Unfortunately, some misuse science. Some of their intentions, are far from benevolent. They see science as a mechanism for political power and control. There is great danger from those who would use science for political control over us.

How do they do this? They instill, and then continuously magnify, fear. Fear is the most effective instrument of totalitarian control.

Chet Richards, physicist,


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Climate Change Politics: 'a truly disquieting chapter in recent history'

For any teacher or administrator, or indeed pupil, wishing to deepen and broaden their general perspective on climate change activism and its consequences would do well to study the insights of Vaclav Klaus.  David Henderson has written an excellent essay as part of a tribute to Klaus, and it was posted today at Bishop Hill's site:

Climate Change Issues: The Special Contribution of Vaclav Klaus

David Henderson

1 An established policy consensus
In relation to climate change issues, there is an official policy consensus. That consensus has been firmly in place for over twenty years, and virtually all governments subscribe to it. By way of recent example, paragraph 66 of last year’s G20 Summit Document begins as follows:
‘Addressing the threat of global climate change is an urgent priority for all nations. We reiterate our commitment to take strong and action-oriented measures...’
The measures referred to are chiefly directed towards curbing emissions of (so-called) ‘greenhouse gases’ in general, and carbon dioxide in particular. The policy consensus reflects what I call received opinion; and the core of received opinion is that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) constitutes a serious threat, which however can be contained and partially averted by severely limiting emissions.
The consensus has been increasingly reflected in a wide variety of official actions at local, state, national and international level. In taking these actions, the governments concerned have so far met with widespread public approval.
It is a remarkable fact that, throughout the period since its adoption at the end of the 1980s, the policy consensus has gone without serious political challenge. In the OECD member countries in particular, climate change issues have typically been the subject of close and continuing cross-party agreement, so that policies have been little affected by changes in government. Inside the governmental machine, the policies have had cross-departmental backing, with none of the usual conflicts of interest or differences of opinion.
2 An isolated dissenter
Political leaders across the world have embraced the consensus, and they continue to do so. Within their ranks, however, there has for some years now been a prominent and outspoken dissenter, in the person of Vaclav Klaus.
The position which Klaus has taken on climate change issues is distinctive. In particular:
  • For several years now, he has given a great deal of thought and attention to the subject. It has become for him a leading (though far from exclusive) preoccupation.
  • The views that he expresses on the subject are his own. It is unusual for a political leader to stake out publicly a strong personal position on a major issue of policy. Klaus’s readiness to act in this way reflects the strength of his convictions. No element of political calculation enters into those convictions or the way in which he has chosen to express them.
  •  His critique of the policy consensus, and of the arguments on which it rests, forms one element in a wider set of beliefs, a personal philosophy. Klaus is a committed liberal, in the European sense of the term – a classical liberal. In consequence, his assessment of any measure or policy largely depends on what he sees as its implications for the freedom – the personal liberty - of individuals. In the case of current and prospective climate change policies, his main single concern has been with the threat that he sees them as posing to individual freedom and to the market economy which gives expression to it.
  • Klaus views this threat as extremely serious. He holds that ‘ambitious environmentalism’ has ‘replaced Communism’ as ‘the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity’, in that it ‘wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning of the whole world’. [1]
Given Klaus’s isolation in the political world, and the persistence and intensity with which he has argued his case, it is easy for opponents to class him as both an eccentric and an extremist. Two obvious charges that can be brought against him are
  • first, that he has become over-preoccupied with climate change issues;
  •  second, that in relation to those issues, and the threat that he sees as arising from consensus thinking and policies, he has taken an extreme and untenable position.
In my view, these charges do not hold. I believe that in his lonely role, as outspoken critic and protester, Klaus has by no means overstated the grounds for concern about the situation of today. From the outset, the treatment of climate change issues by governments has gone badly astray. Both the content of policy and its underlying rationale give grounds for serious concern.
3 The costs and impact of consensus policies
Klaus has strongly emphasised the likely costs and dangers that consensus policies bring with them, and some of those costs and dangers have already materialised. Across the world, measures to curb emissions that are currently in force or in prospect largely take the form of a long and growing list of detailed regulatory initiatives - an array of interventionist gimmicks. These have raised costs unnecessarily, since little regard has been paid to cost-effectiveness; and by creating a host of new opportunities for rent-seeking and lobbying they have brought a further corrupting influence into public life. What is more, they involve a range of intrusions on the freedom of choice of individuals and institutions, opening up multiple new possibilities for what has been well termed ‘micromanaging the lives of people’.
All these effects have emerged already, yet they are no more than a beginning. Far more drastic measures will be required to meet the extraordinarily ambitious goals of consensus policy for reductions in emissions. Among those who endorse the goals, within governments and outside, there are frequent ominous references to the need and scope for individuals, institutions and societies to change their behaviour radically. Two representative instances are:
  • ‘... countries need to act in a concerted fashion to reshape human activities on an unprecedented scale’.
  • ‘Our call is for fundamental transformation and innovation in all spheres and at all scales...’ [2]
 I believe that Klaus is justified in his belief that world-wide ‘reshaping’ and ‘transformation’, in the cause of radical ‘decarbonisation’, could be expected to bring coercive and would-be permanent restrictions on individual freedom.
4 Steering the planet
Received opinion points to the need for and feasibility of what Klaus has referred to as ‘global central planning’. It holds that:
  • changing concentrations of ‘greenhouse gases’, in response to changing rates of emissions, are now the main influence on the climate system of today;
  • accordingly, the system can be reliably tuned and guided, and what would otherwise be dangerous concentrations avoided, through judicious expertly-directed collective action to control and curb emissions;
  • in exercising this control the objective, in the form of a safe maximum concentration of ‘greenhouse gases’, is known with close approximation, and
  • alternative paths to its realisation can be mapped out with confidence.
True, received opinion recognises the possibility that the costs of radical ‘decarbonisation’ could be significant; but it maintains that any such costs are known with confidence to be greatly exceeded (or overshadowed) by what would otherwise be the costs (or risks of disaster) of dangerous global warming: hence the case for far-reaching, concerted and well defined world-wide action has been firmly established. For the indefinite future, then, the constraint of not exceeding the now-identified safe twin maxima, of emissions and concentrations, is taken to be both practicable and binding: in this sense, the right climate change policies are now fixed for ever. Given the necessary political will on the part of governments across the world, supported by enlightened public opinion ready to adopt new modes of living, the planet can be held for good on a safe and prudent course.
To my mind, such beliefs reflect what Klaus has described, in a different but related context, as ‘immodest constructivist ambitions’. It is contrary to all past experience, including experience of failed energy strategies, to presume that governments now know enough about the extraordinarily complex systems involved, and the ways in which these might change, to lay down firm blueprints, and even specific targets, which are to hold good into the indefinite future.
5 The basis of received opinion
How is it that received opinion on climate change issues, and far-reaching policy conclusions arising from it, have won such widespread, continuing, confident and unqualified support, official and unofficial, including endorsement at the highest political levels and by central economic departments of state, over nearly a quarter of a century?
I think the answer is straightforward: it is the shared conviction of all these persons and institutions that ‘the science’ of climate change can now be taken as ‘settled’.
This response provokes the further question: What is the basis of this shared conviction? Here again, I think there is a straightforward answer. Received opinion everywhere reflects, and has throughout accepted and relied on, the scientific advice provided to governments through what I call the official expert advisory process.
That advice can and does come from many sources; but the main single channel for it, indeed the only channel of advice for governments collectively, has been the series of massive and wide-ranging Assessment Reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 1990 onwards. The fourth and most recent of these, referred to for short as AR4, was completed and published in 2007. Work on its successor is now well under way.
For more than twenty years, then, governments and international agencies, and a great many outside observers too, have put their trust in the official expert advisory process as a whole and the IPCC process in particular. They are continuing to do so. However, there is now a substantial body of evidence to suggest that their trust is unwarranted.
6 A flawed process
From the start, received opinion has been subject to challenge on many fronts. In part, and predominantly until 2003, the various challenges have been to the correctness of the analysis, and of the inferences drawn from it, which have emerged from the expert advisory process. In recent years, however, a further dimension of challenge has been opened up, in which the critics concerned have questioned the integrity and professionalism of the process, often with implications for the plausibility of specific key results.
The main headings of unprofessional conduct which the critics have noted and documented have been:
  • over-reliance on in-group peer review procedures which do not serve as a guarantee of quality and do not ensure due disclosure;
  • serious and continuing failures of archiving and disclosure in relation to peer-reviewed studies which the IPCC and member governments have drawn on;
  • continuing resistance to disclosure of basic information which reputable journals increasingly insist on as a precondition for acceptance of papers;
  • basic errors in the handling and interpretation of data, through failure to consult or involve trained statisticians;
  • failure to take due account of relevant published work which documented the above lapses, while disregarding IPCC criteria for inclusion in the assessment process;
  • failure to take due note of comments from dissenting critics who took part in the preparation of AR4;
  • false claims to openness and transparency within the IPCC process;
  • resisting the disclosure of professional exchanges within the drafting process of AR4, despite the instruction of member governments that IPCC proceedings should be ‘open and transparent’; and last but far from least
  • failure over the years on the part of the IPCC and its directing circle to acknowledge the above deficiencies, still less to remedy them.        
Well-documented exposure of these flaws has come from a number of independent commentators: I would mention particularly, in relation to key chapters in the influential reports from the IPCC’s Working Group I, the outstanding work of Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, and later of David Holland.[3]
In November 2009 an unexpected event gave further substance to what these and other critics of the advisory process had been saying, through the unauthorised release of a mass of emails, data and code from the influential Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. Many of the now-exposed exchanges between CRU staff and fellow-scientists elsewhere, all of whom were closely involved in the IPCC process, revealed attitudes and practices which were clearly unprofessional. Among them, two in particular lent further weight to already existing lines of criticism. First, there was a dogged determination, on one false pretext after another, to continue to withhold information that should from the start have been in the public domain. Second, the clear intention was revealed to prevent the publication in scientific journals, and the inclusion in the IPCC process, of pieces of work that cast doubt on received opinion.
The manifest defects in the expert advisory process have gone unacknowledged and unremedied by what I call the environmental policy milieu. This high-level failure, as also the defects themselves, have resulted from chronic and pervasive bias. Right from the start, members of the milieu, and of the IPCC’s directing circle, have been characterised by what has been well termed ‘pre-commitment to the urgency of the climate cause’.
It is not just the environmental policy milieu that is to blame for the mishandling by governments of climate change issues. As a former Treasury official and international civil servant, I have been surprised by the failure of economic departments in OECD member countries to audit the evidence bearing on climate change issues, their uncritical acceptance of the results of a process of inquiry which is so obviously biased and flawed, and their lack of attention to the criticisms of that process which have been voiced by independent outsiders – criticisms which they ought to have been making themselves. A similar lack of resource has characterised the Research Department of the IMF, the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission, and the Economics Department of the OECD. In all these departments and agencies, national and international, there has been a conspicuous failure of due diligence.
7 A missing dimension
In relation to climate change, a fundamental flaw in official thinking and policies across the world, which has hardened with time, lies in treating the main issues as closed. Hence there is a continuing failure to consider and explore an appropriately wide range of possibilities for action.
On the basis of the advice they have been given, governments everywhere have accepted the reality of ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. As a working assumption, this is understandable. But given (1) the huge uncertainties and unknowns that remain, (2) the high potential costs, and dangers to freedom, from far-reaching mitigation measures, and (3) the serious proven flaws in the expert advisory process and the conduct of climate science, it should not be the end of the matter. The various elements of received opinion should not be taken as embodying revealed and now unassailable truth. Rather, they should be viewed as working assumptions and no more. As such, they should be subject to rigorous and continuing test and review, and it should be a concern of policy to ensure that such testing takes place. Neither the current official policy consensus nor the advice on which it rests should be treated as authoritative or final. The whole notion of a now-settled consensus should be discarded. Governments should promote open exchanges of view and contrasting informed assessments.
In an area where so much is at stake, and so much remains uncertain or even unknown, policies should be evolutionary and adaptive, rather than presumptive as they are now; and their evolution should be linked to a process of inquiry and review which is more thorough, balanced, open and objective than has so far been the case. 
8 A disquieting episode
The treatment of climate change issues, across the world and over the past quarter of a century, forms a truly disquieting chapter in recent history. Richard Lindzen has drawn a parallel with the history of eugenics in the last century, and the analogy may prove to have been an apt one.[4]
In part, the story is one of ill-chosen policy initiatives already in place or in prospect. But the current disordered policy mix, though alarming, is symptomatic. A deeper cause for concern is the complex of attitudes, beliefs, presumptions and flawed procedures which have shaped and entered into received opinion, and which now form the officially unchallenged basis for further and far-reaching measures of intervention and control.
In this area of policy, the treatment of risks by governments is dangerously partial and one-sided. Since the late 1980s, attitudes, beliefs and policies world-wide have been fully attuned to the risks of AGW. But there is another side to the coin. A counterpart risk is that humanity is being committed to a costly world-wide collectivist adventure, in which people everywhere will be made not only poorer but less free, on arguments and evidence which are mistakenly treated as final and in a prevailing atmosphere of credulity, bias and intolerance.
In relation to climate change issues, governments in general, and the OECD member governments in particular, have locked themselves into a set of procedures, and an associated way of thinking - in short, a framework – which both reflects and yields over-presumptive conclusions which are weighted towards alarm. They have done so through a worrying combination - of credulity and inadvertence on the part of responsible lay persons, and of chronic bias and professional underperformance on the part of trusted experts and expert bodies. In this whole episode, the capacity of human societies today to arrive at well founded conclusions and decisions has been placed in question. Against this disturbing background, the lone stand of Vaclav Klaus appears as a salutary and much-needed contribution to the climate change debate.  
David Henderson was Head of what was then the Economics and Statistics Department of the OECD in Paris. He is currently a Fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, and chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

[1] These quotations are from a newspaper article of 2007. Of Klaus’s many writings on the subject, the main single publication is his book, Blue Planet in Green Shackles, brought out (in its English version) in 2008 in Washington D. C. by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
[2] The first of these two quotations is from an article published in 2008 in the IMF journal Finance and Development by Mohan Munasinghe, then a Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The second is from a 2011 report from the German independent but officially-appointed Scientific Advisory Council on Global Environmental Change. The report is entitled ‘World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability’.
[3] There is an array of possible references here, most of which are on Ross McKitrick’s website. In addition, leading elements in the story are treated in Holland’s article, ‘Bias and Concealment in the IPCC Process’ (Energy and Environment, 2007), and at book length in A. W. Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science (Stacey International, 2010). McIntyre’s blog, climateaudit.org, is a notable continuing source of analysis, commentary and debate.
[4] Richard S. Lindzen, ‘Science and Politics: Global Warming and Eugenics’, from R. W. Hahn (Ed.), Risks, Costs and Lives Saved, Oxford University Press, 1996.

Bishop Hill describes the provenance of this essay:
' David Henderson writes:

Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, recently passed his  70th birthday. To mark the occasion a Festschrift volume has been put  together, with a wide range of contributors. I understand that the main  topics in the book are: capitalism and the free market; European  integration; the euro; climate change issues; and the Czech  transformation after 1989.

 The English version of the volume has been sent for publication. Meanwhile I have been given clearance to circulate my own contribution,  which is herewith attached. It is entitled ‘Climate Change Issues: The  Special Contribution of Vaclav Klaus’.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Welsh Schools to be sent a 'Scare them Witless' pack on Climate

Leo Hickman in a Guardian blog (hat tip Justin Ert) has alerted his readers to a new danger facing children in Welsh schools: scaremongering climate propaganda developed:

'...during 2011 as a result of being awarded funding from the Beacons Programme (an engagement fund supported by Cardiff University, University of Glamorgan, BBC Wales and Techniquest).'

Here is the front cover of their materials:

Notice the central pictures, enlarged below:

What were they thinking?  'This should get their attention'?  'This should scare them witless'?  'This should help get us even more funding'?

The above document can be downloaded from here.

I want to find time to go through this document in detail.  In the meantime, I note this nonsense from page 7:
“Greenhouse Effect”
The sun shines down on the surface
of the earth. About half the heat
naturally reflects back out into space.
When greenhouse gases such as
carbon dioxide and methane are
released into our atmosphere, they
trap heat and stop it reflecting back
out into space. This causes additional
warming of the earth surface,
ocean and atmosphere… just like a

Now of course it has long been established that this not how a greenhouse works - so the grand conclusion is nonsense.
Furthermore, the gases do not 'trap' heat and stop it getting back to space, nor is the infra-red radiation involved reflected from the Earth so much as generated by it - so the third sentence is also wrong.  The second sentence is also wrong, if by 'heat' they mean the solar input - the Earth's albedo is more like 0.3 and of course all the energy received from the sun and absorbed by the earth is in fact re-emitted.  Only the first sentence survives:

'The sun shines down on the surface of the earth.'

Even that is a bit of an over-simplification since at any time half of the earth does not have the sun shining down on it.

My preliminary study of this document is not at all encouraging.  It does seem intended to produce alarm.  Alarm that is not, in my view, justified.  If this initital impression is confirmed further, then I will be sure to accuse the authors of gross irresponsibility, of dereliction of their basic duty as adults to protect the young from scaremongering.

Note added 26 October 2011.  Mostlharmless has more criticisms of the Cardiff Concoction here: http://mostlyharmless-room-101.blogspot.com/2011/09/education-or-muddled-disinformation-and.html#more
I am still hoping to find time to work through the materials, but so much else is going on just now.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Candid Calor's Climatological Confessions

An insightful interview of a Dr Calor reported by Dr Briggs (Hat tip: http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/)  Hot stuff.  This could be a breakthrough for providing insight into the previously more mysterious thought processes of climatologists.  Perhaps the less virtual of them might see something of their own 'reality' here?  The words of Burns spring to mind:

 O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An' foolish notion
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us
An' ev'n Devotion

  Here is an extract from the interview:

'But satellites don’t directly measure temperature. Isn’t it so that they measure radiation and through a physical-statistical algorithm estimate temperature?
This is natural, yes.
This implies that there is uncertainty in that estimate: another plus and minus. Do you account for that in your estimates?
These satellites are calibrated by very complicated computers, a very expensive process. We are confident in the data they produce.
Taken in all, we are as sure as we are about anything that the temperature has increased a few tenths of a degree and that most of this increase is due to the activity of mankind.
How do we know that?
We build very beautiful, extraordinarily complex computer models which prove this. Although they are difficult to fully comprehend, at base they are very simple.
We know that carbon dioxide captures heat in the lower reaches of the atmosphere. The more CO2 there is, the more heat captured. We also know that a doubling of pre-industrial levels of CO2 will only raise the temperature an insignificant amount. Yes?
So we build into these models a feedback mechanism that says as more CO2 is added, the temperature increases non-linearly. We then run these models and we find exactly what we expected to see: increasing CO2 leads to a positive feedback in temperature!
But aren’t you just seeing what you put into the model? It’s not quite an independent verification of the theory.
You forget that we also have evidence that these models have produced simulations that look, after some processing, like actual observations. That should be enough proof that our theory is correct.
Perhaps. But aren’t there literally hundreds of knobs and dials that you need to tweak to “tune” the models so that they first produce those simulations? Do you have independent evidence that these models predicted new data better than predictions based on the assumption that your theory is wrong?
Look here, young man. I hope you are not going to take the denialist position. If we don’t do something now, by the time we confirm everything, it may be too late.
You can’t argue with that. Thank you for talking to us, Dr Calor.'

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Albert Gore: how much harm can one man do?

Today sees some kind of last-ditch fundraising effort by Al Gore, a profoundly unpleasant man whose movie, 'An Inconvenient Truth' is full of untruths and should never in a month of Sundays have been issued to schools in the UK.  The harm from it must include the needless and shameless frightening of children, and probably a great many teachers as well.  Further harm will arise from the misleading information presented.  Further harm will come from the cynicism about science and politics and teachers that must follow as the nonsense about climate is, as is happening almost daily, more widely exposed for what it is: non-sense.  Harmful nonsense that has helped bring about increased famine through bio-fuels, increased energy prices through windfarms and the like, increased pollution through relocation of industries, and general distortion of the commerical and political 'marketplace' through excessive and sometime corrupting obsessions with 'carbon'.

But amidst all this gloom and the ongoing tawdry schemings of 'environmentalists' such as Gore, we have some sparks of humour to help cheer us up.  Please visit Bishop Hill's site to see more of Josh's cartoon series to mark this day:

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Talking Points for Discerning Pupils Faced with CO2 Alarmism in the Classroom

One of the ways in which the facile alarmism about CO2 being pushed at and within schools can be undermined is for the more able pupils to raise discussion points during classes.  A recent article in the Canada Free Press site gives a few good questions which look well worth trying.  See the original article here to get background and backup on each of the questions. (hat tip: http://antigreen.blogspot.com/)

How do you explain that global temperatures according to UN data have not increased since 1998 and there has been no significant warming since 1995?


Are you aware that even the UN IPCC does not consider climate models to be “predictions” or “forecasts” but merely emission scenarios?

Are you aware of multiple scientific studies showing the medieval warm period (before SUV’s and human emissions) to be warmer than current temps?

How do you explain that CO2 levels have been much higher in the Earth’s history, but have not coincided with human or animal extinction?

Can you explain why Greenland has cooled since the late 1930’s and 1940’s?

Can you explain why Antarctic sea ice has expanded to record levels in recent years?

Are you aware that Arctic Sea ice has EXPANDED in 2008?

Are you aware of the multiple peer-reviewed studies blaming Arctic sea ice reductions on many factors not related to man-made carbon emissions?

Are you aware that the Earth is currently in one of the coolest periods in its geologic history?

Are you aware that a recent U.S. Senate report features more than 500 scientists dissenting from man-made climate fears—more than 10 times the number (52) of UN IPCC scientists who signed off on alarmist (and media hyped) Summary for PolicyMakers in 2007.

Are you aware that many solar scientists and geologists are now warning of a possible coming global cooling? 


How do you explain that an analysis in peer-reviewed journal found COLD PERIODS – not warm periods [..were associated with the greatest climate-related disasters such as major floods, and droughts] ?

How do you explain the recent U.S. government report which found Hurricanes declining, NO increases in drought, tornados, thunderstorms, heat-waves?