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The Prosecution of Naomi Seibt

Greta Thunberg.jpg

Greta Thunberg

 

The prosecution of Naomi Seibt by the Ministry of Truth in North-Rhine Westphalia indicates just how rough the Left will play in suppressing climate skepticism of the most reasonable kind.

Repeat daily: science is not a doctrine but a process of inquiry into one’s own premisses.

Christopher Monckton reviews the case here in WattsUpWithThat.

Francis Menton, the Manhattan Contrarian, compares and contrasts the treatment of Greta Thunberg and Naomi Seibt here.

A non-hysterical view of global warming

I sift through lots of global warming stuff pro and con. I think this guy comes closest to my current position. Geologists, in my opinion, are much more cognizant of the long record of the planet, and way less hysterical than the “climate” scientists. Still, his view of rising oceans within the next century is alarming enough. Britt’s view is that we have stopped the Milankovich cycle in its tracks and that we are not heading into an ice age, as we ought to be by this time, but are heading to significantly greater warmth.

As he points out, the biggest friend of a colder earth was Mao Tse-tung, who kept China in poverty. And that, my friends, is the only way I know to prevent further global warming.

Whatever your reaction to Dan Britt’s science, I find his presentation to be cheerful and gloomy at the same time. Geologists are like that, because the planet has gone through so much more change than most people are aware of.

 

 

Doom: The Complete Version

 

It is all the fault of fluctuations in CO2. So says Peter Brannen in “The Ends of the World”. This is a terrific book even if you disagree with it, as I do, on no grounds I can think of except that he is a doomist.

Every few scores of millions of years, there have been massive exterminations of species. Brannen relates the best recent evidence for how these extinction events came about. There have been five of them, at least. Usually the underworld opens up and continents of lava spew forth, killing everything in their continent-sized lava flows, and what is not killed directly is then wiped out by ocean acidification (CO2 again). Or so much CO2 is belched out of the ground by volcanism that the planet gets too hot, such as 40C seas at the equator, which is hot-tub hot.

Obviously Brannen thinks that all of current human civilization is pumping massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere with such abrupt speed that nature has no chance of adapting to it.

It is not hard to find a paragraph that supports his contention.

As a result of this innovation [coal burning], human civilization is now propped up by a continuous explosion f energy, a global megametabolism, with hundreds of millions of years worth of sunlight being released all at once in combustion engines and power plants. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of this new civilizational metabolism, and we now emit 100 times more CO2 each years than volcanoes. This far outstrips the  ability of the earth’s thermostat to keep up with rock weathering and ocean circulation, operating as those processes do on 1,000- to 100,000 year timescales. (at p. 236)

Nitrogen-fixing from the air, which is the technology that gives rise to artificial fertilizers, is also to blame for runoffs that take the oxygen out of seawater.

And it goes on. We are rapidly wrecking large parts of the planet, and he gives the reasons why this is so.

I must confess that Brannen makes my skepticism about the doomist view more difficult to maintain. However, he is well worth the effort, first because his science is good, second because he points out the enormous spans of time this planet has been around –  spans so large that the earth  has in effect been several different planets in the course of time – and third, because I think that every global warming/doomist skeptic needs to know the full argument, not just the IPCC version. Brannen has been hanging around with real scientists, not with atmospheric trend projectors and data falsifiers, such as NOAA and HadCrut and the IPCC pseudo-scientific international bureaucrats.

In my view, doomism is justified if we cannot get human population to shrink. There are several ways that the human race will make less impact on the planet in the next few hundred years.

Population reduction through lifestyle changes are already well underway. Everywhere women can guarantee that their children survive, they stop producing more than two children. See Hans Rosling on this issue.

The other traditional method is war, famine, pestilence and death. That is what will happen if we fail, and maybe it will happen anyway. If the world starts to go to hell through ecological disasters, war will inevitably follow, and with it the usual population correctives.

We could reduce population peacefully by conscious choices and end up in prosperity for the remaining few billions who will be found at the end of this process. We could reduce it by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and end up in a low productivity, high birthrate world, such as we began to get out of on the 18th century.

Maybe we are like bacteria on a Petri dish, and our numbers will expand until we die off catastrophically, as we exhaust our resources. That was the view of the biologist Lynn Margulis.

This question was also ably examined, in a more balanced way, by Charles C. Mann in his The Wizard and the Prophet. But Mann’s book, while more balanced than Brannen’s, deals with two scientists with two points of view, doomist and meliorist, whereas Brannen coneys a vast amount of information about how hellish the earth has been in the Great Extinctions that have ravaged the earth over time.

The disturbing aspect of Brannen’s argument is that, in his view, humans are acting as the unconscious agents of destruction. I do not see any happy outcome, but I hope I am spectacularly wrong.

 

 

 

Susan Ray’s kitchen, Nantucket, 1875 and Bill Gates

Occasionally a picture is worth a thousand words. This painting would have been made sometime in the latter half of the 19th century, around 1875, on Nantucket, a prosperous whaling island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts,

You will note the absence of everything that makes a modern kitchen convenient. Start with the absence of pipes and of cold (not hot) running water. No sink. No wood stove, only an open fire. Mrs. Ray emerges from a larder in which  food is stored.

No electricity: and thus no dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine, dryer or lights. Scarcely a counter-top on which to cut and prepare a meal. In case you wonder about what is hidden at the other end of the kitchen, the painter did the other end too. You can see a sideboard, a small table, a mirror, a sconce for a candle, and the fireplace. Not even a wood stove!

These were prosperous people of the time. Not rich, but not suffering either. Note the fine piece of furniture below the mirror. Note the wide (16-18  inches?) sawn planks of old growth pine and the lack of water stains on the whitewashed ceiling. They lived in a comfortable house, by the standards of the time.

All this is a world before fossil fuels or electricity. Doubtless it had a very low carbon footprint.

When I read about carbon taxes, and rich magnates like Bill Gates saying we have to get carbon neutral by some date in the near future, I ask myself, do these fools understand what it was like to prepare a meal in Susan Ray’s kitchen?

Says Bill Gates:

To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to get to zero net greenhouse gas emissions in every sector of the economy within 50 years—and as the IPCC recently found, we need to be on a path to doing it in the next 10 years. That means dealing with electricity, and the other 75% too.

50 years is nearly twenty years less than what I have lived already. Two hundred years would be a more reasonable time horizon.

Read him, he exemplifies a kind of insane rationality that fails to understand that the world cannot get to carbon neutrality at any price we can afford, political or economic, in fifty or a hundred years, if ever. Insanity is not the absence of rationality, but the excess of it. Just think of Susan Ray’s kitchen when you think of a low carbon footprint, but  you should take out the fireplace and replace it with a wood stove, if the authorities will permit it. That is a low-carbon footprint kitchen. Why is it so difficult for the intelligent of our time to understand that they have embarked upon a course of folly and destruction?

Global warming catastrophism is a disease of the intelligent, like Communism in the 1930s.

_____________________

Wikipedia relates

Eastman Johnson, (July 29, 1824 – April 5, 1906) painted “Susan Ray’s kitchen”. Hewas an American painter and co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance. He was best known for his genre paintings, paintings of scenes from everyday life, and his portraits both of everyday people and prominent Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His later works often show the influence of the 17th-century Dutch masters, whom he studied in The Hague in the 1850s; he was known as The American Rembrandt in his day.

Exterminate carbon units!

If you like mass doom you will like this article . Borrowing a theme from the television show Dr. Who, occasionally nature tries to exterminate life on earth, as the Daleks try to do to humans in science fiction.

Bianca Bosker, writing in this month’s Atlantic about a lady paleontologist who does not accept the Chicxulub asteroid extinction theory, has this to say,

Over the course of its 4.5-billion-year existence, the Earth has occasionally lashed out against its inhabitants. At five different times, mass extinctions ensued.

Seven hundred million years ago, the oceans’ single-cell organisms started linking together to form multicellular creatures. Four hundred and forty-four million years ago, nearly all of those animals were wiped out by the planet’s first global annihilation. The Earth recovered—fish appeared in the seas, four-legged amphibians crawled onto land—and then, 372 million years ago, another catastrophe destroyed three-quarters of all life. For more than 100 million years after that, creatures thrived. The planet hosted the first reptiles, the first shelled eggs, the first plants with seeds. Forests swarmed with giant dragonflies whose wings stretched two feet across, and crawled with millipedes nearly the length of a car. Then, 252 million years ago, the “Great Dying” began. When it finished, 96 percent of all species had vanished. The survivors went forth and multiplied—until, 201 million years ago, another mass extinction knocked out half of them.

The age of the dinosaurs opened with continents on the move. Landmasses that had spent millions of years knotted together into the supercontinent of Pangaea began to drift apart, and oceans—teeming with sponges, sharks, snails, corals, and crocodiles—flooded into the space between them. It was swimsuit weather most places on land: Even as far north as the 45th parallel, which today roughly marks the U.S.–Canada border, the climate had a humid, subtropical feel. The North Pole, too warm for ice, grew lush with pines, ferns, and palm-type plants. The stegosaurs roamed, then died, and tyrannosaurs took their place. (More time separates stegosaurs from tyrannosaurs—about 67 million years—than tyrannosaurs from humans, which have about 66 million years between them.) It was an era of evolutionary innovation that yielded the first flowering plants, the earliest placental mammals, and the largest land animals that ever lived. Life was good—right up until it wasn’t.

 

Later, writing about the explosion of an Icelandic volcano called Laki,  which wiped out a fifth of Iceland’s population, more gloom ensues:

 

On June 8, 1783, Iceland’s Laki volcano began to smoke. The ground wrenched open “like an animal tearing apart its prey” and out spilled a “flood of fire,” according to an eyewitness’s diary. Laki let loose clouds of sulfur, fluorine, and hydrofluoric acid, blanketing Europe with the stench of rotten eggs. The sun disappeared behind a haze so thick that at noon it was too dark to read. (Unlike the cone-shaped stratovolcanoes from third-grade science class, both Deccan and Laki were fissure eruptions, which fracture the Earth’s crust, spewing lava as the ground pulls apart.)

Destruction was immediate. Acid rain burned through leaves, blistered unprotected skin, and poisoned plants. People and animals developed deformed joints, softened bones, cracked gums, and strange growths on their bodies—all symptoms of fluorine poisoning. Mass death began eight days after the eruption. More than 60 percent of Iceland’s livestock died within a year, along with more than 20 percent of its human population. And the misery spread. Benjamin Franklin reported a “constant fog” over “a great part of North America.” Severe droughts plagued India, China, and Egypt. Cold temperatures in Japan ushered in what is remembered as the “year without a summer,” and the nation suffered the worst famine in its history. Throughout Europe, crops turned white and withered, and in June, desiccated leaves covered the ground as though it were October. Europe’s famine lasted three years; historians have blamed Laki for the start of the French Revolution.

 

The article is relevant for a number of reasons. First, it details planetary catastrophes have already occurred, which should sober anyone. Second, it narrates an unresolved  battle of words between those who believe that dinosaurs were wiped out by the Chicxulub asteroid and those who think they were wiped out by massive (fantastically massive) volcanic outpourings that produced the basaltic plateau that covers most of India, the Deccan Traps. Third, it lends credence to my idea that a great many scientific disputes operate at any given time. When you hear some idiot say that “the science is settled”, you know you are hearing a political statement. The science is never settled. It is only provisionally accepted in some quarters for some people, for some time.

 

Good news: the ice age is ending

From the National Post today:

Out of 1,773 glaciers, 1,353 shrank significantly between 2000 and 2016. All of them shrank a little bit, said (glaciologist Adrienne) White.

White found glaciers lost more than 1,700 square kilometres. That’s a loss of almost six per cent over a period of 16 years.

Most of these glaciers probably aren’t coming back.

The Canadian Arctic is experiencing some of the fastest climate warming anywhere on Earth. The annual average temperature on Ellesmere Island has increased by 3.6 degrees.

I do not deny global warming. I celebrate it. As you will observe from the chart below, the earth has been getting colder for the last fifty million years.

Wikipedia reports:

There have been five or six major ice ages in the history of Earth over the past 3 billion years. The Current Ice Agebegan 34 million years ago, its latest phase being the Quaternary glaciation, in progress since 2.58 million years ago.

Within ice ages, there exist periods of more severe glacial conditions and more temperate referred to as glacial periodsand interglacial periods, respectively. The Earth is currently in such an interglacial period of the Quaternary glaciation, with the last glacial period of the Quaternary having ended approximately 11,700 years ago, the current interglacial being known as the Holocene epoch.[1] Based on climate proxiespaleoclimatologists study the different climate states originating from glaciation.

 

5 for 5

 

My subject is the astonishing level of incomprehension of and contempt for Trump by the American elites.

A perfect illustration is available from Real Clear Politics’ Monday edition of the state of incomprehension of Trump by the American elite. It is called “the End of Intelligence”, and appeared first in the Sunday New York Times. It is written by Michael Hayden, who was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009 and the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005.

His concern is with ‘post truth’ America, and what follows is Hayden’s line of argument.

He illustrates his case with some whoppers (outright lies), exaggerations and nonsense that Trump told during the election. [No discussion is made of anything from Hillary].

Hayden writes:

We in the intelligence world have dealt with obstinate and argumentative presidents through the years. But we have never served a president for whom ground truth really doesn’t matter.

The case in point is the ill-conceived Presidential directive that has come to be called ‘the Muslim-ban’. Hayden detects a pattern: something starts with a Presidential tweet, then the legions of  experts are called in to dampen, palliate, or moderate the instincts of the President.

“Sometimes, almost magically, he gets it right”, as when Trump agreed with the establishment to keep troops in Afghanistan.

But most of the time, Trump does not agree with the establishment, as on sanctions against Russia. In fact Trump disagrees with large sections of official opinion.

In this post-truth world, intelligence agencies are in the bunker with some unlikely mates: journalism, academia, the courts, law enforcement and science — all of which, like intelligence gathering, are evidence-based. Intelligence shares a broader duty with these other truth-tellers to preserve the commitment and ability of our society to base important decisions on our best judgment of what constitutes objective reality.

On how many issues is the American establishment wrong? They consist of journalists, academia, the courts, law enforcement and science.  And on how many issues are the the general consensus of the establishments in North America and Europe absolutely, completely wrong?

  1. Global warming/climate change: a concatenation of errors in false analysis, false conclusions, and wrong-headed solutions that will impoverish us, all driven by an anti-development ideology masquerading as “science”
  2. Iran deceiving us about their nuclear plans, and we being willing to be deceived
  3. Russia, seen as if it were still the Soviet Union, a confusing the thuggish Putin with the mass-muderer Stalin
  4. Islamic terrorism – you cannot be allowed to see or speak to the link between Islam the religion and Islam the political idea
  5. Korea – seen as insoluble

I would say it is five for five, on the most important issues confronting the West today. And I am not talking about the ideological mess of our universities.

Of course Hayden and his ilk believe that Trump is irrational in opposing Establishment views, because it is impossible that they could be wrong. We have all read their 60-page memoranda; we have all taken our lessons from the professors; we have all bowed our heads to the liberals in robes on the courts; and the police are busy policing thoughts and attitudes, as they ought. How can we all be wrong?

How can the establishments in law, policing, science, foreign intelligence and academia be wrong? The answer is quite simple, really. They have been animated by wrong ideas for fifty or a hundred years, and the results are now being seen.

I was once subjected to spiteful derision from a man who thought my views on global warming were utterly wrong. Without his ever having researched the subject, he found most offensive the fact that I dared to have an opinion that was not the consensus of scientists, as he saw it. How could I be so bold? [As a Protestant I am culturally accustomed to taking on Establishments and declaring them without authority, is the answer.]

The heresy or sin is in having a view that is not an establishment view. And Trump is five for five. And that, my friends, is why the Establishment thinks that Trump is irrational. Because they cannot be wrong.

Professor Pangloss, meet Dr. Doom

 

 

The most important thing about prediction is the time scale over which you are measuring. The probability of the extremely rare event rises to certainty with the passage of time. For example, the history of the earth for the last two million years shows that the next ice age cannot be further away than two to five thousand years. If we extend the time scale to several tens of millions of years, it is likely that the earth will pass through epochs considerably warmer than we are in now.

So it is with historical timespans, which are far shorter . The human race has been undergoing a massive population expansion since 1800 because of science, increasing energy resources, and a feedback loop between increasing wealth and increasing resources to deal with disease.

Yet the very forces that have created the population explosion are everywhere reducing human birthrates. Why? Because as women become certain of the survival of their babies, they have fewer of them. Just as the burden of humans on the planet reaches a peak, the human species declines in numbers. These are demographic certainties: the dearth of children since the 1970s has been felt in every part of the world, including especially the Islamic parts. Within three generations human fertility has crashed from 6-8 live births to about 2 live births per woman. Read David Goldman’s It’s not the End of the World, it’s just the End of You: the Great Extinction of Nations.

It was with interest and pleasure that I have been absorbing Kyle Harper’s The Fate of Rome. Harper is the first historian of whom I am aware to have taken seriously the impacts of disease and climate change on the fate of the Roman Empire. He addresses the reader’s attention to the startling scale of death in the three waves of pestilence that not just decimated, but halved, Roman populations in the period 200AD to 550 AD. There were three near-global epidemics that swept through the Empire, each assisted by the ubiquity of trade links and safety of travel that imperial security allowed. One was probably the first exposure of humans to what we later called smallpox. The second was an Ebola-like hemorrhagic fever. 

The third, which swept through the Empire when the Emperor Justinian was trying to restore civil order and prosperity in the mid-500s, was bubonic plague, which broke out in AD 542. The population of the eastern (Byzantine) Roman Empire fell by half in one year, from 30 to 15 million, and kept on falling for several decades after as plague returned. Imagine the stink of corpses when everyone is dying and not enough people are available to bury them.

Coupled with volcanic outbursts that clouded the sun, and variations in the rainfall in central Asia, which sent the Huns westward in search pasturage, causing them to crash into the Goths who crashed into the Roman Empire, these waves of disease, worsening climate, and barbarian invasions had utterly wrecked the western Roman Empire by AD 400. Brian Fagan records in his book, The Long Summer, that the cultivation of the grape and the olive used to take place as far north in Gaul as the current French-Belgian border, but that, after the Roman Climate Optimum suddenly collapsed around 400 AD, the olive tree grows no further north than its current line in France’s Massif Central. Can you imagine what it would do to US agriculture if the climate of Saskatchewan moved south 400 miles? In the space of ten years?

Compared to scientifically literate histories like The Fate of Rome, Edward Gibbon’s attempt to blame the fall of Rome on the rise of Christianity, the personalities of Emperors, and barbarian invasions, seems more like an exercise in oratory and Latinate English than anything accurate.

Which brings me to the genial, clever Professor Steven Pinker and his Enlightenment Now. Pinker presents the best case possible that progress in the past several centuries has been real, and that catastrophists are wrong. I have every reason to believe this story; I am a rational optimist myself. Pinker and his teammate, Matt Ridley, both make the irrebuttable case that the world has been getting massively better for all. I wish there were more people who were aware of how much and how rapidly human life has improved since 1800, since 1900, since 2000. In that sense it is important to point out how much I agree with Pinker.

And yet, the pace of evolution is accelerating as population becomes denser. The pathogens that struck down the Roman Empire in repeated waves are entirely recent mutations.

As Harper explains:

The last few thousand years have been the platform for a new age of roiling evolutionary  ferment among pathogenic microbes. The Roman Empire was caught in the the turbulence of this great acceleration….

The primacy of the natural environment in the fate of this civilization draws us closer to the Romans, huddled together to cheer the ancient spectacles and unsuspecting of the next chapter, in ways we might not have imagined.

We are as grass, and while the arguments for impending catastrophe are much weaker than supposed, it is unwise to think that all will be well. The influenza epidemic of 1918 killed 3 to 5% of the world’s population, 50 to 100 million people, more than the World War that preceded it.

Civilizations and empires can end because of diseases and climate change. They have already done so several times. There is no reason to suppose we are immune, notwithstanding the cheerful and truthful news from the likes of Steve Pinker and Matt Ridley.

Professor Pangloss, meet Doctor Doom.

 

The y-axis indicates deaths per thousand

File:1918 spanish flu waves.gif

University of Alberta defends bad decision on Suzuki

The University of Alberta, and more  particularly its President, David Turpin, is under attack from some of  its professors for choosing to honour that senile gasbag, David Suzuki, who attacks the economics profession and the future prosperity of Canada on the ground of eco-catastrophism. Turpin defended his decision with the usual virtue-signalling twaddle:

“Turpin argued that the promise of an honorary degree to Suzuki cannot be reversed without major negative consequences for the institution’s reputation, which is obviously true. He defended the choice of the award to Suzuki on the grounds that a university cannot avoid controversy. “Instead, we must be its champion. Stifle controversy and you also stifle the pursuit of knowledge, the generation of ideas, and the discovery of new truths.” –Colby Cosh, National Post  

So let us see what stirling defence of freedom and controversy is mounted when Ross McKittrick is honoured with a doctorate for his work in debunking global warming hysteria. There are no honorary doctorates for the likes of McKittrick.

The President of the University of Alberta earned a whopping $824,000 last year. By contrast, the head of the broadcasting and telecommunications regulatory agency for all of Canada might earn about half of that. Salaries that large indicate that university administrators now get economic rents, rather than earn economic value.

The people of Alberta should demand his resignation.

Why are the equinoxes not statutory holidays?

As we come from a country where seasons forcibly affect our beings, where we suffer from winter, rejoice in spring, relax in summer and get to work in the fall, why do we not have appropriate holidays to mark the seasons?

Yes I acknowledge that Christmas (25th December) is laid over the winter solstice (December 21st) in the northern hemisphere, by religious and social fiat. That is one out of four.

Easter varies by 28 days (a lunar month) + 7 days. It is celebrated  on first Sunday after the first new moon after the spring equinox. As a movable feast, it is useless as an equinoctial celebration. As the observance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Easter is too explicitly Christian. It has never taken off the way Christmas has, largely because the pagan origins of Yule coincide with the solstice, whereas Easter was made a movable feast by a decision of the Church in the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. The summer solstice is overlaid with  St Jean Baptiste Day in Quebec and a week later English Canadians get July 1st, but neither is explicitly about the summer solstice.

We are too busy working on September 21st to pay much attention to the autumnal equinox, but we ought to mark the passing of the year more formally.

My plea is for a set of holidays that acknowledge we are on a planet that revolves around a sun, and which tilts and wobbles. We do not mark sufficiently our place in the universe.  Having holidays like this would allow parents and educators to instruct the ignorant. If you think I exaggerate, I can relate my experience of a nice 50-year old taxi driver I had in Washington, D.C. last year, for whom the relationship among the solstices, the tilt of the earth, and  the relationship of the seasons to these facts, was a revelation. I am not kidding, and he was not kidding me.

So yes, folks, for this and many other reasons, I favour statutory holidays on the summer solstice, and the spring and autumn equinoxes. Christmas is well covered, thank you.