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Friday, January 04, 2008

From One Sinking Ship to Another

Over the past couple of years I've been studying the physics behind the concept of greenhouse gas based global warming and the more I study, the more it's becoming clear to me that it's just not a significant problem. Yes, the world has probably been warming over the last few hundred years. Yes, the additional CO2 that humanity has added to the atmosphere has possibly caused some part of that warming. However, the amount of warming will be a fraction of the UN's central estimate of 3.0 degrees Celsius per doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere and it will not be catastrophic.

I don't expect many people who read this post will believe me. After all, I'm not a credentialed global warming scientist, so I don't blame you in the slightest if you don't. I also don't expect many people to do as much research into the subject as I have, either because of lack of time, interest, or expertise. Thus, I expect most everybody will continue to buy the UN's story of catastrophic global warming. Though I was somewhat skeptical, that's more or less what I did until I did the research for myself.

For the remainder of this post, I ask you to suspend disbelief and assume that I'm right. In that case, from my point of view, the whole thing is a rather amazing phenomenon. How can thousands of scientists and tens of thousands of advocates and tens of millions of people all have bought into a story that I'm virtually certain is false?

I think Richard Fernandez describes the big picture well while writing about the recent climate change conference in Bali:

The history of every millennial movement starts out quietly enough. At first only those who have heard voices or received messages by moonbeam come stumbling in through the tent flap. Shortly they are followed by academics who have finally found someone who understands their theories and will popularize them. Then, as the crowd swells, come the curious, lost, desperate, and heartbroken. Soon follow the peddlers who sell peanuts, popcorn, and crackerjacks to the rapt crowd; then the pickpockets, hangers-on, con artists, and small-time grifters. In the latter stages come the political entrepreneurs, demagogues always on the lookout for ready-made crowds ripe for the leading. Finally come the lawyers, regulators, and venture capitalists to turn it all into an industry. [...]

Environmentalism has become the political lifeboat into which the survivors of the socialist shipwreck have crammed themselves. The need to “manage the climate” became the new foundation on which to base regulatory structures, impositions, and taxes which were formerly justified by the imperative to manage the “commanding heights of the economy.”
That describes the beginning and growth of the movement which sounds much like the fable of "Chicken Little and The Sky is Falling". But there's also the question of sustaining the catastrophic warming movement: how can so many scientists continue to subscribe to catastrophic CO2 based global warming when it should be plenty clear to them that the subscription has run out?

The are two answers. The first is that more and more scientists are beginning to question the magnitude and impact of the increase of CO2 on global warming. As one example, in a open letter to the UN Secretary General regarding the Bali conference, dozens of scientists including 24 distinguished emeritus professors write:
In stark contrast to the often repeated assertion that the science of climate change is “settled,” significant new peer-reviewed research has cast even more doubt on the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming.
The US Senate has produced a report collating numerous other examples;
Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.
The other reason that many scientists still subscribe to catastrophic global warming is that they're ultimately going to look quite foolish when the day of reckoning comes - just like Chicken Little. The most vocal catastrophic global warming advocates will have a huge amount of egg on their collective faces when strong doubt is cast on catastrophic CO2 based warming. I can imagine that they're in no hurry for that.

I suppose we shouldn't be in any hurry either because, like true believers, they'll all just jump on the next collectivist ship leaving the port.


Harry Eagar said...

You live in a country inhabited almost entirely by Christians and are surprised that bogus enthusiasms have popular appeal?

There's a lot more people who believe in virgin birth than in AGW and on thinner evidence.

erp said...

"... including 24 distinguished emeritus professors."

The emeriti, no longer needing to kowtow to CW, are free to express their own informed opinions. Remember that in academe, getting grants, not locating the truth, is the goal.

Mr. Fernandez tells the story well.

Anonymous said...

Very true.

I also wonder how many times people overlook the numerous revisions of the UN IPCC report, each revision making predictions far less sweeping than the former.

Will said...

Very true.

I also wonder how many times people overlook the numerous revisions of the UN IPCC report, each revision making predictions far less sweeping than the former.

Bret said...

harry eagar wrote: "You live in a country inhabited almost entirely by Christians and are surprised that bogus enthusiasms have popular appeal?"

I guess I've never had the opportunity to observe such a huge movement grow from nothing so fast before. The Christianity thing started a bit before my time.

Also, it's interesting that the U.S. population has probably fallen less for the catastrophic AGW story than many of the less religious rich countries.

Harry Eagar said...

Yeah, you're a little young to have watched fascism take off.

Bret said...

That's true. Was the fascism thing as widespread as the AGW thing? You can't be old enough to have watched fascism take off either, except perhaps through the eyes of a baby.

Harry Eagar said...

It was a smaller world back then. Fascism got a pretty good ride, though.

There was an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York earlier this year (don't know if it's still up) called 'Facing Fascism.'

No, I wasn't there, but I've been studying appeasement pretty seriously this year, and I recall my dad, who did go through that period, saying that it wasn't so obvious in the '30s that democracy was the superior choice.

He chose democracy himself, but he was something of a maverick.

Will said...

(In response to your comment)

Hmm, interesting thought, thanks for sharing it.

I’m afraid I don’t understand a couple of things, though.

First, the entire report seems to be under the impression that we’re looking at households in addition to total filers, or, at minimum, intending to examine both. Page 7, for example:

“The first measure of mobility considers how the incomes of taxpayers in each income group in 1996 changed relative to the incomes of all taxpayers in the filing population in 2005 (Table 1). The income thresholds in 1996 and 2005 for the income quintile groups in this measure are based on all taxpayers age 25 and over in the population of all tax return filers in these two years. The table shows a high degree of income mobility over this period. Nearly 58 percent of households (i.e., 57.6 = 100 – 42.4) in the lowest income quintile in 1996 had moved to a higher quintile by 2005. While 29 percent moved up to the second quintile, the same percentage moved up at least two quintiles, and about 5 percent moved all the way to the top quintile. ”

Second, even if that’s completely incorrect and it doesn’t include households, I don’t think it would be a fallacy of composition to apply positive affects on the individuals and say the same could be logically applied to a household.

Annual income, numerically, is secondary (in the report’s interest) to direction.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Eager is quite correct. Fascism was considered the wave of the future by large chunks of the world in those days, in much the same way AGW is today. I don't think it came on as rapidly, but it couldn't have been more than what, 30 or 40 years, from sect to serious competitor for ideological dominance. Much of FDR's efforts were Fascism light or inspired by Mussolini's making the trains run on time. It's hard to imagine now, but fondness for fascism was a significant part of the resistance to European intervention. All in all, though, I find it for more understandable than the persistence of fondness for Communism, since there wasn't the preponderance of historical evidence against Fascism then that there was against Communism.

Harry Eagar said...

That FDR. A fascist and a commie all at the same time. What a guy!

FDR was first, last and always a democrat.

He had a hell of mess to clean up, especially deflation. That wasn't the problem faced by the European fascists.

I notice that the current-day free-marketeers are scared to death of deflation -- good for them! -- but that they don't have a clue what to do about it.

Tugwellian reflation might look like corporatism, but it had a different origin, goal and method.

Anonymous said...

Here's something with a Tugwellian quote on the subject. Hardly surprising, if FDR was first and foremost a member of the Democratic Party, which looks to Europe for its inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure the analogy to millenial movements takes us very far. As with socialism, the road to environmentalism for many folks starts with concern over very concrete and localized issues--a fetid river, a desire to protect a unique wilderness, etc. Nothing wrong with that and much right, just as with a desire to house the poor or stop the exploitation of children for profit. Somewhere along the way, the healthy excitement of concrete community action focussed on a specific problem morphs into a kind of secular mega-rationalism that becomes a belief mankind can harness nature and collectively change the course of history and human nature. The Erin Bronkovitch character trying to shut down a dangerous polluter ends up passing resolutions at a UN conference on sustainable development and giving TV interviews on how we must all "change the way we live". It's like the road from the soup kitchen to the Politburo. Another example is the young activist trying to forstall a specific tragic war ending up a full-blown world federalist attacking national sovereignty and the Constitution. And yes, the whole impulse becomes ossified by academic careerism and bureaucracy.

This is why folks are so confused about it all and so reluctant to dismiss it. Also why the environmentalists score points with their silly "Can we take the chance?" argument. Nobody wants to be pegged as not giving a hoot about the environment anymore than they want to be seen as not caring about the poor.

It all starts with Harry's beloved Enlightenment and specifically the notion human nature is infinitly malleable . It is also proof of Chesterton's dictum that when man stops believing in God he will then believe, not in nothing, but in anything, especially his own unlimited prowess. I mean, if we can put a man on the moon, surely we can...

erp said...

FDR a democrat? Nonsense.

Frankie was besotted by the Soviet Union as were the most of his fellow aristocrats and the intelligentsia. While Hitler was an ally of Stalin, he was tolerated. As soon as he moved against the Noble Experimenter, FDR defied congress and illegally started to arm the Brits. When he trashed the constitution, he was praised by the complicit media.

His actions after the war was won resulted in many more millions of deaths and several generations of suffering in Eastern Europe and elsewhere around the world.

Howard said...

Frankie was besotted by the Soviet Union as were the most of his fellow aristocrats and the intelligentsia.

They probably greatly admired the Soviets audacity in using the power of the state to remake society. Some pray at the alter of the state:

Half a century later, Marx picked up where Hegel left off, promising that socialism could become the “functional equivalent of religion.” Religion, said Marx, was nothing more than “the sigh of a distressed creature...the spirit of spiritless conditions...the opiate of the masses.”
In a sense, Marx was the John the Baptist of the statist faith in the 20th century. The fact that so many were baptized in this faith confirms British writer G. K. Chesterton’s observation that “when men cease to believe in God, they will not believe in nothing, they will believe in anything.” From this perspective, it becomes clear that statism is more than a mere ideology. It is statism that has become “the spirit of spiritless conditions” and the opiate, not of the masses, but of the elites.

Howard said...


As usual, very well put.

It all starts with Harry's beloved Enlightenment and specifically the notion human nature is infinitely malleable. It is also proof of Chesterton's dictum that when man stops believing in God he will then believe, not in nothing, but in anything, especially his own unlimited prowess.

As mentioned here:

Indeed, one could, without too much effort, extend the Long War analogy back to the end of the 18th Century and argue that the real struggle is between various rational egalitarianisms growing out of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution vs. the faith-based republicanism of the Anglosphere.

Over the years I've grown more comfortable with a faith and reason perspective rather than a faith versus reason alternative.

This is in light of: 1)experience with friends for whom their faith is a clear positive 2) the absolute hash of reason made by most rationalists (see here here and here) 3)contrary to the notions of atheists, we are all believers.

Harry Eagar said...

Peter is right about moving from the local to the cosmic.

A notion warned against by those dirty leftists of my youth who cautioned, think globally, act locally.

I guess some people didn't listen.

The idea that the Enlightenment was some sort of initiation point, though, is weird. Don't you know about millenialism, particularly of the 17th c. kind?

Anonymous said...

My point was simply that there is no concrete, modest, localized launching pad for the Apocalypse. I mean, "The end of the world is nigh, but only for Pittsburgh."?

Anonymous said...

And now the admiration goes the other way, as FDR inspires others. Quite interesting what he inspires them to. Another tragic misunderstanding, I suppose.

erp said...

Why wouldn't Putin admire FDR. Without him, there would have been no Soviet Union for him to lord over with his goon squad.

Harry Eagar said...

I think we've been over this before, erp. Just when do you suppose FDR could have toppled the USSR?

1933? 1944? 1945 after he was dead?

How would he have done that?

Harry Eagar said...

I think we've been over this before, erp. Just when do you suppose FDR could have toppled the USSR?

1933? 1944? 1945 after he was dead?

How would he have done that?

erp said...

Toppled? Yes, but that would have taken a war. Let die a slow painful death? Much better. Just force them back home to fend for themselves after the WW2 before they had the atomic bomb, not allowed the Soviet army to join in post-war governance of Germany and not given them all of Eastern Europe for starters.

The problem is that he didn't die soon enough. I don't think Truman would have sat at Stalin's feet at Yalta, do you?

The Soviets were, to put it, politely, at the end of their rope economically. Their people were starving and without the most basic survival tools. They would have collapsed without our massive cover-up of the actual conditions there. All of the above was put into effect by biggest traitor ever to sit in the oval office and Truman didn't have to guts to reveal the truth about the hero who won the war.

After that came the attempt to destroy us by "the enemy within" who are still at it. You talk sneeringly about seeing a commie under every bed. It was propaganda in the hands of the masters of semantics that caused sensible people to think twice about speaking against the take over by the left. They didn’t want to be labeled a “gasp” McCarthyite.

I don’t know how old you are, but I’m real old and, even if I don’t remember what I had for lunch, I remember the post war (WW2) period very well.

Anonymous said...

Mom warned me at a very early age never to argue about guns or FDR with Americans. Whichever side you take, half of the Republic wants to kill you. If you try for a middle ground ("Guns are ok in certain circumstances" or "I'd give FDR a six out of ten") they unite as one to chase you down and string you up.

erp said...

Peter, why not take an informed stance and stick with it?

Harry Eagar said...

erp, when did the US 'have eastern Europe' that it could have given it to Russia?

While Eisenhower was being badly beaten -- twice -- by a minor German army, Stalin had 5 armies -- each one more powerful than Eisenhower's -- gobbling up Romania, Bulgaria and Poland.

I know this insults your hot-blooded American patriotism, but facts really is facts.

If FDR had not insisted on a role for the US, UK and (ridiculously) France in the governance of western Europe, then the Red Army would have been at the Channel. What would have stopped it?

Anonymous said...

Given the omnipotence you both attribute to FDR, it's a wonder he didn't just snap his fingers, send in the cavalry and grab the whole thing for himself.

erp said...

Harry, given your confidence in the Soviet armies, all of them, why didn't Stalin keep moving west? Certainly, he wasn't afraid of the brits or the frogs. I must say, you are original, I never heard that one before.

I heard rumors that the Ruskies had to be shot at to keep them moving forward and where were the supplies to come from?

Facts are facts.

We were the only ones still standing after WW2 on both fronts.

Harry Eagar said...

Where do you get the idea I attribute omnipotence to Roosevelt? He couldn't save AAA or NRA, couldn't get the isolationists to recognize international aggression, couldn't keep Raymond Moley on the reservation.

Why didn't Stalin keep moving west? Because Allied armies stood in front of him, because his country was bleeding from every orifice, because he was not nearly as concerned that France would invade Russia as he was that Germany would invade Russia, because his supply lines were overextended, because -- mysteriously -- the USSR was never as expansionist in military terms as tsarism had always been.

And for lots of other reasons.

Also, he may have expected much of western Europe to fall into his hands without a fight. A lot of western Europeans thought so. That's why we had a Cold War, remember.

It was no rumor. The Red Army used punishment battalions for assaults. They either went forward toward the Germans or were shot by NKVD troops from behind.

However, it is not correct to extrapolate from that (as Orrin Judd and other neocons do) to say that the Russians would not have fought otherwise.

Why Russians are so patriotic, considering how wretchedly they have been governed, is another mystery, but the fact that they are is not in doubt. (A useful corrective for neocon mythologizing is 'Within the Whirlwind' by Eugenia Ginzburg, who during WW2 was a prisoner in the Gulag. Her dearest wish was to be released so she could defend her country against the Germans.)

Undying hatred for Germans had something to do with it. The Ukrainians welcomed the Germans as liberators but in short order turned partisans against them.

Max Hastings, in 'Armageddon,' has a telling anecdote (one repeated many times). When the Red Army finally reached East Prussia, the soldiers were amazed. East Prussian pigs had better houses than Russians.

'You are rich, we are poor. Why did you want to rob us?'

Good question.

We Americans were not the only ones still standing. The Americans were most anxious to have the Russians fight the Japanese on the mainland of Asia so they wouldn't have to.

Stalin was standing so far upright that he was able to transfer a giant army all the way across Siberia in 3 months and launch an offensive bigger than Eisenhower's in France.

Given sufficient incentive, he could have kept his armies in the west and launched that offensive toward the Atlantic.

By August 1945, he was in no danger of aggression from Japan. He didn't have to do it.

erp said...

Harry I need to study your last comment because at first read, the beginning and end seem to cancel out each other.

I'll get back to you in the morning.

One thing though, perhaps Ike sent the Ruskies east to “help” fight the Japanese not because we needed help, but to get them out from under our feet.

Harry Eagar said...

No, that's not it. The Joint Chiefs were really, really unhappy about tackling the Japanese army. Up to Okinawa, we had never had to deal with more than small formations.

When the war ended, about 80% of the IJA was intact and unengaged. Considering how many casualties we had absorbed fighting minor actions, their caution was well-placed, if not very humane as regards Russians.

They didn't know for sure that the atomic bombs would work, and it was not a given that even if they worked in the sense of going off, that they would work in the sense of leading the Japanese to surrender.

Hasegawa's 'Racing the Enemy' contends that in fact the bombs didn't work in the second sense and that it was only the irruption of the Red Army into Manchuria that turned the corner.

I disagree with his analysis (for complex reasons that are explained in my review posted at Amazon), but most probably the pressure exerted by Truman (not Roosevelt) to ensure a Russian entry into the war with Japan was met with 'Don't throw me in the briar patch' resistance, a la Brer Rabbit.

Stalin who was at that time still the mentor of the Chinese Communists had good reason to want the Japanese expelled from the continent and could not be quite sure that the Americans would do it for him.

As a matter of fact, they didn't in Southeast Asia -- at least not very promptly. Roosevelt never learned to interpret non-Russian actions the way Russians saw them.

(A besetting sin of most nationalists, and Bush II is just as bad about it and worse.)

Eisenhower didn't 'send' the Red Army anywhere. It went wherever it wanted to go.

Your conspiracy theories are hard to meld with the actual history of US policy under the Democrats after VE day.

The US was only reluctantly drawn into opposing the communist insurgency in Greece, largely because of suspicion of British motives, but it did go in nevertheless.

It also successfully levered the reds out of Iran and Austria and was committed to resist communist pressure against Turkey.

I have read the same conspiracy theorists that you have. They're delusional.