The 'Science' of Climate Hysteria

There are two sorts of societies that embrace mass civil hysteria: those that are stable and secure, and those that inherently unstable. In the first case, mass hysteria can be employed as a political tool because the institutions of a stable society are strong enough to endure the exercise. In the second, mass hysteria doesn’t matter because the wheels have already come off.

Lately, we've been treated to a modern version of the former phenomenon, as leftist politicians and their minions in the legacy media described the January 6, 2021 protests in Washington as “an insurrection” and equated the importance of January 6, 2021 to December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001. Personally, I found the actual attack on the Capitol that occurred on March 1, 1971 more troubling than the protesters who showed up a couple of months short of thirty years later, but that’s probably just me. Some people are obviously as frightened by fake Viking caps as they are by actual explosives.

That theme is such a feature of American society today and there is no better example of how important the tool of hysteria has become among the ruling class than their continuing, unrelenting efforts to normalize the idea that we’re suffering a “climate crisis.”

Sidebar before we move on. The chances are that I know a great deal more about how atmospheric science works than 99 percent (or more) of the people who will read this piece. I’m quite certain that is true if you compare my personal understanding of the physics, the thermodynamics, the chemistry and a whole bunch more the complex interactions that define atmospheric science than, say, Al Gore, or Bill Nye, or Greta Thunberg, or Joe Biden, et al.

On the other hand, I freely admit that I’m not an actual climatologist like alarmists Michael Mann and Phil Jones, nor like skeptics Roy Spencer and Judith Curry. However, I do believe that my generally more-informed opinion is worth a lot more in the scheme of things than that of clueless politicians, naïve kids, and mechanical engineers who exercise their Constitutional right to offer opinions about issues they don’t actually understand.

The basic problem here is that some guys fall in love with their research. It’s a common disease in the scientific community, one that “consensus” breakers from Copernicus, through Einstein, through George Lemaître have battled (look up the last my friends, he’s a modern day hero who transcends the supposed barrier between science and faith). For the alarmist to even consider, much less address, the idea that their predictions may be even slightly off equates, in many (if not most) cases to admitting they might have screwed up, invalidating much of what they said and wrote over the past years.

How many of us can deal with the concept of admitting the last couple of decades of our work is useless, or at best questionable? Not many. Sure as hell I don’t want to think about my forty-some year career as an exercise in futility. But everybody – me included – has to come to grips with the idea that there are certain intellectual paths that are worth exploring, but are ultimately dead ends, and that’s a good thing.

Edison: try, try again.

To paraphrase Edison, he didn’t spend years failing to figure out how an electrically powered lightbulb could work. He rather spent those years defining how an electrically powered lightbulb can’t work. The same should be true, but sadly is not, when we consider the populist “climate-crisis” message more than thirty years after it was first proposed as a clear and immediate danger.

Many conservatives and libertarians consider the “climate crisis” in solely political terms. This view holds that the leftists and their mainstream media allies are pushing an agenda they know to be untrue, for malicious political ends. I disagree. I don’t argue with the idea that the left’s agenda is largely untrue and largely motivated by malicious political ends. But I do believe there is a significant portion of sincerity in the fear of the future expressed by many who believe there is a “climate crisis.” I don’t demonize such people, I simply believe they are wrong.

Here's an example. Next time somebody tells you that “scientists agree” that carbon dioxide is creating catastrophic changes in earth’s climate, ask them a simple question: why isn’t December 21 the coldest day of the year in the northern hemisphere? The winter solstice occurs every December 21. During that day the northern hemisphere receives less sunlight than any day of the year. If carbon dioxide acted as a blanket, as countless You Tubers have tried to demonstrate using heat lamps and carboys filled with carbon dioxide, wouldn’t it make sense that the day with the least sunlight should be the coldest?

As anyone who grew up in a northern climate knows, the coldest months are January and February, when the days are longer and the amount of solar energy received is greater than on December 21. What does this tell us?

It tells us the climate science is a whole lot more complicated than two inputs. There’s a bunch of factors that come into play which make the months following the winter solstice the coldest each year. I’m not using this simple logic experiment to claim that carbon dioxide has no effect on the climate, but to point out that it's but one of many variables that the climate models wrestle to properly represent.

You cannot, in other words, draw a direct correlation between carbon dioxide concentrations and heat retention in the atmosphere, no matter how much the alarmist’s PR folks want to push that message down our throats. It’s a helluva lot more complicated than that, which is something all scientists can actually agree on.

A Carbon-Neutral Deity?

Relativity permeates this earthly realm. Not Einstein’s but the common or garden variety of judging people and things against other people and things. For example, when Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, emerged from Joe Biden’s virtual climate summit he was condemned by the usual suspects for lagging behind the U.S., the U.K., and others, in not absolutely committing to net-zero emissions by 2050. On the other hand, he earned plaudits from the local conservative media rump for standing his ground; albeit much greener ground than he occupied a few years ago.

A conservative-leaning cartoonist in the Australian newspaper, Johannes Leak, caught the mood. Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau, Jacinda Ardern and Greta Thunberg were pictured at Joe Biden’s Mad Hatter’s tea party mocking Morrison approaching the table soberly with his “measurable achievements and realistic goals.” Accordingly, he basks in the glow of being less idiotically alarmist than his peers.

Of course, Australia’s so-called “achievements” (regarding his "realistic goals," more below) rest on a pipsqueak reduction in CO2 emissions which don’t move the gauge at Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Nevertheless, in percentage terms, it’s relatively better than most. That’s what counts, apparently.


Is everything relative? Are there no absolutes? For a dwindling proportion of men and women there remains a God. For climate alarmists (and that’s now about everyone who’s anyone) a new absolute has emerged. This is vitally important. Religions need absolutes. If you are going have interfaith dialogue with the Pope, which John Kerry has just begun, you gotta have something to show. I suggest that carbon neutrality fits the bill.

“We have God, the way, the truth and the life,” the Pope averred.

“Well, Your Holiness, we have carbon neutrality, scary projections and wind turbines preventing the planet from becoming a fiery hellhole.”

“I think we've got a deal,” says the Pope.

OK, it might not have gone down quite like that. But there is no doubting the religiosity of climate change. And religions need an absolute.

Forget Kyoto and Paris and the relativity of comparing by how much this or that country has reduced its own emissions since 2000 or 2005. All now equally have to aim for, dare I say, the sacred number of net-zero. But what does it mean? Akin, if you like, to the old question about the meaning of God. I searched:

An Australian website called Carbon Neutral seemed a promising place to start. This what I found: “Carbon neutrality means that you have to reduce your climate impact to net zero.” OK, I think. But disappointment follows: “As it is almost impossible to avoid the creation of greenhouse gasses emissions entirely, you will need to balance these emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets.” Hmm? There seems to be a fallacy of composition going on here. Sure, any individual, company, state or country can buy offsets. But not all. Short, that is, of Martians turning up with carbon credits in their space knapsacks.

I turned, at random, to the website of OVO Energy, a U.K. "green energy" company. Here I found the answer. This is what it means in terms of what must be done.

We (the world) must switch to 100 percent reliance on renewable energy for electricity, accompanied by battery storage. We must insulate houses, install low-carbon heating and smart energy-saving products. Switch to electric cars but, note, as making them creates emissions we really need to shift to using public transport. And, as air travel is an issue until it is carbon free, we need to replace vacations with, wait for it, “staycations.” Fits in, I suppose, with Covid-fearing isolationism. Farm animals too are a problem, so we need to move to plant-based diets. Massive forest planting completes the future carbon-neutral nirvana.

Welcome to Cloud Cuckoo Land.

As anyone of common sense can see this is completely unachievable; apart from being undesirable for those not keen on regressing to a rude state of nature. But at least there’s an honesty about it, which we don’t hear from politicians, who simply repeat ‘net-zero by 2050’ as a mantra to signify fidelity to the faith. Even arithmetic has fallen victim to the faithful. To wit, take Liddell, a coal power station in New South Wales.

Built in 1973, it can still deliver up to about 1,700 MWh of dispatchable power. It’s due for closure in couple of years. Mooted to replace it: a mixture of wind, solar, batteries and gas. Of these, only gas can provide 24x7 power. In case there is any doubt. Wind is intermittent. The sun doesn’t shine of a night. Battery power drains quickly.

Consider wind. Wind turbines on average deliver at best only 30% of their capacity. A typical turbine with a capacity of 1.67 MW produces just 0.5 MWh on average. Thirty-four hundred such turbines would be required to provide 1,700 MWh; occupying about 60 acres per MW of capacity, or 340,000 acres of land. And hold on, an infinite number would be insufficient when the wind isn’t blowing.

To infinity and beyond!

In other words, wind power is expensive, land-intensive and useless. No ifs or buts. It has to be taken out of the 24x7 equation; as does the sun, as do batteries. This leaves only gas. The idea is to provide 660 MWhs of gas. Let’s see, when I went to school, 660 plus zero, or something very small, does not come close to equalling 1700. Never mind, there is still plenty of coal power around to tap to fill gaps.

The Liddell story is like many. Renewable energy (RE) only works now, when it does work, because it is a small part of the energy mix feeding into grids, which borrow from dispatchable power sources in case of need. Watch out when those dispatchable power sources become fewer and fewer. Unless, that is, of course, Kerry’s yet uninvented technologies come to the rescue. After all, there is no imaginable limit to what can be achieved come uninvented technologies. In other words, come miracles befitting the new religion and its totemic absolute of carbon neutrality.

I noted above that Morrison was lauded for having “realistic goals.” Really? He’s pinning his hopes on reaching net-zero on green hydrogen and carbon capture; to which he’s committing oodles of taxpayers’ money. Relatively speaking, he’s just a little less besotted with uninvented technologies and the new religion than is Kerry.