Daniel Pinchbeck, How Soon is Now, Heavy-Handed Climate Apocalypse Stuff |343|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Mar 21, 2017.

  1. Reece

    Reece Member

    Oct 31, 2013
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  2. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

    Feb 25, 2015
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    Reece likes this.
  3. Alex

    Alex New

    Oct 25, 2013
    thx for this. many good points to consider. not sure there's any one answer. the emotional connection yr talking about is key, but not sure it works in an interview/podcast format where most guests are primarily interested in promoting their book.

    but I agree, "seek first to understand, then to be understood" -- Stephen Covey
  4. Vortex

    Vortex Member

    Oct 31, 2013

    Here, on Skeptiko forum, we are no strangers to controversy, aren’t we? There is hardly a contested notion that was not a matter of debate here. Our discussions are usually much more polite than in most other parts of the Web, yet some topics are hotter than the others. One of these heat-producing topics is anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Quite predictably, these discussions usually turn into a furious confrontation, with lines of separation reflecting general pattern of AGW-related public clashes: the separation between pro-AGW and anti-AGW camps is more political than scientific, with Left-leaning persons tending to defend AGW theory, while Right-leaning individuals are the ones who usually reject it (while there may be some exceptions on both sides). My position on these debates always was ambivalent, a bit paradoxical; I was uncertain what side to stand on, yet I noticed that these debates usually lead nowhere, resulting in a lot of mutual anger and yet no conclusion that might serve as a way forward.

    (It is intentional that I use the phrase “Anthropogenic Global Warming”, not “Anthropogenic Climate Change”, to describe the theory that is based on a supposed major climatic dangers of human-made greenhouse gases emissions. Later in the text I’ll explain my choice).

    So, here I’ll try to present a kind of analysis of a current debate, and to propose a decision that may be accepted both by AGW proponents and skeptics. But I’ll start with a bit of my own story, so one may better understand my own subjective stakes in this issue.


    I was born in the last years of the agonising Soviet Union, and grew up in the 1990s Russia. These was a paradoxical epoch, which had a bright side and a dark one; I encountered both.

    The bright side of the 1990s was an exceptional intellectual and spiritual freedom. The strict authoritarian control of the USSR, which kept Russians’ minds closed and isolated for decades, had ended. In the new era, there no restrictions, no censorship of any kind. It was a cultural free-for-all, an unrestrained brew of constant exploration and creativity, where any notions, any practices had a free pass. It was a boom of anomalistics, when articles about the paranormal and fringe research was a common sight in any media; a vortex of mystique, when any new and non-traditional religions flourished without being repressed as “cults”; a carnival of liberated sexuality, unrestrained even by the age limits, since children were mostly unsupervised and uncontrolled, having an easy access to the same materials and activities which adults had. It was the epoch of my childhood, which satisfied my inborn love for a free exploration, for bold inquiry into any contested notion which I will keep for all my life. It also was in correspondence with my drive for freedom and personal dignity, my rejection of any coercive authority which might try to suppress my freedom – or freedom of any other human being.

    But 1990s in Russia had its dark side as well – the wild, unrestrained capitalism. It was an era when workers were exploited in the harshest ways, and had almost no pay for their labour. When bosses hired street thugs to intimidate employees who stood for their rights. When the most vital and necessary goods were so expensive that people hardly had money for food. When elderly people were starving to death at the street, begging for a piece of bread. When theaters and museums that cannot be commercially successful had to close. When scientific institutes had no money for the basic research. When intelligentsia had to participate in a cheap street trade to earn at least something. When lobbying became so powerful that newly-emergent Big Business types were factual rulers of Russia, turning every public good into a commodity to be overpriced and sold to the few who can pay, with the rest being deprived of it.

    And when the absence of effective environmental demands and restrictions on businesses lead not just to polluting, but literally to poisoning of air, water and soil. I can still recall the regular toxic emissions from nearby plants which made everyone sick and coughing; I can easily visualise the dirty dump flowing into rivers, and turbid, stinky water in our bathtub.


    So, I saw both sides of the 1990s Russia. I saw cultural freedom which welcomed heterodoxy, sexual liberation, social openness, all that were a true reward for the people who had thrown away authoritarian Soviet regime. But I also saw the triumph of merciless, dog-eats-dog capitalism which lead to destruction of environment, devastation of economic support and security, privatisation of political force, and disruption of many voluntary social connections. My political inspiration, from when, were to preserve positive sides of my childhood’s times and yet fight back negative one. So, I became a libertarian socialist, and, a bit later, radical anarcho-socialist; the project of a the society based on a voluntary communality and free cooperation, without the political oppression of state and economic exploitation by corporations, without the destruction of natural habitats by obsessive greed, and suppression of sensuality by baseless fears, was the one that deserved to stand for. I also became a devoted intellectual heretic, with an interest in all controversial and fringe inquiries, which I always defended from the mainstreamers’ ire.

    And when I encountered a debate where my sympathy for a scientific heterodoxy clashed with pro-environment, anti-capitalist intentions – the one around the causes and prospects of the current powerful and volatile climate change. The dominant opinion on it was that the Big Oil, the fossil fuel industry, is the primary culprit, quickly warming the atmosphere with the greenhouse gases it emits and thus disrupting the global climate. This opinion was politically convenient to me; yet I also saw a bold bunch of scientific contrarians who rejected this notion and was demonised and repressed because of it. My heretical instincts pushed me on their side, against the oppressive mainstream. Yes, it was a conflict, with my political aims and intellectual preferences openly contradicting each other.

    So what should I do? What side should I take? I gave it a lot of thought, and formed a position which, in my opinion, may become a way which will be acceptable to both supporters and critics of AGW models.


    Before turning to the models, it is necessary to make a statement about an actual reality: nowadays, we are passing through remarkably rapid and intense climate change. Everyone who is learning climate-related news from the world will notice easily: last years are one constant weather anomaly. It is not “normal” in the sense that weather anomalies happen all the time: in the previous decades, they were not happening with such shocking frequency and force. Something highly significant is changing in our climate.

    But why do these changes happen? Is it a result of a global warming, which is, in turn, caused by the greenhouse gases emissions from the fossil fuel industry, as dominant groups within the scientific and media communities are claiming? Or, maybe, the causes are natural, not anthropogenic?

    There were several scientific reasons to doubt AGW models, and these reasons may be separated into four groups – theoretical, empirical, methodological and ethical.


    The main theoretical reason to doubt AGW framework is oversimplified and limited nature of the AGW models. They pay insufficient attention both to cyclicity and variability of nature, underestimate or even largely ignore feedback loops and systemic interactions within it. They are specifically, and explicitly, concentrate on linear ratio between human-made carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric warmth.

    The empirical reasons of doubt revolve around contradictions of the AGW models with historical data on climate alterations and paleoclimatological data. For example, take their famous problems with our historical knowledge about the Medieval Warm Period, which definitely was quite real; it was warmer than then nowadays, despite no fossil fuel industry. In the times when fossil fuel burning was actively practiced – in the 20th century – there was a long period of cooling, roughly from 1940s to 1970s. Nowadays, the warming appear to enter a period of a pause, which has been lasting for years. And if one look at the data on climate change in the pre-human eras of the Earth, even more contradictions with the “more carbon dioxide means more warmth” hypothesis can be found.

    These first two groups of reasons to doubt AGW postulates are controvertible, of course, and a subject of a constant debate; but next two groups of reasons are much more damning, since they are dealing, respectively, with the basic demands of scientific methodology and of scientific ethics, and the incontrovertible violations of both by enthusiastic AGW proponents.

    The methodological failure of AGW models is their explicit unfalsifiability: the is no empirical observation which they forbid, which they can accept as evidence against them, evidence that would undermine their explanatory power. They, effectively, claim to explain everything – and, therefore, an explanation of nothing. Be it scorching heat or chilling frost, flood or drought, hurricane or dead calm – everything is attributed as evidence for AGW, never against it. Even earthquakes and civil disorders are attributed so. Yet, no one can clearly say what cannot be attributed to AGW, what can demonstrate defects and deficits of the AGW framework.

    Another sign of unfalsifiable nature of AGW framework is its relatively recent rebranding as “Anthropogenic Climate Change”. Such name is as ambiguous and imprecise as possible: “climate change” may be used as a description of each any climatic deviation, no matter what exactly. It effectively evades any counter-argument, turning into a sheer article of faith rather than a scientific proposition. And that’s why I write about “AGW”, not “climate change” – writing about the latter would be writing about something too blurry and indefinable to access in a strictly scientific way (and, if we recall the “global cooling” theories from the 1970s, the renaming practice becomes even more questionable).

    This does not mean that AGW proponents refrain from making testable predictions – to the opposite, they make them regularly, usually highly pessimistic ones. The problem is, when their predictions fail – which is a pretty common occurrence – no one of them cares. They either try to engage in inventive intellectual exercises to explain failure away, or just conveniently ignore and forget it and move forwards as if nothing happened, making yet another prognosis of upcoming disasters. For example, the rebranding of AGW as “climate change”, I suspect, has a lot to do with the greatest predictive failure of the AGW framework: the current many-years-long pause in warming of the atmosphere.

    This tolerance to constantly failing predictions and inability to even define contradictory observations are eroding the very scientific status of AGW framework, making it more of an ideological inspiration rather than a scientific explanation. In AGW, the activist cause is ignoring methodological deficiencies of its scientific model.

    The regular and eager violation of the scientific ethics by many AGW proponents become painfully obvious than one look at the social circumstances of the AGW debate, and the tactics and strategies employed by devout AGW supporters. Instead of attacking the arguments of their opponents, they attack their characters, defaming and denigrating them as a scum of the Earth. They demand – and practice – censorship and persecution of their critics. They try to suppress their opponents’ participation in the academic and public discourse, to damage their funding, position, and career, to banish them from the “respectable” society altogether. They silence and insult their critics instead of engaging in rational debate with them. They demand that “science is settled” and “debate is over” – while, as I have said already, there are a lot of dubious statements and contradictory observations within the AGW framework.


    Here we come to a crucial issue: do the obvious problems with AGW framework mentioned above disprove it, do they successfully demonstrate its falseness? No, they do not. That they do demonstrate is its doubtful nature.

    With all theoretical problems of AGW models and empirical deviations from them, despite of methodological shortcomings of AGW proponents’ works and their constant unethical behavior against their opponents, there is still a notable possibility that they are partially correct – correct not in everything, but in something.

    The fact that overemotional, apocalyptic prophesies by zealous pro-AGW types like Michael Mann easily fall, that dubious representations like his infamous “Hockey Stick” are obviously invalid, does not mean that every claim of negative environmental consequences of the greenhouse gases emissions by the fossil fuel industry and other pollutants is false; it means that there are serious reasons to question and challenge them. The unethical defamation campaigns by AGW proponents against their critics are not a sufficient cause for proclaiming their statements incorrect; what it proves is AGW proponents’ eagerness to violate the principles of scientific ethics to fulfill what they perceive a higher moral cause. The methodological sloppiness of AGW supporters’ works, while it severely undermine the scientific status of these work, does not, as and in itself, prove them false, since “methodologically insufficient” and “factually inadequate” are not synonymous characteristics; it demonstrates that AGW proponents’ claims that science is (entirely) on their side are untrue.

    To summarise the intellectual side of the debate: science of current climate change is not settled, and there is still a lot of unresolved problems to discuss. But – and this is critically important to understand – the unsolved nature of AGW debate invalidates claims of certitude from both sides of the debate. AGW skeptics are as unable to claim scientifically that their side is victorious as AGW proponents do. There is still no definite answer to the current climate change riddle, so we cannot exclude either anthropogenic influence (including greenhouse gases emissions) or natural variations.

    And – and only here we arrive at the most problematic issue – there is social side to this debate as well: no matter how uncertain and ambiguous is the science, we must still make certain and unambiguous practical decisions.

    So, now we turn to the problem of “consensus”, and its contradictory role in building bridges between permanent uncertainty and controvertibility of intellectual (especially scientific) inquiry and hard necessity of making concrete, decisive choices in the realms of policy and regulation. I will also explain how statist and corporatist social structure inevitably warps the intellectual-social connection, making it virtually impossible to build this intellectual-social link in a way which will damage neither scientific and scholarly integrity nor personal and communal freedom.

    But before dealing with the problem of “consensus”, we need to have a short look at the different fundamental social regimes which are crucial to our understanding of the sociology of science.


    The basic contradiction of the society is the contradiction between the individual and the collective, the person and the group. On higher social levels this contradiction will repeat itself in more complex forms, in contractions between the group and the community, the community and the society, etc., but the basic principle will remain: humans are, paradoxically, highly individual and, in the same time, deeply communal beings. In the present historical situation there is, roughly, four ways to resolve the contradiction: imperialism, capitalism, authoritarian socialism and libertarian socialism. In practice, there is hardly any society which may be described as an “ideal case” of any of these regimes: different aspects of them may easily coexist in the same social structure.

    Imperialism is a resolution is of “neither-nor” type: it simultaneously suppresses both individuality and communality, subjugating them to artificial “higher power” of some kind (which may be derived from religion, ideology or even science). It allows both individual and communal manifestations only in a form, and to a degree, which is acceptable to this imaginary “power” and necessary to maintain a repressive social regime that is based on the notion of this “power”. In imperialism, there is a stable elite which proclaims its rule justified by the “higher purpose” it serves, and seeks to further the reach of its reign by the way of conquest and intervention. It is important to note that imperialism may easily function under flavour of both “right-wing” and “left-wing” rhetoric: in the international arena, the Soviet Union was as much imperialistic as the United States was (while the United States were notably less imperialistic within its own borders). Imperialism is a social horror: it always turns into the harsh oppression within the society which practice it and leads to a damage to all societies beyond it, because of its military acts. It suppresses any deviation within its own culture and destroys the heritage of other cultures in its endless wars. In the process of constant warfare, it also ravages the vital environment.

    Capitalism is a full, unrestrained unleashing of a purely individual drive to success, in a constant competition with every other individual and without care for the communal values; while it may seem “free”, probably even “the freest”, social condition, but it inevitably leads to exploitation of the large majority of less successful persons by a small minority of the most successful – which factually means, most ruthless – persons, and creation of the social structure which maintains and enforces this exploitative inequality, even if the leading successful individuals are not formally social leaders. The society under capitalism is twisted to fulfill the powerful interests of corporate structures. Capitalism impoverishes culture by its commercialisation. It also leads to environmental degradation because of its constant tendency to value profit and productivity over protection of the vital environment.

    Authoritarian socialism is a direct opposite to capitalism: it’s a subjection of the individual to a collective. It is the rule of conformity, compulsory “normalcy”, group-think and (to call it so) group-act. It is a paradoxical “horizontal tyranny”, where a person is oppressed not hierarchically, but communally, by constant mutual collective enforcement of rigid and unquestionable communal values. The ideals and behaviour of so-called “social justice warriors” are probably the most clear representation of what authoritarian socialism looks like. It is a rule of majority that invalidates individual reflexivity, conscience and deed – even if it apparently justifies itself by defending “oppressed minorities”. It turns society into a structure of circular enforcement, where everyone is both serving as a guardian of a ruling dogma and is being under surveillance and threat of persecution by the others. The culture under authoritarian socialism is severely censored and controlled to eliminate everything contrary to this dogma – “hate speech”, “child abuse”, “science denial” or some other progressively-sounding justification of the authoritarianism.

    Libertarian socialism is probably the hardest to achieve, and yet the most productive and desirable, social condition – it is an attempt to combine and harmonise individual voluntariness and initiative with communal solidarity and mutuality. This is a social condition which is based on a voluntary cooperation, consensual communality and mutual aid. So, consensus-building is an important issue for libertarian socialist social processes. Yet – and this is a central issue which is, unfortunately, misunderstood by many on the Left side of a common political spectrum – consensus is a social, communal activity and method; it is simply not applicable to the intellectual – especially scientific – debates.


    Society starts with a singular person and its will, guided by its own needs, desires and intentions. But, as long as this person is not willing to leave human collective and become a hermit, it has to interact with the wills of others; it has to coexist, communicate and cooperate with the people whose needs, desires and intentions may differ – and sometimes strongly so – from its own.

    The forming of the voluntary communities by groups of persons is inevitable. This communities must be voluntary in the sense that participation in them should never be compulsory: people must have a fundamental freedom to decide with whom they want to share their lifetime. And, if they do want to share their lifetime with some of the people around, it is quite obvious that they do have something in common, some similar ideas, drives, or goals that transcend purely individual level. Reaching these goals, actualizing these drives and fulfilling these ideas would definitely require cooperation and mutual aid; even the simple coexistence will often require making collective decisions and resolving interpersonal problems.

    So, not to turn their neighbourhood in a place of mutual hostility and constant infighting, people has to form complex and flexible decisions that would allow everyone participating in community to achieve a desired result – at least to some extent, since some sacrifices has to be made to prevent a group from breakdown. But these sacrifices should not be disproportional, should not lead to the situation where ones are benefiting at the expense of others, where ones only command and others only obey, where ones are cherished and respected and others are despised and humiliated.

    Therefore, the understanding what aims are important to be achieved and what sacrifices should be made; the necessary distribution of costs and benefits between the members of the community, without severe disproportion; deciding who may take the leading role in the specific situation, and preventing them from turning this situational leadership into persistent subordination; prevention of isolation and marginalisation of some of its members, and maintaining positive interpersonal ties between all participants – all this requires practices and skills of collective decision-making and consensus-building.

    And the consensus should be a genuine one – one to which all community participants can agree. It should not be turned into a weapon against dissidents and contrarians, should not become a tool to suppress minorities for the sake of majority.

    And consensus cannot be used at all to determine the outcome of an intellectual – especially scientific – debate.


    The primary understanding of scientific methodology and the process of scientific inquiry nowadays – the understanding which, to my sadness, is absent in the minds of a large proportion of Left-wing people – is that science is adversarial, not consensual. Science is based on an intellectual conflict, on a basic postulate that truth-value of a proposition is determined by a validity of a proposition itself, not by numbers or eminence of people supporting or opposing it. Science is a perpetual debate where truth of a statement is determined by an explanatory power of theories and methodological rigour of experiments, not by counting the proportion of its supporters in the scientific community or their status within it (as AGW proponents like to do). A single obscure researcher with a valid position possess more scientific trueness that a million of high-level academicians defending an invalid one.

    Science, while being a clash of ideas, should not turn into social, interpersonal hostility and rivalry, which may deal a lot of harm to the research process. One must understand the role of social factors in science. Ideally, the role of society in scientific inquiry should be “negative” – in the sense that it should ensure that no pressure on the scientific process is being made, either from outside or from inside.

    The outside pressures are social influences, political imperatives and economic incentives that thwart the process of research, biasing it towards the desired outcome.

    Yet protecting the scientific inquiry from outside factors will do only a half of work, since the similar danger of biasing of the scientific process exist within the scientific community itself. Being human, scientists may fall not just personally, but collectively and even massively: the drive for prestige and self-fulfillment, combined with strong ideological leanings and mutual support of like-minded individuals, may subject the science to the ideology held by most scientists in the particular cultural context and historical epoch. The ideology of militant materialism and antitheism is the most common example for Skeptiko forum members; but anti-capitalist / socialist and environmentalist ideological positions are another examples. These latter ideological influences are much harder to notice and expose still many people here on Skeptiko forum, including myself, are holding them; and the most cunning aspect of a sincere devotion is its invisibility for a devotee; for a devotee, a devotion is not a debatable position, but a self-evident – and, in our science-centered culture, scientific – truth. It takes an exceptional degree of intellectual reflexivity and (self-)critical thought to identify your own ideological convictions and preferences as controvertible positions and decisions, not as scientific or natural truths.

    But understanding of one’s ideological views and choices as non-scientific is not, and should not, become a sufficient reason to giving them up. Despite what our current scientisitic culture would sometimes make us think, non-scientific is not synonymous to “invalid” or “irrelevant”.


    One statement which I can make with unwavering certainty is this: no one, ever, formed opinion about anything only and exclusively on scientific grounds. And this is nothing to be upset about: this is exactly how should it be.

    Science is, definitely, the best method for producing reliable information about the actual situation in which we find ourselves. But it is neither infallible nor monolithic: its results are always subject for further change and improvement, and always open for debate and controversy. So, people has to decide what concrete experimental evidence of many such conflicting exemplars of evidence to accept, what specific explanatory model of the many scientific models to believe in, what particular group of scientific researchers’ groups to trust. Of course, this decision can and should include impersonal, objective scrutiny of evidence, analysis of argumentation and investigation of the researchers’ integrity. But there are other, subjective and non-scientific – intrapersonal, interpersonal, transpersonal – factors that should be taken into account. The first group of such additional factors are social – including ethical and moral – ones. The second group consist of experiential factors, which include all types and levels of personal and collective experiences – ranging from anomalous to mundane – that were not (yet) turned into case studies or field investigations by researchers. And the third group is non-scientific or pre-scientific layers of theory: philosophy, theology, ideology.

    All the aforementioned non-scientific aspects of worldview-forming should be consciously and reflexively understood as non-scientific; but, when we try to orient ourselves in the situation, it is not only science that guide us. I think using specific cases is an useful way to explain what I mean.

    There are some people, including a few professional scientists, who try to defend biological racism – in particular, the idea that black race is intellectually inferior to white one – by appealing to scientific evidence, such as the statistical assessment of the results of IQ tests. There are many critics, including a lot of professional scientists, who dismiss these claims of evidential validation, and condemn the supporters of such views.

    In this case, I – despite my general subjective tendency to defend heretical and minoritarian views in science and elsewhere – stand with the mainstream position that the evidence presented by biological racists is not a sufficient cause to perceive the people of the black race as intellectually inferior. But the question is: why do I think so? Did I scrutinised the evidence and argumentation presented by biological racists in tiniest detail, comparing it to the refutations by their critics, then racists’ rebuttals, then critics’ rejoinders to their rebuttals, etc., etc.? No, I did not. I rejected racists’ claims mostly by non-scientific factors. First of all, I based my decision my ethical dedication to equality of all human beings, on my belief that the fundamental moral principles of human equity will outlive temporary scientific claims of racial disparities. Second, my personal, not-scientifically-processed experience of dealing with people of different ethnical backgrounds, with each of these background including a lot of smart and knowledgeable people, were taken into account. Third, my knowledge of history of racist thought, which always had a tendency to be highly opportunistic and eagerly taking any theoretical baggage that may justify its claims of racial superiority, and the atrocious and inhuman practices that were based on such thought, also was important for me.

    Can these subjective factors I described above be used as a strictly scientific refutation of biological racism? No, they can’t. Are they thus irrelevant and invalid? No, they are not – I maintain that they are valid and relevant causes for me to stand on the side of racists’ critics, not on the racists’ one.

    But, despite my decisive rejection of biological racism, there is still three things I won’t do. First, I won’t claim that there is no scientific evidence for innate racial disparity. There is some evidence, but – in my view – it is not sufficient and strong enough to accept it as worldview-changing. Second, I won’t demand censorship and persecution for the researchers and laypersons who support such views – not only because I support freedom of speech, expression and inquiry on ethical grounds (which I do), but also because I understand that I cannot be absolutely certain that I’m correct. No matter how revulsive and ugly biological racism appears to me, my rejection is a manifestation not of some ultimate truth, but of my own positions and choices. Third, I won’t demonise and pathologise biological racists: they are definitely not insane or delusional. They are as mentally sound as me and other non-racists, they just made very different moral and intellectual choices – choices which I strongly disapprove of; choices, which I, personally, perceive as reactionary, prejudicial, biased, authoritarian – but which I accept as conscious, volitional choices, not as a symptom of some inherent psychological deficiency of choicers.

    There is, however, one factor that I did not take into account when I negatively evaluated biological racism – its prevalence in scientific community and general society. Nowadays, racism is deeply marginal, minoritarian position; but it is worth remembering that once – before World War II – it was a respectable mainstream view, acceptable in academia and influential social circles. Was it better in that old epoch, because of its respectability and mainstream status? I’m certain it is not – no matter what factors, scientific or non-scientific, we use to orient ourselves in the world, their validity and relevance are not decided, not even notably changed, by the level of social and academic acceptance. If racism is intellectually false and ethically wrong, its falseness and wrongness are permanent, not transient.

    Well, I think now it is clear what I meant by the necessity of non-scientific factors in worldview-forming, as well as the importance to distinguish them from the scientific ones. Now, let’s come back from the racial example to our climatic main topic.


    In the case of acceptance or rejection of AGW, non-scientific factors has a primary importance for most people. Given the situation of perpetual controversy regarding the scientific case for or against AGW, most people has two basic possibilities: either to spend a lot – a damn lot! – of time and effort examining evidence, argumentation and sources of conflicting claims, to form a fallible yet relatively informed and well-thought opinion, or to rely mostly on non-scientific part of their mind – which is fallible as well, yet also contain many important ethical principles or experiential insights.

    Most people choose the second path, and I do not blame them for that – it is their preference. What I blame them for is their mistaken insistence that their choice is scientific, while it is not. This is especially true for the people who misguidedly insist that appeal to the collective social authority of the “climate science community” (or “scientific community”, or “academic community”, etc.) is an acceptable substitute for genuine analysis of the research.

    As for the non-scientific reasons for acceptance of AGW, I do not just understand them, but strongly sympathise with them. These reasons are the rejection of capitalism, which is indeed a dead end, since it turn society into a money-making competition, which, in turn, leads to inevitable oppression and exploitation. The intention to liberate humans from the large organised energy-grids, which make individuals and communities dependent on the whim of energy-providers. The protection of environment, which is indeed in peril of pollution and impoverishment because of human activities, which cannot be radically reshaped until capitalist social structure is dismantled. This is the desire for technical progress, to move beyond fossil fuel burning – which do pollute, even if they do not so much warm – and to install novel clean technologies. This is a desire for cultural betterment, for more careful and responsible attitude to the world and living beings. It is a will to the spiritual opening of the human consciousness, which overcome hostile separation between human beings and nature.

    These are noble, humane, desirable reasons. But, no matter how wonderful they are, they are not a substitute for a scientific inquiry into the causes and consequences of current climate change – an inquiry, which, being impersonal and objective, cannot and should not be obliged to provide results compatible with the ethically right reasons. In fact, it can easily provide the results which will rather support the ethically wrong ones.

    And these reasons are not a valid justification for authoritarian enforcement of them. Even the brightest causes may turn into a sheer horror when they are adopted by an oppressive power – including horizontal oppression of authoritarian socialism.


    All these intellectual reflections of mine are good until we face an inevitable necessity to make decisions and choices, including the political ones, ones that may have truly global impact.

    On a local – individual and communal – level, this is not so hard: people should simply have the right to decide what to believe and whom to trust, and make choices by themselves. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, to accept anti-HIV therapy for AIDS or to reject it, to use homeopathy or allopathy – neither of these choices should be mandatory, none should be enforced. Both mainstream and alternative medical and scientific authorities have the right to persuade and non-forcibly influence individuals and communities; but the ultimate decision is for the people and the ones whom they themselves chose as their neighbours and comrades.

    But some choices cannot be made on a local level, and the choices concerning AGW are exactly these ones. Whether we want it or not, we should either implement anti-AGW measures (like the ones written into the Paris Agreement), or we should give them up (like Donald Trump intend to do).

    My position is this: right here and now, we should continue to implement anti-AGW measures. And we should not give up Paris Agreement. There are three reasons why I think so.

    First and foremost, as I said above, the methodological scientific problems of the AGW theory, all evidence and arguments against it, and regular unethical behaviour of its proponents do not disprove It decisively: there are still enough evidence and argumentation to perceive it as an entirely possible, maybe even probable, scenario. And making a choice against preventive measures, as Donald Trump did, means performing a field experiment with a global impact and potential catastrophic consequences. This is like a proverbial “Russian roulette” for the whole world: maybe AGW critics are correct, and then nothing bad would happen and AGW proponents would be ultimately proven wrong; but maybe it is AGW proponents who are correct, after all, and then we will face highly damaging, and possibly irreversible, effects on the vital environment. To subject the fate of mankind and the whole biosphere on the unclear and unpredictable results of such global experiment is, in my opinion, a reckless and unacceptable choice.

    Second, return to the fossil fuel industry is a dead end – the dead end which, on the long run, may lead to a sharp deterioration of society, culture and environment. It worth remembering that extraction, processing and usage of the fossil fuels are polluting; this pollution may not lead to a quick boiling and roasting of the world, as AGW proponents claim, but it definitely will lead to its slow intoxication and asphyxiation. It will leave communities and individuals dependent on large-scale energy providers. It will block the development of alternative and new energy sources.

    Third, by continuing the replacement of the fossil fuel energy and thus evading the dead end described above, we can open a way to the whole range of new long-term possibilities, technical and political.


    In the beginning of this long essay of mine, I told about the “way which will be acceptable to both supporters and critics of AGW models”. Here, in the end of this long text, I’ll try to outline it.

    The energy source of the future should be highly effective – as yet environmentally clean, socially local and intellectually novel. The wind and solar energy, usually presented as alternative sources of energy, do not pass this criteria. But the new energy, exemplified by the cold fusion / LENR technology, do pass all the four aforementioned requirements: it is quite powerful, very clean, accessible on local – individual or communal – level, and innovative scientifically. With the increasing load of experimental evidence validating it, no one but devout mainstreamers (“organised skeptics”, as they are usually called) will claim we should not invest much more resources in this highly promising line of technical and scientific research.

    The installment of effective, clean, local and novel energy sources like cold fusion / LENR will increase the independence of individuals and communities from the elites and their enforcement organisations. Accompanied by the increasing dissatisfaction with the elitist mainstream on all fronts, it may hasten the upcoming revolutionary processes, and, in long run, help to overthrow of the state and capital, and to prevent the forming of the new authoritarian social structures.

    Another positive consequence of the cold fusion / LENR acceptance and implementation will be the end of intellectual dominance and cultural hegemony of the mainstream expertocracy. The cultural liberation and intellectual diversification will follow, providing a context for unprecedented carnival of innovation and creativity.

    So, no matter one believes in the AGW or not, support for the new energy, anti-authoritarian activity and anti-expertocracy counter-propaganda should be our immediate choices. We should try to build a world where the debate of the possible perils of the fossil fuel burning will become archaic and outdated.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2017
  5. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    In my view, you're making a classic mistake: that there's no harm in implementing climate agreements. On the contrary, there are lots of potential harms that far outweigh policies designed to reduce global temperatures by fractions of a degree C by 2100 (http://www.lomborg.com/press-release-research-reveals-negligible-impact-of-paris-climate-promises) at a total cost of billions, maybe trillions. That would buy a lot of LENR research, with plenty left over for other things, including genuine environmental concerns.
    Enrique Vargas, Trancestate and north like this.
  6. David Eire

    David Eire New

    Jan 29, 2014
    Cost cannot be a factor in whether we adapt to the conditions of our planet and respect them
    or whether we risk planetary disaster
    We cannot rationally or effectively deal with the biospheric crisis as a market problem requiring a market solution

    *** By biospheric crisis or poisoning I mean all the effects of human industrial civilisation on the biosphere (not just CO2 levels)
    *** By market solution I mean a solution constituted in capitalist profit and loss terms
    *** By human industrial civilisation I am referring to industry as it is today. I am not saying we cannot have productive industry; only that we need new systems of production and distribution
    Stephen Wright likes this.
  7. Alex

    Alex New

    Oct 25, 2013
    thx for this. very interesting about yr background and all.

    my take:
    - follow the money. Climate Change could be a 100 trillion dollar industry. you can buy-off a lot of experts and supporters with that kinda dough.

    - strange bedfellows. over population and pollution are huge problem.s.. I don't get people who don't acknowledge this. not every NWO agenda item is crazy. nothing stranger than eco-nuts like Daniel Pinchbeck saying all 9 billion of us could live in Texas.

    - it may be a "survival of the planet" scale problem, but it's being played out as a game of thrones... on both sides... no high ground... and no end in sight. was at the movies and saw the trailer for the Al Gore sequel... a disaster for science... maybe the biggest misuse of science in history. that notwithstanding, I don't think they're gonna pull it off. they've had to totally shift away from the "warming" thing to the "scary storm" thing. I don't think it's gonna sell.

    - who knows about Trump, but love him or hate him, his strategy re the treaty was brilliantly simple... and it perfectly exposes the fraud -- "we'll do it when China does it."
    Enrique Vargas likes this.
  8. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    Good lord: "biospheric poisoning" indeed. I don't know if you were around in the 50s and 60s in the UK, but the smogs were thick as pea soup and you could hardly breathe. We spent some dirty capitalist money cleaning up power stations and now there's no smog. In most of Europe and the US, allegedly the greatest polluters, the air and rivers are much cleaner, and that's the result of the technology today's snowflakes so despise (unless it's virtue-signalling wind power which is about as useful and cost-effective as a chocolate teapot). Rationale me no rationality: CAGW warriors are utterly bonkers and wouldn't know a thing about about logical thought.
  9. Doppelgänger

    Doppelgänger New

    Sep 20, 2014
    I only log in once a month or so, but it's always nice to suddenly get pinged in a conversation! /s I'm over trying to argue on Skeptiko, though it is true that we are much more polite with one another than other forums.

    But, a chocolate teapot sounds pretty nice...
    Typoz likes this.
  10. David Eire

    David Eire New

    Jan 29, 2014
    You know Michael I could reply with similar insults; finishing up with - CAGW deniers are utterly bonkers and wouldn't know a thing about about logical thought
    to use your phrase
    But that kind of thing - simply insultingly dismissing those who have a different view - is why this discussion never goes anywhere; and why I generally avoid it.
    At the end of the day only events, planetary events, will determine which side of this argument is correct
    My own view is things will have to get a lot worse before minds will change and humanity will be able to act in rational ways to adapt
    malf likes this.
  11. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    Ben Santer astonishes by publishing a paper acknowledging the temperature hiatus (https://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2973.html):

    Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates

    Benjamin D. Santer, John C. Fyfe, Giuliana Pallotta, Gregory M. Flato, Gerald A. Meehl, Matthew H. England, Ed Hawkins, Michael E. Mann, Jeffrey F. Painter, Céline Bonfils, Ivana Cvijanovic, Carl Mears, Frank J. Wentz, Stephen Po-Chedley, Qiang Fu & Cheng-Zhi Zou


    In the early twenty-first century, satellite-derived tropospheric warming trends were generally smaller than trends estimated from a large multi-model ensemble. Because observations and coupled model simulations do not have the same phasing of natural internal variability, such decadal differences in simulated and observed warming rates invariably occur. Here we analyse global-mean tropospheric temperatures from satellites and climate model simulations to examine whether warming rate differences over the satellite era can be explained by internal climate variability alone. We find that in the last two decades of the twentieth century, differences between modelled and observed tropospheric temperature trends are broadly consistent with internal variability. Over most of the early twenty-first century, however, model tropospheric warming is substantially larger than observed; warming rate differences are generally outside the range of trends arising from internal variability. The probability that multi-decadal internal variability fully explains the asymmetry between the late twentieth and early twenty-first century results is low (between zero and about 9%). It is also unlikely that this asymmetry is due to the combined effects of internal variability and a model error in climate sensitivity. We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations.
    (My emphasis)​

    So -- the arch-catastrophist, manipulator of IPCC reports*, and previous defender of the lack of a hiatus, now tells us that he was wrong and that, after all, the climate models have been running 2.5 times hotter than empirical data derived from satellites and weather balloons.

    *James Delingpole (http://www.breitbart.com/big-govern...warming-is-real-admits-climategate-scientist/) reported it thus in his book Watermelons:

    Ben who? Well quite. Unless his name rings a bell as the guy from the Climategate emails who wanted to “beat the crap out of” climate sceptic Pat Michaels, you almost certainly won’t have heard of him. Yet in the mid-90s this climate modeling nonenity was somehow placed in the extraordinary position of being able to dictate world opinion on global warming at the stroke of a pen.

    He achieved this in his role as “lead author” of Chapter 8 of the scientific working group report on the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report (SAR). Nothing to write home about there, you might think, except that Santer was personally responsible for by far the most widely reported sentence in the entire report: the one from the Summary for Policy Makers (the only part of the IPCC’s Assessment Report most people actually bother to read) claiming “the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.”

    But was this line actually true? Was this really a fair summary – the kind of summary the IPCC purports rigorously and definitively to give of us – of the general state of scientific understanding at that particular moment? Er, well not according to some of the scientists who’d contributed to that chapter of the report, no.

    The original version of the chapter – as agreed on and signed off by all 28 contributing authors – expressed considerably more doubt about AGW than was indicated in Santer’s summary. It included these passages:

    “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.”

    “No study to date has positively attributed all or part (of the climate change observed) to (man-made) causes.”

    “Any claims of positive detection and attribution of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced.”

    “When will an anthropogenic climate be identified? It is not surprising that the best answer to the question is “We do not know.”

    Strangely, none of these passages made it to the final draft. They were among 15 deleted after the event by Santer, who also inserted a phrase entirely of his own to the effect that “the body of statistical evidence” now “points to a discernible human influence on climate.” In other words the chapter did not represent the “consensus” position reached by 28 scientists. What it in fact represented was the scientifically unsupported opinion of one man, Benjamin D Santer.
    Postscript: I've just noticed that Michael Mann is also a collaborator on the paper. If anything, this is even more astonishing. One wonders if the election of Trump has anything to do with this; whether the urge to ensure continued funding of climate research isn't encouraging climate scientists to be more honest.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
    Enrique Vargas, Alex and Trancestate like this.
  12. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    I didn't actually say you were a snowflake, David, but seeing as you feel insulted, it's a fair bet you identify with the catastrophists. Nor do I dismiss arguments by them "simply" because I disagree with them. I do it because they're so damn cocksure they're right, when the available evidence shows they're not. Witness my previous post, where some of climate change's most vocal proponents have finally come out and acknowledged (in a peer-reviewed paper no less), the 21st century hiatus, after having sworn black and blue that it wasn't so.

    I like Freeman Dyson's take on things:

    It's rich of people like you to claim that I'm being insulting after CAGW sceptics have had to put up with years and years of groundless vilification by ideologically motivated snowflakes who argue from gut emotion rather than scientifically rational thought.
    Enrique Vargas and Trancestate like this.
  13. Steve

    Steve Member

    Oct 31, 2013
    It's interesting to me how some of us like to heap praise on 'scientifically rational thought', praise that is possibly undue. The video above starts by saying how 'brainy' Freeman Dyson is, that 'he even works from the same building Einstein was in', wow, I must confess that I nearly came when I heard that part. :)

    Why is it that such praise is seen as normal when the reality is that far from every thought that such geniuses as Dyson or Einstein turns out to be nobel prize winning? In fact I'm certain that such people have the same frailties as all of us, so I'm not one to hang on every word they say, or every opinion that they might have. They might have something wise to say, if such wisdom deems them worthy, and no doubt, they are sometimes worthy of divine wisdom, but I think it would be a mistake to place too much value on everything they have to say.

    It seems to me that Wisdom often shows itself through such individuals after they have put years of work into something, a spark of insight arrives often unexpectedly, when they least expect it. Why do Bernardo Kastrup and others tell of the lack of brain activity in MRI's when we would expect there to be frantic activity? There's no doubt that thinking is useful, but is it all we should be using?

    That isn't to say that I wouldn't find Freeman or Albert fascinating to talk to, they on the other hand would quickly tire of my intellect and no doubt would move on to the next thing or person that fired them up. I too have hero's, but I'm able to see them as human beings, and able to spout shite as well as gold.

    It's interesting too, to look at different people's reactions to a subject that I have no definite opinion on, in other words, I think the subject itself might be relatively objective to me.
    oleo likes this.
  14. David Eire

    David Eire New

    Jan 29, 2014
    You are far too cocksure of yourself and your opinion Michael to realise it is just your opinion
    I only ever express my opinions on the Skeptiko forum and I make sure never to forget that
  15. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

    Oct 31, 2013
    The permafrost thing is one of many dimensions covered in this just-published, comprehensive, very-much-alarming(ist?) piece. Is all of this baloney?

    The uninhabitable Earth.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
    Hurmanetar likes this.
  16. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

    Feb 25, 2015
    Home Page:
    I don't think the climate is an inverted pendulum that will fall over without our constant attention and input. There were long periods of stasis and periods of rapid change before we had an influence. It seems plausible that there are different modalities of the world climate (e.g. ice age modality, and warm age modality) and that catastrophic events (e.g. Meteor impact) could switch the mode, but I'm a long way from being convinced that simply increasing atmospheric CO2 or CH4 will suddenly shift the climate mode or even be detrimental to the world's ecosystems... maybe we are just fertilizing.

    That said, I really would like to do away with the throw-away model of society with cheap plastic filling our garbage heaps... but I don't think taxing CO2 is the answer to that problem.

    I had to look up the bit about the Norway seed vault being flooded... another little event that could easily be due to normal weather that was seized upon for alarmist headline value
  17. President Trump is not prioritizing climate change research.

    Scientists investigate fields where there is funding. Hot topics are hot only because the money is there. Change what topics are funded and you can change what scientists study, which affects what science journalists write about which affects what people read and thus talk about. Changing what areas are funded can change society - it can change the subjects people are interested in.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
  18. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/09...st-powerful-atlantic-hurricane-ever-recorded/
    "[Irma] may be the worst storm to hit the U.S. since 1935… But it is NOT the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. So… Why do they have to lie about this?"
    While there might be a somewhat statistically significant increase in the number of tropical storms (R² = 0.2274), this could simply be due improvements in the detection and identification of storms at sea… There is no statistically meaningful trend in the numbers of hurricanes or major hurricanes.

    There are also no statistically meaningful trends in the rates at which tropical storms are “blossoming” into hurricanes or major hurricanes:​
    Trancestate likes this.
  19. Charlie Primero likes this.
  20. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

    Oct 31, 2013
    The crazy thing is scientists and the media could easily make a case for global cooling if they wanted.

    1) Increases in ice in the Antarctic.

    2) Recent increases in ice at the Arctic as well:

    3) Some places - such as the UK - had a distinctly cool summer.

    4) They could tamper with the corrections for the Urban Heat Island effect - probably making the adjustments more realistic - which would drop the recent global temperature record!

    The evidence is so thin that politicians could have whatever they want!

    Jim_Smith likes this.

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