Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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Not 'sceptics'. Not 'deniers'. They're 'cranks' now. 'Climate cranks'. In the middle of the short video below, Mark Hertsgaard says:

"They're not scientists. They're cranks. When virtually every major scientific organisation in the world, including our own National Academy of Sciences, says that climate change is real and extremely dangerous, only a crank keeps insisting that it's all a fraud."

Who's Mark Hertsgaard? I'd never heard of him. Noticing the Golden Gate bridge in the background as he walked along a beach with his young daughter, I wondered at which California university he taught physics and climate science. I could imagine him scrawling the Stefan-Boltzmann equation on a blackboard, and describing the infra-red absorption characteristics of carbon dioxide molecules, and fielding questions on the quantum physics of photon emission. If he was that certain about it all, he just had to be a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. He probably even played bongo drums with Richard Feynman.

I thought I'd find out more about him. The result was a bit of a shock. Turns out he's not a scientist at all. He's a journalist and author. His best-known work is On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency (1988), about how the Reagan White House "deployed raw power and conventional wisdom to intimidate Washington's television newsrooms"

A bit more digging turned up a review of another book he'd written: The Eagle's Shadow: Why America fascinates and infuriates the world, in which the critic had written:

Unfortunately, the greater part of the book is taken up not with these fascinating observations but with the author's account of why he himself hates US capitalist civilisation. A hundred years ago Thorstein Veblen exposed conspicuous consumption. Sixty years later Kenneth Galbraith brought the excesses of auto tail fins to worldwide attention. The core of Hertsgaard's case today is that "the current form of globalisation has punished the world's poor and the working class majority while fabulously rewarding the rich and corporate elites". He does not mention that the US also contains the world's best universities, which publish some of the best studies of European literature and philosophy.

So, within about half an hour, my initial idea that Mark Hertsgaard was some sort of physicist or climate scientist had completely evaporated. Into his place, there stepped forward another Mark Hertsgaard, progressive left-wing journalist and writer, and critic of Ronald Reagan and American capitalism.

But I was puzzled. Why had I gotten hold of this notion that Hertsgaard was a scientist? I think that it grew from him forcefully declaring, "They're not scientists!" If you're going to make a statement like that, you have to be very sure what a scientist is. You have to be one yourself. Just like you have to be American to pronounce something to be 'un-American', or be English to say something's 'un-English'. In pronouncing the sceptics to not be scientists, Hertsgaard was implicitly claiming to himself be a scientist. And up there with the greats. And yet Hertsgaard wasn't a scientist. I'd just been fooled for a few minutes.

And everything fell into place. Hertsgaard didn't like capitalism. It was greedy and rapacious and unfair. And it polluted the world with its toxic wastes. And now it turned out that all the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by gas-guzzling cars and trucks and factories and power stations was raising the temperature of the whole planet. Capitalism wasn't just raping the earth; it was killing it as well. All the more reason to hate what you already hated.

And this illustrates what is perhaps the biggest problem with global warming. On the surface it looks like science. But closer examination reveals that actually it's politics. Global warming is just another stick with which to beat capitalism. It's just another way to to push for a socialist state-planned society. These people come on like scientists, but in the end they prove to just be political activists.

And anyway, even if all scientists everywhere agree that global warming is 'real and extremely dangerous', are we ignorant non-scientists obliged to agree with them? Just because some scientists believe something, does everybody else have to believe it too? Is somebody really a "crank" if they don't accept the latest scientific findings set out in Nature or New Scientist? Is scientific knowledge, once discovered, unquestionable and irrefutable? If so, how does anyone ever manage to do any science, if asking questions is impermissible?

P.S. Politico poseur? Mark Hertsgaard discredits himself

They're also getting desperate - things aren't going according to plan. In reality, it's not the cranks that are getting in the way - it's the vast majority who are unwilling to co-operate. And it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to persuade them otherwise. The 'average Joe' has little incentive to radically limit his/her lifestyle choices other than under threat of punishment. Problem is, punishment will piss people off even more. Ok, this approach has yielded results re smokers, but this was achieved by turning one group of society against another. Deliberately creating a state of divisiveness to further a cause. In the case of climate change, they are simply too few believers to effectively influence the rest of us. Governments know this and, as such, would be unwilling to introduce draconian measures to satisfy the whims of the green movement

According to my mother, my grandad used to say, "Never trust a man who neither drinks nor smokes or wears a twat-hat".

Climate change

Somewhat over the top with his claims.

I doubt there are many that claim there is NO climate change. The doubt is in climate change being forced by mans' actions.

He is right about climate change being dangerous, I would hate to be part of another ice age.

Gary K.

A climate change bonus

As Gary says above the dispute is not about whether we have problems with the climate but what is causing them and how serious the long term consequences may be. There are other ways of looking at it however. I learned recently that doubling the CO2 ( in the atmosphere would increase crop yields significantly, all other factors being equal. So what are the Warmageddonists whining about?

Even if I agreed with the science around Climate Change/Global Warming/Global Cooling, how would it be possible to believe any of it when the main advocate is making massive returns on his investments in renewable energy, some of which he recently used to purchase a $9m beach-front mansion on the American west coast? Doesn't seem that worried about the icecaps.

I think the major problem the World faces now is the fact that centuries of corruption have bred a certain level of scepticism within anybody with any sort of intelligence. How can truth possibly compete with greed? You want to convince me on Global Warming? Give me a 10-year research grant and suitable facilities and I'll find out for myself because I just can't bring myself to believe anything any fucker says anymore!

There was an obituary today in the Daily T for Willi Dansgaard who died on Jan8th. He was the chap who realised that the ice caps held within them a history of the Earth's temperature for eons of time. Here is a quote: "D.. had been chipping away at the ice cap [in Greenland] a few hundred feet at a time, but the [American] Army had a drill that could go down thousands of feet.........and before long the team had drilled several miles down to bedrock"

An ice cap miles deep (and that is only the Arctic)! How soon did they say that the icecaps would melt?

You see, I am not a ‘denier’; not even a ‘sceptic’, really. What worries me is the hysteria. I should imagine that we all know about the IPCC cock up about the glaciers melting by 2030. I read somewhere that the figure 2030 was a simple typo that got through unobserved and that the figure should have been 2330. Even if that is true, one might ask the question: 'Are we building these extremely expensive, high maintenance, inefficient windmills with a lifespan of less than 20 years just in case it is true that the glaciers might melt during the course of the next 320 years?" It would be interesting to find out, if it were possible, direct from the mouth of a politician what the real reason for the windmills is.


As a gardener, naturally I was interested.

UN climate change expert: there could be more errors in report

"The IPCC’s 2007 report, which won it the Nobel Peace Prize, said that the probability of Himalayan glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high”.

But it emerged last week that the forecast was based not on a consensus among climate change experts, but on a media interview with a single Indian glaciologist in 1999."

Professor Hasnain, who was not involved in drafting the IPCC report, said that he noticed some of the mistakes when he first read the relevant section in 2008.

That was also the year he joined The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in Delhi, which is headed by Dr Pachauri.

He said he realised that the 2035 prediction was based on an interview he gave to the New Scientist magazine in 1999, although he blamed the journalist for assigning the actual date.

He said that he did not tell Dr Pachauri because he was not working for the IPCC and was busy with his own programmes at the time.

“I was keeping quiet as I was working here,” he said. “My job is not to point out mistakes. And you know the might of the IPCC. What about all the other glaciologists around the world who did not speak out?”

Climate chief was told of false glacier claims before Copenhagen

"Rajendra Pachauri was told that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 was wrong, but he waited two months to correct it.

He failed to act despite learning that the claim had been refuted by several leading glaciologists."

"Dr Pachauri had previously dismissed a report by the Indian Government which said that glaciers might not be melting as much as had been feared.

He described the report, which did not mention the 2035 error, as “voodoo science”.

UN climate panel blunders again over Himalayan glaciers

"The chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has used bogus claims that Himalayan glaciers were melting to win grants worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

"Rajendra Pachauri's Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), based in New Delhi, was awarded up to £310,000 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the lion's share of a £2.5m EU grant funded by European taxpayers.
It means that EU taxpayers are funding research into a scientific claim about glaciers that any ice researcher should immediately recognise as bogus"

"In India questions are also being asked about Pachauri's links with GloriOil, a Houston, Texas-based oil technology company that specialises in recovering extra oil from declining oil fields . Pachauri is listed as a founder and scientific advisor.

Critics say it is odd for a man committed to decarbonising energy supplies to be linked to an oil company."

Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn't been verified

‘In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said:
"We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action."

No longer available on the Times

UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim

"A STARTLING report by the United Nations climate watchdog that global warming might wipe out 40% of the Amazon rainforest was based on an unsubstantiated claim by green campaigners who had little scientific expertise."

"The latest controversy originates in a report called A Global Review of Forest Fires, which WWF published in 2000. It was commissioned from Andrew Rowell, a freelance journalist and green campaigner who has worked for Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and anti-smoking organisations."

All very confidence inspiring, don't you think?


(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
Part 1

I had a bit of intellectual fun over at Bishop Hill blog last night. The Bish reported that he had been to an event discussing the climate where he was on the panel and that things had gone well. That is all he said. In the comments, people congratulated him, but, after a while, erudite climatologists took over and started a discussion among themselves about the finer points of ‘forcing’ and ‘bias’. Needless to say, it was not long before one of these people sneered:

Like I said to 'Neil the scientist' last night just before giving up and going to bed, he needs to do some reading. He claimed to 'understand the basic science of climate change' but had never heard of climate sensitivity, nor apparently does he understand that this is where the academic debate is.
Note the words ‘this is where the academic debate is’ (the science is settled?)

So I thought that I would chuck my penny’s worth in and asked, in a nice way:

"What is the effect of night time on the atmospheric temperature?"
And, "If the temperature of the atmosphere becomes hotter, will not more heat energy (which originated from the Sun in the first place) be radiated away into space during the night?"

I got a rather sneering reply:

I'm not sure if your question is too simple, but it's certainly not clear what it is you're asking. It is however not on topic for this thread, so if you'd like to take it over to 'unthreaded' I'm sure one of the sidesmen will be along shortly to help. Whilst you're awaiting that, consider that the earth is in fact a sphere, and even though the sun may not be shining upon us all the time here in Merrie England, our cousins in the antipodes are basking in his warming rays. Then consider the meaning of time averaging.
I wasn’t very happy about that and so I decided to ‘up the anti’ a bit.


Part 2

“I have been looking for THE THREAD”......[No thread]....... Am I therefore introducing a new thread? And am I in the wrong to do so?”
I know that the Earth is a sphere and I know that when it is dark in the UK it is light 'down below'. I don't know how I know this - somebody must have told me.
As regards time averages, I assume that he is talking about something like the averaging out of accelerations and decelerations during the course of a journey in order to arrive at an average speed. But, there again, he might be talking about time dilation and distance contraction a la relativity theory for all I know.
Then, just to ‘up the anti’ a bit more, I threw in a bit of info:


Part 3

I still think that night time and day time are important. After all, surface temperature on the Moon have been observed to rise to plus 107 degrees C in the (moon) day and fall to minus 153 degrees C during the (moon) night. In fact, the moon temps have been observed to rise to a maximum of plus 123 degrees C in the day and fall as low as a minimum of minus 233 degrees C during the night. Minus 233 degrees is not a lot away from absolute zero. I have also read that these changes in temperature of the surface of the moon happen very rapidly after 'sundown'. If follows from the above that two things happen at 'sundown' on the Moon: a) the oscillation of atoms in the surface material of the Moon slows down very rapidly, and b) that the base energy state of the atoms comes close to absolute minimum after, say, 7 days of night time.
It also follows that, as regards the Moon, the 'heat' (electromagnetic energy) radiates away into space. But I have problems with understanding what actual material bodies 'drain' the heat form the Moon since there are none in its immediate vicinity. It must therefore be true, in simple terms, that the Energy supplied by the Sun, which changes the base energy state of the atoms (and causes the oscillation of the atoms), simply radiates away as the atoms fall into their base energy state. The influence of Space is simply not to resist that radiation.
It worries me that climatologists are not indicating to ALL THE PEOPLE that heat is atomic. That the heat which we create by burning fossil fuels is only temporary - it very quickly radiates away. The only important thing is the residue of the burning. That comes down to CO2 gasses.
And now we come to 'open' and 'closed' systems.
As I said above, Space is only important that it does not resist radiation (with the speed of light as a limiting factor). So, we can say that, during the day on the Earth, we have an 'open' system - that is, that the Sun can radiate heat on the Earth and affect the Earth. During the night, however, the Earth becomes a 'closed' system - the traffic of heat is one way - radiation away through unresisting Space as atoms fall back to their natural base state.
There is only one thing that bothers me, and that is that I do not know whether or not the atoms in CO2 can retain heat energy in the same way that water can. That I do not know and I would be obliged if anyone can advise me.
After that, they all picked their balls up and ran off home. Funny init?

I expected them to bring in the ‘blanket effect’ of the atmosphere, in which case I was going to go on to point out that it is the water in the atmosphere which retains heat (electromagnetic energy) and not CO2, but they all went home, as I said.

It was fun to escalate the ‘debate’ and to take it out of the minutiae of their erudite ‘thread’.

Anti-smokers run off home as well, don’t they – once you start bringing to their attention the facts about death rates etc. Funny init?

This is all very familiar, though, isn't it? Yet another unforeseen consequence of the anti-smoking movement - copycat campaigning. (1) If anyone disagrees, call them names – “stinky,” “stupid,” and “selfish” in the case of smokers; “cranks,” “flat-earthers,” and “deniers” in the case of climate change. (2) Quote some impressive-sounding names to show how “right” your opinion must be – the Chief Medical Officer, the BMC and the WHO in the case of smoking; the National Academy of Science, NASA and the IPCC in the case of climate change; and (3) conceal your real motivations beneath something much more acceptable and reasonable-sounding – public health instead of social control for smoking; Mother Earth, nature and the cheeldren/grandcheeldren instead of political control for climate change.

Shame none of these later movements (climate change, alcohol abuse, anti-obesity) haven’t also cottoned on to the fact that as well as indicating some “handy hints for getting your way” the anti-smoking movement have also succeeded in achieving one final, but highly significant, unforeseen consequence – in the absence of all their predictions, whether dire (everyone dropping dead from passive smoke) or wonderful (pubs teeming with non-smokers, cancer rates plummeting) coming true, the vast majority of the public simply don’t believe anything that the “experts” tell them any more.

I came across this today. It sets our current warming in context. We're living in a cold patch of our current interglacial.

ice core temperatures


Frank, do you have an URL for that graph? I would be grateful.

The only odd thing is the stretching out in the last couple of millenniae. Also, I wonder why the blue lines appear at about -31.60. Why is the blue section not around -31.00? Curious. But I must assume that there is a good reason for it.

In any case, the graph is a good reason for us all to be sceptical about the claims of the climate zealots.

There is an interesting thought. The climate zealots want us to go along with their agenda - they want us to think about 'warming' and 'change'. Why cannot we describe these people as 'persons who are obsessed by the climate' in the same way that we describe football fans as 'fanatics'? Each individual football team might have its 'fans', but, as a group, they are just crazy 'football fanatics'. I like that.

I got it from Katabasis. The same graph, with different scales, appears in a pdf by Arvid Pasto. I've seen it several times before. The true source will be some study of Greenland ice cores.

The blue line is the graph. The red is just the block filling above present temperature.


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