Archive for the ‘History’ Category

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Anatomy of a Climate Fraud

November 22, 2010

Nov 21, 2010

By Dr. Vincent Gray, NZ Climate Truth Newsletter

Environmentalists believe that humans are destroying the earth (or as they prefer to call it, “the planet”), and they routinely manipulate news items that can be distorted to support their views. “Resources” are being “depleted”, oil is about to run out, everything is about to become extinct, all chemicals are “toxic” and all human activities must be prevented because they “damage the environment”

The “greenhouse effect” was a golden opportunity to blame every climate event on humans and prevent many classes of industrial activity.

The “greenhouse effect” is a real physical phenomenon, although it has nothing to do with what happens in a greenhouse. A greenhouse inhibits convection and confines the air warned by contact with the ground that has been heated by the sun’s radiation.

The “greenhouse effect” results from absorption of part of the infra red radiation from the earth by several trace gases in the atmosphere, causing an increase in the surface temperature of the earth,

In order to show that there are increases in this effect caused by humans which are damaging the climate several propositions had to be proved.

� Greenhouse gases are increasing because of human activity

� The temperature of the earth is increasing

� This rise is damaging the climate

� Future changes can be predicted to be disastrous

Let us take these problems one at a time.

Are Greenhouse Gases increasing?

The British scientist John Tyndall in the 1860s, who fist established the existence of the greenhouse effect, showed that the most important greenhouse gas is water vapour, so this should be the main emphasis of any investigation into possible damage from increase of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately the concentration of water vapour in the atmosphere varies over several orders of magnitude, being dependent on temperature, time and place. No accurate average value has ever been reliably measured and there is no acceptable evidence of any changes that have been taking place. Even if these were established it might be difficult to blame them on humans.

So, somehow, water vapour had to be ignored. This is done by leaving it out of lists of greenhouse gases, discussing it as little as possible and leaving it out of the main components of their model by calling it a “feedback”. assuming that its average value is exclusively dependent on average temperature.

So then, emphasis was placed on the next trace gas, carbon dioxide. This is a much more suitable candidate, because its concentration in the atmosphere can be blamed on combustion of fossil fuels by humans.

But then another snag arises. Its concentration in the atmosphere has been shown to be highly variable from some 40,000 measurements that have been reported in learned scientific journals, going back to 1850. Some of these measurements were made by Nobel Prize winners, all were respected scientists of the day, and the papers were peer reviewed in the days when this meant something.

In order to show carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is increasing it is necessary to make continuous measurements distributed everywhere in the atmosphere on a representative basis. This is plainly impossible.

But do they despair? No. The first thing to do is to suppress all knowledge of any measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 1850 and 1950. Then they publicized the measurements near the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii as the only authentic measurements and followed this up by taking measurements that had been made in a negligibly small sample of ice cores as representative of concentrations before the industrial era, Subsequently they permitted the use of measurements made over the sea in several places to be added, but they have prevented or suppressed all measurements over any land surface, or in any other than an approved direction which are regarded as “noise” (unwelcome data). These restricted results showed a fairly steady increase, but this was not large enough, so they more than doubled it for their models.

THE TEMPERATURE OF THE EARTH

Temperature on the earth’s surface is highly variable. It is impossible to show if there. a general increase unless you can measure the average surface temperature. This would surely involve the placing of measuring instruments randomly all over the earth’s surface, Including the 71% that is ocean, and all the forests, pastures, deserts and icecaps. Such an enterprise is impossible with current technology, so it is not possible to find if the average temperature of the earth is increasing.

But, again, a way of faking it was evolved. The originator, Jim Hansen of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York features on his website a discussion headed “The Elusive Surface Temperature” which shows that there is no satisfactory way of defining or measuring the surface temperature of the earth. Yet he proposed to make use of temperature measurements that were routinely made at weather stations around the world as part of weather forecasting services, to derive what is called a “mean global temperature anomaly”.

Weather stations are not situated in representative places on the earth’s surface. They are predominantly near towns. Their number and location varies daily, so there is no fair statistical comparison over any time period. Although many (but not all) thermometers are housed in a standard screen, their positioning is far from standard and it changes over time. Many are close to buildings, sources of heat, concrete, tarmac, vegetation and other changing circumstances. There is no way of allowing either for the lack of representativity or the changes in circumstances.

Then, no weather station actually measures the average local temperature. They typically measure the maximum and the minimum over a 24 hour period which depends on the time of observation. This makes sense for weather forecasting since the temperature regimes by day and night are so different that an average between the two is meaningless.

Recent studies have shown that most weather stations, even today, cannot assess local temperature to better than a degree or two Celsius. Weather forecasters know that their figures are only rough. They never use decimals of a degree.

The “mean annual global temperature anomaly” involves multiple averaging, by week, month and year, plus a subtraction from the average for a reference petiod. This process must involve very large accumulated inaccuracies so that a claim of an increase in the “anomaly” of several decimals of a degree over 100 years is meaningless.

Then there is the overall warming effect of urban and land use change. The 1990 paper in “Nature” which was routinely used to claim the urban effects are negligible was shown by Keenan in 2000 to be fraudulent when he tried to find the Chinese data upon which it was partly based. Phil Jones recently admitted that the data did show an urban effect (and then promptly denied it) but the effect is still ignored in the teeth of the evidence in its favour

IF THERE IS WARMING, IT IS NATURAL?

There is overwhelming anecdotal evidence of warm periods In history which may have exceeded temperatures today, Efforts to discount these by manipulating unreliable “proxies” such as thickness of tree rings have been unsuccessful. There is even evidence from tree rings that the current era is not unusual leading to the need to “hide the decline”.

Besides being affected by urban and land use effects, the unreliable “mean global temperature anomaly” is affected also by currently known changes in the sun and in the ocean oscillations, particularly the North Atlantic Decadal Oscillation and the Southern Oscillation Index. Our knowledge of both of these effects is currently limited. Sunspots are an extremely crude measure of the Sun’s activity, and the ocean oscillations also have crude definitions.

FORECASTING THE FUTURE

The problem of forecasting future climate is also impossible to solve. Genuine honest scientists working in meteorology have struggled for several hundred years to try and provide a model of the climate which could help future forecasting. They have collected every measurable climate variable; wind, rain, temperature, atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, sunshine hours and cloud cover, and they have launched weather balloons to study the atmosphere. One measurement they have not found useful is the concentration of carbon dioxide, although that also has been measured in many places. Yet everybody, including the IPCC, knows that forecasts beyond a week or so are unreliable.

Yet in order to confirm the influence of increased greenhouse gases forecasting is essential, otherwise any theory is worthless.

It is insufficiently understood that the IPCC admits that computer based models of the climate are currently incapable of forecasting any aspect of future climate. This fact is freely admitted. Models never make “predictions”, but always “projections”, which are the results obtained by accepting the plausibility of the model assumptions. No “projection” from any climate model has ever successfully predicted any future climate behaviour

Since this is so, all the IPCC conclusions are based on the unproven opinions of those persons who are paid to produce the models. This conflict of opinion is so severe that any model maker who has a poor opinion of the results of his model would probably lose his job and career. This unreliable process is concealed by a system of levels of “likelihood” combined with fabricated figures of the statistical reliability of the “estimates”.

The forecasts made by meteorologists can be checked. If they are consistently wrong the model has to be modified. The “projections” made by the IPCC are usually so far ahead (100 years) that they cannot be checked until the experts have enjoyed their generous pensions. There is no way of telling whether one model is better than another. When more recent “projections” fail there is always the excuse that it is due to “natural variability”.

ARE THE MODELS PLAUSIBLE?

The assumptions made by the IPCC computer models of the climate are all in complete conflict with what is known about the climate. They assume that the earth is in energy equilibrium. This means that the earth is flat, the sun shines all day and all night with one quarter of its maximum intensity, clouds are constant, and the temperature of the earth is constant. Such a model is essential if you want to calculate the possible effect of greenhouse gas increases as this can only be done if everything else is unchanging. In addition the concentration of greenhouse gases has to be constant at any point in time

All these assumptions are ridiculous. No part of the earth is ever in energy equilibrium and it is never “balanced” as a whole. It warms by day and cools by night, when there is no sun. The seasons, wind, cloud changes volcanism and ocean circulation come on top and inevitably confuse any possible change that might result from the greenhouse effect.

“ANTHROPOGENIC” INFLUENCES ON THE CLIMATE

All organisms influence the climate to a greater or lesser degree and humans are no exception. We try to maintain our body temperature by clothing and dwellings. Our buildings and our heating systems raise urban temperatures. We influence the land to encourage crops. There are wind breaks and fences and terraces and dams, and, again, climate is modified. None of these “anthropogenic” effects are allowed for by the IPCC.

NATURAL VARIABILITY

Climate has always changed in an irregular manner over many time periods and its causes are at present imperfectly understood. Some changes (for example ice ages) take millions of years to develop. Others (such as the effects of a large volcanic eruption) influence only a year or so. The idea that natural changes can only be “variable” and not cause “climate change” is therefore incorrect. Also it is impossible to claim with any certainty that a particular change is “unprecedented” over such a short period as a few centuries.

The very existence of natural climate influences means that climate models that are not able to predict their influence cannot hope to detect any change caused by the greenhouse effect.

CONCLUSION

Any routine scientific study would have abandoned the attempt to justify the current emphasis on the greenhouse effect because of the impossibility of carrying out any of the necessary observations to confirm its importance. It could only have been established as a potential threat by multiple fraud from each of the considerations listed above.

 

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Think the Earth is finite? Think again

November 12, 2010

When modern Malthusians insist that resources are finite, they only expose their historical illiteracy, misanthropy and social pessimism.

On 30 October, spiked editor Brendan O’Neill debated Roger Martin, chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, at the Battle of Ideas in London. O’Neill’s speech is published below.

The main Malthusian idea I think we should challenge is the idea that resources are finite. The idea that the Earth itself is finite. The idea that we live on a finite planet and therefore we can only have a certain number of people, living in a certain number of homes, eating a certain amount of food.

Because it seems to me that the population-control lobby’s obsession with finiteness really exposes what it is all about. It reveals the historical illiteracy and the social pessimism that underpin the pseudo-scientific movement of Malthusianism. The Malthusians’ focus on finiteness explains firstly why they are always wrong about everything; secondly why they are so misanthropic; and thirdly why they put forward such illiberal proposals, dressed up, of course, in the language of ‘female empowerment’.

On the first point, Malthusians are simply wrong to say that resources are fixed, that we can measure and predict when they will run out. It seems commonsensical to say that the Earth is finite, and a bit mad to say that it isn’t, but it’s important to recognise how fluid and changeable resources are. It’s important to recognise that the usefulness and longevity of a resource is determined as much by us – by the level of social development we have reached – as it is by the existence of that resource in the first place.

Resources are not fixed in any meaningful sense. Resources have a history and a future, just as human beings do. The question of what we consider to be a resource changes as society changes.

So in Ancient Rome, one of the main uses of coal was to make jewellery. Women liked the look of this glinting black rock hanging around their necks. No one could have imagined that thousands of years later, coal would be used to power massive steam engines and an entire Industrial Revolution, forever changing how we produce things and transport them around the world.

Two thousand years ago, the only way people used uranium was to make glass look more yellow. It was used to decorate windows and mirrors. You would probably have been locked up, or subjected to an exorcism, if you had suggested that one day uranium might be used to light up and heat entire cities – or indeed destroy entire cities at the push of a button.

The exact same resource can do very, very different things, depending on social and technological development. It was social limits, not physical limits, which meant that Ancient Romans could not use coal to make things move and other ancient communities could only use uranium to make glass look yellow. And the main problem with resource-pessimists such as Malthusians is that they continually misinterpret social limits as physical limits. They naturalise social limits, reinterpreting and re-presenting problems of social development as problems of nature’s shrinking bounty. They make the fatal flaw of arguing that the main barrier to progress and human comfort is the barrier erected by nature’s limited resources, when in fact it is the barrier erected by crises of social imagination.

That is why they are wrong about absolutely everything, why every prediction made by every population scaremonger throughout history has failed to materialize. A very early resource panicker was the second-century Christian philosopher Tertullian. In 200AD, Tertullian said: ‘We are burdensome to the world, the resources are scarcely adequate for us… already nature does not sustain us.’

But back then, there were only 180million human beings on the entire planet – about the same number that currently lives in the eastern part of the United States. The problem for Tertullian was his understandably limited imagination. In his time, pretty much the only known resources were animals, plants and various metals and minerals. Tertullian had no way of conceiving of the enormous abundance of resources inside the Earth, which lay dormant because of social limitations not natural ones.

Thomas Malthus himself, the messiah of modern-day Malthusianism, argued in the early 1800s that food production wouldn’t be able to keep pace with human reproduction, and as a result there would be ‘epidemics, pestilence and plagues’ that would sweep off millions of people. Yet in his era, there were only 980million people on Earth – today there are more than that in China alone and they all have food to eat. Malthus’s problem was that he also saw natural limits where in fact there were social limits. His fundamental pessimism meant he considered it impossible for mankind to develop beyond a certain, nature-enforced point. And yet, shortly after he made his population pronouncements, through the industrial revolution and various social revolutions, mankind did overcome many social limitations and found new ways to make food and deliver it to people around the globe.

It is their limits-obsessed outlook which means that Malthusians are always spectacularly wrong. You would be better off listening to Mystic Meg than the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). Malthusians pose as a science-based, rationalist movement that has worked out through equations and pie charts what the carrying capacity of the Earth is. But actually they continually make a schoolboy scientific error. Their error is to imagine that population is the only variable, the only thing that grows and grows, while everything else – including resources, society, progress and discovery – stays roughly the same.

But the truth, as history shows us, is that population is not the only variable. Resources are a variable, too. So is mankind’s vision, determination, and ability to rethink and tackle problems. These things grow and change just as population does. Malthusians’ mathematics doesn’t add up, because their social pessimism means that they fail to factor in possibly the most important and decisive variable of all: mankind’s ingenuity.

It seems very clear to me that today, still, the main problem we face is absolutely social rather than natural. We now live under a cult of sustainability, a social and political framework which says that we should never overhaul what exists and should instead make do with the world as it is. The idea of sustainability is anti-exploration, anti-experimentation, anti-risk – all the qualities we need if we are going to make the kind of breakthroughs that earlier generations made with coal and uranium and other resources. In contrast to the past, today human society is accommodating to social limitations, and accepting the idea that they are natural, rather than trying to break through them. The Malthusian mindset is winning, and that is a tragedy for all of us.

The second important thing about the Malthusians’ focus on finiteness is that it helps to explain why they are so misanthropic.

Over the past 200 years, Malthusians have tended to look at people as simply the users-up of scarce resources. They have tended to view nature as the producer of things and mankind as the consumer of things. And their view of people as little more than consumers – almost as parasites – inevitably leads to them seeing human beings as the cause of every modern ill, and therefore reducing the number of human beings as the solution to every modern ill. Their focus on finiteness means they conceive of humanity as a kind of bovine force, hoovering up everything that it comes across.

The ascendancy of the Malthusian outlook can really be seen in the way people are frequently discussed these days: as exploiters, the mere users of resources, the destroyers of things.

So mankind’s building of cities and factories is increasingly referred to as an ‘eco-footprint’, as if it is something dirty and destructive. Our use of natural resources such as wood and oil is referred to as ‘the rape of the planet’. Even our use of water is now problematised, with various charities telling us to measure our ‘water footprint’ and only to shower every other day. We are encouraged to be ‘water neutral’. In the past there was another word for ‘water neutrality’ – death. No living creature known to man can survive without water and yet today we’re supposed to feel guilty about using it.

This popular depiction of mankind as gorging on nature’s fragile resources is not actually based on scientific fact or hard proof of widespread resource depletion. That is clear from the fact that even water is now included in the list of resources we should use rarely and sparingly – only a mad person could believe that water will ever run out. No, this view is based on a profound, philosophical shift in our attitudes towards ourselves, a shift from viewing humanity as the tamer of the planet and the creator of society, towards viewing humanity as a plague on the planet and the destroyer of our surroundings.

It is a spectacularly one-sided view of people. Because we don’t only use resources; we also create them. We are not only consumers; we are also producers. In fact, I would argue that we have realised the potential of this planet. Without us it would just be another ball spinning through space stuffed with useless coal and pointless uranium. We extracted that coal and uranium and made something amazing with it: modern human society. We created the social conditions in which the Earth’s resources could be used to their full potential; we created the means for extracting and transforming those resources; we created cities, workplaces and homes on the back of those resources; and every time, we managed to get more and more stuff from fewer resources and created new resources along the way.

The Malthusian view of humans as little more than consumers leads to some very dodgy ideas. So last year, the OPT launched a website called PopOffsets, which involved encouraging well-off Westerners to offset their carbon emissions by paying for people in the Third World to stop procreating.

The idea is that you log on, enter information about a flight you recently took or how much you have been driving your car, and then the site tells you how much carbon you have used and therefore how much you should donate to a Third World reproductive charity. That charity makes up for your carbon-use by cutting back on the pitter-patter of tiny carbon footprints in countries like Kenya. So if you took a round-trip from London to Sydney, that adds up to 10 tonnes of carbon, in which case you are asked to donate £40 to help prevent the birth of one child in Africa.

That is the value that modern-day Malthusians put on new human life: it is roughly equal to 10 tonnes of carbon, or one holiday Down Under. Apparently these lives have no intrinsic worth, no moral or cultural meaning; they’re simply bargaining chips in some wealthy Westerner’s desire to absolve himself of eco-guilt.

Such misanthropy is a direct result of the fetish of finiteness. Because when you view human beings as the ravenous users of resources, then you start to see human life itself as a pollutant, a drain on the planet. That is why Malthusians constantly refer to every newborn child in Africa as ‘another mouth to feed’. In their worldview, another child is not something to celebrate; it is simply an eating machine that needs to be attended to. We have lost sight of the fact that human beings are not just mouths to feed – they are also brains that can think, minds that can create, and hands that can work.

And thirdly, and finally, the elevation of the Malthusian idea of finiteness gives rise to authoritarianism. When you see everything as running out, when you believe that anarchy is potentially just around the corner, then you become a bit like those strange men in Alabama who think the world is coming to an end, so they stock up on guns and baked beans and never leave the house. You develop a siege mentality. You see other people as a tsunami of destruction, and almost any measure can be justified to hold back that tsunami.

Of course, the Malthusians have learned from their past. They have learned from their earlier dalliances with eugenics in the 1930s and forced sterilisation in India in the 1970s, and from their complicity in the development of China’s one-child policy in the 1980s; they know that population authoritarianism is not popular. Women don’t like being told what to do with their wombs, and men don’t like being forced into vasectomies. So modern-day Malthusians have adopted the language of ‘reproductive choice’ and ‘female empowerment’ instead. But this is deeply, deeply disingenuous.

Because when you promote family planning on the basis that too many children will destroy the planet, on the basis that women are creating future pollutants, on the basis that our offspring will turn into planet-rapists, then you are not giving women real reproductive choice, which is something I fully support; no, you are giving them an ultimatum. You are instructing them that if they carry on breeding, then they will be responsible for natural disasters and carnage on a Biblical scale. That is coercion; it is an invasion of women’s free will. And it is the end result of a misanthropic outlook which says that the worst thing a human being can do is create another human being.

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The big picture: 65 million years of temperature swings

February 26, 2010

The following is from David Lappi, like myself a Geologist.

“Those that do not heed history are apt to repeat the mistakes of the past.” 

I can assure you that essentially no one in politics has any awareness of the recent geologic past.  Many of the AGW “scientists”  consider themselves  geoscientists and should have some passing knowledge of the following.  Maybe they do, perhaps they don’t, but they refuse to acknowledge the facts and are hell-bent on their pet scientific ideas.  Small wonder that many of the scientific community feel that they are in it for the perks (love that gov’t funding!).  The original post can be found at :

http://joannenova.com.au/2010/02/the-big-picture-65-million-years-of-temperature-swings/

65 million years of cooling

The following two graphs (images created by Robert A. Rohde / Global Warming Art) are climate records based on oxygen isotope thermometry of deep-ocean sediment cores from many parts of the world [1]).  On both graphs, colder temperatures are toward the bottom, and warmer temperatures toward the top. Significant temperature events on the first graph show the start and end of Antarctic glaciation 34 and 25 million years ago, and the resumption of glaciation about 13 million years ago. It is obvious from the graph that we are now living in the coldest period of Earth’s history for the last 65 million years. Despite recent rumors of global warming, we are actually in a deep freeze.

65 million years of global temperatures Image created by Robert A. Rohde / Global Warming Art

Image created by Robert A. Rohde / Global Warming Art

5 million years of cooling

The last five million years of climate change is shown in the next graph based on work by  Lisiecki and Raymo  in 2005 [2] . It shows our planet has a dynamic temperature history, and over the last three million years, we have had a continuous series of ice ages (now about 90,000 years each) and interglacial warm periods (about 10,000 years each). There are 13 (count ‘em) ice ages on a 100,000 year cycle (from 1.25 million years ago to the present, and 33 ice ages on a 41,000 year cycle (between 2.6 million and 1.25 million years ago). Since Earth is on a multi-million-year cooling trend, we are currently lucky to be living during an interglacial warm period, but we are at the end of our normal 10,000 year warm interglacial period.

The last 10 millennia

To detail the more recent prehistoric temperature changes, scientists have drilled a number of ice cores in ancient glacial ice.  Paleotemperature data from ice cores is considered to be our best continuous record of temperatures on the planet for time-spans up to about 420,000 years ago.  Annual layering in undisturbed glacial ice allows us to precisely date the layers, and gives us a very accurate time and temperature sequence. The US government drilled the GISP 2  ice core in central Greenland over a five-year period, and the data is available here.  This data set is useful because it reports temperatures (measured by oxygen isotopes) every 10 to 60 years — a good resolution.  I sometimes see graphs of ice-core temperatures or greenhouse gasses that are based on measurements every 1,000 or 2,000 years: not nearly of close enough together for comparisons that are useful today. I downloaded and graphed these data in Excel myself. The following graphs have a time scale in years Before Present (BP).

The next graph of temperature from the ice core for the last 10,000 years (the current interglacial period) shows that Greenland is now colder than for most of that period (vertical scale in degrees C below zero). We can see the Medieval Warm Period  800 to 1,000 years ago was not particularly warm, and the Little Ice Age 150 to 650 years ago was one of the longest sustained cold periods during this interglacial. We are now recovering from this abnormal cold period, and the recovery started long before anthropogenic greenhouse gases were produced in any quantity. The curved  trend line in green shows that we have been experiencing declining temperatures for the past 3,000 years, and are likely to be heading down toward the next ice age. Temperatures are only considered to be increasing if viewed for the last 150 years, from 1850 onward, which is roughly when thermometers began collecting global data, and is also the period of time the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has chosen for its review. The red portion of the curve is the recovery from the Little Ice Age. The amount of 20th century warming is unknown, since it was recently revealed that unknown portions of the international temperature databases have been tampered with, and the amount and extent of the tampering has not been publicly documented. It is likely that some warming has continued into the 20th century, but it is also likely that the amount of warming is not as great as the 0.6 degrees C that the global warming advocates would lead us to believe.

Our current warming is well within natural variation, and in view of the general decline in temperatures during the last half of this interglacial, is probably beneficial for mankind and most plants and animals. The graph clearly shows the Minoan Warming (about 3200 years ago), the Roman Warming (about 2000 years ago), and the Medieval Warm Period (about 900 years ago). Great advances in government, art, architecture, and science were made during these warmer times.

Greenland Temperatures – last 10,000 years

Long-term, temperatures are now declining (for the last 3,000 years), and we appear to be headed for the next 90,000 year ice age, right on schedule at the end of our current 10,000 year warm period. We have repeated this cycle 46 times in succession over the last 2.6 million years. And in case you are wondering, the previous Antarctic ice cores tell a broadly similar story.  The following graph of ice core data from Vostok (vertical scale in degrees C variation from present) shows that Antarctica is also experiencing a long-term (4,000 year) cooling trend mirroring the Greenland GISP2 cooling trend. Though the individual temperature spikes and dips are different than in Greenland, the long-term temperature trend on the planet appears to be down, not up. And since it is so late in our current interglacial period, we could be concerned about global cooling.

Vostok Antarctica, last 12,000 years

The US is currently drilling a new ice core (see here), already at 1,512 meters where it is 7,700 years old, that is dated absolutely by counting annual ice layers, and each layer will be analyzed for temperature, greenhouse gases, and other constituents. This will give us the best Antarctic record yet. I believe the results will confirm the above. We geologists owe it to policy-makers to give them the benefit of our longer-term perspective. I believe we will regret regulating CO2, since doing so will not produce any measurable climate control, and may actually cause great harm to world economies. If we want to promote renewable energy sources (and I do), let us not penalize fossil fuel production and use.  We may soon need all the energy we can produce, if the long-term cooling continues.

My main point is that natural variation is so large, even if we cease all emissions completely, the climate will still change (just look at the graphs). The cost of (possibly) slightly influencing this change is so great, why not spend a lot less adapting to it? Since we don’t know if the long-term climate is cooling or warming (I bet on cooling long-term), we could spend trillions to cut emissions, only to have the climate cool catastrophically on its own. What then? Pump as much CO2 into the air as possible?

Warming is not a killer, but global cooling is. It would only take a few years of global crop failures from cold weather to put populations at serious risk. Both the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are thickening: Leave anything on the ice, and it gets buried pretty fast (for example: the US South Pole Base was recently reconstructed because the old base was being crushed by snow and ice, and WWII planes lost on Greenland’s southeast coast, were covered by 264 feet of ice in 50 years: see the image below). This is not rocket science. Sure, the sea-level edges are retreating (that is why we call them the ablation zones of a glacier), but they represent a minute portion of the continent-scale ice mass.

“Glacier girl” crashed on Greenland and became buried under 264 ft of ice.

References:

1 J. Zachos, et al (2001) –  Trends, Rhythms, and Aberrations in Global Climate 65 Ma to Present, Science 292 (5517), 686–693

2  L. E. Lisiecki and M. E. Raymo  (2005) – A Pliocene-Pleistocene stack of 57 globally distributed benthic δ18O records, Paleoceanography 20, 1003

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A Clarrification

February 23, 2010

A brief apology is due to you readers in that I intended this blog to discuss many topics, not just AGW issues.  Some of my lack of original comment is due to being lazy, although I also have too much to do with work.  There have been a number of very good topical pieces on the discussions on AGW and the science (or lack) in regards to “cooking the books” of late and I have been generously copying them here.  Anyone reading this blog might get the impression that I am “rabidly” antiAGW or a “skeptic” with regards to climate issues.  Actually I am a vehement skeptic with regards to human influence via CO2 on global climate issues  and rabidly against hiding contrary evidence to the orthodoxy.  The “climategate” scandal shows us how far from perfect some that have invested so much effort and resources into a scientifically flawed viewpoint can fall.  My main point is not full-scale denial, but that there is no proven  scientific evidence that the impending disaster is anything but a fantasy created by models  or worse, manipulation of the “facts” for personal or political gain.

Actually many scientifically important findings have fallen out of the 20  or so years of research that have given us geoscientist’s  a better look at the recent past and  fodder for further investigation and reasoned discussion.   One very important fact is that there have been sudden and rapid climate changes (rapid being on the order of perhaps 10 years or less) of significance in the recent past (last 10,000 years) and that we have no good mechanism to account for these rapid changes.

Geologists have been aware for a very long time that the Earth’s climate has varied significantly (both warmer and cooler) in the geologic past.  Tthe intense investigation of the past 10,000 years, as an outgrowth of the work on climate “change”,  has shown that localized (or even regional) climate changes are perhaps more common than we ever previously thought.   The most striking of these tend to be the times where sudden cooling occurs.   Cold, after all, has much more of an impact on us humans than does warm.  Consider the famous Austrian “Ice Man”, the Chalcolithic age man (mummy) uncovered by melting ice in the Austrian Alps in 1991 (There are others such as teh Peruvian ice “mummies (for example).  The subject of intense scientific study, the remains of the man were preserved via entombing of his body by rapidly advancing glacial ice (without which his remains would have likely been devoured and scatered by scavengers).  The entombment was through the rapid burial by snow and ultimately ice and would have had to take place rapidly (likely within one winter, perhaps one long winter) .  The area where he died was, at that time, an area partially or mostly ice and snow free (a result of the Minoan Warming event – see next post); it is now part of the Schalstal glacier.  It took almost 3,500 years for his remains to melt out of the ice and found.

The burial by the ice is a case of very rapid change in the local climate in an extremely short time period.  Historical documents that show that Alpine villages were abandoned during the “Little Ice Age”  as ice and snow forced the residents further down valleys.  Some accounts report of such rapid ice advance that areas were abandoned within one season.     During the Pleistocene Glacial Maximum [around 20,000 years before present], sea level was as much as 100 meters below our current high stand.  Humans lived on what is now underwater shelf areas off the east coast of NA. (Massachusetts in particular) .

Graphic from NOVA. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/)

Early humans supposedly crossed the Asian-North American “land bridge”  as populations spread from Eurasia to NA (this land bridge now submersed under the Bering Sea).    These represent dramatic changes of the land (and climate) and which, were well before there were enough SUV’s to cause any “climate change”.  How would we Moderns deal with such dramatic changes we have observed in the past especially if these changes are rapid?   These investigations have great societal significance in planning or abating future climate related issue (both warmer and cooler) .  These are the types of discussions we should be involved in, NOT the backbiting, name calling scrum that has become the “climate” debate.

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AGW: Restoring courtesy to the debate

February 17, 2010

Guest post – Lucy Skywalker aka Anne Stallybrass. (from “The Air Vent”, 2/9/2010;noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/agw-restoring-courtesy-to-the-debate/#more-7973). I apologize that the accompanying figures have been “cut-off”.  WordPress’s doing, not mine.  To see the full sized figures, just go to the link.

When a situation has become so fraught, so polarized, that communication between opposing sides breaks down, “mediators” can be called in to set up a process that can enable and allow all parties to feel that they have been heard fairly. Recent engagement at WUWT with Roger Harrabin of the BBC suggests clearly to me a breakdown in communication, with all sides feeling misrepresented. I want to take the line among skeptics that Roger and the BBC are “innocent until proven guilty”, but to do so, I would ask for some conditions for courtesy’s sake. For not only does extra care with courtesy enable disputes to be resolved; I have discovered a surprise: courtesy is the best facilitator for scientific understanding itself to develop. In addition, many of the best scientists suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome (as did Einstein and Newton). Classically, this condition gives passion for Truth to the point of obsession with a narrow field of interest, and difficulty with “normal” human interactions and communicating skills. Thus the Aspies are likely to do the most brilliant science, but they seldom end up as heads of departments, let alone media reporters. They are the ones who understand crucial details that reporters fail to grasp or even to recognize as significant. I know because I had the condition, and still retain many habits developed to cope with that experience.

(1) First, I am going to look at some historical issues that I think are crucial – so please hear me out. This may do three things: (a) it may exonerate the BBC, well, as nearly completely as one can hope for (b) it may give the BBC, in particular, Roger Harrabin and Richard Black, a way out, to salvage their reputation among skeptics, give them a future, and go a long way towards resolving the AGW issues (c) it may suggest future good practice (which may need to be enshrined by legislation, in order to protect the future integrity of Science).

(2) Second, I ask for special courtesy in responses, in order to give all sides a fair chance. I believe that the best skeptics blogs practice far higher standards of courtesy than are seen in the equivalent “warmist” blogs; I know that many became skeptics because of the difference in the levels of courtesy. Nevertheless, because of the deep breakdown of communication, it is easy for both sides to see insults even where none are intended. So I would like to see factual responses, evidence relevant to the core issues, as far as possible. Emotions are an important part of our nature, they are often the gut-reaction clues we get as to whether material is truth or rubbish. But in the driving-seat, they can precipitate divides. Good practice in rebuilding trust is to ask participants to “own” their feelings rather than give them “objective” status. So as Steve McIntyre says repeatedly: no “piling-on” of emotional response please. All this will help to isolate, distil, clarify, and agree the root issues, as if this blog were a science laboratory, or an awareness-raising workshop, and the issues required the same care of handling as one would apply to tiny but significant quantities, and delicate instruments which also includes human beings.

The communication problem has been building up for so long that we can hardly hope to resolve all conflict instantly. Much mischief is the result of unchecked “group think” by special interest groups, which the best of us do frequently and for the best of reasons. An agreement from all sides, that progress has been made, will, I think, be an excellent achievement.

This picture shows every email link found in the UEA emails, grouped into institutions and individuals.

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I’ve been scanning responses on WUWT’s post about Roger Harrabin’s request for “tenured academic sceptics”. Many skeptics feel this is already an impossible request, a request that already loads the dice, because these people, who should be the ones most able to put the skeptical scientific position, are actually the ones least able to speak out, owing to pressure from the scientific “consensus”. I’ve had a productive exchange with Roger, and I’ve looked at some of Richard Black’s material, and all this has left me with the feeling that both of them, and the BBC behind them, may have far more genuine intention to stay fair and open than their reporting suggests to most people here. But we have to go very carefully, and be wary of pitfalls, to open up this possible understanding.

First, let’s look at the BBC policy regarding climate science reporting, as quoted by Robert Christopher on the WUWT Harrabin post:

“Climate change is another subject where dissenters can be unpopular. There may be now a broad scientific consensus that climate change is definitely happening, and that it is at least predominantly man-made. But the second part of that consensus still has some intelligent and articulate opponents, even if a small minority… The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus… But these dissenters (or even sceptics) will still be heard, as they should, because it is not the BBC’s role to close down this debate. They cannot be simply dismissed as ‘flat-earthers’ or ‘deniers’, who ‘should not be given a platform’ by the BBC. Impartiality always requires a breadth of view: for as long as minority opinions are coherently and honestly expressed, the BBC must give them appropriate space.”

See that small phrase “some of the best scientific experts”. Let me raise the volume a little. SOME OF THE BEST SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS. Not my personal opinion, but it’s the opinion of the BBC, and it may well have been an honest opinion.

But skeptics here can imagine who these experts could have been. How about Bob Ward, “Senior manager, policy communication” for the Royal Society until September 2006??? We can see something of his provenance and character here. Now it is no more than a possibility that Ward was one of the “experts”. But Prof Lindzen’s paper (Climate Science: is it currently designed to answer questions) demonstrates the infiltration of activists by back-door methods into influential positions in key scientific bodies, over the last twenty years or so. These are people with an agenda – even if the agenda appears to be important, like “saving the planet”. Paradoxically, emotionally-based campaigns for a green, sustainable future, in becoming special-interest groups, developing “groupthink”, relaxing traditional good standards of Scientific Method and Practice, and losing sight of Truth itself, in exaggerating claims of danger, attacking and defaming fair challengers, and ignoring basic sanity checks, have themselves become a danger to our future, and an easy way for those like Al Gore to grab power and make money.

Innocent reasons for the present situation

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am observing powerful, innocent reasons that even the “best scientific experts” may be misguided, and may have given the BBC misguided advice. The world have seen an unparalleled rate of material change, as well as material growth of population, that has happened due to the material benefits of modern Science. But much of this still depends on material and resources that are ultimately limited, even if they are far more plentiful than some fearmongers maintain; it is still important to consider issues of longterm sustainability. With powerful evidence of our ability to change the environment, it is natural to be concerned about whether our activities may be having effects on the climate. And we cannot omit the religious, spiritual and experiential dimensions, in these issues. Often the material changes overwhelm and confuse; traditional religions seem inadequate, or else God is sought with fundamentalist ardour to shut out all doubts; there is often a gap in the soul, that feels it is unscientific to embrace spiritual reality, but still experiences apocalyptic fear for the future and obsessive activity, supposedly to build a “sustainable future” but in reality to avoid facing the naked fear. However, one thing we need as a foundation is a science and understanding of reality itself that we can trust. And herein lies a big problem for Climate Science.

Science has grown out of all recognition in both extent and complexity. But as specializations proliferate, the number of experts in each specialization grows smaller. Traditionally, the peer-review system depends on unprejudiced review; but the Climategate emails have shown a corruption of the whole peer-review process, where a tiny cabal of experts took it over, to promote their own secondrate “science” and exclude anything that challenged the validity of that “science”, whether or not the challenge was sound. IT DIDN’T USE TO BE LIKE THIS!! The science I studied at school was the soul of trustworthiness, which one breathed in every time one entered the labs and the classrooms, because it was built on Scientific Method and human courtesy; experts couldn’t possibly lie over serious issues, because their results had to be reproduceable and auditable; their colleagues would disbar them for lying, because humankind needs foundations of truth. With complexification, the situation in Science has changed.

Not-so-innocent origins

Much goes back to 1988 when James Hansen delivered a warning speech in a stage-managed heat trap for the US Senate, and the IPCC was established by the U.N. to assess “the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change.” IPCC was formed to assess risks and recommend an appropriate response. But in practice, it bypasses the very basis of Science by assuming that AGW is an already-proven fact.

The IPCC is not Science, it is a lookalike, and as recent events are increasingly showing the public, it has become a fraudulent usurper. Openness to objective truth in Science is utterly essential, and, unlike what the BBC directive says, mere numbers of believers, or even 2500 IPCC “scientists”, is actually completely irrelevant; just one piece of contradictory evidence is enough to overturn a century of scientific hypotheses on the AGW in which millions now believe. And unlike what IPCC and “top scientific experts” suggest, there are not just a few, but thousands of scientific pieces of evidence challenging every single part of the AGW thesis.

A significant historical factor is Maggie Thatcher. She knew her science degree was unusual for a politician, and she used it to gain power over the miners by taking hold of, and magnifying, the AGW threat that had appeared like a tiny blip in Science. She gave research grants in any discipline that promised to look for evidence upholding AGW; she decreased all other research grants; she founded the Hadley Centre. I think her legacy was slowly cumulative, like that of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Researchers learned to get grants by promising to research more and more alarming climate issues; apocalyptic research caught on and became multinational business and the darling of the media.

The current challenge

The current challenge is to demonstrate, to such as Roger Harrabin (degree in English) and Richard Black (PhD in economics), that the most fundamental scientific propositions in AGW, and indeed, Scientific Method itself, the very foundations of Science, are what the issue is about. Orthodox science institutions now say that the existence of dangerous AGW has long been agreed by the “consensus” of scientists and doesn’t need further discussion because “time is short” if we are to take “action” to “prevent” it. And with “evidence” by the bucketful from the scientific establishment, people believe [note: believe] the proofs without further check, become “activists”, and harrass those who challenge the basics of AGW into silence. I have been there myself. Those who should be most free and able to investigate and report the real science are now the ones who have been most threatened into silence or drilled into conformity – tenured academics. The WUWT thread is already evidence of this key group of witnesses.

Therefore, what is needed for these disenfranchised experts to speak up is a written promise from the BBC that such scientists will have the right to the final approval of what (of their statements) goes out in any programme. Plus, they should be granted the chance to answer others’ objections to their statements on the programme, as is sine qua non (or is certainly supposed to be) in science journals.

The “drilling into conformity” often happened for the best of reasons, as detailed earlier. Most public dissenters are retired, or from other disciplines, or have somehow reached a point of “nothing to lose by speaking the truth”. The very basis of Scientific Method, namely reproduceability and auditability, has been compromised; and there are many scientists of high standing and expertise, as well as many others who have studied the relevant science, who know that AGW is essentially flawed, not once but over and over, holed under the water line by a monumental iceberg of hidden evidence, as surely as was the Titanic.

The real science

It is true that the Earth has been warming over the last century; it is true that this warming cannot be explained by “total solar irradiance” changes; it is true that the level of CO2 has risen; it is true that CO2 is an important greenhouse gas; it is true that the annual rise in CO2 is comparable in size to (about half the size of) our annual emissions; it is true that even at the beginning of the twentieth century there were scientists concerned at the possible effects of our CO2 emissions. But further than that, we find nothing more than amazing coincidences and correlations, with zero proof of causation. Every single one of these statements can be challenged on many fronts, shown to be misleading, and in no way constitute a proof, or even the slightest quantity of evidence, of AGW. Moreover, there are many further complications that are rooted in poor, misleading, and sometimes downright fraudulent science; the Urban Heat Island effect is one such issue; temperature records themselves are under question; the “proxy” reconstruction of earlier times is seriously under fire; all the “alarmist” prognoses of extreme weather, and of computer models, are belied by the actual records.

Reflections – how to protect the integrity of science

Currently we have an unbelievable, unfortunate situation. But it would not be the first time that humankind has been overtaken by mass delusions. You have only to read about Tulip-mania, or the South Sea Bubble, or the Crusades to find others who have said in effect “we cannot all be wrong”. Much of AGW is a strange combination of sheer coincidence in natural climate cycles, as well as lack of “back to basics” in checking the science. At first it grew innocently, slowly, and apparently usefully, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice’s broom. Only later did corruption take a greater hold.

The real questions now are, how best to re-establish and protect integrity in Science, how best to rescue the passengers still on the Titanic, and how best to uphold justice and deal fairly with the key offenders, many of whom have been motivated, at least in part, by genuine concern.

Scientific Practice needs rethinking regarding how to keep it truly open, and how to protect Science’s integrity from corruption in the future. Paradoxically, we need to re-include human values to safeguard this integrity – coming from the very same inner realm of experiences that was originally, and with justification, excluded from Scientific Method. Now the humanity has to be rebuilt, not just touchy-feelie-post-modern, but through the great key of Scientific Method itself, applied to our inner realms. This embraces much of what we know today as good psychology, and more. Science needs to rediscover its “citizen science” roots and reclaim this for the future, and become truly transparent, checkable, and open to challenge, by people of ordinary intelligence. Before implementing horrendously expensive policy, scientific truth and open verifiability are essential. This back-to-basics check is the only Precautionary Principle worth its salt. All this work is being achieved by the skeptics blogs who are most ably pointing the way forward. I taught myself the science and then wrote it up as a Primer (click my name) Many readers at the Times Higher Educational supplement have appreciated it, so perhaps our two BBC reporters might consider studying my Primer as well.

Anne Stallybrass aka Lucy Skywalker

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Climate Warnings from the Sun

February 15, 2010

This from James Marusek (http://carbon-sense.com/2010/02/12/climate-warnings-from-the-sun/)

As of the end of January, the cumulative number of spotless days (days without sunspots) in the transition into solar cycle 24 now stands at 774. The number of spotless days is clamping down quickly. There were only 3 spotless days in January, 2010.

Solar minimums end rather abruptly. It appears very likely that the final number for this solar minimum will come close to 800. The transitions into the recent Solar Cycles (SC16-23) covering the past 7 decades averaged 362 cumulative spotless days. Therefore it is becoming obvious that the sun has undergone a state change.

The Average Magnetic Planetary Index (Ap index) is a proxy measurement for the intensity of solar magnetic activity as it alters the geomagnetic field on Earth. It has been referred to as the common yardstick for solar magnetic activity. An Ap index of “4″ was the lowest recorded monthly value since measurements began in January 1932. In October and November 2009, this index record was broken with values of “3″. Then in December the index sunk even lower establishing a new record with a reading of “2”. Now in January of this year the Ap index is back up to “3”.

This solar minimum is rather unusual. If we define a period of quiet sun as those months that produced an Ap index of 6 or less and compare the total number of quiet months within each solar minimum, then the results would be:

Minimum Preceding Solar Cycle
Number of Months with Ap Index of 6 or less

SC17 11 months
SC18 2 months
SC19 2 months
SC20 5 months
SC21 0 months
SC22 0 months
SC23 3 months
SC24 25 months and counting

Isn’t it interesting that the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing some of the coldest, snowiest weather in decades at the same time the sun’s magnetic field produced 25 quiet months? But history has shown that when the sun gets extremely quiet such as during the Maunder and Sporer Minimums, the world experiences great cold periods referred to as the Little Ice Ages.

Congratulations to Washington D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia in smashing your all time seasonal snow record. Who will be next?

See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maunder_Minimum

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spörer_Minimum

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Modern green romanticism is misanthropic

January 4, 2010

Australia seems to have more common sense that many of the other “modern” states and opinion pieces such as Mr. Cox’s appear with regularity in the Australian mainstream press.  I agree with his contention that much of the modern ecocentric though is immoral, if not down right racist with regards to the developing world.  We certainly don’t won’t those “people” to travel needlessly, now do we.

* John Cox
* From: The Australian
* January 04, 2010 12:00AM

The start of the modern environmental movement is often taken as the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which described the excessive use of pesticides in the US.

The first page of this book was dedicated to Albert Schweitzer and quoted his words: “Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.”

Carson was very much influenced by Schweitzer’s philosophy of “reverence for life”, which has been described as Jesus Christ’s ethic of love and compassion between humans widened to all living beings.

There is a case, therefore, in arguing that Schweitzer was the father of the modern environmental movement.

If this is so then I must be counted as one of the first environmentalists in Australia, having been influenced during the late 1950s by this reverence-for-life philosophy in my university days. I immediately gave up my sporting life of hunting kangaroos, foxes and rabbits in the mid-north of South Australia and pledged, like Schweitzer, to work in developing countries.

Schweitzer and Carson were children of the Enlightenment, which emphasized the progress of civilization through the primacy of reason. Schweitzer’s philosophy was an attempt to find a rational ethical basis to lead Western civilisation away from the tragedies of the first half of the 20th century. Carson’s book was a well-argued, scientific study of the effects of pesticides on various aspects of nature, particularly birds.

Today, however, I find myself nearly always opposed to the viewpoints taken by the modern greens who seem to trace their roots back to the 19th-century romantic period, which was a reaction against the scientific rationalism of the 18th century.

Emotions, nature mysticism, intuition and a sense of the whole being more important than the parts were considered more important than a clear-cut view of nature’s laws that could be analyzed and used for human progress. This was evident in the music, literature and lifestyles of this romantic period and can be expressed best in the words of Goethe: “All theory is grey, dear friend; Green is the golden tree of life”.

This romantic view of nature has lead to the pervasive influence of an ecocentric rather than an anthropocentric life view in today’s world and was manifest in the Traveston Dam decision to put the possible effects of this dam on a few species ahead of the interests of hundreds of thousands of human beings.

Other decisions such as this seem to be a radical wish to return to a primitive, animistic, anti-technology, Jean-Jacques Rousseau-inspired agrarian society so as to avoid any possible harm to nature.

Having worked for more than 20 years on transport projects in Southeast Asia to help raise human beings from their poverty, I find this ecocentric view to be immoral in many ways.

I consider that India and China have been morally correct in their decisions to put present economic growth and the elimination of poverty ahead of possible future environmental benefits.

In my transport field I find myself coming up against environmentalists who cannot see the economic and environmental benefits of putting more traffic on freeways that have 30 per cent less fuel and greenhouse emissions, 50 per cent less particulate emissions, 70 per cent fewer crash fatalities and 30 per cent lower economic vehicle operating costs than on stop-start arterial roads.

I also find myself up against public transport advocates who cannot admit that the motor car has given people the freedom to work, travel and live where they want.

They cannot admit that the car is the most equitably distributed form of transport that Australia has seen and that it was a major instrument for the promotion of gender equity in the 20th century.

It has allowed women to do what they want to do because they can now make chained trips to work, shop, drop children off to school and make social visits, trips which are not possible in any other form of transport.

It is also not well known that cars are a more sustainable form of transport than public transport as the cost of a car trip, including externalities, is lower than a public transport trip including government subsidies.

The anti-motor car ideologues remind me a little of the duke of Wellington who was opposed to the development of railways because they allowed “the masses to travel needlessly”.

I also find myself in the camp of the sceptics with respect to anthropogenic global warning.

Not, it must be said, in the right-wing camp but in the geological scientists’ camp, having researched the formation and engineering properties of the deltaic clays in Southeast Asia.

The rise in temperatures of more than 6C and the rise in sea level of 130m during the past 15,000 years, without any anthropogenic emissions, show me that the forces in our solar system are much larger than our puny efforts in affecting climate change.

It may be that humans are rebelling against a purely intellectual approach to life and are cleaving to a more emotional, romantic view of an organic, holistic world.

Rationalism does not, however, have to kill what it dissects, and there are many of us who still cling to the concepts of rationalism, a web of being and reverence for life that still leave human beings as important members of this world.

John Cox is a transport consultant and author of Refocusing Road Reform and Roads in the Community.