It’s official! Climate alarmists are now even more alarmed…

My initial attraction to the Left 45 years ago was precisely because they were the ones talking about progress – or rather Progress (with a capital P). I would tag along with my father on Saturday mornings in the mid-1960s to visit the International Bookshop run by the Communist Party in Melbourne. He would meet a few of his like-minded workmates (from the factory in which he worked) there, and together we would marvel at the Soviet and Chinese propaganda magazines. What did we marvel at? Simple: all the pictorial examples of Progress – huge dams being built, new nuclear power stations, vast areas of land being cleared for food production or residential development. Just about everything that the Greens oppose.

* * * *

The release of the IPCC’s synthesis report on climate change has resulted in predictable headlines in the mainstream media about how the planet is running out of time. The leader of the Australian Greens has asserted that the world has in fact run out of time. Coal is bad, and only ‘sustainable’ growth can be justified.

Attributing a moral quality to coal highlights the quasi-religious thinking underpinning much of the opposition to fossil fuels.

As for ‘sustainable development’ has there ever been a finer oxymoron? How does development happen without change to that condition which preceded it? That which once was, ceases to be. Which is why I support Development.

This is not for one moment to suggest that humanity should not seek to move on from fossil fuels. After all, we moved on from wind power centuries ago and have not looked back as a species. Those today who wish to go back to wind power are quite literally reactionaries.

Three questions interest me.

First, does the actual summary report of the recent IPCC synthesis justify such alarm on its own terms?

Secondly, is the IPCC so credible that all that is needed is appeal to its authority to win an argument?

Thirdly, what does any of the alarmism – the hype and the media spin – have to do with a progressive left-wing outlook? (Spoiler: absolutely nothing, but please read on).

1. I have read all the summaries of the past IPCC reports. The ‘summaries for policy makers’ are what the politicians and their advisers, and the media people, are supposed to read. The latest summary has been compiled by about 50 IPCC contributors. There is little in it to justify alarmism. For instance, despite the iconic use of tidal waves and sinking islands in media coverage of climate change, the IPCC synthesis summary points out that “Over the period 1901 to 2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 metre”. Sea levels are rising by a couple of millimetres – note, millimetres not centimetres – per year. It is not possible to reconcile this with Al Gore’s tidal waves swamping Manhattan or the ABC’s Science Show host claiming that hundred metre tidal waves are possible as a result of the warming.

The IPCC summary also finds that “Many terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species have shifted their geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns, abundances, and species interactions in response to ongoing climate change”. Again, is that cause for alarm? Haven’t human beings been adapting to such changes for centuries? Things are never static. We can adapt as a species to such change.

I could provide other examples from the summary but the point is that the IPCC forecasts are based on the time-frame to 2100. Everything in it needs to be considered in that context, namely: we have 85 years in which to adapt to even the worst changes. The planet has NOT run out of time, contrary to what the Greens and sensationalist media want us to believe.

2. The IPCC represents a form of consensus science and, of course, science has never been consensual. It has always advanced knowledge through a process of debate and argument, the testing of hypotheses, observation and theory. Dissident scientists have often been proven correct over time against the wisdom and authority of the scientific establishment at a given point in history.

Personally, I am not a climate scientist and so I can accept that the consensus represented by the IPCC might be right, despite worrying criticisms that claim a flawed IPCC process. It may be that global warming is primarily driven by human industrial activity, by CO2 emissions. Beyond that, the consensus breaks down, but this does not stop the alarmists from using the IPCC consensus to justify every manner of exaggeration and hyperbole going way outside what the IPCC actually says. This is why I view with great caution people who insist that ‘The Science is Settled’ It certainly runs counter to my Marxist instincts based on old Karl’s personal motto: “De omnibus dubitandum” – question everything!

So, the appeal to authority is not good enough for me in itself. The principal flaw of the IPCC methodology that concerns me is its emphasis on computer modelling. How have the models stood up against observed changes? Not very well, it would seem.

The IPCC’s 2013 Assessment report admitted that the “historical simulations do not reproduce the observed recent warming hiatus”. The hiatus – or absence of the expected significant increase in warming due to record levels of CO2 emissions – runs counter to the computer modelling. John Christy, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, and a former Lead Author for the IPCC, tested the outputs of 73 IPCC climate models against the facts observed through satellite and weather-balloon data from 1979 and 2013 and found that all the IPCC models ran hotter than the actual observed climate. Similar studies and findings can be accessed here.

3. The mainstream media portrays the oppositional views about climate change alarmism in terms of a conflict between the Right and the Left. Apparently it is left-wing to take an alarmist view and to see coal as evil. What utter nonsense!

My initial attraction to the Left 45 years ago was precisely because they were the ones talking about progress – or rather Progress (with a capital P). I would tag along with my father on Saturday mornings in the mid-1960s to visit the International Bookshop run by the Communist Party in Melbourne. He would meet a few of his like-minded workmates (from the factory in which he worked) there, and together we would marvel at the Soviet and Chinese propaganda magazines. What did we marvel at? Simple: all the pictorial examples of Progress – huge dams being built, new nuclear power stations, vast areas of land being cleared for food production or residential development. Just about everything that the Greens oppose.

Some readers will say that I was naive to fall for this propaganda. But the point is that that is what attracted me, and many others, to the ‘red left’ back then. It was not a value system based on ultra-conservative notions like ‘Sustainability’ but a belief that capitalism’s profit motive and concentrated private ownership of means of production held back progress and that socialism was the way to unleash human creativity and productivity. I still believe that is the case, that we humans “ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”.

I smirk to myself when I hear the current Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, speak of plans to develop the north of Australia into a ‘food bowl’. I first heard of that dream back in the 1960s from old veteran communists. They held it up as an example of what would happen under socialism – the centre of Australia would flourish through irrigation, they told me. Again, these were not ‘green’ values but truly progressive ones. The old blokes also assured me that such great development of the north of Australia would not happen any time soon under capitalism because there was no short-term profit to be made from it. I was maybe 16 when they told me that – I am now heading for 64. They were right.

Conclusion

For all the alarmism, greater alarmism and even greater alarmism, our two billion brothers and sisters who are hungry and do not have access to clean water will not do what some in the ‘first world’ would tell them and opt for less efficient and more costly forms of energy. In the industrialising and modernising countries of Africa, for instance, people will be lifted from extreme poverty – as the rest of us were – thanks mainly to fossil fuels. The only way to stop this process is by developing energy sources that are cheaper and more efficient than coal. But people are hungry right now. And coal is cheap, and efficient.

Another value that attracted me to the left in my youth was the sense of confidence in humanity – and that meant, and means, confidence in the future. Without that confidence, why bother?

The lack of confidence in the future on the part of what I regard as the pseudo-left is found in the oft-repeated assertion that the planet has reached its natural limits. ‘We have gone too far with our so-called progress – the planet cannot sustain it any longer’. I can think of no idea that is more reactionary than this one. It could have been said at any point in history, by any set of princes and popes.

Once upon a time, coal was used merely for ornamental purposes. In Roman times, had you suggested that that black chunk on the end of the local beauty’s necklace would power a revolution in industry and production, and in social relations, that would overthrow a future system known as feudalism and lead to secular democracy and capitalism, you would have been regarded as insane. Who knows what the next energy source will be? How dare the reactionaries tell us that the planet’s resources are finite!

Those who think that way cannot see beyond solar panels and windmills, let alone begin to consider nuclear fusion or appreciate how northern and central Australia could one day flourish.

And then there are the planets and the stars. Awaiting us.

_ _ _ _ _

18 thoughts on “It’s official! Climate alarmists are now even more alarmed…

  1. I find no fault with your essay.

    Some interesting points worth expanding: Global warming or cooling? The power of mass delusion and where do the pseudo left fit-in after the penny drops?

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  2. Egg, the latest IPCC assessment summary (long report) admits that nearly all the models were wrong. It says: “For the period from 1998 to 2012, 111 of the 114 available climate-model simulations show a surface warming trend larger than the observations. There is medium confidence that this difference between models and observations is to a substantial degree caused by natural internal climate variability, which sometimes enhances and sometimes counteracts the long-term externally forced warming trend”. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_LONGERREPORT.pdf

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    • “…a substantial degree caused by natural internal climate variability, which sometimes enhances and sometimes counteracts the long-term externally forced warming trend”.

      They are wrong on that score too, CO2 is not a driver of climate, the sun is all and natural variability rules.

      The pseudo left still think human induced global warming is real, even though the science says otherwise. Its near impossible to convince them that global cooling is a possibility.

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  3. ‘The ABC has become a naked propaganda unit for big-government. It is beyond saving. The sloppy research standards and the culture of gullibility regarding government and official press releases are endemic. Sell if off for the good of the nation.’

    Jonova

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    • I think there is a role for a public broadcaster. My gripe with the ABC is that it doesn’t consistently follow its own charter when it comes to presenting a plurality of views, especially on green issues. It could be a good venue for real debate, with minority and dissenting opinions given a voice. Also, it’s good to have a broadcaster whose programming does not have to factor in ratings. I doubt whether a series like ‘Redfern now’ would have made it on the commercial networks. And isn’t it good to have a broadcaster who isn’t into crass ‘reality TV’ shows?

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      • The ABC newsroom has to be purged of pseudo leftist scum (PLS) so that we can enjoy balanced reporting on climate change. With 73% of Australians trusting what aunty says, this is a matter of great urgency.

        The rest of the ABC should remain safe, all the lovely arts and entertainment for those with mature tastes.

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  4. ‘How many studies and news articles have we seen in which the authors claim that such and such a local or regional phenomenon is caused by Global Warming? — without any data in the study about the temperature record in the region or at the locale under consideration — assuming that since Global Warming is named “Global” Warming, that such data is not needed…after all, the whole globe is warming — it’s right there in the name.

    ‘We often see this with Global Mean Temperature. Giving this data set such a name is not the same as it actually being global or the mean or the temperature. It is not meant to be the temperature of the globe itself as a three-dimensional object. It is not strictly a mean but could be seen as “an average of averages of averages”.

    ‘It does not literally represent an average (mean) of Earth temperatures at any given time. Thus, when some specific phenomena is listed as caused by an increase in Global Mean Temperature, it is nearly invariable false. Propter nomen — fallacious logical assumption that Global Mean Temperature is actually literally as named, thus, like Global Warming, if it is rising, it must be affecting all things everywhere on the globe.’

    Kip Hansen (WUWT)

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  5. Egg, well, I don’t want anyone purged from the ABC for their views, whether pseudo-left or not. I just want more balance. It would be very surprising for the ABC to present with reasonable airtime a highly qualified scientist who is skeptical of the dominant warming hypothesis and it would be even more surprising – indeed, it would be shocking – were the ABC to present the ‘red left’ viewpoint expressed in this blog. I just want to know: where is the LEFT-WING Phillip Adams?!

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    • ‘I don’t want anyone purged from the ABC for their views, whether pseudo-left or not. I just want more balance.’

      Yeah, but unfortunately climate change is political and has been from the get go. My concern is that global cooling isn’t taken seriously and aunty will need to be held accountable when it all goes belly up.

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      • Balance and a plurality of views based on debate would allow for the presentation – and contestation – of the idea that the planet may actually be cooling rather than warming. The ABC is missing such an opportunity as a venue for proper debate. Instead they give us Info-tainment in the form of Q&A, with a panel invariably loaded to favour the Green and pseudo-left point of view.

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  6. Most importantly its the unrelenting propaganda which will be seen by historians for what it is, but in the meantime.

    “World’s scientists reckon the climates never felt anything like them in close to a million years…” – 4:40mins ABC News report Nov 3, 2014

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  7. Nick Cater on the PLS

    ‘WHEN a student turns up for a social science class at an American university there is an eight to one chance the lecturer will be a Democrat voter… (T)he proportion of American academics prepared to out themselves as conservative is between 4 per cent and 8 per cent.

    ‘It would be no surprise to anyone, inside or outside the academies, if a local study produced much the same result. Australian academics too fancy themselves as progressives, or liberals in the American parlance. Universities, and other cultural institutions such as the ABC, are uncomfortable places for conservatives.

    ‘This is odd, really, since no ­university these days would be complete without a solemn commitment to diversity….(T)he right to be an intellectual bigot is steadfastly upheld in almost every cultural institution in the country. The conventional wisdom on everything from climate change to the supposed depravity of the Catholic Church is enforced, often unconsciously, in multiple ways…

    ‘When ABC staff look around them, for example, it surely would not escape their attention that conservatives are somewhat thin on the ground. It must feel a little odd to work in a building where hardly anybody admits to voting for Tony Abbott. They must realise, surely, that many of their listeners and viewers (and an increasing number of ex-listeners and ex-viewers) see the world in a different light, and that they cannot all be stupid.’

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  8. think it is more of a religious belief that they are right, and whilst they may think the conservatives are not stupid they are wrong so it is the ABC’s duty to spread the word. I have listened to some interviewers on the ABC who literally laugh at people putting a different point of view to them. This can only stem from the fact they have no answer to question put to them but feel they don’t need one because it is so stupid to even imagine they could be wrong.

    Would have thought given the voting stats it was a 2/1 chance your lecturer voted democrat.

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  9. Eric Worrall on the PLS.

    ‘The utter contempt greens hold for democracy, or for anything which empowers ordinary people to obstruct their ruthless pursuit of their goals, is in my opinion a trait they share with other villains from the pages of history.

    ‘A belief in imminent catastrophe is a moral slippery slope – if someone truly believes the world is on the brink of destruction, what wouldn’t that person do to stop their nightmare from being realised? What crime could possibly be more awful than a horrific vision of the whole world dying?

    ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In the case of deep greens, that road to hell is paved with their utter, unshakeable belief that they know better than other people what is good for them, and with a totalitarian willingness to override the concerns and rights of others, in a singleminded effort to realise their warped vision of global salvation.’

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