Climate alarmism: just say ‘know’

thatcher the chemistThat’s settled then: it is a huge mistake to take seriously the warnings and admonitions of the grant-gobbling elite of what passes for the “climate science community”. Indeed, going by what molecular biologist Ben Wade writes in today’s Age, while those same prophets of soaring thermometers are very good at getting their names and views into the popular media, they are to science what bunyip hunters and yowie stalkers represent to zoology — embarrassments afflicted with a terminal case of confirmation bias.

But don’t take it from a climate sceptic, heed Wade instead. Good scientists, he writes,

are always qualifying their statements with ‘we are confident that’ rather than ‘we know that’.

If Wade, himself a warmist, is to be taken at his word, then the likes of David Karoly, Tim Flannery and oodles of white-coated, computer-modelling weather watchers are not “good scientists”,  as they are way ahead of the curve in proclaiming oracular diagnoses of the sweaty perils poised to drown, scorch and acidifying our much put-upon planet.

“We know that,” Karoly states in one of his many and frequent sermons, “increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing large-scale changes in temperature.” He also “knows” man-made climate change is sparking massive bushfires and said as much within days of 2009’s Black Saturday infernoes, when bodies were still being raked from the ashes and silence might have been a more tactful response than told-you-so crowing. More than that, as Karoly explains in this video, he “knows” that floods and heatwaves are proof of runaway climate change. Like so many of his warmist brethren, he also “knows” just which crimps on growth and prosperity must be embraced to avert any more of it.

Not that Karoly is alone in “knowing” that mankind is the cause of global warming. Do a google on “we know climate change is happening” and statements of absolute certainty are summoned to your computer screen by their tens of thousands.

What Wade must not have known is that the very same space on the Age op-ed page was occupied just three days earlier by another all-knowing sort, Sir Crispin Tickell, who cited his own influence on Mrs Thatcher’s thinking as the prod that made her a global-warming activist. Surely, as a purported conservative, Prime Minister Tony Abbott would wish to follow her example, he argued.

What Age readers could not have known (and Age editors neither bothered to learn nor pass along) is that Tickell originally “knew” it was not warming but global cooling that threatened us all. He wrote as much in the 1977 first edition of his book, Climate Change and World Affairs. By the “revised” second edition of 1984, however, he had climbed aboard the warmist wagon and was sounding alarms for all they were worth. Age readers might have appreciated a little background on that remarkable about-face, just as they would have profited from the knowledge that Thatcher, a chemist by training, had both the garden-variety common sense and scientific nous to recognise, albeit somewhat late in the piece, that she had been gulled. By 2002, in Statecraft: strategies for a changing world, she was writing:

The doomsters’ favorite subject today is climate change. This has a number of attractions for them. First, the science is extremely obscure so they cannot easily be proved wrong. Second, we all have ideas about the weather: traditionally, the English on first acquaintance talk of little else.

Third, since clearly no plan to alter climate could be considered on anything but a global scale, it provides a marvelous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism. All this suggests a degree of calculation. Yet perhaps that is to miss half the point. Rather, as it was said of Hamlet that there was method in his madness, so one feels that in the case of some of the gloomier alarmists there is a large amount of madness in their method.

Indeed, the lack of any sense of proportion is what characterizes many pronouncements on the matter by otherwise sensible people. Thus President Clinton on a visit to China, which poses a serious strategic challenge to the US, confided to his host, President Jiang Zemin, that his greatest concern was the prospect that “your people may get rich like our people, and instead of riding bicycles, they will drive automobiles, and the increase in greenhouse gases will make the planet more dangerous for all.”

It would, though, be difficult to beat for apocalyptic hyperbole former Vice President Gore. Mr Gore believes: ‘The cleavage in the modern world between mind and body, man and nature, has created a new kind of addiction: I believe that our civilisation is, in effect, addicted to the consumption of the earth itself.’

And he warns: “Unless we find a way to dramatically change our civilisation and our way of thinking about the relationship between humankind and the earth, our children will inherit a wasteland.”

But why pick on the Americans? Britain’s then Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has observed: “There is no greater national duty than the defense of our shoreline. But the most immediate threat to it today is the encroaching sea.” Britain has found, it seems, a worthy successor to King Canute.

The fact that seasoned politicians can say such ridiculous things – and get away with it – illustrates the degree to which the new dogma about climate change has swept through the left-of-centre governing classes….

Thatcher penned those words all of 13 years ago. Yet Tickell makes no mention of her later scepticism. As fellow op-ed contributor Wade might put it, the career diplomat “knows” which facts are problematic and, hence, best omitted.

For those with nothing better to occupy their time — collecting string or weighing navel lint, for example — Wade’s article can be read in full via the link below.

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