Doomed Planet

When Smart People Get the Climate Crazies

If Machiavelli set out to devise a strategy to drive the greatest wealth transfer in history, monetizing “climate change” on the pretext of saving planet Earth from an anthropogenic apocalypse would be at the top of his list. Globalists and climate controllers are very keen on it too. One of them is former rock-star central banker, Dr Mark Carney, OC, the UN Secretary General’s new Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance.

Dr Carney: A market in the transition to net zero is now being built…which can accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. It’s turning an existential risk into one of the greatest commercial opportunities of our time. It’s now within our grasp to create a virtuous cycle of innovation and investment for the net zero world that people are demanding, and that future generations deserve. In this way, private finance can bend the arc of history towards climate justice…..and the Glasgow of COP 26 can be reunited with the Glasgow of Adam Smith.Reith Lecture 4, transcript, page 6, December 26, 2020

A “net zero world that people are demanding” is a tactic as old as Methuselah. Scare sufficient folk – especially the young – into believing what you want them to believe and soon they are pressuring countries, corporations, pension funds and the gullible into supporting your Net Zero ideology in the name of “climate justice”.

Changes in the weather were once attributed to gods or demons, but no longer. Many folk now assert ad nauseum the developed world is the primary cause of most – if not all – atmospheric variability. The dodgy pseudoscience of “attribution” has fooled them, with help from UN agencies and a MSM obsessed with crises, both real and imagined.

A new religion has been created in the process. Nasty predictions proliferate at a rate not seen since the age of Jeremiah. Follow the weeping prophets and you could reap large profits from one of “the greatest commercial opportunities of all time”, or at least since the Dutch came down with tulip mania. In the utopia of Net Zero everyone will be a winner.  All that is required to realise this green fantasy is an arbitrary price on “carbon” (dioxide) north of US$75 a tonne. As for private finance, be alert. It could include your savings.

Dr Carney: To unlock that market, which could be worth more than $100 billion a year, we need the right infrastructure to connect demand from companies who have or are putting in place net zero goals, with supply of offsets in countries around the world. A new private sector taskforce is working to create this critical market in time for next year’s Glasgow summit. — Reith Lecture 4, transcript, page 6

On Christmas Day last year, two billion people celebrated a Divine birth in a manger a long time ago. The next day there was another miracle, an immaculate misconception extolled on BBC Radio 4. A few economists, bankers, bureaucrats and carefully chosen alarmists zoomed in to hear about a “market solution to the climate crisis”. Yes, we can be saved from the sin of diurnal emissions. Redemption is possible, but only if we have faith, change our values and get with the Great Reset. Big Climate wants a binding “ratchet mechanism” for recalcitrant countries to be endorsed at the Glasgow UN Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November. Together For Our Planet evangelists, Extinction Rebellion zealots, Joe Biden and possibly some of NASA’s brainwashed climate kids, are ecstatic at the prospect. The choice is stark: either set out on a long march to the Promised Land of Net Zero, or face a catastrophe by 2050, one with more “tipping points” along the way than an online bookie’s tout on a good day. Few can resist the Great Hubris. Promoting salvation – with funny-money and virtue-signalling – is more fun than exposing a global boondoggle. A new chapter is being written for a future edition of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

The BBC Radio 4 event was the climax of The Reith Lectures 2020. Dr Carney, a former Governor of the Bank of England and Canada, was guest speaker. His theme: “How we get what we value”.

The four lectures: From moral to market sentiments; credit crisis to resilience; COVID crisis to renaissance, and climate crisis to real prosperity. The key message was to be prepared, for the “world didn’t prepare enough for the pandemic, climate change, and the 2008 financial crisis.” We have to change the attitudes that led to this “trio of crises”, said Dr Carney.

If we value the present much more than the future then we are less likely to make the necessary investments today, to reduce risk tomorrow.

So despite a history of financial crises that stretches back centuries banks didn’t build adequate rainy-day buffers in advance of the global financial crisis [of 2008].

Or despite overwhelming scientific evidence, society is still underinvesting in addressing climate change, even though actions today will be less costly than those required in the future.

And despite varied and ample warnings, we didn’t invest adequately in preparedness or healthcare capacity for a pandemic.

These tragedies of the horizon won’t be addressed by fixing market imperfections alone. — Dr Carney, Radio 4 tweet, December 3, 2020

The trouble with “tragedies of the horizon” is that it’s hard to prepare for the future, especially those known unknowns. Hence we value the present. Dr Carney calls it our “recency bias”.

Hindsight has 20/20 vision. If the world “didn’t prepare enough”, maybe it was because foresight is often blind or myopic. Perhaps there are just too many crises that lack simple solutions: atomic weapons, cyber warfare, electoral fraud, human inertia, etc. As for the mantra that present actions are “less costly than future actions”, it is surely only true if we know what the future will be with great confidence. And what of the “overwhelming scientific evidence” and “remorseless logic of climate physics”? Could it be that what we have here is more “precautionary principle” – not a principle of science – than proof of causation?

That the climate is changing is hardly surprising. It has been doing so ever since the planet acquired an atmosphere. What is surprising is that so many blame it on “carbon” when the controversy is actually over 0.04 per cent of an invisible trace gas, carbon dioxide. Given its vital role in photosynthesis, yearning for a Zero Carbon world is an odd aspiration.

Dr Carney is right in saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. So plucking future temperatures out of dubious climate models is a big call, as are speculative scenarios about melting icecaps, acidifying oceans and all the bog standard flim-flanneries of doom and despoilation.

Dr Carney: Our oceans have become 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. Sea levels have risen 20 centimetres over the past century, with the rate of increase doubling in the past two decades. The pace of ice loss in the Arctic and Antarctic has tripled over the last decade. Extreme climate events, hurricanes, wildfires, and flash flooding are multiplying. What had been Biblical is becoming commonplace. — Reith Lecture 4, transcript, page 2

There’s a whiff of argument by false analogy here too. If A is like B, and if A has property P, therefore B has property P. This is true if and only if A really is like B.  

COVID-19 is not like climate change, except in a general sense: both are natural phenomena that potentially affect everyone. Both can be ramped easily into a future scare. Specifically, of course, they are different. Covid-19 is the DNA genome sequence identified by Chinese researchers early last year, and its mutations. Climate change is whatever you want it be: for example, any extreme weather event for which the developed world allegedly should pay loss and damage compensation.

Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics at City University, New York, thought so too.

Professor Krugman: Well, Mark [Carney], I’d like to ask you to, if possible, argue me out of the pessimism that I’m feeling right now. The overarching issue, you’ve alluded to that, you know, beyond COVID climate change it’s the fundamental place where we need to bring values into effect, we need to get beyond just individual self-interest in our collective interest. If you asked me a year ago, I would have said that the reason we have such a hard time dealing with climate is that it is kind of custom-made to play into our short-sightedness. It’s an issue where the consequences of individual actions are very diffuse. They may be enormous but they’re very widespread, and the time horizon is very long.

But COVID is everything that climate is not. The effects are pretty easily traced. We can actually link, you know, infections, deaths, to specific parties, specific events, quite quickly, and then there’s the timescale. Instead of playing out over decades it plays out, often, over weeks. If we can’t do this, if we can’t respond effectively to this kind of crisis, what hope is there for us being able to do the right thing for the even bigger crisis of climate change?

Dr Carney: I think there’s a couple of things that provide some hope, some possibility, but absolutely no assurance. — Reith Lecture 3, transcript, page 8

There’s another difference. Experiments and trials are possible with COVID-19, as Dr Kevin Fong explains here: Breakthrough: the race for the Covid vaccine. Try moving a small planet into your laboratory!

Even a few peer-reviewed papers, such this one –“Causal Counterfactual Theory for the Attribution of Weather and Climate-Related Events” – acknowledge the challenge. Researchers have to conjure a “counterfactual world”, a hypothetical “control” world assumed to be impacted only by natural “forcings” and variability, to make their case.

Most unfortunately, in the climate sciences, no such sample of Earth-like climate systems is accessible to natural observation and even less so to experimental testing … With such strong limitations on the natural observation side and with in situ experimentation inaccessible, we are left with the only remaining alternative: so-called in silico experimentation.A. Hannart et al, American Meteorological Society, January 2016

In silico, Latin for “in silicon”, refers to “experiments” performed solely on a computer, such as computer modelling. However, there’s “another serious difficulty”:

climate models, including the most detailed GCMs, are simplified representations of reality that are affected by both numerical and physical modeling errors. Thus, the real causal effects may differ from the model causal effects. — Hannart et al, p. 106

Such admissions seldom appear in the orthodoxy’s media releases. They are the dark secrets in Big Climate’s attic.

Historian Niall Ferguson asked this question  of Doctor Carney:

Mr Ferguson: Well, Mark congratulations on these lectures. As a Glaswegian I was very happy to hear Glasgow and Adam Smith feature throughout. You referenced Greta Thunberg but didn’t make any mention of Bjorn Lomborg. I thought that was a pity because he’s another influential Scandinavian whose views in some ways seem closer to yours, after all, Greta Thunberg called in Davos in January for an immediate cessation of emissions and we immediately found out what that would mean economically because COVID-19 forced very drastic reductions in economic activity. It reduced emissions but it created massive unemployment, so I wonder if you could say a few words about Lomborg’s views, particularly in his most recent book, False Alarm.

Dr Carney: I haven’t read Bjorn Lomborg’s latest book. But I’ll say this, that one of the things about his approach, which is a sort of, which is a classic economic approach, which is actually what I’m arguing against. But I want to say it was 15 or 20 years ago when he came out with his, “Don’t worry about the Climate”. How’s that working out for us? — Reith Lecture 4, transcript, page 8

As for financial markets, it seems ironic that many central banks – which did not see or predict the 2008 crisis – now have incorporated Dr Carney’s infatuation with climate change into their mission statements. Once upon a time they focused on managing inflation, now they arguably are creating it. 

Dr Carney: “Some people did see it coming, but those who were in authority tried to convince themselves that it was unlikely to happen, as opposed to asking the question what happens if it happens?” — Reith Lecture 2, transcript, page 14

Steve Baker, a Conservative MP for Wycombe and member of the UK Treasury Select Committee, was worried about magic money and the free-lunch syndrome.

About one in every five US dollars that exists today was created ex nihilo last year. The central bank pledge to keep interest rates ultra-low for a very long time has created asset-price inflation in many markets. According to Jeremy Grantham, we’re witnessing ‘one of the great bubbles of financial history’. Do the banks have an exit strategy?

Mr Baker: Mark reminded us that public money is not unlimited but the pandemic’s accelerated a phenomenon we’ve seen over the last decade. It’s become the norm for the governments to issue debt and for another part of the state, the Central Bank, to buy that government debt out of newly created money from nothing. With this money the government pays its obligations. Now, I would say this encourages people to believe it’s possible for there to be such a thing as a free lunch.

Anita Anand (presenter): It’s one of those things we’ve heard, you know, there’s no magic money tree, but now we seem to have discovered a magic money tree. Is your worry that culturally we can now not un-discover said magic money tree?

Mr Baker: That’s absolutely right … I do think what we’ve seen here now is that government finances are where they are, we’re able to finance this deficit because of the extent of QE, and I think that is teaching the public there’s a free lunch, that there’s something for nothing. — Reith Lecture 3, transcript, page 6

 In the arcane world of central bank “values” it’s also permissible to penalise prudent savers by depriving them of a fair rate of interest, while encouraging governments and speculators to borrow even more money. Their argument: trust us, for it will deliver “greater good” in the future. Addressing an audience of bankers and financiers at Coutts Bank in July 2019 about the “risks and rewards” posed by climate change, Dr Carney argued that capitalism could help “save the planet”. Is that why he jumped out of the monetary frying pan into the climate fire?  Later that year, António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, announced his appointment as a Special Envoy. It was a long way from Fort Smith, his birthplace in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

See also Climate hysteria: follow the money

Perhaps there is another reason. Somewhere in a feminist manifesto it is written: “behind every great man is an even greater woman”. On his appointment as the Bank of England’s youngest governor eight years ago, his wife, Diana Fox Carney, was described by Jon Swain in The Daily Telegraph(UK) as “an eco-warrior who says banks are rotten”.  Journalist Homa Khaleeli (here) wrote at the time that Ms Fox Carney was “keen to get her opinions heard; some of them had a “distinctly left-wing slant.”

There was another media moment last December. Prince Harry suggested COVID-19 was nature’s way of punishing humankind for creating climate change. “Somebody said to me at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s almost as though Mother Nature has sent us to our rooms for bad behaviour.” He urged people to imagine being a raindrop to help repair the Earth.

Prince Harry: Every single raindrop that falls from the sky relieves the parched ground. What if every one of us was a raindrop? If every single one of us cared? We do, because we have to, because at the end of the day nature is our life source. Reuters, December 2, 2020

What if today’s climate alarmism is driven more by fear of the unknown – and the unknowable – than verifiable data? What if the only vaccine that can inoculate us against climate-controlling grandiosity – the UN calls it “ambition” – is a daily dose of humility? What if the planet’s climate – like corona virus and anthropogenic population growth – is beyond our control? What if nature controls us, not vice versa?

9 comments
  • J Vernau

    The inaugural Reith lectures were given by Bertrand Russell. In 2019 Lord Sumption delivered a memorable series on how the law is taking over politics. And then, in 2020, Mark Carney!
    From the sublime to the ridiculous.

  • ianl

    >”It’s become the norm for the governments to issue debt and for another part of the state, the Central Bank, to buy that government debt out of newly created money from nothing”

    In plain words – a dud cheque.

    Nowhere is one secure now. The Cyprus treatment awaits. Sure, asset inflation takes hold, but who can then afford to buy these assets ?

    Also, note the glib little nasty: “net zero”. Basically it means that our betters will decide who has access to energy. Rationing will become the new status quo.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    J Vernau:Yes. Lord Russell was the first Reith lecturer in 1948, on freedom and the individual, The elephant in the greenhouse later worried him: human population growth. He wrote an essay about it in 1963, when there were only 3,200 million of us.
    Of all the long-run problems facing the world, Russell wrote: ‘this problem of population is the most important and fundamental, for, until it is solved, other measures of amelioration are futile” (Population Pressure and War).
    About 7,800 million on the planet today, with 10,000 million projected by 2050, Net Zero’s target year.
    The human biomass seldom gets a mention today. Climate change is the bogeyman of this century.

  • Michael

    We can be too inclined believe that financial people are the best and the brightest, have our best interests at heart, and that we should listen to them with reverent awe. But experience tells us that they are also snake-oil salesmen, apt to follow the fashions of the day, to exploit them for their own gain, or even to create them for that purpose. Financial people are often spivs, rip-off merchants, ponzi schemers, con men, call them what you will. People who seek to make money for themselves by taking it from us under false pretences.

  • DG

    I’m trying to think of a Greek myth that describes the nonsense that Carney is piloting. I couldn’t. I attribute this to lack of reading or a deficient memory (of childhood reading). So I think of the next best (or maybe the intially better) thing: We have in the climate games the modern reincarnation of the hubristic Tower of Babel: different technology, same motives.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    DG: In ancient Greek drama, Nemesis pursued mortals guilty of hubris, “insolence towards the gods.”
    The claim that a certain group of people can control the weather surely would attract her attention.
    They’ll recognize her if she comes their way, Her attributes: a measuring rod, a bridle, scales, a sword, and a scourge,. She’ll be riding in a chariot drawn by griffins.

  • rod.stuart

    Of this you can be absolutely certain:
    These “learned men” have not the foggiest notion of what the term “climate” is.
    It is a REGIONAL parameter, for the purpose of comparing the typical weather of one region with another.
    As for “manage what you measure”; the only “measurement” of a climate is a classification system.
    While the climate classification of all regions do change over the millenia, only a fool would suggest that human activities over the past century have been the cause of any change, since since few regions if any have a different classification than that when classifications were developed late ninteenth century (excluding changes due to land use).
    A dead dog with one eye could see that the whole “climate change” scam is simply repeated in the “covid” scam, measured with a meaningless test which is easily manipulated.

  • sirtony

    I object to the term ‘ocean acidification’ or claims that the oceans are becoming more ‘acidic’. The oceans are not, and never will be, acidic. The oceans are moderately alkaline or basic i.e. ph > 7 (actual ph about 8.14).
    Any changes due to the absorption of CO2 are towards a less alkaline or neutral condition. This process might correctly be labelled neutralisation as it moves towards pure water (ph 7) but that doesn’t sound scary enough does it?

  • richard.sherratt

    Above average intelligence means that he could have an IQ of 101. His IQ is probably a bit higher than that. He could be very intelligent for all we know. But he seems to be totally ignorant when it comes to science and engineering. Many people who don’t have IQs over 140 and deep understanding of advanced maths and physics understand when they are being fooled and lied to, even if they don’t understand the science (Not THE SCIENCE). But many more people seem to accept the activist nonsense put out by people like Carney.

    Politicians seem to be particularly susceptible to believing fantasy crap.

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