Time to Ditch the IPCC's Models

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is back in the news once again, and John Robson of the Climate Discussion Nexus has a good post which looks back at whether the work they've produced over the years has withstood the test of time. The post -- entitled Can we finally toss the hot models? -- discusses a new paper by the Italian physicist Nicola Scaffeta which details which of the IPCC's climate models have most accurately predicted real world climatological activity over the past 40 years. First, on the models themselves:

[Scaffeta] begins by noting that the IPCC currently uses 41 climate models with the rise in absolute temperature due to doubling atmospheric CO2 (known in the trade as “Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity” or ECS) ranging from 1.8 to 5.7 °C. So let’s just pause right there and reflect that in the “settled science” of climate change the models currently being used by the IPCC differ in their projected warming response to CO2 emissions by more than a factor of three. Which seems like a lot.

At the high end, if atmospheric CO2 doubles it could cause almost 6°C of warming, which would be a big problem for the world. At the low end it would cause 1.8°C, which would barely even be noticeable. So the IPCC models say CO2 emissions pose either no problem or a big problem or somewhere in between. If that’s settled science, what would the unsettled kind look like?

But which of those 41 models has been the most accurate?

The answer is, the ones with the lowest ECS values. And if we say the projections for the future should come from the models that have done the best over the past, the global warming picture suddenly looks a lot less heated.

Unsurprisingly, the most accurate models -- those which have predicted the least warming over the past four decades -- also predict the least warming going forward. Robson's conclusion: "Chill out, we will adapt and cope with the small warming predicted by the best models. The real threat isn’t climate change, it’s climate policy."

'Saving' the Planet? Surely You Jest

The nationalist economist Michael Lind has written an excellent essay at The Tablet entitled "Why I Am Against Saving the Planet," in which he explains his objections to the Green movement. Two of these are particularly worth highlighting. First, after discussing the quite recent provenance of much of the now-ubiquitous environmentalist vocabulary, Lind pokes a hole in the Greens' self-proclaimed devotion to The Science. In fact, environmentalism is a direct descendant of Luddite, anti-scientific movements of the Romantic era:

The term “ecology” was invented in 1873 by the German scientist Ernst Haeckel, and his work owed much to his own environment of 19th-century Romanticism, typified by a bias against society and civilization and a pantheistic awe before an idealized Nature. German romantic culture is the native soil from which our own modern environmentalism has grown, and many pseudoscientific elements of popular environmentalism that are unthinkingly assumed to be rational and progressive are in fact legacies of a passionately reactionary 19th-century Romantic tradition.

One is the dubious idea of the web of life—no species of plant or animal can become extinct without harming all the rest. This is nonsense, because species have come and gone for billions of years, without necessarily causing the extinction of great numbers of other species. In some cases the disappearance of some kinds of plant and animal life has opened up opportunities for others, in the way that the extinction of the dinosaurs allowed mammals to expand into new niches.

Now, the German Romantic movement of Goethe, Schiller, and Wagner contained multitudes, much of it good, true, and beautiful. Even so, it had at its heart an anti-civilizational— think of their passion for ruins— and even anti-human sentiment, which has been magnified and distorted by their less artful descendants. And on that score, Lind also has a lot to say on the "unscientific nonsense" that's constantly peddled by the green lobby which asserts the existence of "a self-regulating ecosystem disturbed by human activity that would automatically restore itself to a “natural” condition if not for human interference."

This narrative is rife with contradictions, and Lind makes it a point to lay into them:

It might seem that the term “planet,” as it’s used by the greens, has no fixed meaning whatsoever. But that would be a mistake. “The planet,” in the lexicon of environmentalism, is defined in contrast with what it is not: the “Not-Planet.” The Not-Planet includes all human beings. In environmentalist ideology, we humans are not part of “nature” or “the environment” or “the planet.” We are something outside of nature: an alien, destructive force, modifying “the planet” from without. By this standard, all buildings and cities and other human settlements that billions of people depend on for their survival are rendered alien excrescences harming “the planet.” The sand on a beach is “the planet” but the moment you build a sand castle, the sand in the castle becomes Not-Planet. You have taken sand which might have been used by a beach crab for its burrow. How dare you!

Not all plants and animals are included in “the planet,” either. For environmentalists who are romantically nostalgic for the lifestyles of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers, agriculture itself is an abomination, replacing “natural” ecosystems with farms and ranches populated by human-modified strains of grains and vegetables and fruit and livestock. A wild buffalo is part of “the planet” but a free-range cow on a ranch or a cow in a feedlot is not. The coyote that dwells in a suburb and kills and eats a pet poodle is “the planet,” but the poor pet poodle, like its grieving owner, is an interloper on “the planet.”

In sum, it's simply good old-fashioned German tree worship, a primitive "religion" gussied up and given a new "scientific" skin to wear. James George Frazer, call your agent.

Where did the '97 Percent' Claim Come From?

John Robson, the Canadian historian and journalist who runs the Climate Discussion Nexus, has put out an updated version of CDN's most popular video. The video, which has more than 1 million views on YouTube, debunks the dishonest claim that, in the words of Barack Obama, "Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous." Virtually none of that statement is accurate, but it continues to be parroted by the Thunbergian activist class, and by journalists of all stripes, even those who should know better. Here's an excerpt, which examines the sleight of hand at the heart of the "97 percent" claim:

In 2009, a pair of researchers at the University of Illinois sent an online survey to over 10,000 Earth scientists asking two simple questions: Do you agree that global temperatures have generally risen since the pre-1800s? and Do you think that human activity is a significant contributing factor? They asked some other questions too, but didn’t report the questions or results in the publication. They didn’t single out greenhouse gases, they didn’t explain what the term “significant” meant, and they didn't refer to danger or crisis.

So what was the result? Of the 3,146 responses they received, 90 percent said yes to the first question, that global temperatures had risen since the Little Ice Age, and only 82 percent said yes to the second, that human activity was a significant contributing factor. Interestingly, among meteorologists only 64 percent said yes to the second, meaning a third of the experts in the study of weather patterns who replied didn’t think humans play a significant role in global warming, let alone a dominant one. What got the most media attention was that among the 77 respondents who described themselves as climate experts, 75 said yes to the second question. 75 out of 77 is 97 percent.

OK, it didn’t get any media attention that they took 77 out of 3,146 responses. But that’s the key statistical trick. They found a 97 percent consensus among 2 percent of the survey respondents. And even so it was only that there’d been some warming since the 1800s, which virtually nobody denies, and that humans are partly responsible. These experts didn’t say it was dangerous or urgent, because they weren’t asked.


Another survey appeared in 2013, by Australian researcher John Cook and his coauthors, in which they claimed to have examined about 12,000 scientific papers related to climate change, and found that 97 percent endorsed the consensus view that greenhouse gases were at least partly responsible for global warming. This study generated headlines around the world, and it was the one to which Obama’s tweet was referring. But here again, appearances were deceiving.

Two-thirds of the papers that Cook and his colleagues examined expressed no view at all on the consensus. Of the remaining 34 percent, the authors claimed that 33 percent endorsed the consensus. Divide 33 by 34 and you get 97 percent. But this result is essentially meaningless, because they set the bar so low. The survey authors didn’t ask if climate change was dangerous or “manmade.” They only asked if a given paper accepted that humans have some effect on the climate, which as already noted is uncontroversial....

So a far better question would be: How many of the studies claimed that humans have caused most of the observed global warming? And oddly, we do know. Because buried in the authors’ data was the answer: A mere 64 out of nearly 12,000 papers! That’s not 97 percent, it’s one half of one percent. It’s one in 200.

Be sure to watch the whole thing and share it with your non-insane friends:

Are 'Renewables' Worth the Trouble?

I came across a debate recently between Francis Menton and Lord Christopher Monckton. It turned on what Lord Monckton calls the "Pollock limit." Named after Chilean engineer Douglas Pollock. Unfortunately, no paper is cited and, though I looked, I couldn’t find anything written by Pollock himself on his limit. It’s always best to go to original sources if one can. In this case I couldn’t, so must rely on Monckton.

Monckton’s explanation of the Pollock limit is on the site Watts Up With That. The critique by Menton and the rejoinder by Monckton appeared on the Manhattan Contrarian here and here. Have a look if you haven’t seen it. On second thoughts, Monckton’s algebra is both bewildering and demonstrably wrong and best avoided. Stick with me here for a clear account. Why give an account at all? The substance of the issue raised by Monckton is important, as also is what the debate says about the scientific method.

The nameplate capacity of a wind turbine greatly exceeds its average output of power. There are various estimates. Monckton says that in the U.K., onshore wind delivers 25 percent of plated capacity. Penn State puts it at between 32 and 34 percent in the U.S. I’ll use a figure of 25 percent without loss of generality. The arithmetic’s easier.

Tried and found wanting.

According to the Pollock limit, wind cannot deliver to a grid more on average than 25 of its plated capacity. Take a small isolated town of 10,000 households. It requires a constant supply of electricity of 12MW. Don’t ask why it needs as much electricity of a night as of a day, it doesn’t matter. It pays a government-subsidised carpetbagger to build six turbines close by with a nameplate capacity, all told, of 12MW. Part of the time it’s windless and little or nothing is delivered. Part of the time the wind is optimum and 12MW are delivered. On average per hour over a year 3MW are delivered. Luckily the town has diesel generators.

Let’s build another six turbines says the Mayor. Now what happens. When the wind blows optimally, 24MW are delivered; of which 12MW are uselessly redundant unless the town has a humongous ultra-expensive battery to store the excess power. When the wind doesn’t blow the extra turbines don’t help. Nothing is delivered and the diesel generators work overtime. But, and here’s the point, when the wind lies between zero and its optimum, the extra turbines help to deliver additional power.

For instance, if the wind is sufficient on any particular day to generate 6MW of power from six turbines, then twelve turbines will deliver 12MW; the diesel generators can be turned off. Thus the average amount of power delivered to the town over a year exceeds 3MW when twelve turbines are brought into play. More than 25 percent of the town’s power needs can be met on average; which exceeds the nameplate capacity of a wind turbine. QED, the Pollock limit is breached and the opaque algebra employed by Monckton is proved wrong by the test of experience. Menton makes the same point and he too, no mathematical slouch as his backroad attests, obviously can’t make head nor tail of the algebra. To wit, “I have difficulty parsing the sentence,” he says gently of one line of an algebraically-imbued sentence. Quite!

Monckton’s rejoinder, largely repeats his defective algebra, with accompanying pique. The pique has a number of elements to it. Describing Menton as writing a “hit-piece” and showing “unjustifiable discourtesy… gratuitous discourtesy… unprofessionalism.” And consider this for an insult:

I have seldom seen a more blatant instance of Aristotelian logical fallacy excoriated by medieval schoolmen as argumentum elenchi.

Stick that in your craw, plebeians. I haven’t mentioned one piece of pique. That is the accusation by Monckton that Menton is over-skeptical about climate skepticism; showing “churlish ungenerosity towards the work of other skeptics.” I will come back to that. First to substance.

True believers gonna believe.

Monckton has for a long time been a powerful force for good in the climate debate. And whatever its faults, this current intervention draws vital attention to the limitations of renewables. That can’t be overdone. Sure, the Pollock limit is non-existent as a technical obstacle, but it highlights how costly and impracticable it would be to get anywhere near close to 100 percent of power needs from renewables. It would require a combination of massive overbuilding and massive storage. Now, to be fair, Monckton is on this page too, particularly in his rejoinder; nevertheless, he stubbornly reverts to the validity of the invalid Pollock limit.

As to the impracticability of getting anywhere close to 100 percent of power from renewables, consider my fictitious town. When the wind near the town is slight and six turbines are delivering half their average amount of power; namely 1½ MW, then to get to 12MW not another six but another 42 turbines (seven banks of six) would be required. When the wind blows optimally, 7 times 12MW equals 84 MW of excess electricity would pour into the town’s grid. Calamitous I would think. Intermittent power supply is unworkable and unaffordable. That’s the size of it and only the fanatics in charge think otherwise.

Now back to Monckton charging Menton with being too skeptical of our side. In fact, skepticism defines our side. Our side searches for the truth wherever it leads. The truth is most often hard to find and pin down. That’s why internecine squabbles break out among climate skeptics. The other side doesn’t squabble. They stick together around whatever dung heap is their agenda du jour. Truth be hanged. The squabble between Monckton and Menton is part of the scientific method. Hypotheses are put up. Efforts are made to test whether they stand up to scrutiny and experience. They are torn down if they don’t. Fully embrace this process and make halting progress, otherwise wallow in error and superstition. There is no halfway house.

'The Science' Is Ruining Science

Nature magazine, one of the premier science journals, carried a startling news story last week about a study charting the precipitous decline of “disruptive” scientific research, concluding that this decline is also reducing technological innovation. Using typically advanced quantitative techniques of a massive data set, the full study reports a more than 90 percent decline in “disruptive” scientific findings across nearly all fields over the last 70 years. One of the authors of the study told Nature, “The data suggest something is changing. You don’t have quite the same intensity of breakthrough discoveries you once had.” The chart Nature produced for the story is striking:

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the story is the sub-headline Nature used: “No One Knows Why.” The best the authors can do is the feeble theory that “larger research teams” hinder heterodox investigations.

This finding is ominous, and may help explain the slowing pace of technological innovation, as summarized in Peter Thiel’s famous comment that “we were promised flying cars, but only got 140 characters.” As anyone who follows the holy grail of “innovation” knows, disruption is a prime precursor of progress, highly prized in Silicon Valley as it is in academia. Even before the jargon of “disruption” and “innovation” took over our popular vocabulary, the idea that science progresses by fundamental “paradigm shifts”—or breakthrough discoveries that challenge or overturn the existing consensus—has been widely accepted ever since Thomas Kuhn’s classic explanation in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Nature avoids the most significant and obvious explanation with the myopia of Inspector Clouseau, which is the deadly confluence of ideology and the increasingly narrow conformism of academic specialties. Perhaps this is grasped even more simply by noting the authoritarian attitude expressed in the now-ubiquitous phrase, “The Science,” with the tacit assumption being that science is fully “settled” and that the “consensus” science is unassailable. The epitome of this anti-scientific presumption was best expressed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who declared during the Covid pandemic that “I represent science,” implying an infallibility previously reserved only for popes.

La science c'est moi.

It is hardly news that dissenting from the “consensus” position of the increasingly left-leaning scientific establishment in academic or government is dangerous to your career and reputation. It is sometimes thought that the “hard” sciences such as physics and chemistry are largely immune for the leftist tide that have destroyed the social sciences and the humanities in our universities, but this is less and less true with every passing year.

Back in 2004, the renowned Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin wrote in the New York Review of Books that “Most scientists are, at a minimum, liberals, although it is by no means obvious why this should be so,” and MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel, very much in the so-called “consensus” of climate science, was honest enough to lament “the shocking lack of political diversity among American academics, who suffer from the kind of group-think that develops in cloistered cultures. Until this profound and well-documented intellectual homogeneity changes, scientists will be suspected of constituting a leftist think tank.”

Our disgraceful news media is only too happy to act as a megaphone against any person who challenges the party line. Witness Dr. Scott Atlas, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, or any of the other eminent medical experts who dissented from the party line over Covid policy, who were hounded relentlessly (including death threats that required police protection), even though their criticisms have been fully vindicated.

This kind of enforced conformity has been building for a while. A decade ago Dr. James Enstrom, an epidemiologist at UCLA’s School of Public Health, was summarily fired after 36 years on the faculty after he disputed the shoddy science behind some of California’s air pollution regulations. In climate science, the groupthink and demonization of dissenting views is so severe that even tenured scientists dare not challenge the climate dogma directly, for one thing because no leading science journal will publish any findings that go against “The Science,” because it is “settled.” Any young researcher who dissents will likely be denied tenure, and a politician such as British MP Andrew Bridgen (above), can get suspended from his party for daring to challenge the orthodoxy.

The tiny number of graduate students in the social sciences who might be interested in researching racial questions that dissent from the “anti-racist” party line of the moment are strongly discouraged from doing to, and often can’t find a faculty adviser for such work.

So suppose you are a young—and untenured—faculty in a science department at a university or government agency. What is the best career path forward? It lies in producing small, incremental work that builds within the boundaries of the existing “consensus.” Boldness and unconventional thinking is not only unlikely to be rewarded, but will likely be a hindrance to your career advancement.

The United States is already paying a high price for what even the left-leaning scholar Cass Sunstein calls “the dominance of conformity,” and it appears the problem is only getting worse.

U.N. Climate Report: Cloudy, with No Chance of Silver Linings

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has come forth with a new sixth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. In it the IPCC pretends science can predict what is impossible to predict: the variables in something as complex as climate. (If something is impossible to predict it is not based on science).

The IPCC's solutions are no better than its science. Given the IPCC’s leftist political orientation it ignores the data which show that increases in available energy sources and capitalism demonstrably lift more boats and improve the environment faster and more substantially than handing over money to government agencies and restricting conventional energy production.

The proposals the IPCC advances require a lot of fast and fancy footwork to obscure the fact that they can’t withstand close scrutiny:

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The section on the effect of climate change on wildfires begins with an assertion that in the Amazon, Australia, North America and Siberia wildfires are burning wider areas than in the past and human-caused climate change has driven the increases in the forests of western North America but, that “elsewhere, deforestation, fire suppression agricultural burning, and short-term cycles like el-Nino can exert a stronger influence than climate change.” It’s of a piece with claims made earlier by others, including NASA, and just as false.

In fact, bad land-management policies in western North America are a more significant driver of wildfires than anthropogenic climate change.  Depending on moisture content, most fuels must reach ignition temperatures between 644°F (340°C) and 795°F (440°C) to start a fire. The IPCC report makes the same mistake that NASA earlier made:

Stronger winds are more dangerous in part, because they transport larger embers. Small embers lack adequate energy to raise fuels from ambient temperatures of 70°F or 90°F to an ignition temperature of 644°F and higher. More so, the 2°F increase in global air temperatures since the Little Ice Age, increases the fuel’s temperature insignificantly and thus highly unlikely to increase 'the likelihood of a fire starting, or increasing the speed at which it spreads' as NASA claimed.

Reduction in both fire -uppression policies and the creation of fire breaks are a more likely driver of western wildfires. The warmer dry periods in these areas cannot be sufficient to reduce the humidity inside trees so as to affect wildfires: “From a global warming perspective, if relative humidity is kept constant during California’s rainless summers, for every 2 °F increase in temperature anomalies, calculations estimate that moisture content will only decrease by a rather insignificant 0.056% .” In any event the drier air is more closely related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the el Nino and la Nina events over which man has no role. Historically, wildfires increased in the southwest when “let it burn” policies were instituted; and ice cores reveal that “maximum fire activity in boreal forests occurred during the Little Ice Age between 1500-1700 AD and was attributed to the failure of Asian monsoons about which, again, man has no control and as to which he had no impact.

Dr. Jon Keeley, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist who researched the topic for four decades was clear: “We’ve looked at the history of climate and fire throughout the whole state [of California] and through much of the state, particularly the western half of the state, we don’t see any relationship between past climates and the amount of area burned in any given year.”

 Every politician, every environmental group and every scientist trying to scare up more funding by uncritically blaming wildfires on CO2- induced climate change are not only ignoring good published science, but they’re also pushing wrong remedies and downplaying the correct remedies needed to benefit society and our environment. Better managed landscapes that control fuel supplies, and the re-introduction of fires via prescribed burns, will create more effective firebreaks and more healthy open habitat that coincidentally also increases wildlife diversity.

I cannot fathom the motives of the IPCC authors of this section but if one were to suggest it was to cover the rear end of California governor Newsom and his blinkered forest management policies, you’d be hard pressed to refute that. Of course, given the overall tenor of the report one might as well suspect the idea is to enrich Third World countries at our expense under the guise of preventing a disastrous climate change.

Trust us.


As if there weren’t enough U.N. generated, we’re-all- going- to- die scenarios, it has added plastic pollution to its doomsday tallies. Representatives of 175 nations at the U.N. committed to creation of a plastic treaty that would not only deal with recycling, but as well to the production of plastics. They hope to get it written by 2024, which I suppose gives us some breathing room in which legislative virtue-signalers can further beset us with limitations on useful products.

 “We are making history today,” said Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s climate and the environment minister and president of the United Nations Environment Assembly, which took place for the past week in Nairobi, Kenya. In an earlier interview, he said that, given Russia’s war in Ukraine, it was particularly significant that “this divided world can still agree on something, based on science.”

Based on science? The effort seems, like much in the IPCC report, short on the concepts of human ingenuity and mitigation. Locality after locality in the United States has jumped on the band wagon, banning plastic straws, and banning or taxing shopping bags. For what end, besides virtue signaling and grift? (As in the District of Columbia where the tax on plastic grocery bags supposedly to clean up the Anacostia River went to fund a project by the council member who proposed it and when, having left the council, now heads the non-profit which has nothing to do with cleaning up the river?)

Ninety percent of the plastics in the ocean come from ten rivers, and those rivers are all in Asia. In descending order, the waterways are the Citarum River in Indonesia, the Yangtze River (China), the Indus River (Pakistan), The Yellow River (China), the Hai River (China) the Ganges River (India), the Pearl River(China) the Amur River (China and Russia) , the Niger River( 5 African countries), the Mekong River (China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam).

Most of these countries have several things in common: They are poor or have substantial numbers of poor citizens and are generally poor managers of their public spaces and community hygiene. You can bet that, just like China and India’s exemption from international carbon emissions controls, they will angle for and receive exemption in this yet-to-be devised treaty . Claims that richer nations have fobbed off the environmental degradation caused by plastics by shipping off plastic trash to such countries, ignores the benefit to them and the environment of recycling this material.

Import of plastic waste in lower-income countries like these also has been associated with growth in gross domestic product. It seems a great deal of the plastic waste shipped there from places like the United States and Britain are recycled and used instead of virgin materials to make useful products. That  process results in fewer carbon emissions and  ocean pollution. It’s an economical practice which uses less fossil fuels, the climate-change advocates' bogeyman. For a time, the used plastics from the U.S. and Britain were sent to China, but because of scandals involving mixing toxic waste into these plastics and dumping instead of reprocessing them, China stopped allowing their importation. Naturally, the doomsters believed this would only add to ocean pollution. Instead, it went to even poorer Asian countries where recycling it has been evolving into big business. There people such as Seah Kian Hoe, who as a kid used to collect scrap door-to-door for reuse now employs 350 people to run Heng Hiap Industries one of the top five plastic recycling businesses in his country which processed tons of waste per year.

There's gold in them thar bottles.

It's labor-intensive work and like clothing manufacturing takes less skilled workers and less capital. It’s a normal national economic progression. Such work is done in poorer countries and as they get richer they can hire more skilled workers, invest in more advanced technologies, and they can use those technologies to simplify and increase production, improve workers health and safety, and reduce pollution.

Heng Hiap Industries works with over 28,000 domestic plastic recyclers to buy and convert plastic scraps into high performance resin before selling it to clients that include top South Korean appliance manufacturers and Japanese automotive companies… By digitally transforming its plastic recycling operations, Heng Hiap aims to collect more and better-quality plastic by extending its collection infrastructure beyond informal collectors and grassroots recyclers, all the way to the household level, through a simplified and user-friendly collection process. In the long term, the plastic recycling company envisions creating a truly circular economy for plastics by helping its business-to-business (B2B) customers address the growing pressure from eco-conscious consumers for greater transparency and traceability.

This is not a new phenomenon. We’ve seen over and again how capitalism, ingenuity, and adaptability all combine to lift poor nations up. And higher GDP correlates with better environmental practices. In other places, we’ve seen poor countries go from labor-intensive but capital-short clothing manufacturing to such things as chip manufacturing in a very short time. As the process of recycling plastic has gone from low-level Chinese recycling to countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, we are seeing improved infrastructure, products,  returns for  both the manufacturers and the customers of the end products, and the environment.

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.

The Perils of Consensus: Beware 'Climate Change'

Many today believe that the globe is heating up and that something must be done to prevent a looming apocalypse. Carbon is ravaging the planet and fossil fuels must be replaced by wind and solar. The science is apparently settled. Yet predictions of global devastation have predictably failed for as many years as we can remember. Wind and solar are prohibitively costly, land defiling, and almost entirely unreliable, as every significant study has shown.

Important books by top-tier scientific investigators like Bruce Bunker (The Mythology of Global Warming), Rupert Darwall (Green Tyranny), Bjorn Lomborg (False Alarm), Michael Shellenberger (Apocalypse Never), and John Casey (Dark Winter) credibly put paid to the accepted narrative of rising seas and falling skies—though such books seem to have gone unread. Here in Vancouver, BC, winter came early this year, with temperatures clearly falling—we were bundling up in October; yet, it is difficult to get people merely to observe and assess for themselves, given sensationalist and misleading news reports to the contrary.

Consensus is always moot, regardless of how many people adhere to a general theory or a global assumption, as Charles Mackay has definitively shown in his classic study Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds and Eric Hoffer has laid out for us in The True Believer, an analysis of mass movements and the dynamics of fanaticism. It’s hard not to get swept along when we are told every day by our news anchors, newspaper editors, digital platforms, elected politicians and “science guys,” who have their own agenda of profit and power, that flood, fire and hurricane are our imminent future, that icebergs are melting by the minute and polar bears are starving, that Pacific islands are sinking, and that millions of people are about to starve. The overwhelming consensus of our experts and authorities cannot be accidental or wrong, can it?

But consensus is a funny thing. It can change unpredictably, very much like our weather reports. Paradigms tend to shift rapidly. Not so long ago, we might recall, we were all getting ready to freeze. As I indicated in a previous article for The Pipeline, in 1971 the Global Ecology network forecast the “continued rapid cooling of the earth.” In 1975 the New York Times brooded that the earth “may be headed for another ice age.” In the March 1975 issue of Science, we were informed that “the approach of a full-blown 10,000-year ice age [was] a real possibility,” and in the July 1975 issue of National Wildlife, C.C. Wallen of the World Meteorological Organization warned that “the cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.” (Much of this information can be found in a provocative Forbes article by Gary Sutton).

Turn the calendar page and we are all getting ready to bake. As Robertas Bakula explains in The American Institute for Economic Research, dodgy statistics, ideological zealotry and partisan massaging of data work to falsely establish that “the scientific consensus on the human origins of climate change is beyond doubt.” Nothing could be further from the truth. He continues: “Thus it is not surprising to see an array of messiahs, from honestly concerned activists to self-righteous politicians, gather in their congregations, prophesize doomsday, and come up with their genocidal plans to banish all evil, that is, reliable energy.” 

Coming to a planet near you.

The original consensus may have been closer to the truth. Climatologist Kenneth Tapping of the National Research Council of Canada concluded in 2008 that sunspot activity, the driver of global temperatures, had diminished to the point of presaging the onset of colder winters and widespread cooling. Global warming was a temporary phenomenon. A decade later, The Science Times reported that it would appear the earth is indeed cooling, signaled by “a surprisingly long period of very low sunspot activity.” A decreasing number of sunspots is crucial, leading to changing climate cycles and declining temperatures.  

Such events were experienced during a period known as the Dalton Minimum (1790-1830) and earlier during the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715), established from data based on carbon-14 content in tree rings. Both minima were synonymous with the Little Ice Age (1350-1850).

As Brian Fagan writes in The Little Ice Age, evidence for the period derives from radiocarbon dating of dead plant material collected from beneath the ice caps of Greenland and the Arctic. In the words of Historical Climatology, “growing seasons shortened, food shortages spread, economies unraveled, and rebellions and revolutions were quick to follow.” This suggests the time may now have come for political caution and scientific revaluation of the warming hypothesis. As the journal Phys.Org observes, “The sun is now on track to have the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750.”

Further corroboration is provided by Arnab Rai Choudhuri’s fascinating study Nature’s Third Cycle, which explains the daunting complexities of “solar dynamo theory” and “meridional  circulation inside the sun’s convection zone,” furnishing evidence for drastically reduced sunspot activity and the prospect of cooling summers and harsh winters to come. Although “precise theoretical calculations are hardly possible in climate science,” Choudhury remarks, we seem to be heading toward a cryogenic future, utterly unprepared to adopt contingency plans to adjust to and cope with colder temperatures and its attendant miseries—a condition that Choudhuri calls “the verdict from the Sun-God.”

Old and busted: "global warming."

The debate will continue to rage. The science is quite definitely “unsettled,” as Steven Koonin, a moderate among climatologists, tells us in his book of that title. In his just released Hot Talk, Cold Science, Fred Singer believes that “modest warming is likely to occur in the century ahead,” and that it should be welcomed. Carbon is our friend.

Brian Fagan, whose knowledge of the Little Ice Age is unquestionable, is a true believer in global warming and the advent or “record-breaking heat, mild winters [and] Category 5 Hurricanes.” Unlike Singer, he stresses that global warming must be mitigated. Energy and Technology scientist Peter Taylor’s Chill: A Reassessment of Global Warming Theory, which appeared ten years before Fagan’s volume, is a penetrating antidote to Fagan’s consensus thinking.

The prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, for its part, vigorously disagrees with both Singer and Fagan. “Our main message,” it proclaims, “is that global climate is moving in a direction that makes abrupt climate change more probable… and the consequences of ignoring this may be large. For those of us living around the edge of the N. Atlantic Ocean, we may be planning for climate scenarios of global warming that are opposite to what might actually occur.” Resistance to the prevailing narrative of thermogenic catastrophism is growing. 

In its November 23 edition, The Epoch Times reports on an interview with British scientist Valentina Zharkova, a member of the department of Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering at Northumbria University, who foresees “the onset of a grand solar minimum between 2020 and 2053 [that could] reduce global temperatures by up to 1 degree Celsius.” Zharkova warns that “governments in the Northern Hemisphere should prepare their citizens for a sharp downturn in temperatures during the next several decades.” She also believes that some scientists involved in promoting global warming are aware of the prospect of terrestrial cooling, but want to profit from green technology “as soon as possible, because they will be exposed very quickly.”

Into the sunny uplands of Green! Maybe.

Admittedly, the dilemma of consensuality is not easily resolved. One can only go with the best evidence available after diligent inquiry and honest appraisal, aided by a certain saving skepticism. As Peter Taylor advises, “I would urge these people uneducated in science to trust their ability to think for themselves and to use this material to open up discussion and further study.” Whenever one hears the word “consensus” in the news or on any Internet site, a warning light should flash where the idea bulb is presumably located.

In the present circumstance of cold fury and heated controversy, the global cooling hypothesis is well attested by reputable scientists who do not depend on academic approval and government grants serving to promote a political ideology—and who are regularly censored as iconoclasts and purveyors of “misinformation” by social media and the influential digital platforms, generally a sign that a maverick truth is being deliberately suppressed. However unsettled the issue remains, they are worth attending to.

Suffer the Little Children

Headlined in an article published in Nature on July 20, 2021: “Deaths from Covid ‘incredibly rare’ among children.” The figures tend to be murky. Deliberately so, I’m inclined to believe. Nevertheless, it seems clear enough that almost all, perhaps all, of the relatively tiny number of children aged 5- to 11-years-of-age who have died from Covid have, in fact, died with Covid; having had serious underlying illnesses or disabilities of one kind or another, including untoward obesity.

Choose your virologist, immunologist or epidemiologist if you want a view that suits your own. They can be found. One of my choices is Yale epidemiology professor Dr. Harvey Risch. He’s often on Fox News. I prefer his cautionary approach when it comes to children. Keep them home-schooled rather than compulsorily vaxxed in school, he argues. Do no harm, rings a bell with me. This, from Dr. Eric Rubin, doesn’t. He’s professor of immunology at Harvard, and a member of the FDA advisory committee. When asked, prior to FDA approval, about the safety of the Pfizer vaccine for children, he reportedly replied:

We’re never going to learn about how safe the vaccine is until we start giving it. That’s just the way it goes.

Why are children akin to lab rats among those on the left? Rubin will be of the left; no doubt about that. You will know them by their utterances. I struggle, but think it is to do with the greater good, as they see it, trumping individual rights. If a child must die to save ten old people; well, do the sums.

Do it for the children.

Used to take coffee each week with a couple of blokes who lived in the same apartment building. Unsurprisingly, both were somewhat to the left of me but the conversation was convivial. Progressively, pun intended, the group grew by another four, including one dreadful feminist harpy. As the group grew, so did its centre of gravity move radically leftwards. I divorced the group to remain sane. I doubt they missed me, being unchallenged henceforth when swapping agenda-driven distortions and lies.

There was a gay marriage postal plebiscite in Australia in November 2017. As you might imagine I was the only one of seven who voted no, but that’s by the way. One bloke, a member of Australian Skeptics (skeptical of everything except for global warming) and vice president of a humanist fringe group, the Secular Party of Australia, was particularly far gone. He provided us all with a draft of a submission his party intended to make to government; arguing, in part, that the needs of gay ‘married’ couples needed to be weighed in deciding whether they could adopt babies and young children. I annotated his draft, before returning it, with NO, NO, NO! It didn’t influence his final submission.

But you see, being far gone leftwards, he took very little account of the rights of babies and infants who can’t speak for themselves. He seemed not to comprehend that their welfare in the matter of adoption is not only paramount but all that counts, whoever is adopting them. It isn’t something that can be put in the context of the greater good. But he was prepared to stack the interests of gay couples against the interests of babies and infants; presumably, to serve, in his warped mind, the greater good. And by this route, I come back to my point.

Governments and medical authorities seem prepared to stack the interests of aging adults against the interests of children. This thinking is so estranged from the thinking of yesteryear that we, those of us who’ve retained moral standards of the quite recent past, are thrown off balance. Effectively, we are at sea. Answer: set the compass due north and steer towards truth, justice and the American way, so to speak. No compromise. Put false trails into stark relief.

There is no medical justification for vaccinating young children against Covid.  Older children too for that matter. To all intents and purposes, they face no risk from the virus. How much risk they face from the vaccine, whichever one, is unknown with any certainty. In normal course, the vaccines would not be given to children. If the principal rationale is to inhibit the spread of the virus among adults; it’s unconscionable. Close enough to evil to scare me. Yet it’s happening.

What am I, a lab rat?

Countries are already doing it. Israel started in late November, as did Canada and the United States. Reports out of the U.K. suggest it may start there in the spring.  When the FDA gave its tick of approval for vaccinating twenty-eight million 5- to 11-year-olds in the U.S., Emma McBryde, an infectious-diseases modeller at the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine in Townsville said, “it will save lives.” She went on:

But it could also have a broader impact, given that many US children aged 5 to 11 have returned to school unvaccinated in the past few months, and the group now accounts for a significant portion of new Covid-19 cases, capable of transmitting the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 to others… For every child’s life you save, you may well save many, many more adult lives.

Catch the pointed end bit. Exactly how many children are worth putting at unwarranted risk from vaccines to save adult lives; and mostly aged adult lives? Median age of death from Covid in Australia in 2020 equals 87 years (82 years for deaths from all causes). No child has died.

But, amid the ridiculously hyped-up Omicron kerfuffle, Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s chief medical officer, said that he was awaiting advice from the TGA (Australia's equivalent to the FDA) on offering vaccines to 5- to 11-year-olds. For what possible legitimate purpose?  And notice the word offering, implying a free choice. Really, exactly how long would it be before little Jill and Johnny were singled out as unvaxxed pariahs?

Finally, I have begun to realise that my erstwhile coffee companion is, in fact, no further gone leftwards than is the whole apparatus of governments throughout most of the world; and throw in most of the media; and, regrettably, most of the medical establishment. There is little remaining to know about the malign influence of the left. Yet, its influence has been even more pernicious than might have been thought possible. Locking children out of school is bad enough. Societies which are prepared to play fast and loose with children’s very lives have surely lost all moral compass.

Science Ain't What it Used to Be

The year 1905 is referred to as Albert Einstein's Annus Mirabilis. In that twelve-month span Einstein published four papers which revolutionized our understanding of the laws of physics. The titles of those papers are as follows: First, "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light;" Second, "On the Motion of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid, as Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat;" Third, "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies;" and last of all, "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?"

Don't worry -- I will not attempt a gloss of any of these essays, nor any discussion of "special relativity" or that most famous of equations (first proposed in the final paper) E = mc2. I mention them only to point out that, once upon a time, scientific papers were generally about science. Nowadays, well, not so much.

This is the thought that occurred to me as I read through a new paper out of Cornell University by Mark Lynas, Benjamin Houlton, and Simon Perry, entitled "Greater than 99 percent consensus on human caused climate change in the peer-reviewed scientific literature." As the title suggests, the object of the paper is to demonstrate the tired old talking point that 99 percent of scientists accept the supposed scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change.

Everybody agrees!

According to the abstract, "questions over the scientific consensus of the role of human activities in modern climate change continue to arise in public settings," (might this have something to do with the fact that one side of the debate cites it constantly?) the authors have decided to demonstrate said consensus "by searching the recent literature for papers [skeptical] of anthropogenic-caused global warming." They compiled 88,125 "climate-related papers" published since 2012, "examine[d] a randomized subset of 3000" of those papers, and searched them for keywords which would suggest that they are, in fact, skeptical of the standard environmentalist argument. As fewer than one percent met the criteria, the authors concluded,

[W]ith high statistical confidence that the scientific consensus on human-caused contemporary climate change—expressed as a proportion of the total publications—exceeds 99 percent in the peer reviewed scientific literature.

This, it needs hardly be said, is not science. Science is, in the words of Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, a method for testing "empirical theories through controlled investigation." "Scientific knowledge," he goes on, "is always, at least in theory, subject to further disproof by further experiment." This is why appeals to "consensus" ring so hollow --the sheer number of scientists doesn't matter at all. What matters are their arguments, and an engagement with the actual arguments of skeptics is notably lacking here. So notably in fact that the authors feel compelled to point it out: "An in-depth evaluation of [the] merits [of the skeptical papers] is outside the scope of this paper." To which one must reply, 'then what does your paper contribute to this discussion?' Almost nothing, except that it enables gullible journalists to claim that, according to a new paper, 99 percent of scientists agree. This whole project was in the service of future headlines.

The science is settled, Albert.

There's more to be said on this topic -- we could cite the work of Princeton physicist and self-described climate "heretic," Freeman Dyson, who passed away last year, or the more recent work of Michael Shellenberger and Bjørn Lomborg (the latter of whom once had a pie thrown at him by the lead author of this paper for his climate skepticism), who've done yeoman's work pushing back on the scientists who thoughtlessly accept environmentalist readings of the data at hand. We might even mention the gobs of money pumped into climate science every year with the implicit understanding that it will go towards demonstrating that we're doomed.

But it will suffice to say that Albert Einstein's papers were, in fact, a major deviation from the consensus of his day. We're all richer for his having dared to disagree.