As some of my readers may know, I am actually rather attentive to environmental concerns. For several years, I have put my money where my mouth is and volunteered for local cleanups (including ocean cleanups our krewe specializes in – we have a special focus on the ocean), helped out at local animal sanctuaries, and spread a message of good stewardship with regards to our home. My wife is even more attentive than I am to these matters. She has spent most of her career working in zoos, aquariums, and veterinary hospitals.
So for me the fanaticism of Global Warming proponents is particularly irritating. Last night, my wife was watching a documentary on the Great Barrier Reef, and the mass coral bleaching event that happened in 2016, and the spin was obvious from the very beginning. Cameras panned over rows of crying academics, watching the coral turn white, and then die, pieces of flotsam carrying off into the current to music that sounded like it belonged in a funeral.
Marine Biologists and Climatologists (all on government payrolls) went on a series of adventures collecting the raw camera footage of dead and dying coral. It was explained to the viewer that even a 2C degree shift in water temperatures was sufficient to kill most of the Great Barrier Reef, and if we did not act soon, it would surely die. The rhetoric in the media was particularly extreme. The reef was declared “dead” in scare quotes, even though most of the reef survived the event intact.
By act, of course, they mean to have government regulations and taxation schemes put into place that would make things more expensive for the average Joes of the United States. It is, you see, always America’s fault. And it is thus America which must be taxed and penalized for the environmental problems somewhere else. Governments have, historically, been excellent polluters and destroyers of the environment. Why they should be trusted on this matter is beyond me.
The hole in this logic was immediately apparent to me. If a 2C shift in temperature was sufficient to wipe out the reef, how has this 18 million year old reef system (the current iteration is approximately 8000 years old) survived so long?
Here are two graphs which illustrate my point:
Notice that in both graphs, during both the 18 million year period, and the 8000 year period, temperatures have been higher than 2016, the time of the Great Barrier Reef mass bleaching event. So how is this reef still here? Why did it not die long before man starting dumping CO2 into the atmosphere? If a mere shift of 2C is sufficient to kill it, why is it there in the first place? Did similar mass bleaching events occur in the years when temperatures were higher than today?
This is only one of many inconsistencies which bother me, both in the climate models and the data itself. Correlation, as any idiot knows, is not necessarily causation. Perhaps there is an explanation for the why the Great Barrier Reef has survived previous warm periods, but is having trouble with this one. I cannot say. But so far, the explanation of the warmistas is insufficient.
Simple fact is, I don’t trust them. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb would say, these people don’t have any skin in the game. Indeed, it’s quite the opposite. They are paid by the very agency which wishes to push this agenda for its own benefit. Conflict of interest is readily apparent.
Thinking of this, I decided to peruse Taleb’s opinion the matter, which I located here. The thrust of the brief article is that the climate models and scaremongering are not required, nor are the specific policies espoused to correct them. Taleb’s skepticism of such modeling techniques is a matter of record. But, he tells us, the risk of global catastrophe from screwing around with Mother Nature shouldn’t be ignored. We have only one Earth, after all. It sounded sensible to me.
I’ve often thought that, were the Left truly honest about their concern for the environment, this would be the position to take. In other words, the models don’t work well, and the data is conflicting and, in any event, not accurate over a sufficiently long amount of time to be particularly useful. But, polluting the Earth is bad on general principle. Put simply, we have one planet (for now). Don’t fuck with it.
Instead, the warmistas have taken very specific policy positions but have failed to live by those same principles themselves. They will tell John Doe to give up his car, use less A/C, and to have less kids, but they will fly around in private jets, cool 14,000 sqft mansions, and do whatever they like with regards to their own families. If they really believed the Earth was doomed unless drastic measures were employed to alter human behavior, they would alter their own behavior as well.
I continue to maintain that financial wisdom is the path forward for us to be good stewards of Earth. Every time you load your shopping cart up with useless trinkets shipped over from China, running up consumer credit, you are contributing to the problem. This is an axiom I live by personally. Skin in the game. Similarly, don’t throw out the old for the new just because it is new. If you’ve ever watched those HGTV shows, you’ll see folks throwing out perfectly good refrigerators and ovens for fancy, new, “green” units. They moralize about it, patting themselves on the back for how environmentally aware they are. It amuses me how few people take into account the manufacturing expenditures necessary to make that new “green” appliance, nor understand that often times, the new models are less reliable than the old, and will eat up such savings in other ways.
Similarly, you see many Toyota Priuses, other hybrids, and new fancy electric cars driven by people who consider themselves to be proper environmental stewards. The effects of the cocktails of chemicals in the batteries are not taken into account, nor that, in effect, for a hybrid you must build two whole motors, with all the attendant manufacturing pollution. If the environment were truly their most valued goal, they would buy a used economy car, with good gas mileage, in reasonable shape. Or, perhaps, they would even ride a bicycle to work. This, of course, they rarely do. I’m much more inclined to listen to the rare environmentalist who does, however. He has skin in the game, after all.
Being frugal with your expenditures is an excellent way to both avoid loads of debt, and be a good steward. And given that China is the worst polluter anyway and is often exempted from the ire of Leftists (why let the biggest polluter off the hook?), the best things America can do is to buy less Chinese kitsch, and bring more manufacturing back to the United States. After all, we are generally cleaner about the process. The latter, of course, is anathema to the Left. They’d much rather tax American business into oblivion and let the third world dump as much pollution as it wants in an effort to punish the evil, racist United States. Such punishment is a higher concern to them than the planet they live on.
I mean, I wonder if all the crap China dumps into the water is having any effect on the Great Barrier Reef? After all, in the very same period quoted in the documentary as being extensively warming, China was rising as a major manufacturing concern. It’s entirely possible man is causing the damage, just not in the way Western academics are obsessing over.
Reducing pollution is a good and noble concern, and I support it, both in my own life and as a suggestion to others. I do not, however, support the specific policy positions of the Left, nor trust the government’s conclusions or ability to repair any damage. Notions that they can model the entire climate of Earth are foolish. Their obsession with carbon dioxide and warming has outstripped pollution concerns that could be much more pressing. They excuse the world’s biggest polluters out of political expediency, and fail to live by their own rules. They praise superficialities like “I drive a hybrid” over real volunteer work. The Leftist governments they support are often far worse environmentally than any private concern. They have no skin in the game. They are terrible stewards of the Earth. We should not listen to them.
But let’s not make the mistake of giving up proper stewardship of our home, either. As Taleb tells us, we only get one, and it is best not to play games with it if we don’t have to. And such stewardship often comes with financial benefits anyway. Leftists are determined to make their version of “good” stewardship expensive, to punish. I propose the opposite: being wise and less wasteful with your spending probably benefits the environment, too. And it is individual citizens who can best help, not bloated governments loaded with corruption, waste, and rent-seeking behavior.
Francis wrote a great post this morning: Scientism, the One True Faith. Consider it required reading. For a long time, I have maintained that science, as popular culture understands the term, is no longer tied the scientific method. It has become a euphemism for all knowledge, and so has lost the specificity that made the term useful. Francis explains for us:
Thus also with science:
It isn’t a bunch of people with doctorates who spend several hours a day wearing white lab coats.
It isn’t a laboratory filled with glassware, chemicals, electronics, and experimental subjects;
And it most certainly isn’t “settled,” no matter what subject or persons declaim on it.
Science is a methodology for the investigation of reproducible phenomena. Science is the scientific method,more or less as Francis Bacon originally prescribed it.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to deceive you for purposes of his own. He is dangerous to you and others. He means to take something from you, most likely your money and freedom. When confronted by such a person, put one hand on your wallet, the other over your genitals, and back slowly away.
Social Justice Progressivism has this way of co-opting the skin of a thing, the appearance of a thing, without capturing the thing’s essence. I remember some time ago reading a syllabus for a mathematical course, wherein the teacher described the course as eliminating inequalities, promoting diversity, and interpreting the language of math for all races, cultures, and religions.
Just as now you will find gaming journalists who suggest that the first priority of gaming is to be properly diverse, to fight white privilege, and promote social justice.
When it comes to the notion of man-made climate change, there is now a new term which has recently become vogue: Climate Justice. Yes, it isn’t even Climate Science anymore. It’s Climate Justice. As if that has anything to do with whether or not mankind is having observably detrimental impacts on the climate.
Their science looks like science, acts like science, and quacks like science… yet it is not science.
As Francis explains, they will show you pictures of people with white lab coats, beakers filled with strange substances, and a myriad of various degrees and diplomas hung on the wall. And then they will claim that a consensus of experts have agreed on a conclusion, and you would be foolish to question them.
All of this ignores that climate “science” is not science at all. Where is the reproducible experimentation and observation? Do you possess a control Earth without humans that you may benchmark against? Do you know what the Earth would be like without humans, with a lesser number of less advanced humans, and with the number of humans we have now?
Then how can you be doing this scientifically?
Allow me to provide an interesting example. Warmists have frequently warned us that global warming will lead to more powerful hurricanes. It’s part of the usual doom-and-gloom fear mongering. They point to some of the unusually active hurricane seasons, such as in the mid-2000s.
But hurricanes are caused by a confluence of things. For one, the interaction of the Sahara desert, the jungles of Africa, and the Atlantic ocean produce tropical waves. Many hurricanes form out of these tropical waves. The reason for the desertification of the Sahara is an open question. Theories range from overgrazing to a slight perturbation in the Earth’s orbit.
The warmists would have you believe that warmer temperatures equal more hurricanes, but they’ve no way to prove this scientifically, because they cannot isolate this one effect from all the other effects. What if, for example, warming reduced the number of tropical waves that often generate hurricanes? What if it had other effects in the atmosphere that reduced the efficiency of a hurricane’s heat engine?
What they have is a hypothesis (and possibly a reasonable one) that they cannot test. It’s not science. Then they sell this hypothesis as proven fact, and call anyone who remains skeptical a denier, the modern euphemism for a heretic.
None of this is to say that they are right, or that they are wrong. I don’t know, and I don’t have access to the sort of time and data to comment on it in great detail. Rather, what I’m saying is that they are observably lying as to the kind of research they are doing. And I don’t trust a liar.
Many people say “trust the experts” without questioning either the competency or the trustworthiness of the expert. I trust an airline pilot to fly the plane, because I can see for myself that the airline record is pretty good, and that these people are good at their jobs. But what if a healthy 50% of airline pilots flew you to the wrong place? What if, furthermore, some pilots flew you to the wrong places deliberately? You bought a ticket to Vegas, but you ended up in Alaska. And the whole time, the pilot kept telling you how great the weather was in Vegas over the loud speaker. How much would you trust the pilot the next time you got in a plane, and he said “we’re heading for San Diego?”
Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t? How the Hell should I know?
The sleight of hand is not always obvious to the casual observer, however. Certainly not as obvious as mistaking Vegas for Alaska. Francis explains again:
Believer: Climate scientists are correct because the scientific method is reliable over time, thanks to peer review. The experts are overwhelmingly on the same side.
Skeptic: The prediction models are not credible because prediction models with that much complexity are rarely correct.
Believer: You troglodyte! You know nothing of science! The scientific method is credible!
See what happened? The believer was discussing science and the skeptic was NOT discussing science. These are different conversations. The prediction models are designed by scientists, but they are not “science” per se, any more than a microscope is “science.” Both are just tools that scientists use.
Prediction models may or may not work. Living in Florida, I’ve developed a healthy amount of respect for the NHC folks. Yeah, the accuracy of their predictions leaves much to be desired, but they nonetheless do an impressive job, and if they are often wrong in the specifics, in the generalities they are usually correct. Their prediction models are observably “pretty good” given the circumstances.
But even in such closed systems, they require several prediction models, which they often average together or weight differently depending on the forecaster’s experience. This is a skill more than anything. And then the forecaster adds his own spin on the data, looking at historical storm tracks, and making some subjective decisions about what all of it may mean. This isn’t science. But it is an impressive skill, nonetheless.
Yet all this is barely sufficient to predict where a storm might generally be in a few days, perhaps a week at the most, and have some reasonable expectation of how strong it will be.
Fortunately, we can check their work with hindsight. We can see how good their track record has been, and judge whether or not to trust them based on that record. With the warmists, we’ve no ability to track their assertions, because anything that goes counter to their hypothesis will be judged “noise” in the data, and anything that follows their hypothesis will be judged positive evidence.
Add to that the nature of government funding and peer pressure (skeptics are often greatly derided by their peers), and you have a recipe for manufactured consensus, with no way for the casual observer to check the results. Then, on top of that, we catch some of them in blatant lies, after which they demand that we trust them! Then they have the temerity to lecture those of faith on their “stupid sky wizard” god.
These people have a religion of their own. I see it often enough on Fecalbook, where the “I fucking love science” crowd posts all sorts of things that are not science, and acts like they are extra nerdy and super smart because of it.
I don’t know when popular culture switched on us, when everything that was once nerdy was made popular, but I suspect we are all the poorer for it. For it made loads of really dumb people think that they were smart because they shared a post about “science” and believed in global warming.
As far as cargo cult religions go, it may be one of the dumbest masquerading as one of the smartest.
Francis enlightens us as to just why you can’t trust the government’s line on climate change, and a host of other ostensibly scientific issues. For a long time, I’ve questioned the very scientific basis of man-made climate change. Science is a method, a very specific method at that, not some buzzword that describes the entire body of human knowledge.
I often point out the example of Roman concrete, which was actually better than most modern formulations until very recently. The Pantheon, after all, is still the largest non-reinforced concrete dome, and it’s been standing for nearly 2,000 years. The Romans didn’t used the modern scientific method. Though the origins of Roman concrete are lost to us, I imagine the discovery probably happened by accident, or through trial-and-error. Being consummate engineers, the Romans then quickly realized the utility of the substance and became prolific builders. In other words, they didn’t formulate a hypothesis, test it through experimentation and observation, and so on and so forth. They had little to no idea of the underlying principles as to why concrete worked, they only knew that it did.
The reverse must be noted with climate change. The average temperature of the Earth is not a static, fixed thing. It will change on its own without the interference of man. So the very name of climate change is misleading. Of course the climate is changing. Any idiot can figure that out for himself. But the climate change community is making very specific allegations. Namely that man is primarily responsible for the change, that the change is invariably bad, and that the change can only be mitigated sufficiently through government action that limits individual liberty.
Remarkably convenient, isn’t it?
But that’s neither here nor there. The key takeaway is that climate change “science” isn’t actually science in the strictest sense. How can they conduct a repeatable experiment with the whole Earth? How can they accurately measure all of it? How can they ensure that correlation is causation? There’s a great meme floating around demonstrating the climate change is linked to the proliferation of piracy.
Clearly more pirates are needed. Some hockey stick, right?
None of this is to say that I am certain they are wrong either. I’m not. I’m no climate researcher either. I simply don’t trust them, primarily because they are claiming this is science, when it demonstrably is not science, and because they’ve been caught falsifying data in the past. That, and they’ve a history of attempting to repress the voices of climate skeptics, calling them deniers in the manner of Holocaust deniers. Bill Nye famously explained that skeptics should be silenced, presumably by government fiat. Governments of the world clearly benefit from climate change being deemed a great problem, because it justifies control of pretty much anything they desire. Everything from business, to how much you water your lawn, can be tied into this. They could use it to justify micromanaging every aspect of your lives.
In truth, I’m sure humans have some effect on the climate. How can we not? We are part of the ecosystem. Whether that effect is great or small, positive or negative, I cannot say. Perhaps if I had more faith in the climate researchers, I could put more stock in their conclusions.
Francis quoted another article on this matter:
In an exclusive interview, Dr Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.
Francis finished with a brilliant summation of the affair:
Scientists whose livelihoods and researches depend upon the blessing of the State are beholden to that State. They can be coerced into supporting the State’s agenda more easily than any other species of creature. Therefore, their pronouncements cannot be trusted until entirely private researchers provide peer review and confirmation of their results.
We would be far better off had the notion of government funded science never been conceived. It should have been treated as a hybrid between propaganda and witchcraft. The trap it provides for potentially honest, potentially productive scientists is attractive beyond belief. Worse yet, it snares the beliefs and attitudes of non-scientists with its veneer of “scientific authority” – yet another internally contradictory idea – more effectively with every passing year.
It’s one of the most lethal weapons in the arsenal of the State. It must be brought to a halt before it destroys everything we hold dear.
And there were have it. If entirely private researchers (not, I should note, university researchers — they get their money primarily through government channels) were concurring with the climate change researchers, and if the government-paid researchers hadn’t been caught in so many lies, I’d be more inclined to believe them. As it stands, I can’t trust any of the researchers on this issue, and that’s a real shame. Because, after all, if they are actually right, and it is a problem, they’ve cried wolf too many times for us to believe them.