… the debate. But …
I have been thinking about the debate at St.Andrews. I thought we would get a stronger case from the warmists. Instead, where we did have discussion, our half-heated, ill-prepared, sometime ill-informed, attempts to make our case was making huge inroads into their arguments. It was really like a village football team going along to Celtic straight from the pub and only afterwards realising they drew … as none of the village team had thought to keep a tally of the score.
What surprised me was that Andrew Montford did not cover all the numerous bits of science that show the exaggerated global warming hypothesis is certainly unproven and quite probably disproven.
In no way am I criticising Andrew. He clearly has an expertise in climategate. It does take a certain brass neck, to challenge people who have spent their whole lives on a subject and are utterly convinced they are right and know you are using terminology and ideas which sound like baby talk to them … even if you are right.
But, I came away, feeling that even given the huge odds, given time and a little patience on the other side to listen to my “baby talk” I could certainly have convinced a large number, and likely a majority that the science didn’t support the assertions on the warming induced by CO2. But that is only one part in a long chain of argument that all falls if even one part falls.
If you then examine: the claims of a manmade source for all the CO2, as Prof Salby shows, this is highly suspect. If you examine the supposed effects of warming like reduction in cereal crops or deaths in the UK from
heat/cold, again is should be blatantly obvious that the figures are highly distorted. E.g. Scotland is at the Northern margin of wheat production. The idea that wheat would be adversely affected here is fraudulent. Even in warmer climate where it is heat stressed, using a variety adapted to the heat stops eliminates the effects of heat, and anyway any adverse effects of heat is more than offset by the increasing CO2.
Then you take the economic costs. Energy use is a very close proxy to GDP. The two are so intimately entwined that I suggest energy would be a better measure of GDP when e.g. comparing pre-monetary societies or when taking into account inflation which distorts GDP.
So, the very idea we would reduce energy is is tantamount to saying we will reduce GDP. I personally think that would have a lot of benefits, but that should be considered as a policy on its own. But in terms of cost-benefit analysis, there is no doubt that even if all the CO2 increase were manmade, even if the feedback induced warming was as much as predicted, even if all the fraudulent claims about effects were true. The costs of stopping fossil fuel use exceed the benefits.
So, why is no one in Scotland telling the public? I think the answers are various.
- Sceptics are sceptical of our own arguments
Our biggest enemy is our own lack of confidence in our own arguments. By nature we know that there is a chance we are wrong. We are sceptical of other people who are too assured of their case. We aren’t very partisan, so, we are just as cynical about those on our own side and naturally just as sceptical of the sceptics as we are of the warmists. You need a certain belief and self confidence, indeed arrogance to make a case. Sceptics do not like people with self-belief, we prefer to talk to people who are quietly interested in the evidence.
- No one is paid to tell the public
Andrew Montford is the only sceptic in Scotland I know who has any kind of income (Monckton is abroad!). Personally, it’s a hobby likewise most others. Putting together all the information, cross checking it, getting permission for graphics, double checking the facts, it all takes time and effort. Then there is travel expenses, stationary. Having run a business from home, I know the cost of incidentals easily mount up to several hundred a month. The temptation is always there to do more, but I know the costs quickly ramp up and I don’t see why my family should suffer.
- The sceptic case is wide ranging
Atmospheric Physics, Energy, Geology, biology, historical events, archaeological evidence, tree-ring (a science in archaeology), agriculture, economics, philosophy, politics. I can’t see what the problem is that people find this so difficult. On the other hand I’ve done physics, engineering, philosophy, economics, management at degree level. I find it easy to switch between the physics of cloud nucleation to the archaeological evidence for climatic change in the “dark” ages – but how many other people have these skills? Certainly not most academics who are very focussed on one area.
- The BBC are completely biased.
Take e.g. the recent return of Arctic sea ice to normal. What do we find on BBC news … an article trailing David Cameron in the Arctic highlighting the loss of sea ice … referring directly to sea ice as a problem and leaving viewers with the clear impression it remained a problem when the evidence that it is back to normal. The BBC have continually gone well beyond what even the extremist scientists were saying in being overtly and unquestionably pro-warmist . When you have such a dominant news outlet – which large numbers of people still trust – who is so biased, it creates an environment in which evidence based views – common sense, middle of the road views, are seen as extremist.,
- The political parties have been dishonest.
This can largely be ascribed to the bias of the BBC. By creating an environment in which anyone who pointed to the evidence (rather than regurgitating the party doctrine of the BBC) was labelled as extremist, it became very difficult for those politicians who knew there were problems to express this openly. In other words, it was electoral suicide to be honest. Is it fair to criticise them? Is it better to have an honest politician who will never get power, or is it better to have one that is honest in private but dishonest in public – and who has some influence?
- Academia have been dishonest.
The phase I think sums it up was in the debate where the moderator slipped in the phrase “let through” or something similar regarding sceptic research. In other words he entirely endorsed this gatekeeping of sceptic work. I can only assume his logic, but I imagine it is thus: “sceptics are wrong, therefore any work that supports the sceptics must be wrong, therefore it is totally right to keep out false work from scientific journals … and this is proven, because the overwhelming majority of published work does not support the sceptic evidence”. Obviously it’s entirely circular. Moreover, the key job of academia is not to teach a point of view. Points of view change … or at least there used to be progress before the self-reinforcing consensus stopped it … I was going to say, point of view change and therefore what academia must teach is the critical faculties to examine argument and evidence. But, I’m no longer convinced that points of view change in academia. It’s an old notion that things progress … there certainly has been a stagnation since I left University (compared to equivalent earlier periods)
- The Sceptics aren’t seen to “care”
The one thing that binds most sceptics is an interest in the evidence and a lack of interest in what the “consensus” is on a subject. so, what other people think isn’t really that interesting to us. What the evidence is … that excites us. Paradoxically it makes us both the most honest people around, but also the least liked by authority. Indeed, the higher up in society, the more likely someone’s whole conceptual framework is based on status, authority, social links and understanding how to manipulate people. We, on the other hand, are highly immune to manipulation. BBC propaganda claptrap just washes over us. You can’t fool us with a compliment or a promise of being nice. The sceptic, conceptual framework values the evidence, logic and how to manipulate data – not how to influence people. This can come across as being very uncaring. Pointing out that Arctic sea ice is back to normal seems uncaring when someone is passionately concerned with the future of a baby polar bear doesn’t look like we care even though we are right. People can get very attached to the environment and start treating it almost as a relative (I know because I feel that way about my local nature reserve). People with an emotional attachment, don’t respond well to those trying to push hard cold facts. They then try to explain our lack of “care” by e.g. imagining that we are doing it for money. But the truth is that sceptics do really care. They care because they can see people need protecting from the ruthless conmen who are cynically playing on other peoples fears.
- Lack of money
For reasons which may be obvious, sceptics tend to have jobs in engineering and similar jobs. And, it may not have escaped everyone’s notice that Scotland has been doing particularly badly on the engineering front for decades. Indeed, I’m a passionate believer that the lack of status for engineering is both the route cause of the high predominance of global warming belief in Scotland AND the main cause of the lack of Scottish economic performance. But the main result is that there isn’t a lot of money for sceptics in Scotland. Many engineers have simply left Scotland. Most sceptics are retired, others are “waiting till the recovery in manufacturing”.
- There’s no public funding
What is amazing is that people and particularly Scottish politicians and civil servants think that they can get good information for free. I was at the Scottish Parliamentary Renewable Energy Group when a civil servant asked a room full of people trying to make money out of renewables: “what level of subsidy should we set”. The business person in me said: “the maximum you can get away with”, the taxpayer in me said: “what a corrupt way to set the subsidy”. But this is largely the way the government get their information. They expect lobbyists to supply government with the information. Which bring me onto the next point….
- Politicians and Civil servants prefer lobbyists to unbiased free advice
The amazing thing I’ve learnt over the years, is that civil servants prefer dealing with lobbyists from large organisations and pressure groups rather than unbiased experts who offer their services for free. Indeed, the very fact that someone is doing something “for free” is often used as an excuse to dismiss their contributions. Perhaps they think there is some hidden agenda, perhaps they just can’t imagine anyone being mad enough to have the interests of Scotland at heart.
Logically, you would imagine that civil servants would try to nurture those who are prepared to help them out for free. Instead, there is an almost impenetrable wall. Whilst in truth, one is usually dealing with a civil servant, there is this pretence that the minister is responding. This means that any response has to toe the party line, that every point has to be countered by the party line, and to be frank it is an utterly pathetic & discouraging exchange which I think is intended to just tell people to go away and not bother the minister again.
A much better response would have been … thank you, we didn’t quite understand what you were saying on XYZ, I appreciate this will involve extra effort by you, but if you expand on this point a bit with more evidence etc. In other words, encourage a network of people willing to contribute instead of discouraging any except those who are paid to do so.
- Pure Bad Luck
One reason Scotland is out on a limb with next to no opposition to the global warming nonsense is pure bad luck. Scotland has a lot of potential wind resource. It has a particularly antiquated ownership pattern of land with a few rich people owning the wind sites, and the majority population unaffected by them. We then had devolution just as the scare was at its height, and one of the few real powers given to Scottish politicians was the power to erect windmills. Scottish politicians needed to be seeing to be doing something … and with an economy pretty much wrecked by the Thatcher era and very few fiscal instruments, doing a lot to encourage wind energy was one of the few ways to be seeing to make a change. People, the media, the politicians, all wanted to believe this was some miracle to restore Scottish pride. Unfortunately, it has really made us a bit of a laughing stock … but to be fair, that wasn’t obvious in 2001, unless like me you did the research.
So, we could easily win the debate, but I don’t see any way we sceptics can put the resources together to make our case. People have to want the truth, they have to pay for the truth, they have to go out of their way to get the truth. Scotland, Scottish politicians and particularly Scottish Academics don’t want to pay to have a fair debate where the truth will come out.
Or perhaps, it all comes down to this: “the truth hurts”. It will hurt academia, the politicians, the BBC. None of them want the truth to come out … and they certainly do not want to pay people to tell them the truth.