Archive for the ‘catastrophism’ Category
World Exclusive: CIA 1974 Document Reveals Emptiness of AGW Scares, Closes Debate On Global Cooling Consensus (And More…)
(originally published on Dec 3 in my climate blog)
An eye-opening “global cooling consensus” CIA document dated 1974 has just been re-discovered in the British Library by Yours Truly and is extensively mentioned today in the (printed) pages of The Spectator (UK) and Il Foglio (Italy).
(the (suitably degraded) scan of the Spectator article is at the bottom of this blog)
“A Study of Climatological Research as it Pertains to Intelligence Problems” will make quite an embarrassing reading, especially for:
- the most obdurate catastro-warmists (when they will notice that almost all AGW scares are a search-and-replace job from “cooling” to “warming”), and
- the history deniers fixated on ‘demonstrating’ that a scientific consensus about Global Cooling in the 1970’s were a ‘myth'(*)
And there is more (much more), from ever-improving climate models promising to become good in a few years’ time to the unsettling apparent ease with which Government agencies then (as now) could get scientists to agree on whatever they needed them to agree on.
Nobody aware of the CIA document’s contents should be able to avoid a good chuckle after reading any of the current AGW reports on famine, starvation, refugee crises, floods, droughts, crop and monsoon failures, and all sorts of extreme weather phenomena; on climate-related major economic problems around the world; on Africans getting in climate troubles first; and so on and so forth.
Why? Because it is all too clear that those scares cannot be real, since they have already been mentioned verbatim in all their dramatic effect, but about Global Cooling.
The whole lot of them, they are just empty threats, instruments of doom-and-gloom policy manipulation with no relation to reality.
It is deeply ironic that it takes a 35-year-old document, available on the web so far only in title, to show the absolute vacuity of the vast majority of pre-COP15 reports and studies. It is time to ditch everything we hear about collapsing ice sheets, disappearing glaciers, species extinctions, and each and every “it’s worse than we thought” report by “scientists”.
It is time to become climate adults.
As I wrote for The Spectator:
This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise – much as it pains politicians and scientists – that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.
(stay tuned for the full text of the Spectator article, and the PDF of the PDF of the CIA document)
(*) Anybody thinking about Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s largely mistitled “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 89, Issue 9, September 2008, pp 1325-1337)? Well, think again after reading this little gem of theirs:
By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend was widely accepted, albeit poorly understood
As I wrote a little more than a year ago: “Widely accepted”: check. “Global cooling”: check.. There was a global cooling consensus among scientists, at least up to 1974. And it went on to appear in Newsweek, The Washington Post, The New York Times and many more media outlets around the world, at least up to 1976.
This is the scanned Spectator article
A big thank you to Tory MP Matthew Parris, as he has just provided the best argument against putting any trust in old-fashioned newsmedia whenever there is any hint of a potential future catastrophe…
In the Obama Administration, Energy Secretary Steven Chu wants to start “addressing the scientific and technical challenges of climate change“. Meanwhile, Climate Czarine Carol Browner is on the record for stating that global warming is “the greatest challenge ever faced“.
But is that a vision shared by the President himself? Hardly so. Very recently at the Costa Mesa Town Hall Meeting in California (March 18) President Obama singularly failed to mention climate in a list of upcoming challenges including the cost of health care, the dependency on oil imports and education.
It appears that for the current President, “climate” is a useful but merely ancillary issue to “energy”. But how can “the greatest challenge ever faced” be subordinate to energy or anything else? And how long will the likes of Chu and Browner, and everybody else one the side of Al Gore, tolerate such a situation?
It will be interesting to see if the “doom and gloom” camp will be able to get any traction against President Obama’s very own “Yes we can” mantra.
There is a sizable number of people concerned about overpopulation. They are being drawn together by a new initiative, the Global Population Speak Out, aiming at undermining “a taboo of sorts against public discussion of overpopulation”:
GPSO was born of a simple idea: What if a large number of qualified voices worldwide, many of whom might not have emphasized the topic previously, were to speak out on overpopulation all at once? The strength of numbers might help weaken the taboo and bring population issues to a more prominent position in the global discussion.
You can see the efforts of the participants in this page. The main topics are the concern of overpopulation as a major driver in resource depletion (i.e. there are too many people consuming too much too quickly) and especially in ruining the environment.
Readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear that I do not believe in gloomy forecasts, and particularly so in the gloomiest of them. I am also not convinced that there is a present situation of overpopulation right now: some back-of-the-envelope calculation seems to suggest full capacity would be around 15 billion people, even allowing for everybody to become a well-fed American. And who can forget that the current size of human population is the consequence of a struggle that must have lasted for a good part of the last million years?
Still, I also believe GPSO has a good point to make.
Let’s start considering their sensible attitude to past abuses of the overpopulation issue. Simply too many people have married the cause in the past because afraid of having to deal with millions of poor, black or Asian people. And still to this day, it is not difficult to find pea-brained arguments pitting children against the environment.
I do not see any trace of that in the original GPSO letter.
What I can see among the unfortunate repetitive claims about upcoming disasters, is a concern for what perhaps should not be, but still can develop in a big issue. My model for human activity in general is that of the long-distance travelers putting their stuff into the car’s trunk. No matter how much they plan to take with them, still they will more likely than not occupy the full trunk.
In other words, it is not much a matter of the size of the car, or the volume of things they want to bring to their destination: as far as humans are concerned, the whole available space is always to be wholly used. For another example, just check how many 1-h business meetings amazingly last for a full hour; and how easy it is for thousands and thousands of newspaper editors to fill up exactly all their available print areas, day after day, down to the eighth of an inch.
This ability for making full use of all resources within reach is something we should be very proud of; and wary, as there is little indication for when limits are actually reached. It always looks like there is more space in the trunk, and by speaking just a little faster more topics can be crammed in a meeting. But there is a limit, and the wise traveler will make sure loading is stopped early enough as to avoid damaging the car (or the stuff already loaded).
That’s why population should not be a taboo subject. And besides, it is also a topic closely related to personal freedom. For reasons too long to deal with now, women the world over have always seen their worth measured in the number of children they could bear. In theory, there is no actual need for that to continue any longer, and yet it still happens in one form or another pretty much everywhere.
Population sizes, from this point of view, can be seen as a symptom of an underlying bigger social problem. And who would want to make a symptom a taboo subject?
A great post (in English) from mixed English/Italian blog noisefromAmerika with David K. Levine e Michele Boldrin explaining why it does not look like the world financial system is going to collapse tomorrow.
Unless the Bernanke&Paulson couple is not telling the whole truth…
That would also explain the otherwise absurd sight of politicians declaring an upcoming Armageddon with one hand, and squabbling for petty gains on the other.
As usual, the only thing to fear is fear itself (and a rushed-up solution). At this rate, the best thing that can happen is that nothing substantive is agreed until after the Presidential Elections. It’s only a month to go. If President Bush is really worried about it all, he can always impose a one-month bank-holiday period 😉
Most academic economists – the economists who do not work for companies likely to benefit from the bailout, nor for the President – are opposed to this plan […]
the total value of outstanding mortgages is $11 trillion […] while the value of insurance contracts written on them is about five times as large. Clearly, Mortgage Backed Securities (MBSs), CDOs and so on, were used as collateral for lots of additional borrowing […] That explains why, as the value of those houses is dropping the whole castle of cards threatens to crumble. […]
The problem in banking is the possibility of cascading failures, that the failure of bad banks may drag down the good banks […]
What is the solution? One is for the government to step in and buy securities, as proposed in the bailout plan before Congress.
[If those securities are not properly valued, the government] will only get securities worth less than that with the taxholder responsible for the difference. Notice that the ones who reap the rewards are the holders of bad securities […] In effect in order to keep the bad banks from driving out the good we rescue the bad banks.
There are many alternative schemes to the one proposed by Treasury:
- Require banks to raise more capital. [In that case] the losses are borne by the good banks rather than the taxpayer
- Forgive debt in exchange for equity. [It is well known that] debt forgiveness schemes have worked for resolving financial crises in the past.
- Buy foreclosed houses for the value of the mortgage
- Force an orderly winding down of the housing based derivative market […]
Yes: there can be cascading bank failures and that is a bad thing. But it does not happen instantly, not tomorrow, not next week, not next month […]
The bottom line, in the immediate future, is this. The Federal Reserve Bank and its sister agencies […] already have strong tools against a cascading failure of the banking system. […] We have not seen good banks fail, nor have we seen cascading failures. We have been given no reason to think anything of the sort is imminent. […]
To debunk the obvious: Washington Mutual failed Thursday night. Washington Mutual ATM cards continue to function as usual. […] The fact that banks are reluctant to lend to each other does not have much impact on their ability to make short term loans to customers. […]
If the Federal Reserve Bank and Treasury in fact have information that things are worse than Bernanke reported they should tell us what it is. Otherwise they should stand up and make it clear that doomsday is not around the corner.
The story (“The heartbreaking picture of the polar bears with 400 miles to swim to the nearest ice “) originated in the pages of the Daily Mail, likely on Saturday Aug 30, and was immediately distributed in Italy by daily La Repubblica.
Trouble is, that story is, shall I dare say this, “not true”. And tonight, it looks like it has been pulled off the Daily Mail website altogether.
Actually, the story is based on something that has actually happened, and was reported by the WWF on Aug 22: nine polar bears have been spotted (by chance) swimming near Alaska. One of them was at least 60 miles from land.
But the Daily Mail article, by a Barry Wigmore, “embellished” the original story with so many incorrect details, the end result was abysmally not-true and deceiving.
A couple of days ago the WWF published some clarifying statements. From those it would be easy to spot where Wigmore’s article basically made things up. But as I said, the Daily Mail website has “lost” the page.
Here it is, saved from another website:
So which bits were patently baseless?
- “400 miles to swim to the nearest ice” (wrong: the WWF confirms nobody knows where the bears are, and when spotted, none of them was more than 60 miles away from the nearest land or ice)
- “Struggling against the waves” (wrong: the bear in the picture is simply looking back to the helicopter where the pictures are being taken from, and whose rotors are causing the waves)
- “polar bear faces almost certain death” (wrong: the WWF makes the point that polar bears are strong animals, and “a polar bear in the water, even one far from land or ice, is not always a polar bear that needs saving”
- “becoming lost at sea” (made-up: there is no way to know if the bears were or were not just doing what polar bears have done innumerable times in the past)
- “the creatures’ homing instinct has sent them north” (made-up: the WWF reports nothing on the direction the bears have been heading. Actually, there is no practical way to find any of them)
- “the World Wide Fund for Nature, said it was considering asking the U.S. government to send a ship” (made-up: the WWF press releases say nothing of the sort)
Last night I did send a comment to the Daily Mail urging the article’s author to check his facts.
Anyway: now that the story is not there any longer, conscious that it will linger on for years on many websites, thinking about how many people are needlessly worried by this story sexied-up to the point of not being true any longer, one can only reflect sadly at the sorry status of English and Italian journalism, trying to pass a fiction piece as a real story and/or gobbling it up without bothering to check the original sources.
Finally, since I criticized them in the past, I want to add that I appreciate the fact that the BBC News web site has not fallen for Wigmore’s drowning polar bear fantasy.
(originally published in my climate blog “The Unbearable Nakedness of CLIMATE CHANGE“)
Timely broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s “In Our Time” series, about Lysenko and “lysenkoism”, the propaganda-based “science” that Stalin’s agricultural adviser managed to sell as “truth” from 1928 to 1962 at least.
In 1928, as America heads towards the Wall Street Crash, Joseph Stalin reveals his master plan – nature is to be conquered by science, Russia to be made brutally, glitteringly modern and the world transformed by communist endeavour.
Into the heart of this vision stepped Trofim Lysenko, a self-taught geneticist who promised to turn Russian wasteland into a grain-laden Garden of Eden.
Today, Lysenko is a byword for fraud but in Stalin’s Russia his ideas became law. They reveal a world of science distorted by ideology, where ideas were literally a matter of life and death. To disagree with Lysenko risked the gulag and yet he damaged, perhaps irreparably, the Soviet Union’s capacity to fight and win the Cold War.
The MP3 of the programme can be downloaded here.
What makes it relevant to the climate debate is the list of parallels that can be made between Lysenko’s “Soviet biology and genetics” and contemporaneous thoughts of Anthropogenic Global Warming:
(a) Results, and success are declared before an experiment has completed (at position 12m10s, in the mp3 file above). In AGW, just look at the innumerable papers that take AGW as established truth, even as the debate on “attribution” is still very much open among mainstream scientists.
(b) Proponents always declare “victory”, no matter what happens, and are always ready to shift the ground (mp3 position: 14m15s). That’s quite common in AGW circles: nowadays, if the planet warms up or cools down, it’s anyway compatible with AGW theory.
(c) Science is presented as a series of “solutions”, not simply as “knowledge” (mp3 position: 19m45s). AGWers cannot disentangle research from advocacy: for example, the IPCC is politically active, to the point of qualifying for a Nobel Peace Prize.
(d) According to the scientists, central planning is better than free capitalism (mp3 position: 35m45s). From Al Gore to London School of Economics’ Professor Lord Giddens, there is only one thought: free markets are not good enough, and a big State intervention is needed to save the planet from climate doom.
Ironically, the BBC guests laughed only up to a point to the witty remark made by one of them: that Lysenko’s personality and attitude would have made him a “guaranteed success in British science today” (mp3: 24m15s).
Even more ironic is the fact that Lysenko himself did come up with a geoengineering way to change the climate of Siberia (by planting trees in clusters, so that the weakest ones would sacrifice themselves to let the most resistant plants survive).
And in case you wonder: no, it didn’t work…