Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year end lists

New Year's Eve is always a good time for year end lists: two I appreciated are here and here.

For myself, I will confine my list to an award to the Ecomyths Best Blog of the Year and for 2008 that award goes to Climate Resistance for their consistency of writing, the topics they tackle and their excellent assessment of situations.

This sample is from their last post of 2008:

  • This isn’t really a story about ‘bad science’, or bad journalism. Though it is worth asking what the point of journalists actually is if they can’t reflect critically on whatever it is they are reporting, to ask about the direction it will take us in, and what interests and agendas that are being served by the use of this kind of ‘research’.
  • What is really curious about this all too common phenomenon is the gap between ‘research’ and the story lines it is used to construct.
  • If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last 18 months, it’s that stories about climate change may be wild and preposterous just as long as they encourage the idea that climate change is getting worse.
  • You can pluck something out of thin air, and no one will call you a denier, nor challenge your sanity, motivation, or moral character.
  • Lies are allowed, just as long as they are ‘good’ lies, and help people to believe that the world is on the brink of collapse, even if the facts don’t support the idea.

See everyone in 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Global warming: natural or man-made?

It is a pleasure to post a link to the new site established by Roy Spencer on global warming. In his words:

  • This website describes evidence from my group's government-funded research that suggests global warming is mostly natural, and that the climate system is quite insensitive to humanity's greenhouse gas emissions and aerosol pollution.
  • Believe it or not, very little research has ever been funded to search for natural mechanisms of has simply been assumed that global warming is manmade. This assumption is rather easy for scientists since we do not have enough accurate global data for a long enough period of time to see whether there are natural warming mechanisms at work.
  • The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that the only way they can get their computerized climate models to produce the observed warming is with anthropogenic (human-caused) pollution. But they're not going to find something if they don't search for it. More than one scientist has asked me, "What else COULD it be?" Well, the answer to that takes a little digging... and as I show, one doesn't have to dig very far.
I love sites that are well designed, well written and present the information with source links for readers to assess for themselves. The more people educate themselves for themselves, the less they are victimized by stasist dogma.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


So here is a central question:
  • If your current computer models can't predict the known past from retroactively entered data, then why, precisely, would you expect them to accurately predict the future?

Perhaps the answer is contained in this reality:
  • The recurring climate cycles clearly show that natural climatic warming and cooling have occurred many times, long before increases in anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 levels.
  • The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age are well known examples of such climate changes, but in addition, at least 23 periods of climatic warming and cooling have occurred in the past 500 years.
  • Each period of warming or cooling lasted about 25-30 years (average 27 years).
Which is why some people find the basis for AGW to be both uncompelling and unconvincing: i.e. a reason for skepticism.

All in all, enough to make some conclude that AGW a scam, with no basis in science.

As a minimum, it appears to be science that lacks consensus.

If it is not yet the end of AGW, it is at the very least, the beginning of the end.

And of course, the beginning is now the end, just as the end is now the beginning. See? Wasn't that easy?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Luddite's, sustainability and the human condition

Reaction to John Holdren's appointment as presidential science advisor continues. Al Fin asks: "we knew Obama was a fascist. But why did he have to go and be a Luddite fascist?"

Too extreme? A more reasoned discussion comes to the same conclusion:
  • Holdren's appointment is supposed to be some kind of victory for 'science' after the Bush administration. This highlights the vacuity of Bush's critics (that's no defense of Bush, by the way). As we can see, this 'science', isn't science. It is catastrophism (via environmental determinism and the precautionary principle), with almost no scientific basis.
  • If the only weapon that exists in the anti-Bush arsenal is a fiction, which is defended by contempt for scientific debate, what free debate - let alone scientific research - can we expect? Climate science has been thoroughly colonised by political interests.
Sadly, the as the reactions to John Tierney's follow up post indicate, a lot of people appear to have drunk, and drunk heavily, from the catastrophism Kool-Aid that is peddled as the predominant mantra of environmentalist dogma by the likes of Al Gore, Paul Ehrlich and Jared Diamond.
  • Obama’s headhunting amounts to a reinforcement of what spiked has called the New Scientism – the perversion of scientific data to reactionary political ends.
Worse, even when corrected, the Luddites still persist to assert their absolute adherence to catastrophism and their disregard for humanity, innovation, ingenuity and the capability of technology to fundamentally alter the dynamics of sustainability.

This is why ideology is so important. As the banner for this site states: facts don't change your perspective -- your perspective changes your facts. Is the greater peril to humanity the uncertain dynamics of technological progress and prosperity, or the controlling stasism of authoritarian dogma and elitist moralism? Those that are free, economically and politically, will always choose the dynamics of progress. Those who are oppressed by fear, and the elite who exert that control, will always push the "necessity" for stasist measures to preserve that hegemony.

Dynamism has faith in the human condition: stasism does not.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Flawed Science, Ideology and Policy Advice

Over at the Tierney Lab, John Tierney has again raised the ire of many committed environmentalists by having the temerity to question the new US Presidential Science Advisor, John Holdren. I liked the comment and thought John made some excellent points with strong supporting links: apparently many readers feeling the need to comment disagree, and most of their posts vent their dismay at Tierney Lab for being published, quote from the dogma play book or repeat the very eco-hysteria the links disprove.

My reaction was as follows:
  • The point of this post is that Dr. Holdren has a demonstrated track record of ideologically guided "science" including resource scarcity, the Litany and AGW. That these views reflect the dominant ideology does not make them any less ideological nor does it make them any more scientifically valid. So those who believe similarly to Dr. Holden will praise his appointment and see it as non-problematic. Those with other perspectives will not be as enthused. But please, don't anyone suppose that his science is neutral nor unbiased and neither will his policy advice. Appoint a partisan, expect partisan advice.
Meanwhile, the Heartland Institute issued this release in reply to the ad hominem attacks issued by two alarmist scientists of a report refuting AGW theory.

And Lawrence Solomon has this update on an unexpected exchange when he agreed to appear at a debate on AGW theory.

People can, and will, assert that whatever they believe in is the truth. From their perspective, and within the context which it is defined, it does represent their truth.

But all truth is contingent.
Just asserting it, LOUDLY, frequently or to the exclusion of dissenting viewpoints does not make it any more "truthful". What validates our ideas, concepts and theories is experience and empirical evidence that substantiates what we suppose. And even then:

  • The biggest tragedy is to believe that the limit of our perception is the limit of all there is to perceive. Leadbetter

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here comes Statist Claus!

The Financial Post is running a series of editorial commentaries prompted by the zeal with which renewed government intervention in the economy is currently being promoted. Terence Corcoran sets the stage with this overview, while Peter Foster issues this reminder that Keynesian economics was replaced by free market reforms in the 1990s for good reason -- Keynes was wrong!

The impulse for the Big Push by governments, despite the fact that empirical evidence invalidates any assertive claims for possible success, reflects a political and ideological allegiance to what Easterly refers to as Planning: a stasist, utopian, social engineering resplendent with Big Goals, Big Plans, fixed objectives and high moralism. Planning is the purview of the heroic politician, Big bureaucracy, unions, activists and good intentions, with very little accountability or responsibility but a lot of censure. Life is all about the planning of change, the plan and the planners, more than the change itself. Style over substance and the appearance of action, more than the results of the intervention.

The contrasting approach to resolving life's problems builds upon the creativity and dynamism of individuals, who act within local contexts as Searchers, who effect change by implementing solutions that they are accountable for, and for which they take responsibility. Situations are resolved incrementally, by trial and error and there is no grand scheme nor universal plan. Life is more of a process of continuous improvement and constant adaptation to change, creating opportunities and facilitating the capacity to engage.

This is not a new division in philosophy. Its antecedents are well defined in the work of Smith, Locke, Burke and Hayek. Postrel refers to it as dynamism and stasis, Easterly to searchers and planners: its the same ideological contest. What many do not realize, is that this same division in ideology it is played out in all policy arenas:
environmentalism, health, development, climate, politics, media, civil society, culture, education and just about everything.

We have a choice. We can create our world, or wait while someone else does it for us. This blog is for those who want to determine their own future, take responsibility for themselves, and sustain their engagement in the active improvement of their world by their actions. It has no big plan, no fixed objectives. Just an over-riding adherence to the search for sustainability:
  • the capacity of a system to engage in the complexities of continuous improvement consistent with deep values of human purpose.
It's the difference between being Santa Claus and adhering to the Stasist Clause.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Is the media corrupt, dumb, lazy, or seeking a quiet life?

That provocative question forms the central tenet of a comment from a former Reuters' Science and Technology correspondent, Neil Winton, on the failure of the media to examine the AGW doctrine with more vigor. In examining climate change, Winton summarizes that:
  • ...any rational, sane or fair person examining the evidence linking humans to climate change would be amazed by the thinness, the inconclusiveness, of the evidence. Reporters...know that the balance of evidence points to there being no link between climate change and human activity.

Sadly, all too often the MSM do not use that balance in their reporting, preferring the news "value" of alarmism, over insight or reflection.

Winton's comments also are consistent with events in Poland at the latest in the never ending merry go round that constitutes the circus of climate policy making. As Phillip Stott writes:
  • Let's be blunt: the Poznan Meeting was a disgrace. After two weeks, more than 10,000 delegates and 145 ministers could produce absolutely nothing except the release of some money (peanuts by comparison to credit crunch figures) to aid poorer countries with climate adaptation. Even I can go along with that. They are all waiting for some fairy tale solution to appear in Copenhagen next year, for their ugly duckling to turn into a swan. There will be no fairy tale; indeed, their ugly duckling could well drown in the economic floods.
  • So do not be fooled by uncritical BBC reports and newspaper stories. 'Global warming' is truly on the wane.
  • Indeed, we are at a somewhat surreal moment. There they were, those 10,000 delegates in Poland, discussing 'global warming', precisely as we in the UK are experiencing the coldest beginning to December for over thirty years.

Freedom of the press is one of the most significant aspects of democracy. Sadly, too many within the media appear bent on proving Kierkegaard right when he wrote: People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they never use.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We choose who we associate with

I was always taught that we are today who we will be in five years time apart from the books we read, what we listen to and who we associate with.  Reading develops our ideas, keeps the mind open and not closed.  What we listen to affects our attitude and our attitude determines our altitude.  Lastly, we choose who we associate with: those who seek to edify, encourage, create, praise and promote, or those who criticize, censure or vilify.
So, today, I am proud to continue to affirm my association with the growing number of experts who dissent from the AGW ideology, have the courage to think independently of the prevailing paradigm and reject dogma in favor of reasoned thought and action.
The 650 experts recognized in the EPW report are not a unified, homogeneous group.  They represent a range of perspectives and opinions.  I doubt that they conform to any specific consensus, except for their wariness and rejection of the notion that science should ever be based on consensus politics.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rethinking Observed Warming

So, as we discussed yesterday, global cooling still represents climate change: its just not AGW for most of us. That is not news as most everyone agrees that climate has always, and will continue to, change because it is a complex, dynamic process (no one gets any money from big oil for that statement).

So the only really big question still out there for discussion is: what drives climate change?

Climate alarmists are convinced that AGW is real because their models are unable to replicate changes in climate other than with the inclusion of increases in greenhouse gasses. Leaving aside the very big problem of a self-fulfilling fallacy and the possibility that the models can't replicate changes precisely because they are models ( and thus are both a simplification of reality and a reflection of our incomplete understanding of the dynamics of climate change), the basis for continued assertion of AGW theory in an era of "non-contradictory warming temperatures" (also known as cooling to the non-converted) is the absence of an alternative explanation that does cause the climate models to simulate climate changes without increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Ask and ye shall be rewarded. As summarized here and here, a recent research paper published in the journal Climate Dynamics presents evidence that:
  • the recent worldwide land warming has occurred largely in response to a worldwide warming of the oceans rather than as a direct response to increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) over land.
  • ...our results emphasize the significant role of remote oceanic influences, rather than the direct local effect of anthropogenic radiative forcings, in the recent continental warming. They suggest that the recent oceanic warming has caused the continents to warm through a different set of mechanisms than usually identified with the global impacts of SST changes. It has increased the humidity of the atmosphere, altered the atmospheric vertical motion and associated cloud fields, and perturbed the longwave and shortwave radiative fluxes at the continental surface.
That would seem to suggest that the whole AGW theory might at least be worth a second look, a re-think or at least a period of extended review -- that is if the science matters at all.

As Pielke Sr. concludes:
  • This is a major scientific conclusion, and the authors should be recognized for this achievement. If these results are robust, it further documents that a regional perspective of climate variabilty and change must be adopted, rather than a focus on a global average surface temperature change, as emphasized in the 2007 IPCC WG1 report.
Now the links above are from blogs. Many academics eschew blogs and blogging, especially when they are pesky and repeatedly require researchers account for their data that they use in published, peer-reviewed papers. An audit if you will.

In this instance, blogs are used as the initial link mostly because the paper was ignored in the mainstream media and by the majority of the public (and most academics): not for any suspicious reasons but because there is just so much being published, that most research studies are read by one or two people at most.

Now Climate Dynamics is not an obscure journal (
The international journal Climate Dynamics provides for the publication of high-quality research on all aspects of the dynamics of the global climate system.) But it is a specialist journal and not one most people will read unless attention is drawn to specific findings or papers -- perhaps by a news release, a media conference or a briefing -- like, say, the ones issued by the minute at any gathering of the world's consensus on climate science, say in Poland....

The frustration for many climate realists is the continued double standard that the academy both permits and seemingly endorses:
  • papers that are alarmist and promote AGW dogma routinely pass through peer review with insufficient scrutiny, but are heavily endorsed and publicized nevertheless
  • papers that might cause a reflection, rejection or refutation of the prevailing AGW theory are ignored even when they meet the proscribed standards for peer review journal publication.
Can it be any more transparent: climate change is not about the science. It's all politics.

Just what are falling temperatures evidence of?

Following up on the earlier post concerning confusion, here is an excellent discussion from William Briggs of why it is possible for alarmists to assert that global cooling is not conclusive evidence that invalidates AGW theory.

Warming is evidence of global warming. Cooling does not mean that global warming is not happening, just that it hasn't yet...but it might, still..and then the theory will be right again...except if its not, and then it will be because something has temporarily interfered with the theory working, like cooling, but that doesn't mean the cooling has replaced the warming -- its just hiding it, for now. We know this because the models tell us. Can't be anything else happening like the sun, the oceans or any of that stuff. Why? Well, because that's why. Isn't science awesome?

And some people thought it was only used car salesmen who played fast and loose with words....

Contemporary environmentalism is rampant with concepts and constructs that invoke an impassioned response from people: the more impressionable the audience, the more impassioned but simplistic the outrage -- for some there is no compensating for plane stupidity.

The phrase pernicious moralism is often used to describe such selfishness: the activities of a privileged few, wishing to impose their vision of the world, corrected and ordered and imposed upon humanity. Saving us because we lack the intellect to both see and act "correctly".

Just this past week, a local elementary school received a lot of attention in the media for its green activities, particularly its aggressive recycling efforts. Enlisting the school children with Orwellian zeal, the school managed to remove all vestiges of waste, reducing all its garbage into recyclable materials and compost. So what could be the problem?

What happened to the recyclable materials and the compost from the school? Especially at a time when commodity markets have slumped, prices for recyclables have plummeted and garbage (supply) far exceeds our capacity to produce (and the costs of) lower quality products (demand)? Answer, a
local farmer, with kids at the school and active recruits in the program, volunteered to remove and dispose of the materials as "a community service".

So now we have another generation of impassioned youth, fully invested in green dogma without any realization nor recognition of the role of economics.

Simply put, in a free market, supply expands to meet demand. Where there is no demand, there is no resource, no need for a supply. Similarly, an excess of supply causes demand to soften and prices to fall. With garbage there is always an excess of supply and insufficient demand: if there was demand for garbage, it would no longer be garbage, which is defined as stuff no longer of value to people. The flaw in green reasoning on recycling is you can not invent nor impose a market for products when the supply exceeds demand to reduce the productive value below the cost of production and the quality below that of existing alternatives. You can make toilet paper with a textured, wood chip recycled feel: you just can't sell it when it costs more to produce than triple-sheet soft toilet paper with dimple softness.

And when they grow into adulthood, what will be the eco-kids concept of economics and understanding of prices and profits? And the mechanism of how society must pay to dispose of waste, even as a community service?

Perhaps they will be like this gentleman and think they can, or at least talk about it anyways.

At least now you can understand the generation of eco-protestors and what green "education" they have received.

Remember, you only watched the Gore movie once: many kids get it three and four times by the time they finish high school.

Perhaps one of the Stansted protestors filmed their shindig: this time next year, the Oscars, the Nobel prize...or a job with the UN flying around the globe saving humanity from the thoughtless, witless and wasteful flights of people on vacations, doing business, living but not serving humanity in really big, important ways, with taxpayers money, like, y'now, us.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Humbug environmentalism

This from the always excellent Climate Resistance:
  • Climate scientists and science correspondents imbue statistics with undue political significance. Therefore, they have to resort to use combative rhetoric when the trends offer conflicting evidence they cannot yet explain. Rather than contradicting themselves about the significance of short term trends, and moving the goal posts constituting long terms trends, climate scientists ought to be distancing themselves from the political significance of their work. Because to do otherwise is to legitimise the very 'deniers' they seek to diminish. If 'climate science' is where politics happens, then it is not only reasonable to ask if changes in the direction of change do represent a weakness in the prevailing view, it is essential.
Weather, and short term trends, are not definitive: but neither should they be dismissed for ideological purposes, nor embraced for promotion of dogma.

Besides, who needs to bother with any of that stuff? Just keep modifying the data so that it fits your theory. Its not as if the real temerature data are any more reliable.
Then, of course, there is the question of the whole greenhouse supposition itself: does increased carbon dioxide in the air really constitute a problem? Do increases in emissions actually cool rather than heat the atmosphere? Confused? Don't worry, so are a lot of people.

The problem with environmentalism as an ideology is that it derives all its credibility from the certitude of its science. When that science is suspect (either through weak method, contradictory empirical data and/or appeals to consensus for authority), there is an increased tendency for that science to become politicized and the fall into the domain of hucksters, prophets and profiteers.

And to support the whole edifice, well intentioned people have their idealism and civic passion injected with a heavy dose of stasist moralism, polemics and indignant rhetoric. It is both deceitful and mean spirited. Humbug.

If Dickens were alive today, Scrooge would be a climate alarmist, trading in carbon offsets, waiting for a visit from the ghost of climate's past, present and future.

The Air Vent

Haven't posted lately as the blogosphere has been fairly quiet and most of what has been written, we have read and discussed before.  For example, there is yet another big climate conference going on (this time in Poland) and all the usual press release stuff was issued to drum up support and entice hordes to protest -- except the mainstream media hasn't fallen in line so much, the items were not really newsworthy (especially with the Mumbai terrorism, the Obama fawn fest in the US and Canada's contribution to political shenanigans), thousands did not bother to protest and, the killer blow, the weather has seen a bitter, early winter in the prime Northern hemisphere media markets -- tough to sell AGW anymore.
However, in wandering around the internet, I did come across what was a new site for me and I found it had a number of very useful posts, comments and summaries -- "because the world needs another opinion".  Good motto, good site.