Wednesday 3 June 2015

Colleagues lost to Global Warming mania

I often muse on how many close colleagues, i.e. men who I have at some point allied-with, or 'worked-with' on projects of various types, I have lost to Global Warming over the past couple of decades.

It amounts to quite a high percentage, considering that I have not had all that many collaborators.

(On the other hand, I too have changed - and much of what I worked for I now consider bad; much of what I work for now I would have considered bad in the past. That, no doubt, is how my current position would seem to them - it is I who have changed, who have deviated from the norm.)

It has been surprising and dismaying to recognize that people who seemed to have good judgement, seemed to understand how things worked, ended-up on the wrong side in the biggest, most obvious, most expensive, sustained and harmful scientific fraud of all time.

The causes have been various. One cause is the lure of grants, jobs, promotions, status etc. Another is that I misjudged and over-estimated people.

But the main cause is the recidivist Leftism of the Western intellectual elites. The intelligentsia have proven themselves to be Leftist uber alles and in the face of common sense, personal experience, science and reason.

It is clear that for the past generation, Leftism (and Leftism embraces all mainstream political views in The West, including nationalism, conservatism, libertarianism, and populism) almost-always leads-to corruption, sooner or later.

(The only non-Leftist groups are some traditional religions - none of them dominant or powerful among the Western ruling persons and institutions.)

Far too many once-decent men have incrementally drifted into habitual groupthink, selective blindness, habitual untruth, aesthetic and moral inversion - becoming in the process a species of deluded all-but zombie (dead souled - yet still moving, working, debating, judging, advocating).


Note: When I say these colleagues or collaborators were 'lost'; I really mean lost-to-me qua colleagues or collaborators. Not necessarily as friends! But lost because my scientific-respect was lost. wrt. evaluations, if they cannot see the beam/ tree/ forest in their own eye, then their capacity for discernment in the smaller (yet vital) 'motes' I work on, has been thereby made un-trust-worthy.

Further Note: You cannot get apples out of Oranges. Garbage in: Garbage out. A truth-free system cannot generate truth (no matter how complex the mathematical procedures.

If science is to 'work' - all the participants need to seek truth and speak truth, all the time - and when they stray from this it must be explicitly noted, sanctions applied, confession and repentance are necessary. Or else the liar will be excluded: permanently. 

Historically, this has been extremely unusual behaviour for human beings, and it is very hard to fake. The fact that Climate Change research does not come anywhere remotely near this required behaviour is - I would have thought - about as obvious as anything can be. 


Gabe Ruth said...

Worse than the damage caused by Freudian psychology?

And while there are plenty that use it as a political cudgel, they could just as easily use something else if that were unavailable. So, assuming that it is fraudulent, what exactly is the great harm it has done? It seems like one of the less successful leftist boondoggles, assuming again that that is all it is.

Bruce Charlton said...

@GR - If you don't see, I could not persuade you.

Nicholas Fulford said...

If anthropogenic climate change is over-estimated then the worst that happens is that alternate energy sources are developed which free us from the carbon dependence which leads to the dreadful "frenemy" relations with despotic regimes. There are also some "unfortunate" health dividends which will accrue from less emissions from coal electric plants and automobiles being breathed. We might also have less power distribution-transmission losses if the source-user distance of electricity is shortened via households using solar and/or wind and battery storage. This generates a collateral benefit for everyone by reducing peak demand. Let's see what other benefits may accrue. Less oil processed and used equals fewer opportunities for environmental events such as oil spills.

If we expand beyond just looking at clean energy and global warming and also look at human encroachment into ecologically sensitive areas, we maintain a greater biodiversity. The fact that we can move to any place on the planet and carry with us all manner of hitchhiking eco-species poses a serious problem. It can be from a predatory species being introduced for which the indigenous ecology is not suited. It can be a bacteria, viruses, etc. We become the vector to enable crossing the geographic walls that isolate evolutionary islands, and that can cause all manner of difficulty.

To be fair, if we look at the Global Ecological Commonwealth, acting to preserve that by limiting/constraining human exploitation is an act in our long term self-interest as a species. Just as we can spread eco-species to formerly isolated local ecologies, we may dig up something to which we as a species are ill-equipped to encounter. (Imagine a pathogen that is as lethal as Ebola but which is able to be transmitted as easily as influenza.) Our distinct lack of consideration of such things in the pursuit of consumptive goals may well prove our undoing. Short-termism, hedonism and a misguided understanding of what is necessary to be healthy as individuals and societies leads us to the worst forms of narcissistic-destructive expression. We have no regard for what we leave as a legacy to those who will follow, and in the future - should we be lucky enough to not do something catastrophic through our Sorcerer's Apprentice behaviours - those who follow will look upon as the most selfish and foolish of people.

And if by chance those scientists who see anthropomorphic climate change are right - in the broad stroke - then delays in mitigating the risks will be something that could be dismal for all concerned.

Clear Waters said...

Global Warming is perhaps the definitive example of the Left just flat-out ignoring science when it suits them. Even when it was revealed that UK scientists had produced fraudulent data, the mantra rolled on. The question is where will it end?

Arakawa said...

There's an intuition (which I think is correct) that society and the economy need to be a lot more disciplined and frugal than they are right now.

Global warming seems to provide a narrative for this intuition that does not challenge Leftism or depend on metaphysical or religious assumptions: we are producing too much carbon and need to reduce emissions.

The ability for people's habits to be changed through top-down intervention, however, is turning out to be questionable.

stephens said...

"Far too many once-decent men have incrementally drifted into habitual groupthink, selective blindness, habitual untruth, aesthetic and moral inversion - becoming in the process a species of deluded all-but zombie (dead souled - yet still moving, working, debating, judging, advocating)."

And look at what happened to (Nobel prize winning) James Watson when he didn't!

Bruce Charlton said...

@NF - Oh dear...

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ara - AGW as a Noble Lie?

Like most Noble Lies, the nobility washes-out rapidly, and only the lie remains

Bruce Charlton said...

@stephens - There is no need for courage if there is no need to be courageous.

ted said...

@Bruce - While the extent of climate change is overdone by the media and lefty activists, can we really be sure that we are not impacting our environment in this regard to any extent?

JP said...


"There's an intuition (which I think is correct) that society and the economy need to be a lot more disciplined and frugal than they are right now."

Spending trillions of dollars on junk science and on economically senseless "alternative energy" schemes, and burdening the economy with politically inspired regulations, and transferring money from the politically unconnected to the politically connected, is just the way to do that. Got it! Let's move out on that frugal discipline program right away.

Global warming does not "challenge Leftism"? That's because global warming IS Leftist -- it was created by the Left for the Left's evil purposes.

JP said...


Inasmuch as the Left wants to make dramatic interventions into the totality of human economic, political, and social life in the name of mitigating AGW, the worst that can happen if we over-estimate AGW is the waste of human and economic resources on a titanic scale as well as the radical curtailment of human freedom and the diversion of human genius into scientific and technological dead ends.

If you want me to believe yet another Leftist utopian scheme is well-intentioned and there's no harm in trying it... pull the other one.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ted - Wrong question. The point is that nobody in the world can predict climate change; let alone control the climate.

Bruce Charlton said...

I love walking in (relatively) remote countryside. The last 15 years has seen great tracts of it blighted with arrays of vast wind turbines - situated on hilltops and ridges for maximum visibility. The only thing they generate is subsidies - not least because (at any given time) so many of them don't work (i.e. aren't turning). Up close they are loud, terrible, Mordor-like structures.

Leo said...

Wind turbines are indeed ugly and a serious danger to birds. Their economics depends on tax breaks.

I just spent a week in Alaska on vacation. In the Anchorage Daily News I saw a piece on global warming with the argument that cutting greenhouse gases would be a good idea even if the science were uncertain. Of course, the author didn't believe in that uncertainty at all. She was convinced of AGW. Entirely missing from the article was the fact that Alaska's economy is hugely dependent on the oil industry (which she would curtail) and Alaska might actually benefit from being a bit warmer.

I have become convinced that the science on the issue has become way too politicized for me to trust. I am also convinced that whatever I say or do on the matter will not move the thermometer or the political needle on the subject one iota. If India and China decide to curb their greenhouse gas emissions, they have the right to do so. I am not in a position to persuade or dictate to them or anyone else.

I have a fairly small carbon footprint, but not for political reasons. I walk to work and happen live where I don't need air conditioning for most of the summer and need relatively little heating in the winter.

Of all the things I worry about for my future or the future of my children or grandchildren, global warming ranks very low on the list.

Nicholas Fulford said...

Bruce Charlton said The point is that nobody in the world can predict climate change; let alone control the climate.

What is predictable is that we will rapaciously consume whatever crosses our paths if there is nothing to say 'NO'. The most greedy will shape the agenda for their benefit, and all the rest can hang. You have made the point here - frequently - that the old values have been kicked to the curb, that people put material, sensual, and status desires above those which are necessary for the good of the species. The reproductive trends in developed countries are not based on people making the decision to limit the number of people for a moral good, but so that they can grab a bigger piece of the material pie in their Mouse Utopias.

How is constraining greed a bad thing? How is being a good steward of the environment anti-Christian? How is doing one's best to insure that the planet we leave to our children is sustainable and healthy a bad thing?

You say that we cannot control climate change. I agree, but we can stop damaging local ecologies through encroachment. We can reduce our effect by controlling and limiting the effluence we discharge into the environment. We cannot control the environment, but we have no problem placing ginormous toxic spanners of waste into the environment. I can't think how doing this has *no significant detrimental effect*. The hypoxic zone where the Mississippi delta flows into the Gulf of Mexico are a direct result of chemical leaching from intensive factory farming. see -

And what kind of legacy do you make of Pacific Garbage Patches? - see

Even from a strictly human perspective, what about the deleterious affects of toxins on human health?

Air pollution caused 165 000 lung cancer deaths globally in 2004 of which:

108 000 were caused by outdoor air pollution
36 000 were due to solid fuels used for cooking and heating
21 000 were due to second-hand smoke.
- from

So yes, I am concerned about what we have done and are doing to the environment. I am concerned about human greed run amuck. I do think we can and do *influence* the planetary ecology, and that anthropogenic climate change is a symptom of our malaise, just as Mouse Utopia is. We really do need to find a new - or perhaps an old - way of living which is healthier for individuals, families, communities and the other species we share this planet with. Right now we are orcs, and somehow we need to find the way to stop being orcs.

Philip Neal said...

Bruce, you feel let down by "people who seemed to have good judgement, seemed to understand how things worked" but turned out not to spot the left wing intellectual corruption at work in the particular issue of global warming.

I think this is unrealistic. The Handle's Haus list of Watsonings, as I write, contains 238 cases, and we could all think of many more. The common factor is that they appealed to truth, supposing that truth is what counts in the court of public opinion, and fell foul of those who regard truth, or the semblance of truth, as a means to an end. They are not a remnant of 238 individuals with the gift of discernment in a world given over to falsehood.

It is not reasonable to expect that intelligent people who can clearly see the general phenomenon of groupthink and thoughtcrime should be able to identify every case of it. For instance, Greg Cochran and John Derbyshire know exactly what you are talking about but say they have not seen evidence that warmism is an example of it. This recent post on Wattsupwiththat has some wise words about rational ignorance. There is a cost to pursuing any line of investigation, and Cochran and Derbyshire have said that that is how they see the matter. They are both polymaths, but nobody can be a polymath about everything.

Nicholas Fulford said...

Bruce Charlton said:
I love walking in (relatively) remote countryside. The last 15 years has seen great tracts of it blighted with arrays of vast wind turbines - situated on hilltops and ridges for maximum visibility. The only thing they generate is subsidies - not least because (at any given time) so many of them don't work (i.e. aren't turning). Up close they are loud, terrible, Mordor-like structures.

There is a Spanish company - Vortex Bladeless that is working on a system that - if successful - will address some of the concerns people have with wind turbines. The system should be silent, offer significantly less risk to birds, have higher reliability, lower cost, and be scalable. see -

Not as aesthetic as pristine wilderness, but because it does not rely on laminar air - as bladed turbines do - there should be no need to put them on hilltops and ridges. (Note as an avid backpacker I share your concern about not having the beautiful places I hike being filled with 'hand of man' artefacts.) The residential units would have the advantages of no grid transmission losses, and offer a significant degree of protection from grid outages. (I live in Toronto and the winter before last we had an ice storm which knocked out the grid for between 2 and 7 days - based on how long it took the crews to get out and restore service across the city. One of these wind generators would have kept the lights on.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@NF - I have been an 'environmentalist' since 1974, in the sense that was when I read Schumacher - and I gave a lecture to the local Labour Party (I was a socialist) on the environment etc when I was 16 years old. So I have seen the environmental movement over a long stretch, and its co-opting into mainstream politics. Indeed, I was reading about 'climate change' in in Lovelock's book in the late 80s. (Back then it was *methane* which was the problem - but we don't hear much about that now, because controlling CO2 is much more politically useful.)

Anyway, from these decades of observation I know that 'environmentalism' is not, and cannot be, strong enough to function as an effective ideology - it will always and easily be co opted into careerism, money making, status seeking. Therefore, environmentalism can only come as a part of a package - and a means to an end.

Environmentalism is just one of many things which cannot *really* happen until we are on the other side of a religious revival. Until then, every good idea *will be* subverted by short-term selfishness, and turned against its intentions.

This is why I regard Christian revival as not just essential; but as the first essential. There really is no alternative. We cannot have the means without the end.

My own understanding of ultimate things is that *everything* is alive (to lesser or greater extents, and in different ways) and in communication - and I believe that everybody is born with this knowledge since this is how children view the world. That kind of religious assumption - not politics - is the proper root of environmentalism.

Bruce Charlton said...

@PN- Yes, I am on that list - and so are several of my friends and colleagues.

But I cannot be argued out of this one!

Science does not happen by accident - but as a consequence of the habit of truth (truth-seeking, truth-speaking). When there is not the habit of truth - there is no science.

It is that simple. The inference is that there is very little real science: this is correct. VERY little science. Shockingly little. You cannot believe what you read in the journals - and there is no method for sifting the wheat from the chaff; you can only operate via trusted individuals.

People who write-about-science cannot really believe the truth about the wholesale corruption of science, because then they would have nothing to write about.

knifecatcher said...

Solar and wind energy are too dilute and intermittent to ever be an important energy source.
In the coming years the whole enterprise will fail dramatically.
That's why Putin is tying up all the nuclear resources he can.
That's why China is building coal plants and nuke plants by the dozens.
That's why Germany has to keep building lignite coal plants.

ElectricAngel said...


Your dedication to strict honesty and adherence to truth in science recalls to me Jane Jacobs' Systems of Survival, in which she described science as belonging in the province of the "trader" moral syndrome. A dishonest politician will rarely suffer consequences unless he is also fdishonorable.

A merchant with a reputation for dishonesty is no longer a merchant. A scientist who falsifies data is no longer a scientist.

The Wikipedia page on the book gives a decent summary of the book. It's worth a read if you haven't picked it up.

Bruce Charlton said...

@EA - Thanks for the tip - I have been meaning to reading Jane Jacobs for a while; the late and lamented Seth Roberts was a great admirer of her work.

Glengarry said...

It's gone so far that I'm quite comfortable in dismissing the credibility of AGW entirely. As mentioned above, the current rogues' gallery aren't remotely behaving like serious scientists but merely as money hounds and glory seekers; they would need to reboot the endeavour with a whole new crew and rebuild the edifice from ground up to make me even attempt to reconsider. And even when writing that, I'm thinking, no would I really bother?