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March 31st 2016 print

Tony Thomas

Climateers Come Another Cropper

Grant-gobbling catastropharian fabulist Ed Maibach's plan to survey TV meteorologists must have seemed a good idea at the time, the object being to pump out fresh PR releases lambasting sceptics. Alas, like the climate itself, the results confound warmist expectations

gingered thermometer IIOf course, as we have so often been assured,  97% of scientists believe in dangerous global warming, mostly caused by human activities’ CO2 emissions. Except that the 97% claim is hokum. A survey of members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) was published last week detailing their support — or rather, lack of it — for the alleged consensus. There were 4092 of 7682 members who responded and of the 4092, only 67% endorsed the consensus.

That is, one-third of the respondents, who include many hundreds of academically credentialed TV weathercasters and other weather communicators, don’t buy the party line on global warming. Twenty-seven percent don’t believe humans are mostly responsible and 6% are don’t-knows.

The scientific community, we’ve been told, is virtually unanimous about CO2-caused warming. That alleged consensus justifies the trillion-dollar spending on windmills and solar farms, as opposed to, say, Third World electrification, clean water, the eradication of malaria and other health scourges now damning billions to poverty and despair.

The reality is that the CO2 emissions dogma is now so shaky – especially given the 21st century’s pause or halt to warming –  that peer-reviewed papers sceptical of the orthodoxy are  flooding into scientific journals. Kenneth Richard has been tabulating these papers and lists more than 660 published in just the past  27 months – including 133 since the start of 2016 and 282 last year. The mainstream media ignores them,  ditto the IPCC whose remit is  to look exclusively for evidence of human-induced, rather than natural, climate change.[1]

Returning to the AMS survey,  its members are well qualified in science generally and weather in particular. Most respondents had a Bachelor (32%) or Masters (30%) science degree, or PhD in meteorology or atmospheric science (33%). More than a third rated themselves ‘expert’ in climate science, whatever either term may mean. The discovery of one-third sceptics in AMS ranks undoubtedly understates the real level of scepticism in the organisation. The key issue concerns the 3592 non-respondents.  In fact 3,364 of them didn’t even open the emails, despite being reminded up to five times.

A plausible reason for a sceptic not to respond was that the survey was run by Dr Ed Maibach, of George Mason University, a communications specialist. Maibach is has been bluntly described in the sceptic blogosphere as a ‘slimebag’ because he was second signatory on the “RICO20” petition to President Obama last September, calling for sceptics to be prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organisations Act. Thus any sceptic AMS member getting an email from Maibach asking, among other things, whether they are sceptics, could suspect that Maibach might misuse such information to threaten, sue and blacklist them.[2]  As Anthony Watts put it,  “The man asking the questions might flag you for criminal prosecution for having an opinion he doesn’t like.”

That RICO petition backfired spectacularly on its authors. The lead signatory was Professor Jagadish Shukla, who was quickly exposed for creaming nearly $US6 million  since 2001 for himself, wife and daughter in salaries from his own purported non-profit climate-research foundation.[3] The foundation, in turn, was bankrolled with more than $US75m in US government research grants. In 2014 alone, the Shukla family’s double-dip generated more than $US1m. Shukla is now under intensive audit and faces possible discipline/prosecution over alleged violations of university salary guidelines.

Among other millions falling from the (taxpayer) skies into the laps of the RICO20 witch-hunters is $US3m for Shukla’s pal, Maibach, a three-year research grant to enhance TV weathercasters education, the thrust being to convert them into climate-change warriors.[4]   The AMS survey is part of this exercise, another reason why sceptic members may well have given it a wide berth.

The survey is full of daft questions, the kind contemplated only by unthinking alarmists. Question 1, for example, is,  “Regardless of the cause, do you think climate change is happening?”

Well duh! Climate change is as old as the planet. Fancy asking whether in 2016 climate change has ceased. So 96% replied “Yes”, and only a rogue 1% said “No” (3% were don’t-knows). Author Maibach was actually engaging in spin: the vacuous term “climate change” is used throughout the survey and the more meaningful, and emotionally loaded, term “global warming” is never used at all.[5]

Another dopey question: “To the best of your knowledge, has the climate in your area changed over the past 50 years?” It so happens that 89% of the respondents were unborn or juveniles 50 years ago. On what basis could they   profess knowledge about their local climate in 1966? Nonetheless, 74% claimed their local climate had indeed changed, and more than 40% claimed they had become more convinced about global warming as a result of witnessing local climate change (what exactly would they “witness” to be relevant to global warming?)

It gets worse. AMS weathercasters were also asked if the local climate changes have been beneficial or harmful, whether the local climate will change in the next 50 years, and whether these hypothesized changes to 2066 will be beneficial or harmful? Answering another question, 60% of respondents thought anti-global warming measures, especially global emissions reductions, would work during the next 50 years. They were further asked, in a ridiculous way, if the anti-warming measures would assist the 50-year future of health, farming, transport, homes and fresh water in the US per se. These answers tended towards yes (65%) and no (25%), proportional to the alarmist/sceptics ratio overall.

An extraordinary 29% of respondents thought that climate change (about half a degree of warming in the past half-century) was 81%-to-100% human-caused, as if there were negligible natural climate-change forces before the human fossil-fuel era.

Maibach became a warming warrior a decade ago, after an education at the hands of the Potsdam Climate Institute people. He parlayed that into a career of grant-getting in the cause of climate propaganda.

For example, he won a $US1.06m grant a few years ago to get TV meteorologists to inject more climate-change information into their broadcasts, and another $US1.25m grant to help weather broadcasters convert “unusual weather events as climate change educational opportunities”. This included fingering “weathercasters still undecided about the reality of anthropogenic climate change, the nature of their indecisions, and opportunities to help them reach a conclusion consistent with scientific consensus”. Moreover, Maibech was funded to “develop a prototype conflict analysis and resolution process between weathercasters who reject the scientific consensus and those who accept it.” He was also funded to pump climate orthodoxy into schools and university courses, and to persuade Hollywood gurus to make their films more climate oriented.

A classic piece of Maibach “research” grew out of having been funded to help health professionals better spruik the alleged health hazards of global warming. He claimed that, from a survey he conducted, 60% of 2296 US public health directors were  convinced that they had seen local harmful effects of warming.[6] The reality was that out of his initial sample of 2296, he received responses from only  217, of whom 133 were concerned about warming. This was 3.5% of the initial sample, not the 60% he claimed. So much for Maibach and his surveys.

The original “97% consensus” about human-caused global warming dates to a 2004 study by science historian Naomi Oreskes, who has been babbling for the past quarter-century that warming sceptics are the same as tobacco lobbyists. She  surveyed the literature from 1993-2003 and found three-quarters of 928 papers agreed with the consensus, and a quarter made no comment on it. (The fallacy is that in the highly-competitive scramble by academics for government research funding, any request suggesting the author is not on board with the ‘consensus’ was certain to be refused funding; thus their output never saw the light of day. This censorship-by-shunning is now crumbling).

Then there was  the Doran/Zimmerman study in 2008. This study was supposed to represent  3146 earth-scientist respondents. In fact, laughably, they culled their list down to a mere 79  suitable respondents, of whom 76 (or 97%) backed the consensus.

In 2013,  University of Queensland Ph.D. student John Cook published yet another 97% study, supposedly involving the rating of 12,464 abstracts. The Cook exercise passed peer review and was accepted by Environmental Research Letters, run by the  UK Institute of Physics (I hadn’t known that physics involved measurements of ‘consensus’).[7] It became the most-cited bit of research that year, with 161,000 downloads (currently 470,000). Sadly, the peer reviewers failed to check the study’s own data. This data showed that the number of studies actually backing the orthodox climate view – that most of the past 50 years’ warming is human-caused – was not 97% but 0.3%.

The 97% claim involved nothing more than agreement that there is some global warming and humans play some part in it. Given that the overwhelming majority of sceptics also believe this, the only surprise is that the figure isn’t  99.9%.

The study’s methodology attained a new low for science, even for climate science. According to time stamps on the work of Cook’s team which rated rating the studies, one rater managed to review 675 abstracts within 72 hours — a superhuman effort, as Richard Tol remarked.

The time stamps also reveal something far more serious. After collecting data for eight weeks, there were four weeks of data analysis, followed by three more weeks of data collection. The same people collected and analysed the data. After more analysis, the paper classification scheme was changed and yet more data ­collected.

Cook thus broke a key rule of scientific data collection: observations should never follow from the conclusions. Medical tests are double-blind for good reason.

You cannot change how to ­collect data, and how much, after having seen the results. If you want to believe climate researchers are incompetent, biased and secretive, Cook’s paper is an excellent case in point.

The study also claimed the raters were independent and had not colluded. In fact the raters were Cook’s intimates on his  Skeptical Science team. In what they supposed were private webchats, they freely admitted colluding on ratings and looking at material they were not supposed to under the study’s guidelines.[8]  For a simple check on Cook’s honesty, go to his own website, where he claims his study was “tweeted by President Obama”, viz. – “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: ‪#climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Not only did Obama make no such tweet (Barack [email protected] is a third-party tweet shop) but it is also untrue that Cook’s alleged 97% consensus endorsed that warming was “dangerous”.

cook in nazi dragSceptic Brandon Shollenberger discovered that the team had left open cyber doors to the private section of the website, and when he got inside, he found an image of  Cook elaborately Photoshopped by his followers in the Nazi drag of an SS Reichsfuehrer (left), the title held by Heinrich Himmler from 1929-45.[9] Another image showed “Herr John Cook”, in lieu of Hitler, addressing a Nuremburg rally, with the massed ranks of troops hand-labelled “SkS” (i.e. Skeptical Science).[10] For SS logos and swastikas, Cook’s helpers had laboriously substituted Skeptical Science logos.

What this was all about, no-one but Cook and his team knows. (Shollenberger’s e-book on Cook’s oddities, The Climate Wars, can be downloaded for $A1.39.)

Cook was mightily embarrassed that Shollenberger had walked, through open links, into Cook’s inner web sanctum. Next thing, Shollenberger got a ferocious letter from the University of Queensland’s legal team not only threatening to sue but asserting that the ‘We’ll sue!’ letter itself was confidential and copyright and Shollenberger would be doubly sued for disclosing its contents, even, presumably, to his own solicitor.[11] This deserved, and quickly got, a Hitler Downfall parody.

It seems a characteristic of “climate science” that its most vocal practitioners leave an odiferous trail. In the case of the American Meteorological Society survey, the trail includes McCarthyist attacks on “deniers”, a gravy train of funding that branches into multi-million mismanagement, and survey questions of laughable inanity. Earlier attempts to demonstrate a (meaningless) “consensus” about global warming made a mockery of scientific methods and inquiry, and traipsed into a morass involving Nazi portraiture and farcical lawsuit threats by university lawyers.

The only “consensus” demonstrated to date is that the global-warming community is a weird mob.

Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S Here, I Hope

 

 

 

 



[1] Namely, “…to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

 

[2] It is unclear whether responders could be identified personally, as this involves technical detail about the survey software.

 

[3] Shukla’s huge foundation salary was for 28 hours work per week.

[4] E.g. “Providing participating weathercasters with professional development activities and training on use of Climate Matters materials to help them become confident and competent climate educators”.

[5] The AMS had helpfully defined climate change as change in climate, i.e.  “Any systematic change in the long-term statistics of climate elements (such as temperature, pressure, or winds) sustained over several decades or longer. Climate change may be due to: natural external forcings, such as changes in solar emission or slow changes in the earth’s orbital elements; natural internal processes of the climate system; or anthropogenic forcing.” I assume the AMS  with its sloppy wording in the survey meant “and/or” rather than “or” concerning the causes of climate change.

[6] Members of the National Association of County & City Health Officials

[7] ERL’s executive board includes Peter Gleick, who confessed to fraudulently obtaining confidential information from the Heartland Institute.

[8] Brandon Shollenberger, The Climate Wars, Kindle location 193.

[9] Climate Wars, Kindle location 42.gr

[10] Climate Wars, Kindle location 46

[11] “The University of Queensland  owns the copyright in this letter and you are advised that any publication by you of this letter , or persons acting in concert with you, will constitute an infringement of The University’s copyright. The University of Queensland reserves its right to take any and all legal action against any person, including you, who publishes this letter.”

 

 

 

 

 

Comments [11]

  1. [email protected] says:

    Was it deliberate, or merely a happy coincidence that this article, which is essentially about AGW ‘faith’, appears on the same day as Peter Smiths article on theistic/religious faith?

  2. Ian MacDougall says:

    …only 67% endorsed the consensus.
    That is, one-third of the respondents, who include many hundreds of academically credentialed TV weathercasters and other weather communicators, don’t buy the party line on global warming. Twenty-seven percent don’t believe humans are mostly responsible and 6% are don’t-knows.
    The scientific community, we’ve been told, [citation needed -IM] is virtually unanimous about CO2-caused warming.

    Well no. The ‘scientific community’ includes researchers in every field, studying everything from aardvarks to Z particles. Those most directly involved with climatology [cue motivation sceptics and grant sussers] are the ones “virtually unanimous”:

    Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.

    http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/
    [List of organisations supplied.]
    But the science is not really what the ‘climate debate’ is about. Arguably, it is really all about incomes and convenience, and a desire on the part of ‘sceptics’ to disturb neither. Which is understandable but not admirable behaviour on the part of those whose incomes and convenience are based on fossil carbon.

    Sea levels could rise far more rapidly than expected in coming decades, according to new research that reveals Antarctica’s vast ice cap is less stable than previously thought.
    The UN’s climate science body had predicted up to a metre of sea level rise this century – but it did not anticipate any significant contribution from Antarctica, where increasing snowfall was expected to keep the ice sheet in balance.
    According a study, published in the journal Nature, collapsing Antarctic ice sheets are expected to double sea-level rise to two metres by 2100, if carbon emissions are not cut.
    Previously, only the passive melting of Antarctic ice by warmer air and seawater was considered but the new work added active processes, such as the disintegration of huge ice cliffs.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/30/sea-levels-set-to-rise-far-more-rapidly-than-expected
    Two metres of sea level rise in the next 25 years: far more than I would have expected. I have been stressing this to Quadrant Online readers for months.
    Could be a good time to unload that seafront or harbourside real estate.

  3. Ian MacDougall says:

    …only 67% endorsed the consensus.
    That is, one-third of the respondents, who include many hundreds of academically credentialed TV weathercasters and other weather communicators, don’t buy the party line on global warming. Twenty-seven percent don’t believe humans are mostly responsible and 6% are don’t-knows.
    The scientific community, we’ve been told, [citation needed -IM] is virtually unanimous about CO2-caused warming.

    Well no. The ‘scientific community’ includes researchers in every field, studying everything from aardvarks to Z particles. Those most directly involved with climatology [cue motivation sceptics and grant sussers] are the ones “virtually unanimous”:

    Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.

    http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

    • Peter OBrien says:

      Ian, are you being deliberately obtuse? The quote you link to i.e. ‘Multiple studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree blah blah blah’ cites only the three discredited studies that Tony has eviscerated above plus another by W Anderegg, the latter a student of the late Stephen Schneider whose most significant contribution to the scientific method was his personal philosophy as stated below:

      “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”

      You need to get your head out of the sand.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        Peter:
        Do you mean re the Guardian piece or the NASA one?
        If you go to the NASA site, you will find a link to http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/: with links to 16 sources.
        Nor do I need to “get my head out of the sand”. (The ostrich analogy is far more appropriate for climate ‘sceptics’ like yourself.)
        But what I do need is to get my comments out of long-term to permanent ‘moderation’, where they sit until well after the readers of QO have had time to move on to newer pieces. (I participate in discussions also at New Matilda, where likewise at times I disagree with their ‘party line’. But my comments there don’t get shoved for days into any ‘moderation’ locker.) For “Australia’s leading journal of ideas” you are a bit shy of them unless they wear your approved straitjacket.
        One such idea still awaiting the approval of the censor (sorry ‘moderator’) is:

        But the science is not really what the ‘climate debate’ is about. Arguably, it is really all about incomes and convenience, and a desire on the part of ‘sceptics’ to disturb neither. Which is understandable but not admirable behaviour on the part of those whose incomes and convenience are based on fossil carbon.

        In short, the most powerful ‘sceptic’ argument is this: ‘AGW could not possibly be happening, because if it was, it would be bad for established business.’ I am surprised you do not make more of it.
        (But yes, on another point you are quite right. I must have been momentarily distracted. That should have been two metres of sea level rise in the next 85 years; not 25.)

        • Peter OBrien says:

          I was not talking about evidence for or against CAGW but evidence for or against the claim that 97% of scientists agree that warming is man-made and dangerous, which is what Tony’s article is about. I am referring to your link http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus from which you quote:

          ‘Multiple studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree blah blah blah’.

          As I pointed out above, the ‘multiple’ studies, cited at footnote 1, in that statement comprise only the three discredited studies that Tony examined plus just one more by W Anderegg.

          You appear to be using the most favoured tactic of alarmists when the facts in any argument go against them – shift the goal posts. No sceptics adhere to your putative ‘most powerful sceptic argument’. That is just a rubbish statement. The most powerful sceptic argument is that catastrophic man-made global warming is very unlikely happening because the climate observations do not match the output of the models that predict catastrophic warming.

          As to you claims of censorship, I note that you already have two comments already posted on this thread that do not conform to the general view of Quadrant readers and writers.

          • Ian MacDougall says:

            Peter:
            “The most powerful sceptic argument is that catastrophic man-made global warming is very unlikely happening because the climate observations do not match the output of the models that predict catastrophic warming.”
            Be that as it may. But the most powerful opposite argument is that the level of the Earth’s one ocean is rising, and at a rate that shows it cannot have been going on for very long in terms of human historical time.
            GMSL Rates
            CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
            AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
            CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
            NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
            NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)
            http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

            Do the arithmetic. 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr (CSIRO) ~ 33mm/decade (= 3.3 cm/decade ~ 33 ± 4 cm/century ~ 330 cm/1,000 yrs: ie 3.3 metres/1,000 yrs
            ~ 33 metres/10,000 yrs.
            This can only be due to thermal expansion of sea water and/or glacial melt. Ergo, the planet is warming, in a long slow thaw with inertia analogous to that of a supertanker at all ahead full on the open sea. (https://noahsarc.wordpress.com/good-planets-are-hard-to-come-by/)
            We are all riding on such a supertanker. But as if that were not enough for you, climate ‘sceptics’ like yourself are also in the same situation as the besieged occupants of a Mediaeval castle.
            The outer bailey is ‘it is not happening’
            The middle bailey is ‘it may be happening, and if it is, we could be partly responsible for it. (Tony Abbott’s last known position.)
            The inner bailey is ‘it may be happening, but our economic activity is definitely not responsible for it’.
            And the indispensable innermost part (the ‘Keep’) is ‘it is happening, we are responsible, but it is a good thing anyway.’
            You, Tony Abbott and others are the last stubborn defenders of the outer bailey, just abandoned by your ‘discretion is the better part of valour’ comrades Turnbull, Hunt and Co. They appear to have gone over to the enemy side. Well sort of.
            Or, if you prefer the maritime analogy, you are besieging the bridge of the supertanker, while inside, dithering Captain Turnbull, steers first this way then that. He has barricaded himself inside the Bridge, along with that part of the crew still loyal to him.
            Not a happy situation.

            http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/10/dangerous-global-warming-will-happen-sooner-than-thought-study

  4. Ian MacDougall says:

    TO CONTINUE INTO THE LONG-AWAITED SECOND EPISODE:

    …. http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/
    [List of organisations supplied.]

    But the science is not really what the ‘climate debate’ is about. Arguably, it is really all about incomes and convenience, and a desire on the part of ‘sceptics’ to disturb neither. Which is understandable but not admirable behaviour on the part of those whose incomes and convenience are based on fossil carbon.

    Sea levels could rise far more rapidly than expected in coming decades, according to new research that reveals Antarctica’s vast ice cap is less stable than previously thought.
    The UN’s climate science body had predicted up to a metre of sea level rise this century – but it did not anticipate any significant contribution from Antarctica, where increasing snowfall was expected to keep the ice sheet in balance.
    According a study, published in the journal Nature, collapsing Antarctic ice sheets are expected to double sea-level rise to two metres by 2100, if carbon emissions are not cut.
    Previously, only the passive melting of Antarctic ice by warmer air and seawater was considered but the new work added active processes, such as the disintegration of huge ice cliffs.

    Two metres of sea level rise in the next 25 years: far more than I would have expected. I have been stressing this to Quadrant Online readers for months.
    Could be a good time to unload that seafront or harbourside real estate.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v531/n7596/full/nature17145.html
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/30/sea-levels-set-to-rise-far-more-rapidly-than-expected

  5. Ian MacDougall says:

    Peter:

    As to you claims of censorship, I note that you already have two comments already posted on this thread that do not conform to the general view of Quadrant readers and writers.

    Ah, I see. In “the leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia” conformity to an in-house “general view” is important.
    I trust you can see the irony in that.

    • Peter OBrien says:

      I never claimed that ‘conformity to an in-house general view is important’. There is a general view in this forum that CAGW is crap and I merely noted that your comments contrary to this view had in fact been published despite your claims of being censored. No irony there.

      Once again, I am not interested in debating you about the evidence for and against CAGW. You have already shown, by your repeated refusal to acknowledge that your claim that there are multiple studies supporting the so-called 97% consensus (over and above those exposed by Tony Thomas in his original article) is false, that debate with you is a pointless exercise.

      Just to make it clear what I’m saying here. Tony pointed out that the oft quoted claim that 97% of scientists agree that current warming (such as it is) is man made and dangerous is based on 3 discredited studies. Your response was to imply that that there are in fact multiple other studies, over and above the troublesome three, that prove this statement. If that is so, please provide references to them.

  6. en passant says:

    Peter,
    You are wasting your time debating with a sheeple.
    He has multiple outstanding questions to answer on other articles, but he has a standard approach: you ask him about the ludicrous and greatly discredited 97% Cooked papers claim and he recycles his Noah’s Ark sea rise stuff. You ask him about the increase in Antarctic Ice and he counters with “What about the Arctic. It’s an old trick, but still very annoying. And don’t forget the conspiracy of the Shadow men moderating his posts.
    Note, I don’t know about you, but I am not worried about sea level rise in even 50 years and the water laps at my front door now! I have a photo I took 50 years ago and nothing’s changed.