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January 21st 2016 print

Bob Carter

Lysenkoism and Climate Science

Bob Carter's defence of truth came with consequences. In 2010, The Drum solicited his thoughts on James Hansen, one of warmism's original  fabulists.  The piece was spiked, demonstrating yet again that authorised lies corrupt all that they touch, even down to mere journalism. As a tribute to Carter, Quadrant Online today republishes that piece

bob carterEditor’s note: Yesterday, just as Warmist Inc was poised to announce that — surprise! surprise! — 2015 was the latest “hottest year on record” and why the oceans will soon be cursed with drunken fish as a consequence, news broke that a genuine man of science, a sceptic and dear friend of Quadrant, Bob Carter (left), had died. Had Quadrant Online’s publishing system not been on the fritz (please subscribe so we can afford a new one) , we would have re-posted the piece below immediately. Written in 2010, it was solicited by The Drum, then summarily rejected. Then as now, the national broadcaster knows what the little people need to know, should know and will be told.

Carter was not surprised. How could he have been? He had watched with dismay and disgust as science was prostituted in the cause of a political cause, so the related corruption of journalism was mere collateral damage. Yet he never lost his good humour. As Mark Steyn observes, Carter was “no caricature of a wild-eyed denier, but in almost any discussion invariably the most sane and sensible man on the panel.”

Further tributes to Carter at Jo Nova, WUWT, the Heartland Institute

Vale Bob Carter. He will be missed.

_____________________________________________

On June 23, 1988, a young and previously unknown NASA computer modeller, James Hansen, appeared before a United States Congressional hearing on climate change. On that occasion, Dr. Hansen used a graph to convince his listeners that late 20th century warming was taking place at an accelerated rate, which, it being a scorching summer’s day in Washington, a glance out of the window appeared to confirm.

He wrote later in justification, in the Washington Post (February 11, 1989), that

“the evidence for an increasing greenhouse effect is now sufficiently strong that it would have been irresponsible if I had not attempted to alert political leaders”.

Hansen’s testimony was taken up as a lead news story, and within days the great majority of the American public believed that a climate apocalypse was at hand, and the global warming hare was off and running. Thereby, Dr. Hansen became transformed into the climate media star who is shortly going to wow the ingenues in the Adelaide Festival audience.

Fifteen years later, in the Scientific American in March, 2004, Hansen came to write that

“Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic”.

This conversion to honesty came too late, however, for in the intervening years thousands of other climate scientists had meanwhile climbed onto the Hansenist funding gravy-train. Currently, global warming alarmism is fuelled by an estimated worldwide expenditure on related research and greenhouse bureaucracy of more than US$10 billion annually.

Scientists and bureaucrats being only too human, the power of such sums of money to corrupt not only the politics of greenhouse, but even the scientific process itself, should not be underestimated. In recognition of these events, the term Hansenism is now sometimes used to describe the climate hysteria which had, until recently, gripped Western media sources and political, business and public opinion in a deadly grasp.

Histories of science contain an account of the ideological control of Soviet biology during the mid-20th century by plant scientist Trofim Lysenko, who by 1940 had risen to be Director of the influential Institute of Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Lysenko and his supporters rejected the “dangerous Western concepts” of Mendelian genetics and Darwinian evolution. They preferred the Lamarckian view of the inheritance of acquired characteristics; for instance, that cows could be trained to give more milk and their offspring would then inherit this trait.

Whilst this was not an unreasonable hypothesis to erect in the early 19th century, by the 1930s the idea had been tested in many ways and was known to be wrong. Requiring its application to agricultural and allied biological research in the USSR was disastrous, not least in the vicious persecution of scientists that took place, and the legacy of this sad episode still disadvantages Soviet biology today.

Lysenkoism grew from four main roots:

  • a necessity to demonstrate the practical relevance of science to the needs of society;
  • the amassing of evidence to show the “correctness” of the concept as a substitute for causal proof;
  • noble cause corruption, whereby data are manipulated to support a cause which is seen as a higher truth; and
  • ideological zeal, such that dissidents are silenced as “enemies of the truth”.

The first of these roots has been strongly represented in Australian government attitudes to the funding of science as far back as the 1980s. The remaining three roots exemplify closely the techniques that are currently used by global warming alarmists in pursuit of their aims – as recently exposed for all to see by the Climategate and IPCCgate scandals.

Lysenkoism damaged mainly Soviet science and society, whereas Hansenism has now been exerting its pernicious influence worldwide for more than twenty years. The climate alarmism involved has long been undermining the precious public trust from which science draws its traditional influence and sustenance, and now Climategate has opened up new sinkholes all over the place.

Hansenist climate alarmism has also damaged the standing of many leading science journals and science organizations, which have replaced their formerly careful editorial and organizational balance with environmental alarmism and naked global warming advocacy.

Future historians of science are likely to judge the 1988-2009 frenzy of climate change alarmism as even more damaging than Lysenkoism, because of the distrust that collapse of the global warming paradigm has already inculcated about using science to inform modern policy making.

Instead of exercising the leadership that is desperately needed to correct this, and to restore public faith in science and scientists, public utterances from Australia’s senior research advisors show that they have so far lost the plot that they are no longer even in the theatre.

Thus we have Megan Clark, CEO of CSIRO, boasting on Brisbane ABC 612 radio that “there are 40 CSIRO scientists on the IPCC panel”, as if this were something to be proud of. Meanwhile, the Chairman of Universities Australia, Peter Coaldrake, describes the Climategate scandal as “this tabloid decimation of science”. Next, Margaret Sheil, CEO of the Australian Research Council, has said she is deeply concerned about the backlash generated by emails from the East Anglia Climate Research Unit [and] the criticisms of Rajendra Kuma Pachauri, head of the IPCC. Finally, Chief Scientist Penny Sackett has, so far as I can determine, remained silent since her “me too” February 9th comment in support of an anodyne statement of blessing for climate sceptics issued by the U.K.’s chief scientist, John Beddington. How much influence the views of these independent scientists have had on Dr. Beddington can be judged from reading the apocalyptic study that he has just released regarding the effects of imaginary future climate change in Britain (Land Use Futures: Making the Most of Land in the 21st Century).  This study is described in a letter by Dr. Gerrit van der Lingen in today’s Christchurch Press as:

A group of 300 ivory tower scientists, economists and planners in the UK, led by the British Government’s scientific advisor, have come up with a new apocalypse scenario, still based on the belief in catastrophic man-made global warming (February 27-28). They probably felt they had to do this because Climategate and the revelations of serious errors in the IPCC report have fatally exposed the man-made-global-warming scam. Their vision lacks any scientific credibility and totally ignores human nature. Their action is nothing more than a rear-guard action.

Moreover, Copenhagen has shown that the balance of world power has shifted to the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Western countries, including New Zealand and Australia were totally side-lined in Copenhagen. It is now extremely unlikely that an international climate agreement will ever be reached. Thanks to the BRIC countries, we can now all heave a sigh of relief.

Breathtakingly, in the light of all this, our Australian research managers’ expressed concern remains that the revelations of Climategate and IPCCgate have caused a public re-examination of the science of global warming, with a consequent shift in public opinion. Apparently they have nary a thought for the deep scientific malaise and malfeasance that has now been exposed for the whole lay world to see – part of which is being investigated currently in a British parliamentary committee investigation.

On the heels of revelations about meteorological data tampering overseas, irregularities have also been discovered in the way that Australian temperature data have been manipulated. And, across the Tasman, NIWAgate is developing apace, as the N.Z. National Institute of Water & Atmosphere battles to provide a parliamentary accounting for its historic temperature archive, which may yet prove to include the “dog ate my homework” excuse for the apparent absence of some records.

Yet no comment at all has been offered on any of this – and related matters of science ethics, procedures and policy – by Australia’s science leaders.

It is crystal clear that there is only one way to restore public confidence in climate policy and research in Australia, and that is for an independent and authoritative investigation to be carried out into the matter before an experienced judge assisted by scientifically expert counsellors.

As Senator Fielding’s four scientific advisors – all of whom are experienced and independent climate scientists – have recommended in their due diligence report  (item 7) on the advice being provided to Climate Minister Wong by her department:

Parliament should defer consideration of the CPRS bill and institute a fully independent Royal Commission of enquiry into the evidence for and against a dangerous human influence on climate. We add ….. that the scientific community is now so polarised on the controversial issue of dangerous global warming that proper due diligence on the matter can only be achieved where competent scientific witnesses are cross-examined under oath and under strict rules of evidence”.

Bob Carter was a geologist and environmental scientist who studied ancient climate change. It was his curse to be a man of integrity in a field colonised by careerists and charlatans.

Comments [16]

  1. Peter OBrien says:

    I met Bob and heard him speak a few years ago. His book The Counter Consensus’ is the best and easiest to read that I’ve come across on the subject I keep it close at hand.

    Bob will be greatly missed.

  2. Alice Thermopolis says:

    “Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.” Albert Einstein

    A Requiem for Bob: “The Lark Ascending” by Vaughan Williams

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLhpkvQLDt0

    Inspired by George Meredith’s poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCFVl4KYd4Q

  3. Jody says:

    We can ill afford to lose significant public intellectuals. But in these modern times of ours – of propaganda and the Thought Police – it is even more urgent that we have these.

    Vale Bob. Thanks for standing up and being counted.

  4. Ian MacDougall says:

    Apparently they have nary a thought for the deep scientific malaise and malfeasance that has now been exposed for the whole lay world to see – part of which is being investigated currently in a British parliamentary committee investigation.

    .
    It might have been a bit more honest if the Quadrant editor had then briefed readers on the results of that parliamentary investigation, just in order to ensure that there could be no misunderstanding on the matter. The Committee reported:

    On the much cited phrases in the leaked e-mails-‘trick’ and ‘hiding the decline’-the Committee considers that they were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead.
    Insofar as the Committee was able to consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU, the Committee considers that there is no case to answer.

    And ‘Climategate’ from that point onwards proceeded to fizzle out completely; despite desultory attempts to beat it back to life again: such as this present one, perhaps.
    .
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/30/results-of-the-climategate-paliamentary-inquiry-in-the-uk/

  5. Ian MacDougall says:

    Bob Carter is here quoted as having said:

    Future historians of science are likely to judge the 1988-2009 [?] frenzy of climate change alarmism as even more damaging than Lysenkoism, because of the distrust that collapse of the global warming paradigm [?] has already inculcated about using science to inform modern policy making.
    Instead of exercising the leadership that is desperately needed to correct this, and to restore public faith in science and scientists, public utterances from Australia’s senior research advisors show that they have so far lost the plot that they are no longer even in the theatre..

    Lysenkoism was an expensive and highly wasteful attempt to get nature to conform to a human ideology. It has been totally discredited, at enormous cost to generations of people born and raised behind Stalin’s Iron Curtain.
    Arguably, its modern counterpart is not ‘warmism’ but AGW ‘scepticism’. It is no mere coincidence IMHO that so many of our modern global warming ‘sceptics’ come from the fossil-fuel and mining industries. For them, AGW cannot be allowed in human discourse, or for that matter, in nature. Hence the emphasis placed by such ‘sceptics’ on temperatures and thermometry records. And if they recognise sea-level rise at all, it is only amid attempting to dismiss it or to explain it away.
    But as King Cnut the Great demonstrated so clearly, nature is not interested in the categories of human thought or politics.
    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cnut_the_Great

    • Peter OBrien says:

      Yes, how ridiculous that sceptics of the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming should place emphasis on temperature and thermometry records.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        Peter:
        You (perhaps deliberately?) miss my point. We have a situation on Earth in which the ocean is relentlessly rising, indicating thermal expansion, glacial melt or both. So the Earth is warming: no way round it.
        At the same time, we have icecaps at both poles and on the Tibetan Plateau. These tend to stabilise air temperatures. That is why I pay scant regard to such temperatures, and concentrate on sea level. For the “sceptics of the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming” it has to be the other way around.
        In my experience, such ‘sceptics’ are also generally well to the right in their politics, leading me to the conclusion that their politics is deciding their attitude to mainstream climatology.
        Nothing must be allowed to get in the way of business-as-usual.
        As for me: on some issues, I agree with the right. On some I agree with the left. But I challenge anyone to show that my politics is driving my science. On anything.
        And I would be only too happy to join the climatological ‘sceptics’ if only that damned ocean would stop rising.
        Nature neither knows nor cares for right, nor left, nor centre.

        • [email protected] says:

          The oceans AREN’T ‘relentlessly rising’. More importantly, even if they were/are still rising the rise is/has been bloody gentle and far less of a threat to human existence/comfort than futile attempts to ‘save’ the world by ‘decarbonising’ human activity.
          I think all catastrophists, like yourself but especially those in the media, should be vigorously told as often as possible that all life on this planet is dependant on CO2. When it drops below 150ppm all plants start to die and soon after [in geological terms] all animals will also die. All the ‘dreaded fossil fuels’ were once living things that originally came from atmospheric CO2. We are doing all life on this planet a favour by burning fossil fuels. Life on earth will cease in about two billion years time unless we return future life [CO2] to the atmosphere.
          Deserts have already started to ‘green up in many parts of the world and food crops have increased production by about 14% from even the modest amounts of CO2 mankind has re-released back into the atmosphere. The worlds temperature has NOT risen beyond natural variation levels since temperature records have been kept, and have not risen at all for the past 19 years despite the extra CO2.

        • Peter OBrien says:

          You are conflating warming with its cause. Sea levels have been rising steadily but slowly since long before the effect of human CO2 emissions could have been felt.

          • Ian MacDougall says:

            Peter O’Brien:

            Sea levels have been rising steadily but slowly since long before the effect of human CO2 emissions could have been felt.

            According to the CSIRO and others, and based on satellite altimetry since measurements began in 1993, the world’s ocean has been rising at 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr. ( http://sealevel.colorado.edu/ )
            If that rate had been continuous over the last 1,000 years (say), then in that time the ocean would have risen a maximum of 3.7 x 10^3 millimetres, or 3.7 metres, and a minimum of 2.9 x 10^3 millimetres, or 2.9 metres. Since classical Greek times, (around 500 BC) it would have been 9.3 x 10^3 millimetres, or 9.3 metres maximum and or 7.3 metres minimum, worldwide.
            It strikes me that a rise between those limits would have been noticed.
            Note that I say worldwide: that is negating the effect of any local crustal movements. It would have been noticed, I submit, by observers in the Mediterranean civilisations, in China, India and I dare say Mexico.
            The absence of such historical records worldwide leads me to the conclusion that the 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr rate is probably confined to the period since coal-burning got going on an industrial scale: starting around AD 1750 and increasing at some sequence of exponential rates since then.

        • Clive Bond says:

          The planet has been warming for 300 years since the Little Ice Age, as a result glaciers melt and sea levels rise,(very slowly).During the Medieval Warm period the Vikings settled Greenland and grew crops there. These farms are now under ice.
          Incidentally, CO2 then was 280 ppm. No evil capitalists pumping CO2 into the atmosphere to raise their standard of living.
          .
          .

  6. [email protected] says:

    I never met Bob but I did talk to him on the phone a couple of times. In early 2011 Bob asked me to write a sing along song which could be used to publicise the Convoy Of No Confidence. He did so because he was aware from the Quadrant website that I had previously written and recorded a song – The King Has Got No Clothes – as my small part of opposing the AGW scam/hoax. Bob liked it but didn’t think it was sing along enough to get publicity for the Convoy’s purposes. [This song is still somewhere on the Quadrant website – the link is http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2010/01/the-king-has-got-no-clothes/ and I think it still plays]
    I did write and record the song for Bob – the link is – http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2011/08/the-convoy-song/ [I don’t think that the link works any more.]
    The songs actual title was/is – A Tax On The Air That We Breathe. Unfortunately Bob wasn’t able to get any air play for it.
    Bob will be missed. I will certainly miss him.
    Dennis Boothby

  7. Ian MacDougall says:

    “The worlds temperature has NOT risen beyond natural variation levels since temperature records have been kept, and have not risen at all for the past 19 years despite the extra CO2.”
    My point exactly. Agreed.
    For better or worse, the warming of the planet is showing up as sea level rise.
    “Life on earth will cease in about two billion years time unless we return future life [CO2] to the atmosphere…. (etc)” is more like a statement of religious faith than of evidence-based rational thought. It is a rationalisation for energy derived from fossil-carbon combustion; after the event.
    Sorry. My scientific scepticism will not allow me to buy it.
    As for: “The oceans AREN’T ‘relentlessly rising’.”
    Check out the link below:
    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

  8. Jody says:

    Having given this a considerable amount of thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is in the best interests of the Left to keep the people afraid. They now own the “climate change” ideology with its apocalyptic scenario. People are in fear of the impending catastrophe just as our generation was during the threat of nuclear war (Cold War). Since then we’ve had the ‘Oil Crisis’, the Y2K bug and then SARS and Ebola. But climate change is the big one; it has heavyweights behind it. The Left wants people afraid so that they can assure everybody that they know what’s best; tolerance, anti-discrimination, multiculturalism, virtue-signalling, equality for all – only these things can be provided by the Left and their promise of a far better world. And if the people think they’re being protected by the paternalistic Left (a job once held by the church) they’re more likely to follow. This is precisely what is happening. And you can see where it’s heading.

    It’s a hollow dream. And all done before by the politburo – albeit much more proficiently and professionally!!