Archive for the ‘James Delingpole’ Category
This post was therefore not published yesterday (i.e. International Workers’ Day).
Since publishing my book, I have been contacted by a number of academics in a variety of countries who are doing – or have done – research into climate change scepticism (i.e. similar to that which I did for my MA – the basis of my book). As well as being very enthusiastic about my research, they have all asked me why I did not get it published in an academic journal. However, the answer to this question is simple: I did not rate my chances as an unknown, sole author, while not doing a PhD. I am therefore now actively pursuing the possibility of doing both.
However, to get to the point, having established these contacts, it is obvious to me that, along with ‘Agenda 21’, the concept of a ‘New World Order’ conspiracy is one that I did not mention in my dissertation two years ago. Although one is merely a subset of the other, Wikipedia is a good place to start if you are unfamiliar with these terms:
– Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It is a product of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It is an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels.
– The common theme in conspiracy theories about a New World Order is that a secretive… elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government… Significant occurrences in politics and finance… and current events are seen as steps in an on-going plot to achieve world domination through secret political gatherings and decision-making processes.
Christopher Monckton, the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, is fond of mentioning Agenda 21 in his speeches (e.g. here and here), but I have still not come across anyone (maybe I have just not looked hard enough) who frequently refers explicitly to the New World Order (NWO). Having said that, NWO conspiracy theory is the basis of James Delingpole’s stupid Watermelons books.
The trouble is, of course, that, whereas the organised nature of the campaign to discredit climate science and scientists is a very well-documented conspiracy fact, the idea that there is a global conspiracy to bring about an NWO is a delusion. Indeed, it may even be a form of vestigial anti-Semitism. I say this because Hitler believed the Jews were intent on establishing an NWO. However, as well as being entirely discredited long before the start of World War Two (WW2), this idea was – and is – entirely intellectually incoherent. In the decades preceding WW2, Jews were simultaneously accused of plotting to bring about an NWO and derided for being obsessed with making money. Despite this, even today, anti-Semitic organisations such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood indoctrinate their followers into believing that there is an NWO conspiracy – they just call it ‘Zionism’. But that is another story.
Certainly, from the beginning of the Cold War onwards, belief in an NWO and/or characterisation of the USSR as the “evil empire” or “Red Menace”, acted as a recruiting sergeant for libertarians and free-market economists everywhere. Furthermore, as Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have clearly documented, in their book Merchants of Doubt, it was a bunch of neo-conservative physicists, whose worldview was forged in the Cold War era, who laid the foundations of the campaign to dispute climate science for ideological reasons. In the twilight years of the USSR (before the Berlin Wall came down), it was they who convinced President George Bush to resist much of what the first Rio Earth Summit sought to do in 1992… The USA had decided that the new enemy was “environmentalism”. People may think this is simplistic but the German Minister for the Environment at the time, Klaus Topfer, is on record as having said this is how he perceived the USA’s position at the time (See Timothy Luke’s ‘A Rough Road out of Rio’ (2000) – PDF available here).
Sadly, the idea that environmentalism is the enemy of progress is complete bullshit.
I’m sorry to be so blunt but, there really is no better word for it. However, this is sad for a variety of reasons:
– So many have been – and still are – convinced that concern for the environment is a form of Communism (or Fascism).
– This powerful delusion has been responsible for the failure of international efforts to prevent the environmental catastrophe that is now unfolding.
– The failure of climate scientists to explain their message in such as way as to shatter this delusion may result in things getting much worse than they might have done.
– The World’s politicians are yet to wake up to (or admit) the reality that simply curtailing the increase in global CO2 emissions will never solve the problem.
What we needed was ecological modernisation (i.e. modifications to the way we do things so as to make them more ecologically-friendly and environmentally-sustainable). Instead, what we have got is economic stagnation (because perpetual growth in consumption and accelerating resource depletion was always going to run into trouble eventually).
The questions that therefore remain are whether climate change sceptics are going to continue to try to perpetuate:
– The myth that Communists realised they could not win power in Western democracies so therefore invented the Green Party instead.
– The myth that there is a left-wing conspiracy to over-tax and over-regulate people (so as to make everyone poorer).
– The myth that we need not worry about the finite nature of the Earth’s mineral resources or its ability to deal with our pollution simply because of human ingenuity (Prometheanism) or Nature’s bounty (Cornucopianism).
I really do think it is time to admit that the game is up, the NWO does not exist:
– The only environmental conspiracy is that which seeks to deny the truth that human activity is irreversibly altering the Earth’s climate.
– The only political conspiracy is that which seeks to under-tax and under-regulate industry (so as to make a few people richer).
– The amount of energy received from the Sun is effectively constant and therefore, by powering industrialised civilisation using the fossilised energy received by the Earth over millions of years, the Carbon Era has been neither physically nor environmentally sustainable.
So, then, the NWO conspiracy does not exist. However, that is not the end of the story.
Sadly, as I pointed out three months ago now, the CO2 fairy does not exist either: Given the history of exponentially growing demand for fossil fuels (and therefore CO2 emissions), it will be a very long time until carbon capture and storage (CCS) could possibly begin to solve our problem. Indeed, the technology is still at the experimental stage and, even once the best method of CCS is identified, it will then have to be made operational on a global basis such that sequestration exceeds emissions. Only then would the atmospheric concentration of CO2 begin to fall. This will therefore never happen unless global emissions are massively reduced.
The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones; and we have a limited carbon budget that we simply cannot exceed and expect to retain a habitable planet. Therefore, wherever their use is easily substitutable, we need to phase out the use of fossil fuels as soon as possible. And, yes, that is the end of story.
I just want to pre-empt the almost inevitable piece of journalistic garbage – by Christopher Booker, James Delingpole, Melanie Phillips, David Rose, or whoever – suggesting that the current snowy weather in the UK proves that global warming is not happening.
As any number of weather presenters have explained in recent days, the UK is experiencing record-breaking falls of snow this weekend because of disruption to our normal weather patterns. Once again, this abnormal weather is the result of changes in the stratosphere; with the position of the Jet Stream blocking the weather systems we would normally have coming off the Atlantic; and allowing much colder air from the European continent to sweep over us instead.
Apart from that, it is simply the case that moisture + cold air => snow: The Earth’s atmosphere today typically contains 4% more water vapour than it did 50 years ago. More moisture in a body of warm air will result in heavy rainfall; in colder air it will result in heavy snowfall. End of story. Almost.
There are just a few more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that you might be missing:
– It is now several decades since the Earth experienced a single month of weather that was cooler than the long-term monthly average;
– Every decade since the 1970’s has been warmer than that which preceded it.
– The ratio of heat records broken to cold records broken in 2o12 was 11 to 1.
I think even my 14-yr old daughter could identify the long-term trend in that data set.
To mark the occasion of James Delingpole making a complete ass of himself once again by publishing an article in the Daily Mail, which drew this response from the Met Office…
As regular readers of this blog will know, I submitted a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission last October regarding David Rose’s similarly repetitious attempts to paint the Met Office (MO) as either incompetent or willfully deceptive. Sadly, the PCC were forced to deal with my complaint because the MO declined to get involved (even though the PCC asked them if they wanted to). I am afraid I got tired of the obfuscatory responses submitted by the Mail on Sunday and told the PCC to just go ahead and make a decision. However, the PCC have said I can publish their decision in the case, so here it is:
Commission’s decision in the case of
Lack v The Mail on Sunday
The complainant was concerned that an article, which reported on new global temperature data, contained inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. In particular, he considered that the article had misleadingly referred to the update of HadCRUT4 dataset as a report. The complainant emphasised that global warming has never been consistent, and was therefore concerned that the article had implied that the data showed that the Earth’s climate had stopped changing, and that carbon dioxide had not contributed to such changes as had occurred.
Under Clause 1, the press “must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information”.
The Commission first considered the complaint in relation to the description of the data update as a “report”. This appeared only in the headline, and was not used to describe the update elsewhere in the text of the article. The Commission noted that it considers headlines in the context of the article as a whole rather than as a standalone statement. This is due to their brevity – they can represent only a limited summary of a potentially complex set of circumstances. The Commission noted that in the body of the article it was made clear that this referred to the update of the HadCRUT4 dataset on the Met Office’s website. Given this, the Commission did not consider that the reference was significantly misleading, as readers were made aware of the precise way in which this new information had been released.
The Commission noted that the complainant did not dispute the fact that the new data did not show a significant increase in temperatures over the last fifteen years. Instead, his concern was that the article wrongly implied that climate change had stopped, and that carbon dioxide had not contributed to previous increases in temperature. The article had made clear that there was disagreement between climate scientists as to the significance of the data, and to the potential for drawing major conclusions from it. As such it was apparent from the article that there was a variety of expert opinion as to how the new data was to be interpreted. Furthermore, the Commission noted that in the accompanying commentary, the newspaper had made clear that the plateau in temperatures did not mean that “global warming won’t at some point resume”, had stated that global warming was real, and that carbon dioxide had contributed to it. As such, the Commission was not able to find that the article was in this way misleading. Although the headline referred to climate change having “stopped”, it was clear from the article that this was not necessarily permanent. The Commission was aware of the complainant’s view that the article had contained other inaccurate and misleading statements; however it noted that the complainant had repeatedly declined to specify these, and consequently the Commission was not in a position to comment further. As such, there was no breach of Clause 1.
Reference no. 124521
As I have said in comments on the Met Office blog, I really do think that the time has come for the Met Office to stop issuing rebuttals and take these idiots to Court.
UPDATE (15 January 2013): As I have said to Barry Woods in the comments appended to this post…
I repeatedly referred the PCC to other websites where all the factual inaccuracies had been explained in detail – such as The Carbon Brief – and made it clear to the PCC that I had much better things to do with my time. In other words, I made a conscious decision not to waste more time on my complaint because it was obvious the PCC was not going to find the Mail on Sunday guilty of any offence (under the Code). However, that does not make the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, or James Delingpole any less guilty of repeatedly publishing very misleading articles…
I must admit that I am rather fond of quoting Sir Arthur Eddington as having once said, “…if your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics, I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.” Without quibbling over the detail, the Law of Conservation of Mass is pretty darn close; but what, you may ask, has this got to do with climate change denial?
Conservation of mass of water
Well, consider for a moment that scientists seem to agree that there has been a 4% increase in the average moisture content of the Earth’s atmosphere since 1970. That being the case, I am bound to say that this extra 4% is making its presence felt in the UK at the moment! This year we have had the wettest 3 months (April – June) in over 100 years; the wettest June on record; the rain is still falling (sometimes as much as 80mm in a day); and – we are now being told – there is no change anticipated in coming weeks. So, if you’re coming over for the Olympics, expect to get wet!
However, whilst the UK suffers from near Biblical levels of flooding, if the Law of Conservation of Mass is to be upheld and – all other things like terrestrial ice volume remaining equal(!) – the volume of water in the oceans is to remain constant, then it must be failing to rain somewhere else. If so, is there any evidence to support this
theory Law? Well, funnily enough, there is: Whilst the UK continues to receive more rain than it wants or needs (all hose pipe bans and drought restrictions have now been lifted), many parts of the World continue to suffer from persistent drought (in sub-Saharan West Africa) and/or record-breaking temperatures (in most of North America).
Sadly, none of this seems to stop self-confessed scientifically-illiterate English graduates such as James Delingpole from ridiculing the entire notion of global warming simply because it is raining a lot here at the moment. It may seem that he has just got a nasty case of tunnel vision and/or short-term memory loss but this is what the fake sceptics always do; they never look at the big picture: Rather than look at daily, monthly, or even annual average temperatures over multi-decadal periods to determine significant long-term trends; they just cherry pick data to reach fallacious conclusions such as “global warming stopped in 1998″.
I am therefore left hoping that the 57% of the British adult population that seem to fall for this kind of nonsense will soon decide that it is time to stop running down the up escalator and, by embracing the reality of what is happening, decide to become part of the solution rather than being part of the problem. If not, climate change denial may well lead to a failure to conserve mass; with the mass in question being the sustainable number of humans this planet can support in the long-term.
Conservation of mass of carbon
If the Law of Conservation of Mass explains why anthropogenic
global warming climate disruption is not invalidated by any amount of cold weather or torrential rainfall in one place; can it be used to validate concern regarding a 40% increase CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere? Funnily enough, it can: Since the Industrial Revolution began in the mid-18th Century, a vast amount of fossilised carbon has been burnt; with the carbon it contained combining with oxygen in the air to form CO2. Note here that the oxygen was in the air anyway; whereas the carbon had been out of circulation for hundreds of millions of years. All this new carbon has to go somewhere and, given that it will be many more millions of years before any of it gets taken back out of circulation by nature, it is either making the atmosphere warm-up or it is reducing the pH of seawater (just enough to make life very difficult for corals and shellfish).
So then, what is the human response to all this? Shall we stop burning the fossil fuels now we know we’re causing a problem? It doesn’t look like it! It seems far more likely that we shall gamble the future habitability of all the planets diverse ecosystems on finding a way to defeat the Law of Conservation of Mass by artificially removing this carbon from the biosphere: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). And do you know what I find most astonishing about CCS? It is the fact that our governments are spending huge sums of money on long-term tests to simulate the effects of CO2 leaking from a submarine CCS repository – to see if it has any noticeable effects on marine life?
Errr, hello-oh? If any CO2 ever escapes from any CCS repository, the entire exercise will have been a complete waste of time and money! The CO2 will be back in circulation and the Law of Conservation of Mass will have won (again). If the genie will not stay in the bottle we will all be in big trouble: Rather than being likely to “collapse in deepest humiliation”; such a failure to defeat the Law of Conservation of Mass will probably result in the collapse of the entire planetary ecosystem; because of our other big problem – the Law of Conservation of Energy: The reason the atmosphere is warming up in the first place; more energy is coming in from the Sun than is getting out into Space!
So, this year’s weather should be a wake-up call to all of us: Irrespective of the actual kind of extreme weather being experienced in any one place, the impacts on agriculture seem to be equally destructive and spiralling food costs the inevitable end result: All just as was predicted by people dismissed for decades as doomsayers: People like Garrett Hardin, Paul Ehrlich, Dennis Meadows, E.F. Schumacher, William Ophuls, Mathis Wackernagel, Ernest Callenbach, and Lester Brown… It looks like that darn ‘wolf’ finally showed up!
Funnily enough, it turns out that a doubling in the size of the global human economy every 50 years is not sustainable after all; and worshipping at the Temple of the God of Growth has got us in some serious trouble; otherwise known as a global debt crisis (see the short video embedded below). We thought we could just lend imaginary money to each other indefinitely but someone blinked and the spell was broken. Sadly, it turns out the Emperor was naked after all; it’s just a shame that by the time we realised this we were all completely sold on the latest fashion ourselves: The New Clothes are everywhere; and we have all been left looking for fig leaves to cover our genitals.
Just as The Limits to Growth (Meadows et al) predicted all those years ago, the Earth is running out of the ability to cope with the effects of our chronically dysfunctional mis-management of it. This was why, as I pointed out six months ago, the failure of food harvests in 2010 led to the Arab Spring of 2011… Are you, like me, wondering what is going to happen this time around? My prediction is that some economist such as Tim Worstall will get himself on TV and tell everyone that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is a load of old rubbish; and that technology will save us from the consequences of our selfish pursuit of profit at any cost; and from our failure to recognise that we humans are not superior to nature – we are part of it – and we cannot survive without it. Or, to put it another way, as a Native American tribal leader once did:
When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
No doubt, this is what James Delingpole would say but, yet again, he would be wrong… For those not quite with me on this, Delingpole has written two versions of a reality-deficient book, Watermelons, in which he massages the consciences of his fellow “libertarian conservatives”, as follows:
– Version 1: Watermelons: The Green Movement’s True Colors (2011)
– Version 2: Watermelons: How the Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children’s Future (2012).
Whereas the title of the first edition could be dismissed as playfully fanciful, the title of the second is a much more insidious inversion of reality. It is almost as if Delingpole knows what he is writing is rubbish and, in devising a title, he has sought to bend the truth as much as possible. Delingpole certainly likes to annoy his critics (e.g. 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy but, since I am no liberal, I just let that one pass me by). However, my rebuttal of both versions of Watermelons is essentially the same:
There is simply no evidence for your left-wing conspiracy to over-tax and over-regulate people (so as to make everyone poorer). Whereas, there is a great deal of evidence for a right-wing conspiracy to under-tax and under-regulate industry (so as to make a few people richer).
Therefore, I think it is both sad and significant that, while all remaining Republican candidates for the US Presidency continue to compete amongst themselves to see who can reject the most science and/or promise to repeal the most legislation, the Pentagon has acknowledged that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) poses an existential threat to the stability and security of the United States of America; a threat that – since 2010 at least – they feel can no longer be ignored and/or denied.
However, why this post and why now? Well, it has been inspired by recent items on Peter Sinclair’s Climate Denial Crock of the Week:
1. US Military Forges Ahead with Climate Security. Deniers Still Looking for WMDs (2 April 2012); and
2. How to Talk to a Climate Ostrich: The Pentagon and Climate Change (24 April 2012).
In the first of these two posts, Peter points out that:
“A 2010 Defense Department review identified climate change and energy security as ‘prominent military vulnerabilities’, noting that climate change in particular is an ‘accelerant of instability and conflict’. It was the first time the Pentagon addressed climate in a comprehensive planning document.
“A subsequent assessment by the National Research Council found that even moderate climate shifts will impact Navy operations. Sea-level rise and more severe storm surges will hit coastal military bases, and marine forces could also face more work in responding to an increase in humanitarian crises following disasters. The opening of the Arctic as sea ice disappears will likely require more patrols in harsh conditions as nations and industry interests are expected to vie for control of new trade routes and energy resources.”
From the video embedded in the second of these posts, it becomes clear that the Defense Department review referred to is the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). For those unfamiliar with Latin, this means it is published every 4 years and in it, in 2010, the US Government (or at least a part of it) admitted to itself and to the World that climate change is real, it is happening, and it is a serious problem (as opposed to it being a hoax, not happening, and/or beneficial).
The QDR itself can be found on the website of the Defense Department, which includes links to factsheets and summaries. However, as Wikipedia notes, a Republican dominated Congress clearly did not like to see a part of the US Government making such inconvenient and disconcerting admissions and therefore set up an albeit “independent” Panel to review it. Although “bipartisan” in its make-up, it is very tempting to see this as an attempt to obfuscate the inconvenient truths the QDR had admitted, which are as follows:
“Climate change, energy security and economic stability are inextricably linked… climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity; increase the spread of disease; and spur or exacerbate mass migration…”
Dr Richard Alley’s fascinating video, part of his Earth: An operator’s Manual series (that Peter Sinclair is currently featuring), also includes extracts of an interview of the Rear Admiral David Titley, the US Navy’s Oceanographer, who was a major contributor to the QDR (and who has also spoken at the TED conference and many others). This video is less than 4 minutes in length and, as with all the others, well worth watching (IMHO):
Apart from a hat-tip in the direction of one of the most epic films ever made (i.e. The Greatest Story Ever Told ), and my wishing all readers a Happy Easter (or to be entirely politically-correct, a ‘joyous Spring Equinox festival of renewal’), this post has very little to do with Christianity…
In centuries long past, if you upset someone in China they might well have cursed you by saying, “May you live in interesting times” and to be sure, today, we do indeed live in interesting times. These are Strange Days on Planet Earth (National Geographic).
600 years ago it was the Church of Rome that was doing all the lying and obfuscation and, if books had then been invented, they would have been burning them. Then along came the Enlightenment, seeking to rid humanity of mysticism and supposedly-irrational explanations for anything; and instead to explain everything in scientific terms. Of course the great irony of this was that, building on the wisdom of ancient Greek and Chinese thinkers – and the amazing early maths of medieval Muslim scholars – the success of this anti-irrational crusade was facilitated by the Christian belief in a rational God and, therefore, a rational Universe.
Thus, although we have much for which we should be grateful to the Enlightenment, this does not include the fact that it bequeathed to posterity the belief that human beings are superior to nature (rather than being part of it). Was this the greatest lie ever told? I think not; and for two reasons: It was not a lie; and it was never told. It was an erroneous consequence of an intellectual assumption about the way the World is: It was an error in reasoning; a fallacy.
History is full of fallacies. Take the various fallacies built upon the work of Charles Darwin: Darwin is one of the most influential scientists that ever lived; and his life’s work – to explain the consequences of his thinking about his observations of nature for our understanding of our place in it – has been misrepresented in many different ways: As well as being vilified by those that felt threatened by him, Darwin’s ideas have been abused and misused to justify all sorts of bad ideas from Marxism to Fascism; and from the Meritocracy of modern-day USA to global laissez-faire Capitalism. But, are any of these things the greatest lie ever told? No, I don’t think so…
In the second half of the 20th Century, humans seemed to finally realise that killing people in large numbers (as part of military conflict) was probably best avoided; and so was founded the United Nations and what would later become the European Union. By virtuous pursuit of international co-operation, may be now global peace and security could be realised? Unfortunately, global laissez-faire Capitalism, which John Gray has suggested was “[a]lways a utopian project” (i.e. in False Dawn: The delusions of global capitalism, [2009: xiv]), was doomed to failure because of the fallacious thinking it inherited from the Enlightenment: This allowed money fetishism to take hold and, with profit elevated from a means-to-an-end up to an-end-in-itself, human beings were bound to exploit nature without mercy (i.e. “mistake nature’s capital for a source of income” [E. F. Schumacher]; and/or “treat the Earth as a business in liquidation” [Herman E. Daly]); and to refuse to listen to anyone that said it has inherent or intrinsic value – let alone anyone that says nature has a right to exist… Were the fallacies identified by Schumacher or Daly the greatest lie ever told? No, I don’t think so…
However, the greatest lie ever told has a strong pedigree; a bit like the British Empire: Here in the UK, the BBC recently screened a 5-part series on the latter presented by Jeremy Paxman. As he tends to do when interviewing people, Paxman pulled no punches with our Imperialist past either; privateering (i.e. government-sanctioned piracy and theft); the slave trade, the opium wars, the suppression of any and all opposition to British rule – it was all recounted in excruciating detail… The British Empire undoubtedly did a lot of good to an awful lot of people; but it also abused its position and ultimately outlived its usefulness: Thus, we had to be forced to relinquish it, piece-by-piece, bit-by-bit. So, was “Britannia Rules the Waves” the greatest lie ever told? No, I don’t think so.
However, driven by greed – and the idolisation of the notion of free trade – the British Empire became the greatest exponent of corporate lies, hypocrisy, and double-standards the World had seen and – as such – I would argue has been the inspiration for all multi-national businesses that have since copied its modus operandi. As a result, in the service of their god of profit, we have been lied to by these business people repeatedly for over 100 years and been variously told that:
Heroin addiction is socially acceptable.
Smoking cigarettes is sophisticated.
The Titanic is unsinkable.
The War will be over by Christmas.
Things can only get better.
Hitler is not dangerous.
Smoking is not harmful.
Organic pesticides are more effective than natural predators.
You’ve never had it so good.
Organic pesticides are safe.
Population growth is not a problem.
Famine and starvation are a thing of the past.
Limits to growth do not exist.
Mutually assured destruction is a sensible military strategy.
Smoking does not cause cancer.
The hole in the ozone layer is not there.
CFCs aren’t causing the hole in the ozone layer.
Acid rain does not exist.
We are not causing acid rain.
We can’t afford to prevent acid rain.
Passive smoking is not dangerous.
But are any of these the greatest lie ever told? No, I don’t think so.
However, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of Communism across Eastern Europe, and the disintegration of the former USSR, it was then that the lie was forced upon the public consciousness with single-minded determination. Although conceived as a reaction to supposedly “liberal-minded nonsense” spouted in the late sixties and early seventies by supposedly subversive academics (even those whose work was funded by plutocrats like The Club of Rome), it suddenly became possible to convince people, in the absence of any other enemy, that those who espouse concern for the environment are Communists in disguise (or “Watermelons” as James Delingpole likes to call them) – this is the greatest lie ever told.
However, this lie is rarely explicitly stated: Far more often it is dressed-up and/or made to seem more reasonable by claims that humanity is too insignificant to affect our climate; the climate will not change faster than we can adapt to it; we are not causing the climate to change; we cannot afford to prevent climate change; and/or climate change has stopped.
In effect, all such claims can be replaced with one: Environmental “alarmists” are just “crying wolf”. In the face of complex science and supposedly-conflicting truth claims, this is a very seductive reason for doing nothing: It is a very convenient and facile argument used by those whose sole aim is to prevent effective action being taken to regulate their business activities – those who prioritise their freedom to make a short-term profit over the long-term interests of the Environment; and what is in the interests of the long-term habitability of planet Earth. However, with my thanks to Jules B. for pointing this out to me, to accept this one must forget that, in the fairy-tale, the wolf eventually turns up!
James Delingpole is almost as difficult to engage in debate as Lord Monckton; but not quite – at least I have had several exchanges of emails with Monckton. His Lordship may be equally as fond of facile sarcasm but at least he keeps up a pretence of being capable of debate. Delingpole is just sarcastic; and will not engage in debate with anyone who understands the science – let alone an actual climate scientist. But after being intellectually raped by Sir Paul Nurse, who can blame him? Still, I do wish he would shut up… This is a transcript of my latest attempt to get his attention (still visible here on his personal blog). However, he seems to be too busy over on his Telegraph blog debating the significance of more important political questions of our times such as: Has George Osborn has ever eaten a Cornish Pasty?…
I know you will cite the Met Office as being part of some anti-libertarian plot to install worldwide Socialist governance but, will you please do us all a favour and suspend your belief in conspiracy theories just long enough to take on board some new information:
“A project running almost 10,000 climate simulations on volunteers’ home computers has found that a global warming of 3 degrees Celsius by 2050 is ‘equally plausible’ as a rise of 1.4 degrees. The study addresses some of the uncertainties that previous forecasts, using simpler models or only a few dozen simulations, may have over-looked. Importantly, the forecast range is derived from using a complex Met Office model that accurately reproduces observed temperature changes over the last 50 years. The results suggest that the world is very likely to cross the ’2 degrees barrier’ at some point this century if emissions continue unabated. It also suggests that those planning for the impacts of climate change need to consider the possibility of warming of up to 3 degrees (above the 1961-1990 average) by 2050, even on a mid-range emission scenario. This is a faster rate of warming than most other models predict.”
Citizen science looks at future warming uncertainty.
N.B. The ability of these computer models to recreate historical trends over the last 50 years is not evidence of fudge factors having been applied: It is evidence of model validation, which – along with calibration and sensitivity analysis – is an integral part of establishing the accuracy of such modelling techniques. You can – or should – trust me on this because, unlike you, this is what I have been doing for the last 20 years or so (i.e. using probabilistic computer modelling in environmental risk assessments).
Your beloved marketplace of ideas is a dangerous fallacy; of which your success in getting your ill-informed unscientific opinions plastered all over the media and infecting people’s minds is profound evidence. And for what purpose? You may think you are acting in the public interest but, unfortunately, like everything else in Watermelons 2.0, this is an inversion of reality: As Peter Jacques (University of Florida) has pointed out, it is precisely because environmental scepticism is not in the public interest, the tobacco industry invented the sound science versus junk science debate (now being used to great effect by the fossil fuel and energy industry) to confuse people and prevent sensible regulation of their product.
I should like to thank James Delingpole for making such a complete ass of himself in an interview with Sir Paul Nurse just over a year ago, as it was this act of gross stupidity that first propelled me into the Blogosphere. Although my first Blog, entitled James Delingpile, did not last very long, the second, Earthy Issues, fared better and is still available today (although I am not maintaining it). However, last August, just before going on holiday, I set up this blog and the rest, as they say, is history. For an elaboration on this part of the story, please see my Background page.
While on holiday in the South of France with my children and my ex-Wife (yes, I know, that is a bit weird), it was very hot (I wonder why?) and, for over a week, the night-time temperature never went below 20C / 70F. Therefore, I don’t know whether it was the heat or indigestion but, every night, unable to sleep, I would sit at the dining room table writing stuff that has since appeared here: I have also used this blog as a vehicle for sharing with the World the findings from my 5 months spent analysing the public discourse of climate change scepticism in the UK, as practiced by organisations, scientists, economists, politicians, and others. Whereas a 300-word Abstract of my dissertation is viewable on my About page, I still think my first attempt to subsequently summarise its importance to a wider audience was possibly better:
How to be a climate change ‘sceptic’ (7 September 2012).
Since then, although I have always tried very hard to attack the erroneous message rather than the messengers, I have posted a large number of items on many of the subjects of my research, the following being good examples:
The Global Warming Policy Foundation
The Institute of Economic Affairs
Lord (Nigel) Lawson of Blaby
Lord (Christopher) Monckton of Brenchley
Conservative Euro and Climate sceptics
Graham Stringer MP (Labour)
Sammy Wilson MP (DUP)
I have run a series of posts on the challenges posed by ecological economics to modernity itself (in 3 parts); as well as Conservatism (N.B. I am a Conservative voter), Liberalism, and Socialism; and perhaps most significantly of all, I have written a great deal as a consequence of reading James Hansen’s extra-ordinary book, Storms of my Grandchildren. For those that have not read it, or any of my posts on it, the best place to start would be Climate science in a nut fragment (6 February 2012).
Much more recently, I ran a series of posts looking at the work of the sceptical British journalists Brendan O’Neill, Melanie Phillips, Christopher Booker and, of course, James Delingpole; starting with an introduction to these peddlers of fear uncertainty and doubt (FUD) here.
However, because this blog is not seeking to attack anyone personally, underlying all of this is my concern for the Environment in general and concern regarding the failure of humanity to grasp that it is not superior to nature; it is part of it: In other words, all things are connected… As I said in my recent post regarding mining in wilderness areas, with me, this concern for the environment goes back over 20 years and, with the benefit of all that I learned while doing my MA, I have decided that the lies must now stop; and I believe I am in as good a position as anyone else to stop them. So, Professor Lindzen, please don’t take it personally but, I firmly believe you over-stepped the line at the Palace of Westminster on 22 February 2012; and I believe the World will now call you to account for it. I still don’t know why you did it. Indeed, as do many others, I suspect you genuinely believe what you say to be true, as do all of those I have listed above (probably).
However, when it gets to the point that anybody has to denounce those who admit they were wrong and/or change their mind (like Richard Muller and William Nordhaus) for supposedly being duped by the conspiracy; when that conspiracy must be forced to grow to include steadily more and more people (now including the UN, the WMO, the IPCC, Governments, Scientific and Professional bodies, and hundreds of research scientists all over the World), I think it is time to admit, as Barry Bickmore has said, “you are trying too hard to avoid the truth!”
However, by far the most insidious thing about all this is that behind all the peddlers of misinformation lurks the driving force of this campaign to deny human responsibility for climate change, the Conservative Think Tanks like the Heartland Institute, which work on behalf of major business interests (as opposed to the public interest) of which James Hoggan says in his book, Climate Cover Up:
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.
As I said, I think it is time for the lies to stop; and if Lindzengate shall prove to be the El Alamein of climate change denial (i.e. the beginning of the end or at least “the end of the beginning” – Winston Churchill), I for one will be delighted.
Having posted something fairly controversial on Judith Curry’s blog earlier this week, I am now being referred to in absentia as ‘Joshua’ (for having the temerity to be so certain I am right and “sceptics” are wrong*). Maybe so, but such an accusation
is no would not have been a substitute for not having a sound scientific basis for maintaining your “scepticism”. It is, however, entirely coincidental that this post should appear today (as I wrote and named it last Sunday).
* It turns out this was not the reason.
So said Moses to Joshua, apparently, before the Jews annexed Palestine for the first time in their long history. For the record, I am not anti-Israel. I recognise its right to exist; and so must all its Arab neighbours. Israel is there; and they need to get used to it. Indeed, both parties need to focus on achieving a two-state solution wherein everyone feels secure and there is no need for monoliths to human stupidity like the Peace Wall on the West Bank.
But, yet again, I am getting off-message… We are today in a battle, whether we know it or not, whether we want to be in it or not; we cannot escape from it. It is also a fight to the death; and a fight for survival – for the survival of modern civilisation on a habitable planet capable of supporting more than 6 billion people.
Unfortunately, a very small but powerful elite have been engaged in a guerilla war for at least the last 24 years in an attempt to prioritise their right to sell you stuff and provide you with fuel to pollute the atmosphere; to the detriment of the right of future generations to enjoy the planet as we were lucky enough to find it.
Although people like Peter Jacques have been telling us for years that “anti-environmentalism is an attitude that most citizens would consider a violation of the public interest” [Jacques, P. (2009), Environmental Skepticism: Ecology, Power and Public Life, Farnham: Ashgate (p.169)], it is only now, thanks to the self-sacrifice of Peter Gleick, that we have direct evidence of the lengths to which Conservative Think Tanks (CTTs) will go to defend their pro-business agenda from demands that the right of nature to exist should also be respected. More than that, we now know of the depths to which CTTs will stoop to invert reality and corrupt the minds of schoolchildren. And all for what, exactly? James Hansen nailed that one in 2009, when he said: “Policy inaction is the aim of those that dispute global warming”.
However, as I demonstrated all last week, the CTTs may be providing the fuel for climate change denial but it is generally a scientifically-illiterate media that is perpetuating the myth that the science is unsettled (exactly as they did for decades in relation to cigarette-smoking). I say “generally” because, as I have demonstrated this week, we also have to defeat people like Richard Lindzen, Pat Michaels and Roy Spencer who, for reasons best known to themselves, continue to provide a veneer of scientific credibility to the crusade to deny the reality of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD). In so doing, they continue to deny the reality of all the accumulating evidence that the Earth is now passing a tipping point; beyond which lies centuries of accelerating and/or rapid warming and sea level rise, which will only stop when the planet is ice-free (as it was 35 million years ago the last time atmospheric CO2 reached 450ppm).
In this context, I find myself asking if ad hominem attacks are ever justified? It is a tricky one: I try desperately hard to avoid them myself. I try very hard to shoot down the message; not the messenger. However, sometimes the irrationality of the blind prejudice that drives all these peddlers of misinformation is so blatant, it is hard to avoid the accusation of indulging in ad hom.. Take, as an example, James Delingpole and his book Watermelons. In the two quotes that follow, where does sarcasm end and ad hom begin?
However, although English, History and Geography were among my favourite subjects at school, I paid attention in science class and, by the age of 16, understood why scientists had changed their minds about an approaching ice age and were now concerned about global warming. Moreover, despite the absence of any discernible scientific understanding, James has convinced himself that Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) is a scam; whereas I understand that most relevantly-qualified scientists are convinced that ACD-denial is a scam.
(Martin Lack – ‘Background’ to Lack of Environment, August 2011).
I’m glad I don’t live in James Delingpole’s world. For this cut-price Telegraph blogger, everything exists in stark black and white, clearly delineated between good and evil – where “evil” is a sinister, UN-based, left-wing conspiracy to destroy industrialism, and “good” is represented by the efforts of a ragtag band of right-wing libertarians and climate-change deniers to beat the environmental communists/Nazis before they can take over the world. It is a schoolboy vision, deluded and naive, of a topsy-turvy world in which the Royal Society and other august scientific bodies are peopled by “liars, cheats and frauds”, while the little guy surfing the internet (Delingpole himself) who courageously disbelieves the white-coated “expert” elite is always right in the end.
(Mark Lynas – Review of ‘Watermelons: How Environmentalists Are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children’s Future’, in the New Statesman (16 February 2012)).
We therefore have two problems that we must tackle:
1. Very clever and highly intellectual misrepresentation of evidence; and/or
2. Very stupid and completely illogical misrepresentation of reality.
So, go forth today and do battle; and remember who and what it is you are fighting for.
I concluded last week by reviewing the insane ramblings of James Delingpole, the person who coined the term ‘Climategate’ in 2009; declaring that it might be “the final nail in the coffin of ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’”. Me thinks he was a wee bit premature. Moreover, the repeat of the stunt two years later may well mean that the whole thing has been a spectacular own-goal for the corporately-sponsored global campaign to perpetuate doubt regarding climate science; and prevent effective legislative action being taken to mitigate it. With any luck, the Heartland Institute’s “Denialgate” (more on this later in the week) will finish this dubious ‘joint enterprise’ (as those in the UK might legitimately call it) completely.
Climategate 1.0 and – particularly 2.0 – proved nothing other than the mendacity of those who want to discredit climate science and scientists. Apart from some understandable frustration with FOI requests and poor housekeeping by scientists, the actual science they had done was completely vindicated. Furthermore, now that the boot is on the other foot, of course, the Heartland Institute don’t like it one bit.
James Delingpole is so mired in conspiracy theory that, as is often the case, it can only be sustained by widening the ‘circle of distrust’ as more and more conflicting evidence pours in. I am therefore not surprised that Mark Lynas could not bring himself to finish reading James Delingpole’s second version of Watermelons. It is, from start to finish, an utterly-ridiculous inversion of reality and to believe even one bit of it, necessitates a global conspiracy of unprecedented proportions; now encompassing 1000s of research scientists, and hundreds of professional and academic institutions, governments, the UN, the WMO, and the IPCC. With regard to the latter, it just cannot be ignored that when it was set-up by Ronald Reagan et al, it was deliberately made impotent by requiring that the content of all its reports be subject to line-by-line government review and/or veto.
Therefore to turn around now and claim the IPCC is part of an alarmist conspiracy is patently nonsensical: On the contrary, because it was castrated at birth, the IPCC has been consistently overly-optimistic and under-stated the probable scale of the problem we are causing and the urgency of the need to do something about it. Furthermore, for similar reasons of political expediency, the UNFCCC set off down the wrong road 20 years ago – in pursuing emissions reductions rather than carbon taxes.
So, I really do hope that the Heartland Institute (and all the other Conservative Think Tanks) that have been consistently “acting against the public interest by promoting environmental skepticism” (see Peter Jacques et al 2008, 2009) will now be prosecuted to the maximum extent permissible under Federal Law. Maybe now we will finally get the Climate Change Denial movement in Court in the same way as the ‘Tobacco Smoke is not Dangerous’ outfit was 6 years ago?
If anyone is still in any doubt about any of the above, I really do think you need to read Michael Mann’s The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, except, of course you won’t will you, because he is part of the conspiracy. Dooohh, how could I be so stupid!
Unfortunately for their adherents, I think David Aaronovitch (Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory Has Shaped Modern History) was right: Conspiracy theories are history for losers; those prone to abdications of responsibility; and/or those that can’t deal with the harsh realities of a world in which nasty things happen to nice people.