funding all of the climate change deniers. Perhaps this would have the same sort of impact the “climategate” emails had. The problem was that there wasn’t anything really sinister about the documents. Well, that is not a problem. He simply forged what he needed. Well, he hasn’t admitted to the forgery yet, but he has to be a prime suspect.

After getting caught, Gleick admitted his actions in a statement on Huffington Post. There has been a lot of commentary on this subject all over the place, and I don’t really have much to add. I do want to quote the last two paragraphs to make my point in this.

Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues. I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public. I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication.

I will not comment on the substance or implications of the materials; others have and are doing so. I only note that the scientific understanding of the reality and risks of climate change is strong, compelling, and increasingly disturbing, and a rational public debate is desperately needed. My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved. Nevertheless I deeply regret my own actions in this case. I offer my personal apologies to all those affected.

I think that it is interesting that he claims to want a rational debate on the issue of climate change. In fact, the global warmists seem to want nothing like a rational debate on the issue. Instead they engage in name calling (deniers), alarmism, and squelching dissenting views.

But my main point is this. Between the climategate emails with their statements about “hiding the decline”, Michael Mann’s  hockey stick with dubious statistical methodology, and now this, climate science has some serious credibility issues. To put it bluntly, why should anyone believe anything they say? This is precisely the sort of thing Feynman was warning about. Unless a scientist is rigorously honest about his methods and his results, and guards against self deception mot of all, sooner or later there will be a problem with credibility.

What if the the climate change crowd are correct? I do not believe that they are, but I could be wrong. If so, they have badly damaged their case with these sort of antics, not to mention their inability to come up with credible solutions, and put the whole planet in danger.

Update: I think Walter Russel Mead has the best summary of this business I have yet read.

Like Dean Acheson addressing the communist menace, they were “clearer than truth.” They stretched evidence, invented catastrophes—vanishing glaciers, disappearing polar bears, waves of force five hurricanes sweeping up the coast, the end of snow—to sell their unsalable dream. Not all greens were this irresponsible, but many prominent spokespersons and journalists working with the movement were; ultimately the mix of an unworkable policy agenda and a climate of hype and hysteria holed the green ship below the waterline.

Of contemporary mass movements, the green movement has been consistently the most alarmist, the least constructive, the most emotional, the least rational, the most intolerant and the most self righteous.  What makes it all sad rather than funny is that underneath the hype, the misstatements, the vicious character attacks on anyone who dissented from the orthodoxy of the day, and the dumbest policy ideas since the Kellogg-Briand Pact that aimed to outlaw war, there really are some issues here that require thoughtful study and response.

Cycle 25

Just when it seems that the global warming hysteria is finally dying down, we have a new catastrophe to worry about, global cooling and a possible new ice age. Or so I read in this article from the Daily Mail.

The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.

The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.

Meanwhile, leading climate scientists yesterday told The Mail on Sunday that, after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food.

Solar output goes through 11-year cycles, with high numbers of sunspots seen at their peak.

We are now at what should be the peak of what scientists call ‘Cycle 24’ – which is why last week’s solar storm resulted in sightings of the aurora borealis further south than usual. But sunspot numbers are running at less than half those seen during cycle peaks in the 20th Century.

Analysis by experts at NASA and the University of Arizona – derived from magnetic-field measurements 120,000 miles beneath the sun’s surface – suggest that Cycle 25, whose peak is due in 2022, will be a great deal weaker still.

According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a  92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period, named after the meteorologist John Dalton, average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C.

However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.

Global cooling, with a loss of agricultural productivity, would be worse than global warming, which might be beneficial. The problem with this sort of calamity is it is natural so there is little need for carbon trading schemes or international conferences. In fact, one might suspect, though some of the researchers mentioned try their best to deny it, that nature, especially that big ball of gas 93 million miles away,  plays a far greater role in climate change than humanity could hope to have.

There is more to the article. I would like to copy these graphs. I hope they don’t mind.

I think I am going to go outside and emit some greenhouse gases.

Watermelons

When I am deciding whether or not to buy a book on some contemporary and controversial subject from Amazon.com, the first thing I do is check out the one-starred reviews If there are a number of such reviews from hysterical liberals who obviously haven’t read the book, I know it is worth reading. I have not been disappointed yet.

Watermelons by James Delingpole amply fulfills that criterion. Liberals are hysterical, and it is really, really good. Basically, the premise is that everything you think you know about global warming is simply wrong. Delingpole begins by examining the science and politics of global warming. Although the generally accepted narrative is that of a few brave Greens fighting against the power and money of Big Carbon, the truth, as Delingpole shows, is that there is quite a lot of money and potential power on the warming side. Far from being Davids, the environmental groups, such as the World Wildlife Fund, or the Environmental Defense Fund are Goliaths in their own right with operating budgets as large as any multi-national corporation and CEOs with six-figure salaries.

The science is also far from settled. Along with the inherit uncertainties of modeling a system as complex as the Earth’s atmosphere, Delingpole also exposes the corruption of science and the fraud revealed in the Climate gate e-mails, and other sources.  He also debunks many of the myths that are still being used by Warmists.

Then there is the question of motive. Many Greens are in fact the watermelons of the title, that is to say environmentalists on the outside, but socialists on the inside. These are people who have decided that the only way to save the Earth and provide social justice is to circumvent national sovereignty and democratic institutions to form a sort of world government.  We might think they are all eco-Fascists but they are doing it all for our good.

This sounds a bit like the sort of crazy conspiracy theory promulgated by the sort of people that wear tinfoil hats, as James Delingpole readily admits. He has provided extensive citations to prove his points and as he points out, it is hardly a conspiracy when the people involved publish their plans for all the world to see.

I strongly recommend Watermelons as an enjoyable and informative guide to the science and politics of climate change. I think it would be an excellent gift to any Liberal friends or relatives. Not that it would change any minds, but it is always fun to watch Liberal’s heads explore when they have contact with information that doesn’t fit their worldview.

 

Feynman and Stephen Schneider

Cover of "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynm...
Cover via Amazon

One of the men that I admire is the late, great Dr. Richard Feynman. He was a great physicist who won a Nobel Prize for his work in quantum electrodynamics and invented the Feynman diagram, which helps to visualize and calculate the interactions between sub atomic particles. Feynman was also quite a character in his personal life and relished being unconventional both in his scientific work and in his day to day life.  He was eager to promote science and loved teaching at Caltech. One of his most famous speeches was the commencement address he gave at Caltech in 1974. In this speech he discussed the meaning of science and the difference between real science and what he called. “cargo cult” science. You can find the whole speech here, and also in the last chapter of his book Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman. Here are some excerpts I want to bring up.

I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are
examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the
South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw
airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same
thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to imitate things like
runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a
wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head
like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas–he’s
the controller–and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re
doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the
way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So
I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the
apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but
they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.

Now it behooves me, of course, to tell you what they’re missing.
But it would be just about as difficult to explain to the South Sea
Islanders how they have to arrange things so that they get some
wealth in their system. It is not something simple like telling
them how to improve the shapes of the earphones. But there is one
feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science.
That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying
science in school–we never explicitly say what this is, but just
hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific
investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now
and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity,
a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of
utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if
you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you
think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about
it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and
things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other
experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can
tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be
given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know
anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you
make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then
you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well
as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem.
When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate
theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that
those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea
for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else
come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to
help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the
information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or
another.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are
the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about
that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other
scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after
that.

I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science,
but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool
the layman when you’re talking as a scientist. I am not trying to
tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your
girlfriend, or something like that, when you’re not trying to be
a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We’ll
leave those problems up to you and your rabbi. I’m talking about
a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending
over backwards to show how you are maybe wrong, that you ought to
have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as
scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.

Now, I want to contrast these sentiments with the ones expressed by Dr. Stephen Schneider. Dr Schneider is most famous for certain remarks he made concerning the problem of global warming.

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

Dr. Schneider claims that this is a misquote from Discover Magazine, and it would be only fair to take him at his word. He discusses this quote and the difficulty of balancing science and activism here. Read the whole thing.

I think that Dr. Schneider was not, in fact, misquoted. That is to say that the words may not have been quoted entirely accurately, nevertheless, the words above do reflect his attitude regarding the necessity of scientific accuracy. Consider his complaint to Jonathon Schell.

I expressed my frustration to Jonathan Schell, a Pulitzer-prize-winning writer doing a story on the contentious climate debate for Discover magazine. I guess my first mistake was to be a bit tongue-in-cheek — I painted a stark picture of the opposing viewpoints in the climate change debate: gloom-and-doom stories from deep ecology groups and others versus pontifications on uncertainties from big industry and others, who used that to argue against preemptive action. I complained that even though I always make a point in my interviews to discuss the wide range of possibilities, from catastrophic to beneficial, media stories rarely convey the entire range. All too often, a scientist’s viewpoint is boxed into one extreme or the other. Usually, but not always, I am put in the “it is a big problem” box rather than the “it is too uncertain to do anything” box, even though I acknowledge both perspectives have some plausible arguments. (See the opening paragraph in my review of Lomborg for Scientific American).

I tried to explain to Schell how to be both effective and honest: by using metaphors that simultaneously convey both urgency and uncertainty, and also by producing supporting documents of all types and lengths (see the “scientist popularizer”). Unfortunately, this clarification is absent from the Discover article, and this omission opened the door for fifteen years of subsequent distortions and attacks. Ironically, this is the consummate example of my grievance about problems arising from short reports of long interviews.

Read what Dr. Feynman says above one more time. There isn’t any conflict between being honest and effective. The scientist, speaking as a scientist, must always err on the side of honesty. He must be willing to say “I don’t know” or “the data is uncertain” even if he believes that the fate of the Earth is in question. This is a matter of scientific credibility. If a scientist fudges, makes up data or scenarios, then he damages the credibility of every scientist in the world.

There is more. Karl Popper was a philosopher of science who introduced the idea of falsification in science. That is to say, a scientific hypothesis is only valid to the extent that it can be falsified, that is, proven wrong. If a hypothesis can not be falsified either by experiment or observation, then it is not really scientific. Now, a problem is that climate change hypotheses can be difficult to falsify. You have to do a lot of painstaking observations of past temperature changes using methods that are not always very reliable. There is a lot of guesswork involved. When you consider how complex the interactions in the Earth’s atmosphere are, any calculations concerning long term climate changes can at best be expressed as probabilities. It may seem obvious that increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will increase the greenhouse effect and lead to global warming, the matter is far more complicated. They are many circumstances that may mitigate or even aggrevate the effect. With that in mind consider this.

The dominant paradigm in science is to administer replicable experiments that test, or “falsify”, existing hypotheses. If the test fails, the hypothesis is rejected. Sociologists of science have long pointed out the deep flaws in the exclusive use of falsification as a test of “truth.” Objective science based on collecting frequency information from observations, is indeed a good and necessary part of transforming speculative ideas into better hypotheses, but it is applicable only under very limited conditions. For starters, only past or present systems are observable. Falsification based on observation requires that an infinite set of replicable experiments be performed — an unobtainable abstraction in many important applications, like climate change. Futhermore, obtaining frequency data on future events is impossible before the fact. Some die-hard frequentists deliberately avoid problems built on the subjectivity of climate change projections based on the non-falsifiablility of future events. I was told in 1985 by a senior member of the atmospheric science community at a National Research Council assessment on “nuclear winter” that I was “irresponsible” for working on post-war climate change at all since it couldn’t be “falsified.” Before I could shut my dropped jaw to rebut, a social geographer delivered an eloquent oration, saying that it is a scientist who lets a professional paradigm impede him or her from helping society anticipate problems who is irresponsible, not the scientist trying to peer into the shadowy future with the best available knowledge. He also correctly noted that while such projections use subjective rather than objective science, they are still very important expert judgments.

In the case of climate change, where replicable experimentation is difficult, if not impossible, computer simulation models of past and future climate changes are essential. Empirical data plays a major role, not as a simple basis for predicting the future, but rather in building the tools we use to make projections. Observations of the historical climate record are essential for deriving and testing simulation models in order to select those that best encapsulates our understanding of how the climate works. These models are then used to forecast future climate changes based on various scenarios of possible human activities. The validity of a model depends on how it deals with structural change — evolving functional relationships or parameters. Predictions based on past observations are valid only as long as future conditions replicate past conditions. This is unlikely to be the case for large climate changes, which are expected to arise from unprecedented rapid changes in the composition of atmospheric greenhouse gases, land surface changes, etc.  When contrarian skeptics assert that an “objective” analysis of the “facts” indicate the climate will change negligibly (e.g., see a Lomborg quote), they often ignore the effects of structural changes that limit the ability to extrapolate statistics from past observations.

When uncertainty is great, as in the case of climate change, the use of subjective probability assessments is particularly necessary — and controversial. Richard Moss and I prepared a guidance paper on uncertainties to be used in association with the IPCC TAR (see “Uncertainties Guidance”) in which we advocate that the authors of the TAR assign confidence levels to each of their statements, and that authors distinguish explicitly the extent to which that confidence comes from direct observations or from expert judgments. Thereafter, Richard and I were nicknamed “the uncertainty cops” (see a Nature story), but in spite of the goofy nickname, we were indeed able to reduce authors’ fears of using subjective probability assessments. (See Pittock and Jones: “Probabilities will help us plan for climate change”; see also Grubler and Nakicenovic). Unfortunately, many politicians and political bodies favor the objective approach (though it is impossible in principle in the case of future climate change), and they, too, prefer to avoid the speculative use of ‘subjective’ estimations derived from imperfect models. I can only reiterate that making predictions about an uncertain and complex future necessarily implies the use of models and subjective assessment.

He seems to admit the difficulties. And yet, he seems to be saying that the usual procedure is not good enough. Note, he laments the fact that politicians and political bodies favor the objective approach, that is to say, want actual proof that there is a threat before committing resources to fighting it.

It is also important, as noted, to acknowledge all sides of an issue, and especially to refute any contrarian opinions that are fictional or based on shaky assumptions or evidence. This is especially difficult in countries like the United States, where the current Bush Administration has decided against signing the Kyoto Protocol, supporting voluntary rather than mandatory emissions reduction measures that Raymond Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has called “ludicrous” (see an Associated Press article by Scott Sonner), weakened environmental laws, censored environmental research, denied scientifically-based climate change claims, and even gone so far as to “soften” its climate change vocabulary to make the issue appear less salient, as mentioned in a New York Times article and also at Luntzspeak.com. Also see Contrarian Science in the Climate Science section. Because of this situation, some scientists are attempting to show that the Bush Administration has misused climate science in its formulation of environmental policy, as evidenced by web sites like scienceinpolicy.org, which was created by a group of graduate students, post-docs, faculty members, and other scientists to separate what they see as fact from fiction in the U.S. climate policy debate.

I am not sure I am following Dr Schneider here. First he admits the certainty of climate science, laments that people in charge of resources want some degree of certainty, then, states that contrarian opinions are based on fictional assumptions. He complains that scientifitcally-based climate change claims have been weakened, but what scientifically based claims? He said before how difficult it is to make any claims. He accuses the Bush administration of misusing climate science, but what of his peers, who feel it is necessary to make matters more certain that they actually are.

I may be more than a little unfair picking on Stephan Schneider. Reading through this piece, shows he does have a good grasp of the uncertainties of the subject and he does sincerely want to educate the public without condescension, and yet, I can’t help but think that he lacks the rigorous integrity that Feynman spoke of in his Caltech address. He seems too willing to set aside doubts to promote action, or to be an activist rather than an observer. I can’t help but wonder if that is the case with the researchers involved in climategate. And, by not being careful, they are doing their cause, and science, a great disservice.

Climate Change

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed it yet, but it seems to me that the weather has been getting colder for the last month or so. I think we may be in for another ice age, no doubt caused by CO2 emissions or something. We have to put together a world-wide treaty protocol that will destroy the world’s economy in order to prevent this coming climate catastrophe.

I have also noticed that the days seem to be shorter lately. I wonder if maybe the sun is going out.

Dennis Prager Prefers Envangelicals

Dennis Prager prefers Evangelical Christians over Left-wing university professors, even though he is Jewish.I don’t blame him. Here is just a section of his column.

With regard to those evangelicals — and for that matter those ultra-orthodox Jews — who believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old and either that there were no dinosaurs or that they lived alongside human beings, my reaction has always been: So what? I believe that the earth is many million years old, that “six days” is meant as six periods of time (the sun wasn’t even created until the Third Day, so how do you quantify a “day” before then?), and dinosaurs preexisted man by millions of years. But what real-life problem is caused by people who believe otherwise? Does it affect any of their important behaviors in life? Do they not take their children to doctors? Do they oppose medical research? Do they reject the discoveries of scientists that affect our lives? No. Not at all. Are there no evangelical or ultra-orthodox Jewish doctors? Of course there are, and apparently they are very comfortable learning and practicing science. Compared to the many irrational beliefs of secular-left intellectuals — good and evil exist even though there is no God, male and female are interchangeable, international institutions are the hope of mankind — evangelical irrational beliefs are utterly benign.

And as regards same-sex marriage, why is the normative Christian and Jewish belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman anti-science and anti-intellectual? What we have here is the usual left-wing tactic of smearing opponents. If you disagree with race-based affirmative action, you are a racist; disagree with the ever-expanding welfare state, you lack compassion; disagree with redefining marriage in the most radical way ever attempted in history, and you are a hater. No wonder the Left developed the foolish and destructive self-esteem movement — no one has anywhere near the self-esteem leftists have. They are certain that they are better human beings in every way than those who have the temerity to oppose them.

This Jew will take the evangelicals’ values and the evangelicals’ America over those of left-wing intellectuals any day of the year. If evangelicals come with some views I find irrational it is a tiny price to pay compared to the price humanity has paid for the Left’s consistently broken moral compass — about America; about Communism and Islamism; about the superiority of peace studies over waging war against evil; about America’s role in the world; about Israel; about the welfare state; about Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and all the other left-wing dictators the Left has celebrated; about the belief that men and women are basically the same; about the greater worth of any animal than of the unborn human; and about nearly every other major moral issue.

Believing the Earth is 6000 years old and dinosaurs were contemporary with human beings is silly, but harmless. Believing that the Earth is going to be destroyed by global warming unless we destroy the world’s economy, or believing that Socialism can actually work is a whole lot sillier and catastrophic.

 

 

 

End of the Global Warming Cult

Michael Barone reports that the global warming cult is rapidly losing influence on public opinion. it seems that the more people know, especially about the costs of policies meant to combat climate change. I suppose that it was inevitable that the public would turn against these charlatans. Their mistake was their ceaseless alarmism, which began to stretch the bounds of credibility some time ago.

A similar but more peaceable fate is befalling believers in what I think can be called the religion of the global warming alarmists.

They have an unshakeable faith that manmade carbon emissions will produce a hotter climate, causing multiple natural disasters. Their insistence that we can be absolutely certain this will come to pass is based not on science — which is never fully settled, witness the recent experiments that may undermine Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity — but on something very much like religious faith.

 

But like the Millerites, the global warming clergy has preached apocalyptic doom — and is now facing an increasingly skeptical public. The idea that we can be so completely certain of climate change 70 to 90 years hence that we must inflict serious economic damage on ourselves in the meantime seems increasingly absurd.

I am intrigued, however by Barone’s comparison of the global warming movement.

All the trappings of religion are there. Original sin: Mankind is responsible for these prophesied disasters, especially those slobs who live on suburban cul-de-sacs and drive their SUVs to strip malls and tacky chain restaurants.

The need for atonement and repentance: We must impose a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, which will increase the cost of everything and stunt economic growth.

Ritual, from the annual Earth Day to weekly recycling.

Indulgences, like those Martin Luther railed against: private jet-fliers like Al Gore and sitcom heiress Laurie David can buy carbon offsets to compensate for their carbon-emitting sins.

Corporate elitists, like General Electric’s Jeff Immelt, profess to share this faith, just as cynical Venetian merchants and prim Victorian bankers gave lip service to the religious enthusiasms of their days. Bad for business not to. And if you’re clever, you can figure out how to make money off it.

Believers in this religion have flocked to conferences in Rio de Janeiro, Kyoto and Copenhagen, just as Catholic bishops flocked to councils in Constance, Ferrara and Trent, to codify dogma and set new rules.

 

It is possible to go overboard with this sort of comparison. There is no actual Church of Global Warming. If there were though, would Al Gore be its Pope ? Still, I think it is a good point. I don’t imagine that many people who are active in the radical environmental movement are much involved in any conventional religion. Since it is a part of human nature to worship something, if someone will not worship the Creator of the universe, they, might well come to worship the universe itself.

Paul wrote to the Romans’

25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans1:25)

He was writing about the pagans of his time, of course, but he could have said much the same about the followers of the global warming cult.