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June 27th 2017 print

Peter Smith

Knavish Stupidity of the First Degree

Madness prevails. Cheered on by green zealots, governments have accepted a tenuous theory based on black-box models of no proven worth. As carpetbaggers rejoice with charlatans, those who can least afford it are bled dry for what was, until recently, cheap as chips: electricity

cold handsIt’s five o’clock on Sunday afternoon in Sydney in winter. By any reckoning Sydney doesn’t get that cold. But I have been at my computer for a couple of hours, with three layers on top and a beanie, and have been cold the whole of that time. When I was married the heater would have been on. Women sensibly don’t like putting up with cold. Me, I’m the son of my father who was always concerned about power bills.

He had reason to be concerned; big power bills seriously dented the household budget. Mind you, I can’t remember a time when a coal fire was not heating the living room on a cold afternoon. That’s progress for you; from warm to cold in the space of childhood to older age. I’ve finally just switched on my gas heater. Ah! The luxury of warmth will soon envelop the room.

Now, for a moment, imagine (if you have to) that you live in, say, Melbourne or Tasmania or Canberra and it’s a cold winter afternoon. Now imagine you are poor and must account for every dollar. Power bills matter to you.

You sit as a single mother with your young children wrapped in clothes and blankets. You’re old and clutch a hot-water bottle. You’re a coal power station worker thrown on the scrap heap, pacing the room, distraught at no longer being able to afford to keep your family warm.

Weep not at these Dickensian scenes for all is not bleak in each house. The poor find consolation in knowing they’re helping to save the planet by keeping their heaters off.  An inspirational picture of Al Gore hangs over their cold mantelpieces. Big Al watches over them from his private gas-guzzling jet.

Meanwhile in Point Piper and Toorak the deeply-green Smug and Swank families are enjoying the warmth supplied by under-floor heating throughout every room. But there are no double standards here. They are renewal-energy junkies to their cores. They have taxpayer-subsidised solar panels fitted across their vast roofs, which often earn them a rebate for supplying power to the grid. True, managing this reverse flow of power increases power bills for others, but that’s not their fault.

Madness prevails. Cheered on by green zealots, governments have accepted as settled a tenuous scientific theory, based almost entirely on black-box model predictions which have been seriously astray. If that is not enough, cheered on by carpetbaggers and snake-oil merchants, intermittent, unreliable, ineffective and cripplingly costly renewal power has been foisted on working-class populations scared into compliance.

On the flimsiest basis, the world has been turned upside down. Power bills have soared. Our governments and politicians have shown themselves to be as susceptible to superstition as those in bygone ages who sought the future in the entrails of animals. And then there are those in the broader community who simply accept any old rope handed down from authority. Give them the Little Red Book and they would have been fodder for Mao.

I need to confess to an evolving mind. I entertained a small possibility that the received wisdom of catastrophic man-made global warming might be right, though the remedies being applied were totally misconceived (to some extent I was in sync with the Matt Ridley and Bjorn Lomborg positions). Now, the more I read, the more I am tending to believe that it is codswallop from start to finish.

Here, I think, is fairly persuasive scientific comment from Richard Lindzen, eminent Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at MIT:

The system we are looking at consists in two turbulent fluids interacting with each other. They are on a rotating planet that is differentially heated by the sun. A vital constituent of the atmospheric component is water in the liquid, solid and vapor phases, and the changes in phase have vast energetic ramifications. The energy budget of this system involves the absorption and reemission of about 200 watts per square meter. Doubling CO2 involves a 2% perturbation to this budget. So do minor changes in clouds and other features, and such changes are common. In this complex multifactor system, what is the likelihood of the climate (which, itself, consists in many variables and not just globally averaged temperature anomaly) is controlled by this 2% perturbation in a single variable? Believing this is pretty close to believing in magic. Instead, you are told that it is believing in ‘science’.
Thoughts on the Public Discourse over Climate Change

Here are some questions:. Was it warmer than now during Roman times and during the Middle Ages? Apparently it was, and without the benefit of man-made CO2. Although, as with everything to do with this matter, obfuscation rules. Why did it warm between 1910 and 1940 and then slightly cool until the mid 1970s? Please move on, disclaims authority.

Is the period of warming between 1975 and 2000 too short a period to draw any conclusions? Of course it is. Is warming from coming out of the Little Ice Age a factor? Of course it is. Does warming lead to rising CO2 as distinct from the other way around? It does according to some researchers. I would find that worth considering if I were an open-minded warmist. Seemingly such beings don’t exist.

Man-made CO2 is a minute part of the continuous exchange of CO2 between land, the oceans and the atmosphere. It is a stretch to believe it could cause catastrophic warming without massively compelling evidence. Such evidence, along with open-minded warmists, doesn’t appear to exist and certainly hasn’t been presented to me. Therefore my working hypothesis is that it is a hoax.

The hoax has shown that large numbers of scientists are attention seekers and groupthinkers, susceptible to hysteria, seducible by research grants, and cowed by threats of career limitation if they don’t toe the line. What’s strange about that? Nothing.

Scientists are a representative section of humanity. They are not a race apart. They’re as flawed as everyone else and, like humankind in general, only a brave few can stand against the crowd in whatever field of endeavour.

Along with many others I pay the g;obal warming bill. Therefore I’m entitled to an honest accounting of what I am paying it for. As it is, I am not satisfied.

Among other sophisms, I don’t want to be told that 97% of scientists agree with the received wisdom when I know that this is a baseless claim; and, in any event, meaningless. Only very few scientists have done hands-on research in the area, the others are simply fellow travellers.

I don’t want to be told that extreme weather events have become more frequent and severe when I know that this, too, is a baseless claim; even were it relevant, which it isn’t. I don’t want to be told that the science is “settled” when I know that this claim is both baseless and unscientific. I don’t want to see climate scientists disingenuously squirming in their efforts to discount a long temperature pause that their CO2-centric models did not predict.

And please, God save me from hearing from another know-nothing politician the empty drivel that ‘climate change is real’. Go on, I could. But it comes down to not wanting to be treated as a mug.

What to do? Vote for any political candidate willing to say that the climate-change emperor has no clothes; if any such person can be found. Otherwise, hope that the hysteria passes before the poor end up burning their furniture for warmth.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [5]

  1. en passant says:

    Peter,
    Senator Malcolm Roberts has done a pretty fair job of exposing the alchemists. Start with: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=senator+malcolm+roberts+youtube&view=detail&mid=178797B83E98EDA65AFC178797B83E98EDA65AFC&FORM=VIRE

    Cue the resident Quadrant MacBot troll

    • Jody says:

      Why the very personal attack? Have you no better strategy than ad homs? Ian is entitled to his opinion and you behave just like the jack-boots from the Left with their playground bullying.

      With regard to climate change I’m more agnostic than anything. I’ll simply say this; using the metaphor of human beings and tests and statistics. My mother went to the doctor in late 1983 and had blood tests for diabetes, kidney function – tick; cholesterol checks – tick; heart check-up – tick; blood pressure – excellent, tick. She had the profile of a very healthy human being and her physician said, “out of my office; you’re as fit as a mally bull”. She had ADVANCED Pancreatic Cancer which wasn’t picked up into 5 months later and she survived only a short period thereafter. In short, statistics and computer models can convey the wrong impression altogether.

  2. Lawrie Ayres says:

    What you write is all true and there are many scientists who would agree with you and have research to back up their opinions. We have to question some of the data collecting agencies as well. For example the weather station at Mt Isa shows long term cooling but the BoM caress the data until it shows warming. Homogenising data from 1200 miles away is considered scientific if it helps the warmist cause. NASA launched a satellite in 1979 to better sample world wide temperatures and provide a more accurate average because it covered the oceans as well as land and all the land rather than the more populated areas. NASA decided they were better served collecting temperatures at airports where the thermometers were subject to engine exhausts and large expanses of heat absorbing concrete or near the exhausts of cars and air conditioners. They could adjust and extrapolate to their hearts content and get the warming result they wanted because the satellite showed only gradual warming then 20 years of hiatus.

    There is man made warming but it is manufactured by humans fiddling with data and in some cases hiding data that does not support the hypothesis. The greatest fear for these 97% of scientists is an audit of their shenanigans and data manipulation.

  3. ianl says:

    The quote from Richard Lindzen is lyrical in the precision of both its’ concept and language. I read his essay quite a few months ago, as well as many of his co-authored papers over the last decade – the only “rebuttals” I’ve seen rely heavily on the smears of implied senility or old-age irrelevance, or perhaps the ad homs of “outlier” and “contrarian”. So sad that the situation has reached that level of baseness.