and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing
it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them
imaginary" - H.L.Mencken
We haven't written anything about Global Warming for at least a week – some of you are probably getting withdrawal symptoms – so here's a little something to keep you going and distract you while your life savings are piddling down the bog ...
First, a remarkable event: the Independent, that trendy, with-it, greenest-of-the-green environmentally-friendly gospel of the Global Warming faith, has actually acknowledged that there are people who don't believe in Global Warming and that some of them at least are not criminal idiots in the pay of Big Oil. This is an article by Tim Walker which appeared on 12th October ...
The climate change unbelievers
Global warming is happening and we're to blame, right? That's certainly the view of almost every expert in the field. But a die-hard band of naysayers continues to rail against the consensus. Are they completely mad? Judge for yourself...
The caption calls him the "high priest of deceit and global destruction". The picture has him belching fire like a dragon. And who is the subject of this highly personal attack? None other than Al Gore, who last year won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for their success in bringing the climate-change crisis to global public attention.
Not everybody likes Gore and his beliefs about the future of our planet – and especially not Hans Schreuder, the 62-year-old former chemist who runs the Gore-baiting website Ilovemycarbondioxide.com. Schreuder is one of the climate-change sceptics who continue to make their case despite the mounting evidence of climate change that we, the public, are presented with every day; despite the unanimous endorsement of climate-change theory by every national academy of science in the industrialised world.
Even President Bush, who stalled developments for so long, has conceded that climate change is real, and caused by man-made carbon emissions. And even Bush has tried, however half-heartedly, to do something about it in the last days of his administration. (Though the big challenge remains to persuade the new major emitters – China and India – to sign any agreement on reductions.)
The sceptics declare that the central evidence for carbon-driven climate change in the reports of the IPCC are nonsense. Specifically, the "hockey stick" graph, which correlates the steep rise in world temperatures to the steep rise in carbon emissions, and which Gore demonstrates, with the help of a hydraulic crane, in his film An Inconvenient Truth. Gore's opponents say there's evidence that world temperatures have, in fact, begun to fall since 2000.
In 2005, the House of Lords Economics Committee voiced "concerns" about the objectivity of the IPCC, suggesting some of the agency's emissions projections were "influenced by political considerations". The committee's claims were subsequently rejected by the Government and the Stern Review on the economics of climate change, but the vested-interests argument unites sceptics, and mirrors the accusations often levelled at them in turn, that they are in the pockets of big oil, big gas, or the US Republican Party.
The sceptics come from the worlds of politics, economics, television and, crucially, science. David Bellamy (opposite), a professor of botany who was formerly the televisual face of eco-evangelism, has been compared with a Holocaust denier because he doesn't believe carbon emissions cause climate change. Climatologist Piers Corbyn is convinced climate change is caused by solar activity, not CO2. Economist Ruth Lea warns of the IPCC's political and business interests. Martin Durkin, maker of the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, says the green industry is in too deep to afford to acknowledge scientific law. And the former Chancellor, Nigel Lawson maintains that though the science of climate change could be broadly correct, its consequences have been exaggerated.
Should we give their opinions the time of day? Whether you agree or not (and chances are you won't)(well, no, not if you're a regular reader of the Independent. But then how many of those are there? - GOS), the climate-change sceptics have no intention of shutting up.
The conservationist: David Bellamy
David Bellamy is an environmental campaigner and former television presenter. He was senior lecturer in Botany at Durham University until 1982, where he is now an honorary professor
"Global warming is the biggest scam since the church sold indulgences back in the Middle Ages. If our Government actually believes that all those people are going to die, why did it build Terminal Five?
"I've been doing research on the stability of ecosystems, which is all tied up with human activity, for 22 years. That's why I became a leading greenie in the early days. I have probably stood on more picket lines than anyone to stop forest-clearing, wind farms and the overfishing of the sea. But when the scientific arguments don't add up, one starts to question them: CO2 levels have risen in the atmosphere, but why don't all the other bits of science fall in around that?
"The speed of retreat of glaciers worldwide has not changed. The latest data shows that both the northern and southern ice caps are actually growing. The recent studies of the ice core show that rises in temperature are followed by a release of carbon dioxide, not the other way around. I'll be in New Zealand soon, and two of the major glaciers there are growing like the clappers. And from 1998 there has been no rise at all in the temperature of the earth. Indeed, all the sunspot data tells us we're headed for 15 very cold years.
"Many peer-reviewed papers show that as CO2 goes up, many plants and forests grow up to 40 per cent faster. The New Scientist has reported that 300,000 square kilometres of former desert are now covered with trees. Why don't we have all those good points publicised?
"Global temperature has risen at a natural rate that began 300 years ago. That slope of change has not changed since then, so how can we say that carbon is the driver? The sun has more correlations with temperature change than carbon.
"The whole world is hooked on a fear of carbon, and there really is nothing to fear.
"The scientific consensus is not strong, but every time I turn on the television or read a newspaper, I hear that it is. The BBC constantly tells us the lakes in Africa are drying up because of global warming. The lakes are drying up because of the dams around them, and the fact that we are using that local water to produce cut flowers for the European market. Why aren't we told these things?
"If you go through the peer-reviewed literature on our side of the argument, it's near-unanimous in not predicting climate catastrophe. But it has got to a state of McCarthyism within science. As a university don, I used to try to get every tenth paper of mine into [the weekly science journal] Nature. But Nature will not touch any papers which are anti the global-warming ethic. I have been called a Holocaust denier. If they weren't really frightened they were losing the argument, they wouldn't write those things." '
The economist: Ruth Lea
Ruth Lea is economic adviser to the Arbuthnot Banking Group, and formerly held positions including director of the Centre for Policy Studies, head of the Policy Unit at the Institute of Directors, and economics editor of ITN
"The foundation of our climate-change policy is the projections made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We've signed up to the IPCC, as an agency of the UN, and it's portrayed as an impartial, independent scientific organisation. In fact, it's highly political, most of its members are governmental appointees, and it contains a strong element of evangelical environmentalism. But whatever you think about it politically, you have to look at its projections, as they are core to the whole debate.
"The IPCC makes assumptions on economic growth, assumptions on fuel prices and demographics, then it puts all these assumptions into a model, which produces a forecast for carbon-dioxide emissions. Then it puts those results into a climate model, which predicts temperature change for the next century.
"I wouldn't claim to be qualified to speak about the climate models, but as an economist and statistician, I look at its predictions for economic growth, fuel consumption, demographics and so on, and I ask myself how it can possibly know what these will be by the end of the century.
"I made some economic forecasts about six weeks ago, and then we were hit by a financial crisis, so who knows where fuel costs are going? Yet the IPCC says it knows what'll be happening in 100 years' time.
"Climate-change policy is predicated on the IPCC stuff being taken as gospel. When I started to study the economics, I was shocked. Like many people, I assumed the IPCC findings were rock- solid and unquestionable. But when I looked at how it made its projections, I was horrified. I don't think people realise the vast uncertainties. When you hear people saying the temperature is going to rise by four degrees this century, do you hear anyone explaining that there's only a 0.001 probability that will happen? No.
"I wrote a sceptical letter to the FT in 2006, and there was a very dismissive, patronising, curt response from the Royal Society as if to say, 'How dare you question any of this?' I was amazed at its tone. And the writer and environmentalist George Monbiot has accused me of being financed by the oil companies. If only!
"Anybody who disputes the IPCC's projections is branded a Holocaust denier. I find that offensive. If I had relatives who'd been murdered in the Holocaust, I'd be beside myself with anger.
"When I started to utter my views, I discovered there were quite a few vested interests in green industry, not least in carbon-trading. And boy, they didn't like it. Questioning this stuff rips away the foundations of their business.
"There are probably more economists in a position to speak freely than there are scientists – we can afford to. The problem for scientists is that they have to go along with government policy, which currently states that we're all going to be fried alive in the next 50 years."
The climatologist: Piers Corbyn
Piers Corbyn is the maverick weather forecaster and owner of Weather Action, which makes forecasts up to a year in advance based on Corbyn's theory of the 'Solar Weather Technique'
"There's no evidence that carbon dioxide drives world temperatures or climate change. The 'hockey stick' is fraud, Al Gore's film is fraud, and schemes to remove CO2 from the atmosphere by machines are a scam.
"Temperatures rose since about 1915, but if you look in more detail, estimates show that they've declined since 2002. As it grew, the global-warming empire set about trying to find data to prove its case, but the data it found actually disproves its case. That's why the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Project doesn't highlight the results that negate the theory.
"The idea that climate change causes extreme weather is preposterous. The average number of landfall storms per decade in the US was higher between 1900 and 1960 than in the past 30 or so years. I've met scientists who've said I'm probably right, but if you're in a university funded to research global warming, you're not going to speak up.
"People say that I oppose climate-change theory because I want my way of forecasting to be proved right. But the reason I think the CO2 theory is wrong is that the CO2 theory is wrong." '
The politician: Nigel Lawson
Now Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer this year published 'An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming', in which he was critical of climate-change policy, including the Kyoto Protocol and the Stern Review
"There has been no global warming this century, and that is apparent from figures produced by the Hadley Centre, the branch of the UK Met Office that monitors world temperatures.
"There's also uncertainty over the impact of climate change, even if it does happen. If you take the trouble to read the IPCC reports, there's a mixed bag of potential consequences, some of them beneficial.
"After the hot summer of 2003, the Department of Health looked into what might happen in the UK if the temperature by 2050 matched predictions. It found there would be an increase in deaths from dehydration of 2,000 per year, but a reduction in deaths from hypothermia of 20,000 per year.
"We're told that there has to be a global agreement to deal with global warming, to cut back drastically on carbon-dioxide emissions, but it's simply not going to happen. The Chinese and Indians have made it clear that they're not going to cut back, and with good reason. Their number-one priority is to get their people out of poverty. That means the most rapid possible rate of growth, which means using the cheapest available form of energy, which, now and for the foreseeable future, is carbon-based energy.
"If warming occurs, we should adapt, as mankind has always done. People live in a whole range of climates already. Technology will develop in ways that we can't predict. We can help poor countries to adapt with aid programmes, which will be infinitely cheaper than wrecking our own economies.
"There is a great clash going on between the developing world and the developed world over this, which is politically dangerous. People as diverse as the EU industry commissioner, President Sarkozy of France, and the Democrats in the US Congress, are saying that if China and India won't cut back emissions, then we must impose tariffs on their goods. That kind of retreat into protectionism would be very damaging economically.
"Still, I think you'll find now that both major parties are giving this issue a lot less prominence than they were a year ago, and that is all to the good. The last thing we want is foolish and damaging commitments being made."'
The polemicist: Martin Durkin
Martin Durkin is the documentary-maker behind The Great Global Warming Swindle, which was shown on Channel 4 in 2007 and became the subject of an Ofcom enquiry. He was already known as the 'scourge of the greens' for some of his previous work, including the 1997 series Against Nature, which was critical of the environmental movement
"The premise of The Great Global Warming Swindle was that climate-change science doesn't stack up. We had to ask, if it's true that the science is weak, then why the scare? It had to be about the phenomenon of a scare as much as the science.
"Take BSE; we were told that half the population would die because we'd all eaten dodgy hamburgers. It was backed by the Government's chief scientist, yet it is now acknowledged as nonsense. Anyone with a long memory will remember the 'next ice age' scare in the early-1970s. There is a culture that produces scares.
"My first brush with the environmental movement came about 12 years ago, when Channel 4 asked me to make a series about it. There was a long line of environmental scares – about population, resource depletion, GM food – and I wanted to find out whether they were rational.
"I discovered quickly that a section of society – broadly speaking, the bureaucratic middle-classes – are instinctively anti-industry, anti-supermarkets, anti-cars. Scientists, teachers and university lecturers are part of this section. They fall into a tradition of romantic anti-capitalism, which finds modernity aesthetically distasteful. They used to have a disparate set of prejudices, but global warming linked them all up and gave them the uber-apocalypse they were after.
"If they cause a rumpus, then politicians will say, 'We're putting £20m into research' because they want to be seen to be doing something. Then anyone who's doing a PhD in stoats is advised by their supervisor to do it on stoats in relation to global warming, which releases those funds.
"Objectively, it is staggeringly obvious that climate-change science is complete twaddle. There is no correlation, on any meaningful timescale whatsoever, between CO2 and temperature. Take the politics and the grants out of it, and no one would take it seriously.
"Nearly all the letters we get are positive: if this was a working-class movement, or some rough types believed in it, then I might have been threatened. But they're just a bunch of quiche-eating hippies. What are they going to do – wave their panini at me?
"I think they're trying to inhibit progress, to stifle people's creativity and freedom, and hold back development, particularly in poor countries. It's like Laurens van der Post, the anthropologist who studied African tribes and jolly well didn't want them to change because their culture was so interesting. Well, Van der Post lived in a nice flat in Chelsea while the poor bastards out in Africa were eating mud. I'm in favour of us all leading better lives.
"How conscious were the Nazis of what they were doing? Look at DDT, the insecticide that the greens had banned internationally, thereby causing the deaths of about 50 million people [due to malaria]. We should be made conscious of the consequences of our actions."
The activist: Hans Schreuder
Hans Schreuder is a former analytical chemist from the Netherlands, now living in Suffolk. After retiring, he set up the website www.ilovemycarbondioxide.com to back his hypothesis that carbon dioxide bears no relation to global warming
"I qualified as an analytical chemist in Holland in 1968 and spent about 15 years in analytical chemistry.
"I set up my site last year to prove that carbon dioxide is irrelevant to climate and climate change. I get about 5,000 or 6,000 hits every month. I wrote my final page in June, but I still publish papers by other people.
"What I want to get across is the fallacy that man can influence the climate by means of a fictitious greenhouse effect. It is just such a laughable idea, yet the western world has bought into it. The problem is, there's way too much money in it to dump it. But in the cold reality of Nature, there is no problem whatsoever with carbon dioxide.
"I'm off to Holland for a publicity stunt. I have a big 'I love my carbon dioxide' banner and a friend of mine wants to jump in the water around the parliament building in The Hague with it.
"I haven't been targeted by activists, which is a shame, as that would have created publicity. I called Al Gore a liar and lots of other things on the site, because I was hoping someone would sue me for defamation. But nobody has bothered."
Let me just remind you again: that was in the Independent of all places. Bloody hell!
Hans Schreuder's website, I Love My Carbon Dioxide, is probably the best anti-GW website we have seen. He's a near neighbour of The GOS, too.
Meanwhile Lord Monckton has written a trenchant reply to the dictats of an alarmist in the Canadian Civil Service ...
Dear Sir Humphrey,
The "abundance of scientific statements" that you mention is no sound or logical basis for deciding or believing anything. The question is whether the scientific statements have any rational justification, and whether those making them are in effect making statements that are political rather than scientific, rent-seeking rather than objective. After all, this is the age of reason (or it was). Therefore, one should not accord to "scientists" the status of infallible high priests merely because they mumble a hieratic language with which one is unfamiliar. There is clear, compelling evidence that many of the major conclusions of the IPCC, your new religion's constantly-changing Holy Book, are based on evidence that has been fabricated. The "hockey stick" graph that purported to abolish the mediaeval warm period is just one example. So let me try to lure you away from feeble-minded, religious belief in the Church of "Global Warming" and back towards the use of the faculty of reason.
Let us begin with the "devastation of New Orleans" that you mention. Even the High Priests of your Church are entirely clear that individual extreme-weather events such as Hurricane Katrina cannot, repeat cannot, be attributed to "global warming". Even the Holy Book makes this entirely plain. There was one priest - Emanuel (a good, religious name) - who had suggested there might be a link between "global warming" and hurricanes; but he has recently recanted, at least to some extent. Very nearly all others in the hierarchy of your Church are clear that ascribing individual extreme-weather events to "global warming" is impossible. Why? Well, let's take the question of landfalling Atlantic hurricanes such as Katrina. The implication of your attribution of Hurricane Katrina to "global warming" is twofold: that "global warming" is happening, and that in consequence either the frequency or the intensity of tropical weather systems such as hurricanes is increasing.
Neither of these propositions is true. Yes, there has been "global warming" for 300 years, since the end of the 60-year period of unusually low solar activity known as the Maunder Minimum (after the celebrated Astronomer Royal who studied it). But there has been no net warming since 1995, and Keenlyside et al, in the theological journal Nature a few months ago, say they do not expect a new record year for global temperatures until 2015 at the earliest. If these theologians are correct, there will have been a 20-year period of no net "global warming" even though the presence of the devil Siotu in the ether grows inexorably stronger. And, secondly, the number of Atlantic hurricanes making landfall has actually fallen throughout the 20th century, even as temperatures have risen. Indeed, some theologians have argued that warmer weather actually reduces the temperature differential between sea and sky that generates hurricanes, reducing their frequency, and that the extra heat in the coupled ocean-atmosphere system increases wind-shear in tropical storms, tending to reduce their intensity. Certainly the frequency of intense tropical cyclones has fallen throughout the 30-year satellite record, even though temperatures have increased compared with 30 years ago. Also, the damage done by Hurricane Katrina was chiefly caused by the failure of the Democrat-led city administration to heed repeated warnings from the Corps of Engineers that the levees needed to be strengthened.
Next, you mention the recent earthquake damage at Galveston, and you imply that this is something new and terrible. Perhaps you would like to do some research of your own to verify whether the High Priests of your Church, some of whom have blamed the Galveston incident on the wrath of the devil Siotu, are likely to be telling the truth. And how, you may ask, may a non-theologian such as yourself argue theology with your High Priests? Well, the Galveston incident will give you just one indication of the many ways in which a lay member of the Church of "Global Warming" may verify for himself whether or not the Great Druids of his religion are speaking the truth from their pulpits in the media. Cast your eye back just over a century, to 1906, and look up what happened to Galveston then. Which was worse - Galveston 2008 or Galveston 1906? Next, check the global mean surface temperature in 1906: many theology faculties compile surface temperature data and make it publicly available to the faithful and to infidels alike. Was the global mean surface temperature significantly lower or significantly higher in 2008 than in 1906? What implications do your two answers have for your proposition that Galveston 2008 can be attributed to "global warming"?
Next, you mention fires in California. Once again, you can either sit slumped in your pew, gazing in adoration at the Archdruids as their pious faces flicker across your television screen, or you can do a little research for yourself. It may, for instance, occur to you to ask whether droughts were worse in the United States in the second half of the 20th century than they were in the first half. Once again, you may want to check with your local theological faculty to obtain the answer to this question. Or you may like to pick up a copy of The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. And you may want to verify whether temperatures in the second half of the 20th century were warmer than in the first half. Once again, what are the implications of your two answers for your proposition that "global warming" is causing forest fires? You could also talk to the Fire Department in California and obtain its data on the causes of forest fires. You might be mightily surprised by the answers you get.
Next, you talk of beetles in your forests destroying natural resources. Here, you could ask the Druids just a couple of simple questions. What evidence do they have, if any, that whichever species of beetle you have in mind has not wrought havoc in the forests before? And, even if your clergy think that they have evidence that the beetle-damage is new, what evidence do they have, if any, that the beetle-damage is greater because of "global warming" than it would otherwise have been? Of course, you could ask them the wider question what evidence there is that anthropogenic "global warming", as opposed to solar warming, is the reason for the temperature increases that have occurred over the past 300 years. The more honest parish priests will admit that for 250 of the past 300 years none of the inferred warming can be attributed to human industry. They will also be compelled to concede, if you press them, that the warming of the most recent 50 years has not occurred at a rate any greater than that which was observed before, so that it is in fact very difficult to discern any anthropogenic signal at all in the temperature record.
Next, you talk of people migrating from one place to another because in some places water has become scarce. Once again, it is easy for a layman, whether a true believer such as yourself or not, to verify whether such migrations are as a result of "global warming". For instance, you could ask whether there have been changing patterns of drought and flood before in human history. Once you have collected some historical data - most theological faculties have quite a lot of this available, though you may have to dig a little to get it - you could compare previous migrations with those of which you now speak. And you could also ask your local parish priest whether a theological phenomenon known as the Clausius-Clapeyron relation mandates that, as the atmosphere warms, the carrying-capacity of the space occupied by the atmosphere for water vapor decreases, remains static, or increases near-exponentially. Once you have found the answers to these not particularly difficult questions, you may like to spend some of your devotional time meditating on the question whether, or to what extent, the changes in patterns of flood and drought that have occurred in the past give you any confidence that such changes occurring today are either worse than those in the past or attributable to "global warming", whether caused by the increasing presence of the devil Siotu in the atmosphere or by the natural evolution of the climate. During your meditation, you may like to refer to the passage from the 2001 edition of the Holy Book of the IPCC that describes the climate as "a complex, non-linear, chaotic object" whose long-term future evolution cannot reliably be predicted.
If you are willing to reflect a little on the questions I have raised - and, with the exception of the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, I have done my best to avoid anything that might be too technical for a layman to find out for himself - you will perhaps come to realize that there is very little basis in scientific fact for the alarmist, hellfire preaching in which your clergy love to indulge. And you may even find your faith in your new religion beginning to weaken a little in the face of the truths that you will have unearthed by the not particularly difficult process of simply checking those statements of your clergy that you can easily and independently verify. There are, of course, many environmental problems posed by the astonishing recent success of humankind. If you were concerned, for instance, about deforestation, or the loss of species whose habitats have been displaced by humans, then your concerns would have a good grounding in fact. But, given the abject failure of global temperatures to rise as the Druids had forecast, it must surely be clear to you that the influence of the devil Siotu on global temperatures - your theologians call this "climate sensitivity" - must be a great deal smaller than your Holy Book asks you to believe.
Finally, you may wonder why I have so scathingly described your pious belief in your new religion as founded upon blind faith rather than upon the light of reason. I have drafted this email in this way so that you can perhaps come to see for yourself just how baffling it is to the likes of me, who were educated in the light of TH Huxley's dictum that the first duty of the scientist is skepticism, to see how easily your hierarchy is able to prey upon your naive credulity. I do not target this comment at you alone: there are far too many others who, like you, are in positions of some authority and whose duty to think these things through logically is great, and yet who simply fail to ask even the most elementary and blindingly obvious questions before sappily, happily, clappily believing in, and parroting by rote, whatever the current Establishment proposes. I do not know whether you merely believe all that you are told by the Druids because otherwise you will find yourself in conflict with other true believers among your colleagues or, worse, among your superiors. If you are under pressures of this kind, I do sympathize. But if you are free to think for yourself without penalty, may I beg you - in the name of humanity - to give the use of reason a try?
Why "in the name of humanity"? Because, although the noisy preachers from the media pulpits have found it expedient not to say so, there have been food riots all round the world as the biofuel scam whipped up by the High Priests of your religion takes vast tracts of agricultural land out of food production. Millions are now starving because the price of food has doubled in little more than a year. A leaked report by the World Bank says that fully three-quarters of that doubling has occurred as a direct result of the biofuel scam. So your religion is causing mass starvation in faraway countries, and is even causing hardship to the poorest in your own country. Can you, in conscience, look away from the sufferings that your beliefs are inflicting upon the poorest and most helpless people in the world?
Monckton of Brenchley
And we were pleased to read this article by Paul Johnson, eminent historian and author, on the CO2 Sceptics website ...
The nonsense of global warming
August was one of the nastiest months I can remember: torrential rain; a hailstorm or two; cold, bitter winds; and mists. But we are accustomed to such weather in England. Lord Byron used to say that an English summer begins on July 31 and ends on Aug. 1. He called 1816 "the year without a summer." He spent it gazing across Lake Geneva, watching the storms, with 18-year-old Mary Shelley. The lightening flickering across the lake inspired her Frankenstein, the tale of the man-made monster galvanized into life by electricity.
This summer's atrocious weather tempted me to tease a Green whom I know. "Well, what about your weather theory now?" (One of the characteristics of Greens is that they know no history.) He replied: "Yes, this weather is unprecedented. England has never had such an August before. It's global warming, of course." That's the Greens' stock response to anything weather-related. Too much sun? "Global warming." Too little sun? "Global warming." Drought? "Global warming." Floods? "Global warming." Freezing cold? "Global warming."
I wish the great philosopher Sir Karl Popper were alive to denounce the unscientific nature of global warming. He was a student when Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was first published and then successfully tested. Einstein said that for his theory to be valid it would have to pass three tests. "If," Einstein wrote to British scientist Sir Arthur Eddington, "it were proved that this effect does not exist in nature, then the whole theory would have to be abandoned."
To Popper, this was a true scientific approach. "What impressed me most," he wrote, "was Einstein's own clear statement that he would regard his theory as untenable if it should fail in certain tests." In contrast, Popper pointed out, there were pseudo-scientists, such as Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Marx claimed to be constructing a theory of scientific materialism based on scientific history and economic science. "Science" and "scientific" were words Marx used constantly. Far from formulating his theory with a high degree of scientific content and encouraging empirical testing and refutation, Marx made it vague and general. When evidence turned up that appeared to refute his theory, the theory was modified to accommodate the new evidence. It's no wonder that when communist regimes applied Marxism it proved a costly failure.
Freud's theories were also nonspecific, and he, too, was willing to adjust them to take in new science. We now know that many of Freud's central ideas have no basis in biology. They were formulated before Mendel's Laws were widely known and accepted and before the chromosomal theory of inheritance, the recognition of inborn metabolic errors, the existence of hormones and the mechanism of nervous impulse were known. As the scientist Sir Peter Medawar put it, Freud's psychoanalysis is akin to mesmerism and phrenology; it contains isolated nuggets of truth, but the general theory as a whole is false.
The idea that human beings have changed and are changing the basic climate system of the Earth through their industrial activities and burning of fossil fuels - the essence of the Greens' theory of global warming - has about as much basis in science as Marxism and Freudianism. Global warming, like Marxism, is a political theory of actions, demanding compliance with its rules.
Those who buy in to global warming wish to drastically curb human economic and industrial activities, regardless of the consequences for people, especially the poor. If the theory's conclusions are accepted and agreed upon, the destructive results will be felt most severely in those states that adhere to the rule of law and will observe restrictions most faithfully. The global warming activists' target is the U.S. If America is driven to accept crippling restraints on its economy it will rapidly become unable to shoulder its burdens as the world's sole superpower and ultimate defender of human freedoms. We shall all suffer, however, as progress falters and then ceases and living standards decline.
When I'm driving to my country home in Somerset, I pass two examples of the damage Greens can cause when their views are accepted and applied. Thanks to heavy government subsidies, many farmers switched from growing food to biofuel crops--perhaps the most expensive form of energy ever devised. The result has been a world shortage of food, with near starvation in some places, and a rise in the cost of food for everyone. We're now getting wise to this ridiculous experiment; shares in biofuels have fallen, and farmers are switching back to their proper work. But the cost has been enormous.
The other thing I pass is a new windmill, spinning slowly around. Windmills were the great invention of the early Middle Ages--man harnessing nature and using it to replace muscle power. When I was a boy more than 70 years ago there were still a few windmills, but nobody doubted they were on their way out. The thought of going back to wind power would have seemed preposterous. Nevertheless, under pressure from Greens this has happened. Wind power is a grotesquely expensive and inefficient form of energy, and the new windmills are hideous things, ruining the landscape and making an infernal noise.
Marxism, Freudianism, global warming. These are proof - of which history offers so many examples - that people can be suckers on a grand scale. To their fanatical followers they are a substitute for religion. Global warming, in particular, is a creed, a faith, a dogma that has little to do with science. If people are in need of religion, why don't they just turn to the genuine article?
Well, there you are, folks. If you've managed to get this far, you're probably beside yourself and apoplectic. Er ... if you're beside yourself, I suppose your both apoplectic. I am reminded of the Norfolk idiom “He were walkin' down the road all alone togither ...”
Still, fear not, there are plenty of other things to be depressed about. The coming recession, the fact that your pension has just evaporated, Gordon Brown's decision to lend millions of pounds to Iceland so they can pay us back the millions of pounds they owe us ...
No, global warming just doesn't seem so important any more, does it? Whichever way you look at it, we're all doomed.
The GOS says: Many, many years ago at university a girl said to me when I revealed that I didn't believe there was a God, “Well, you must be stupid, then!”
Nothing's changed, really, has it?
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2008 The GOS
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