Larry Bell creates a disturbance in the force

The full article from Forbes here is quite interesting to read, but the comments are even more interesting. I particularly got a chuckle out of Bell’s rebuttal to serial regurgitator Tenny Naumer, who unfailingly reposts most anything that agrees with her worldview from CP on her website and does so without question and mostly without comment. This one from Tenny had me ROFL:

Tell them how the explorers trying to go through the Northwest Passage took 3 years to do so in the olden days, not a matter of days like they do now.

Its motors Tenny, motors trumps sails. Oh, and icebreakers. And precise maps, and GPS…and…oh never mind. As an example, here’s one Northeast Passage story that took days (thanks to nuclear powered icebreakers) Tenny never reposted if she read it:

The surprising real story about this year’s Northeast passage transit: The media botched it

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April 28, 2011 8:22 am

This is correct. Anybody that’s bothered to read Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth knows this to be an accurate assessment–elevating it to the form of a cult. And you know what happens to cults: They tailspin into oblivion.
cult   /kʌlt/ Show Spelled
1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3. the object of such devotion.

April 28, 2011 8:33 am

Northeast, Northwest… eh whats the difference? 😀

April 28, 2011 8:42 am

Not just motors. GPS navigation systems, radar, sonar, weather reports, ice breakers, accurate charts, known safe harbors and refitting communities etc. etc. etc. etc.
REPLY: Heh, thanks, you are correct. I just added much the same thing after another cup of coffee. The point is all of our travel is faster today than in “the olden days”, thanks to improved technology. – Anthony

April 28, 2011 8:43 am

Sorry, I find people like Tenny much too frightening to be laughable.
Just read where the Obama administration is proposing giving the EPA much more control over groundwater. He’s choking our country of energy. And people like Tenny are enablers.

April 28, 2011 8:49 am

If you like dystopian fiction, read D. Keith Mano’s speculative novel, The Bridge, for a look at Greenism taken to its logical conclusion. The Amazon reviews are at

April 28, 2011 8:53 am

Before, you would get the Salvation Army and other religious charities standing on street corners asking for donations, now you get the WWF and other greenies on these same street corners. Before, you got mendicant priests that depend on your goodness for a living, now you get mendicant scientists begging for grants and funding at every opportunity to maintain their lifestyle, but they tell you it’s because the salvation of mankind is at stake. The analogies don’t get any better.

Pull My Finger
April 28, 2011 8:53 am

Why isn’t anyone worried about the weakening of gravity? In 1850 we were totally incapable of flight, yet in 2011 we are able to lauch massive pieces of metal out of our atmosphere! My god in another 100 years we’ll all simply float off into oblivion unless something done! We cannot afford to wait!

Mark Gibbas
April 28, 2011 8:58 am

Unfounded belief is a common facet of many politicized ideas. In adopting a belief, people tend to ignore or attack facts that are counter to their belief. Very often this behavior resembles a crowd of fans cheering on a team despite whatever many faults the team may have (unfair play, etc). In short, ‘belief’ is often the dangerous antithesis of ‘objectivity’. And unfortunately in a world of large numbers of people, it is the majority of people who lack critical thinking skills that become ‘believers’ of ideas that are false.

April 28, 2011 9:05 am

Also, how many miles could they sail through the Northwest passage during the winter during those 3 years trip? Not many, I guess. Same as if you try to use the passage on January.

April 28, 2011 9:07 am

Australia’s $180,000/yr Official Climate Archbishop, Dr. Tim Flannery is quoted revealingly in the Globe and Mail review of his latest book, Here on Earth:
“A leaf is a small miracle, for through it a transubstantiation occurs – of a lifeless gas into a solid, living being. It’s a sort of resurrection of CO2, the gas given off with death and decay, the gas that enshrouds dead planets. Yet from it plants forge beauteous forms that support all the hosts of earthly life, ourselves included.”
The whole review is well worth reading for an insight into the uncritical jettisoning of rational thought by those seized by the rapture.

JB Williamson
April 28, 2011 9:10 am

Amen to that.

April 28, 2011 9:14 am

It’s getting closer and closer to the time where the climate change cultists will have to drink the Kool-aid.

April 28, 2011 9:18 am

More evidence of ‘cult’ in the comments section of this factual and well-written article by Ted Lapkin in ABC’s “The Drum” of all places. I can only surmise that education has been very seriously dumbed down if this is the sort of response he gets, why oh why do CAGW proponents have to resort to adhoms, smear and innuendo. They don’t seem to be able to recognside the difference between facts and fiction!

April 28, 2011 9:19 am

K2 says:
April 28, 2011 at 8:53 am
Good point. So now that guy on the corner with the sign that says “World Ends Tomorrow” could be a climate scientist or a religious believer.

April 28, 2011 9:23 am

That article on the Northeast Passage is most interesting as was the media’s attempt to portray a transit defined in 1934 as a novel product of Global Warming and hence bad. Stupid or calculating?

Michael Larkin
April 28, 2011 9:25 am

Your link to the Bell article didn’t work for me, but this does:
[Link fixed, thanx. ~dbs, mod.]

April 28, 2011 9:25 am

Not to mention the fact that in the really olden days, a lot of the explorers died of lead poisoning from the lead used to seal the cans of the provisions that they packed.

April 28, 2011 9:27 am

Mark Gibbas says:
April 28, 2011 at 8:58 am
Unfounded belief is a common facet of …..

ALL beliefs are unfounded!

chris y
April 28, 2011 9:30 am

Andy Revkin just posted an analysis by psychology fellow Stephan Lewandowsky that is related to climate change and deniers of facts. Guess who the fact denialists are…
“Ideology trumps facts.
And it doesn’t matter what the ideology is, whether socialism, any brand of fundamentalist religion, or free-market extremism. The psychological literature shows quite consistently that a threat to one’s worldview is more than likely met by a dismissal of facts, however strong the evidence. Indeed, the stronger the evidence, the greater the threat — and hence the greater the denial.”
“In its own bizarre way, then, the rising noise level of climate denial provides further evidence that global warming resulting from human CO2 emissions is indeed a fact, however inconvenient it may be.”
Perhaps it is also evidence that hypothesized catastrophic warming from human CO2 emissions is, ah, incorrect, and people are catching on. Or as Michael Tobis might calmly assert, the chickensh*t catastrophic fracking warming from fracking human fracking CO2 fracking emissions is fracking incorrect, you fracking fracker.
Achtung! Socialists and climate deniers (now we’re dropping catastrophic, anthropogenic and change?) are lumped into the same sorting bin.
What is climate denial?

April 28, 2011 9:31 am

Unfortunatly it is a religion to many, and they will be crying about global warming even as a Glacier reclaims NYC. Nothing will change their minds.

April 28, 2011 9:34 am

Mark Gibbas says: “Unfounded belief is a common facet of many politicized ideas. In adopting a belief, people tend to ignore or attack facts that are counter to their belief. Very often this behavior resembles a crowd of fans cheering on a team despite whatever many faults the team may have (unfair play, etc)….”
Yes. The presence of noisy fans can and often does influence the outcome in the desired direction. The desired direction in climate science is political subjugation of the population. Gore and the rent boys of science KNOW they can’t make AGW real, but that’s not their objective. Legislation to establish an irreversible oligarchy is the goal. .

Grumpy Old Man
April 28, 2011 9:34 am

@ mkelly. If the sign says,”World Ends Tomorrow Unless You Give Me All Your Money”, it’s a climate scientist.

Jim G
April 28, 2011 9:35 am

ew-3 says:
April 28, 2011 at 8:43 am
“Sorry, I find people like Tenny much too frightening to be laughable.
Just read where the Obama administration is proposing giving the EPA much more control over groundwater. He’s choking our country of energy. And people like Tenny are enablers.”
Just heard on the radio this morning where two “green” organizations were successful in litigation blocking some more oil drilling here in WY to save “sacred Indian” sites and some desert land. This while gas prices are skying and unemployment is rampant. This collateral damage to our country and economy was not even mentioned, of course. It was pesented more like a hero story with no rebuttal of any kind.
The greens continue to be the most dangerous bunch to our country’s economy and national security, much more negative in total impact than a few idiots with bombs that never seem to go off. They stop progress of any kind; energy production, refinery construction, nulear power plant development, and you name it. They are even trying to stop ranching, ie food production, using sage grouse ( not endangered) as an excuse. I am not surprised that water is on their list of issues to prevent progress.
Due to the constant litigation by these left wing fanatics many projects are not undertaken or even planned for fear of years of delay and legal costs. No wonder that the trial lawyers tend to be lefties as well. This disruptive activity ensures that small businesses that might get into a variety of productive areas never do as deep pockets are required to even consider entry. Of course, small businesses create most of the new jobs, another big loss due to our socialist friends the “greenies”. But it sure makes many of them them feel proud as they think they saved some snail or rat or whatever.

Lady Life Grows
April 28, 2011 9:48 am

Rocky Road posted an accurate definition of cult–it is a pejorative for religion, like “the N-word” is a pejorative for blacks. I find it offensive that people pretend there is something wrong with being black, and I find it offensive that people find something wrong with religions. The cult word offends me greatly and I do not even believe in God.
However, when something pretends to be science, like politician Al Bore and his warmists, but then they function as a religion, that is offensive, too.
But I like Organic food, and fight against pollution when I can.

Peter Whale
April 28, 2011 9:49 am

Fortunately what I believe or what you believe has no bearing or influence on whatever the truth is.
The truth will out and the people who knowingly tried to misrepresent the truth in science should be thoroughly expunged from science.
Politicians can still lie with impunity because that is what we expect them to do.

April 28, 2011 9:54 am

peterhodges says:
April 28, 2011 at 9:27 am
Mark Gibbas says:
April 28, 2011 at 8:58 am
Unfounded belief is a common facet of …..
ALL beliefs are unfounded!

All absolute statements are incorrect, including this one. Therefore, I believe you are in error, as most beliefs have some form of foundation.
Better to say: Many beliefs, especially of a spiritual nature, are untestable by the scientific method.
Of course, that lacks the impact of an absolute statement. It does, nevertheless, have one virtue that absolutism lacks: it is correct.

April 28, 2011 9:57 am

Ten Commandments of the Greenoverlord.
1. Thou shall have not other Greenoverlord than Earth First.
2. Thou shall not make your self able to use Mother Earth to live.
3. Thou shall not take my name unless its for a grant or other thing of value.
4. Remember Earth First Day and keep it free from oil and gas.
5. Honor Mother Earth only now and forever.
6. Thou shall not use oil and gas to cause CO2 which is murder.
7. Thou shall use incest to promote the Greenoverlord cult.
8. Thou shall not allow others to steal your e-mails.
9. Thou shall only bear false witness for grants or other things of value.
10. Thou shall never use facts and you will bear false witness against deniers.
So, speak the forked minds of the Greenoverlord Cult.

April 28, 2011 10:03 am

An interesting article, but the comments seemed to be merely a screed on who can yell loudest, not best. Tenny would be funny except for the fact the joke is so old, but then most know that by now. Still, a thank you for the link to the older article. I had not read that before, but it is amusing and does support one theory of mine – about the Mainstream media.

April 28, 2011 10:07 am

btw Dr. Bell, your claim that the ‘hockey stick’ is debunked is inaccurate.

This link that shows the “hockey stick” still lives is actually about the premature release of BEST data from Dr Muller.
I think he may yet regret having said anything. Or maybe not…

April 28, 2011 10:11 am

I just loved one of the many rants by ‘tenneynaumer’ in the actual Forbes article (she really has an issue with left/right, warmist/denialist, Google/Koch, etc):

“As to your take on the “hockey stick” — another fail on your part Mr. Bell.
For one thing, it has been confirmed over and over again by other lines of evidence like the ice cores and sediment cores from the ocean and ancient lake beds.
Secondly, and more importantly, and most unfortunately, it doesn’t look like a hockey stick anymore.
It looks like a damned bottle rocket.

April 28, 2011 10:15 am

Oh my, I always knew some of the alarmists weren’t the brightest bulbs in the pack, but really????? …… yes a shining example of the typical alarmist. Olden days….. oh my……….

April 28, 2011 10:40 am

ew-3 says:
April 28, 2011 at 8:43 am
Sorry, I find people like Tenny much too frightening to be laughable.
The mismanagement problem grows when people with little understanding and skill acquire power. Government is filled with people like that. Their world is all about regulations, revenue, and power. The Judicial branch is little better with a legal construct that self-consistent and logical, but progressively out of touch with real world constraints.
Consequently, it is important to limit the size of government and its intrusiveness. It should not complete with the people. The private sector makes individual decisions based on countless experiences and unique analyses, collectively taking into consideration the complexity of our economy and other factors. It is bound together with money transactions. No central planning apparatus can possibly perform better. Parallel processing units, like the human brain, can accomplish far more than linear programming. A free private sector with real competition can do better than government.
Collectivists fear individuals. Individuals are seemingly disconnected from society and might do anything. Well, that’s called freedom. Collectivists want people to do things that the group decides is acceptable. That is a soviet (council) model of society. When you hear governments advocate local council review of businesses, television programming, or radio shows, your alarm bells should ring. This approach sounds reasonable to the uninformed. However, soviet democracy is very restrictive and oppressive.
Imagine a world where you must wear beige or gray to avoid offending someone or making them feel inferior. You must do a job that helps society best (defined by the council). Be sure to keep your religion to yourself. You must only eat foods that minimize the healthcare costs carried by the government. This is the direction we are heading, and it will get worse as the economy collapses. We will all have to do our part. Right. Government is making this happen.
Free people could solve their own economic problems. However, too many elitist individuals and corporations are making money from government regulatory impacts on the economy. We are paying for all of this.
The part I can’t figure out is, don’t they realize they are killing the golden goose? By killing the middle class, they are dooming the world to an 18th century level of technology, if that. Only a well educated middle class can maintain a high-tech world. If we stay on this track, we are looking at a population of less than 1 billion people and a feudal society.
Greens are seriously dangerous. They have no business being in charge of anything. However, Prince Charles is the tell. I am not convinced he actually believes in green anything. He does believe in money from carbon credits. Same with his buddy Al. Prince Albert of Tennesee?
On the other hand, suicidal greens don’t run the whole world, fortunately. China’s involvement in green tech is just another way to siphon money from the west. I don’t think China is going to stay the way it is now. There will be more freedom there given another 20 years. That is because of the fierce competitive spirit of chinese people. They will not be held down forever. One more generation should do the trick.
China’s government can’t really control everything, but it can set a direction. Anyone who threatens the growth of the nation has a short half-life. On the other hand, even if you are doing something technically illegal, if it is good for China, you might be allowed to continue.
We need some sort of national goals and let the people figure out how to get there. We need to get government out of the way. One goal should be 100% energy independence.

Darkinbad the Brightdayler
April 28, 2011 11:13 am

The real passage or the metaphorical one? Both surprisingly difficult to navigate!
How then am I so different from the first men through this way?
Like them, I left a settled life, I threw it all away.
To seek a Northwest Passage at the call of many men
To find there but the road back home again.
Oh, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage,
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea;
Tracing one warm line through a land so wild and savage
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea.

April 28, 2011 11:35 am

Hoser says:
April 28, 2011 at 10:40 am
Very well said. I hope you don’t mind if I share your words with others?

stephen richards
April 28, 2011 11:43 am

All absolute statements are incorrect, including this one. Therefore, I believe you are in error, as most beliefs have some form of foundation.
Better to say: Many beliefs, especially of a spiritual nature, are untestable by the scientific method.
Not strictly true. Belief requires no foundation merely a feeling of being correct. Absolute facts like absolute zero are absolute. So NO absolutes is also absolute wrong.

April 28, 2011 11:43 am

send them all to mars for a holiday 2nd class

April 28, 2011 12:14 pm

And I thought “Fallen Angles” was just a fun work of fiction …. scary.

April 28, 2011 12:16 pm

April 28, 2011 at 11:43 am
send them all to mars for a holiday 2nd class
Nah, Steerage. Tell them its the Gaia approved way to travel.

April 28, 2011 12:33 pm

re: Chris y’s comments and link:
I’m fascinated by the growing number of psychologists and sociologists who are eager to trot out psychological explanations (while relying on their professional credentials) in an attempt to discredit AGW skeptics. It never seems to occur to these people that, (i) understanding a complex of phenomena like climate might not be entirely straightforward, especially when one must basically rely on uncontrolled observations, (ii) the repeated demonstration of overblown claims and dodgy methodologies might indicate at least some bias among people making claims for AGW. It would be worth checking out the credentials of some of these people in terms of actual experience in a field of experimental science. (I’m sure that in the case of the sociologists clambering on board this train there is none.)
I can’t help thinking that the self-annointed complex is also at work here; perhaps this is one reason why they’re jumping to the defense of their fellows-in-arms. (But of course now I’m psychologizing, too. Which makes this whole situation even more interesting for real students of nature.)

Scott Covert
April 28, 2011 12:48 pm

“peterhodges says:
April 28, 2011 at 9:27 am
Mark Gibbas says:
April 28, 2011 at 8:58 am
Unfounded belief is a common facet of …..
ALL beliefs are unfounded!”
Faith and belief are as much a part of science as religion and have no bearing on truth.
I suppose you agree with the theory of relativity. Even if you don’t, let’s use it as an example.
There are very many facts that support the theory of relativity but if you haven’t performed experiments to prove it and at the very least understand all the math and have reviewed all of Einstein’s calculations yourself, you can only assert a belief in relativity, not proof of it.
We stand on the shoulders of giants and build on their work in the BELIEF that they are correct. Just because your work seems to be correct, the assumptions you used to get there are not necessarily correct.

Don K
April 28, 2011 12:56 pm

Darkinbad the Brightdayler says: …
Perhaps you should give credit for “Northwest Passage” to the author — the late Stan Rogers. Here’s a U-tube link to Rogers singing the song.
It’s a really terrific song.

April 28, 2011 1:49 pm

I’m not sure that your TLP makes it clear what Chricton was talking about.
At the same time I find it more and more difficult to find his “Environmentalism as a Religion” piece anywhere on the net – even more worrying if you ask me.
But then again any sensible person will have kept a copy of his work locally …

I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.
We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.
As an example of this challenge, I want to talk today about environmentalism. And in order not to be misunderstood, I want it perfectly clear that I believe it is incumbent on us to conduct our lives in a way that takes into account all the consequences of our actions, including the consequences to other people, and the consequences to the environment. I believe it is important to act in ways that are sympathetic to the environment, and I believe this will always be a need, carrying into the future. I believe the world has genuine problems and I believe it can and should be improved. But I also think that deciding what constitutes responsible action is immensely difficult, and the consequences of our actions are often difficult to know in advance. I think our past record of environmental action is discouraging, to put it mildly, because even our best intended efforts often go awry. But I think we do not recognize our past failures, and face them squarely. And I think I know why.
I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can’t be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people—the best people, the most enlightened people—do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.
Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.
Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday—these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don’t want to talk anybody out of them, as I don’t want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don’t want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can’t talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.
And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren’t necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It’s about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.
Am I exaggerating to make a point? I am afraid not. Because we know a lot more about the world than we did forty or fifty years ago. And what we know now is not so supportive of certain core environmental myths, yet the myths do not die. Let’s examine some of those beliefs.
There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago. When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?
And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did. On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process. And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.
How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself. The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.
There was even an academic movement, during the latter 20th century, that claimed that cannibalism was a white man’s invention to demonize the indigenous peoples. (Only academics could fight such a battle.) It was some thirty years before professors finally agreed that yes, cannibalism does indeed occur among human beings. Meanwhile, all during this time New Guinea highlanders in the 20th century continued to eat the brains of their enemies until they were finally made to understand that they risked kuru, a fatal neurological disease, when they did so.
More recently still the gentle Tasaday of the Philippines turned out to be a publicity stunt, a nonexistent tribe. And African pygmies have one of the highest murder rates on the planet.
In short, the romantic view of the natural world as a blissful Eden is only held by people who have no actual experience of nature. People who live in nature are not romantic about it at all. They may hold spiritual beliefs about the world around them, they may have a sense of the unity of nature or the aliveness of all things, but they still kill the animals and uproot the plants in order to eat, to live. If they don’t, they will die.
And if you, even now, put yourself in nature even for a matter of days, you will quickly be disabused of all your romantic fantasies. Take a trek through the jungles of Borneo, and in short order you will have festering sores on your skin, you’ll have bugs all over your body, biting in your hair, crawling up your nose and into your ears, you’ll have infections and sickness and if you’re not with somebody who knows what they’re doing, you’ll quickly starve to death. But chances are that even in the jungles of Borneo you won’t experience nature so directly, because you will have covered your entire body with DEET and you will be doing everything you can to keep those bugs off you.
The truth is, almost nobody wants to experience real nature. What people want is to spend a week or two in a cabin in the woods, with screens on the windows. They want a simplified life for a while, without all their stuff. Or a nice river rafting trip for a few days, with somebody else doing the cooking. Nobody wants to go back to nature in any real way, and nobody does. It’s all talk-and as the years go on, and the world population grows increasingly urban, it’s uninformed talk. Farmers know what they’re talking about. City people don’t. It’s all fantasy.
One way to measure the prevalence of fantasy is to note the number of people who die because they haven’t the least knowledge of how nature really is. They stand beside wild animals, like buffalo, for a picture and get trampled to death; they climb a mountain in dicey weather without proper gear, and freeze to death. They drown in the surf on holiday because they can’t conceive the real power of what we blithely call “the force of nature.” They have seen the ocean. But they haven’t been in it.
The television generation expects nature to act the way they want it to be. They think all life experiences can be tivo-ed. The notion that the natural world obeys its own rules and doesn’t give a damn about your expectations comes as a massive shock. Well-to-do, educated people in an urban environment experience the ability to fashion their daily lives as they wish. They buy clothes that suit their taste, and decorate their apartments as they wish. Within limits, they can contrive a daily urban world that pleases them.
But the natural world is not so malleable. On the contrary, it will demand that you adapt to it-and if you don’t, you die. It is a harsh, powerful, and unforgiving world, that most urban westerners have never experienced.
Many years ago I was trekking in the Karakorum mountains of northern Pakistan, when my group came to a river that we had to cross. It was a glacial river, freezing cold, and it was running very fast, but it wasn’t deep—maybe three feet at most. My guide set out ropes for people to hold as they crossed the river, and everybody proceeded, one at a time, with extreme care. I asked the guide what was the big deal about crossing a three-foot river. He said, well, supposing you fell and suffered a compound fracture. We were now four days trek from the last big town, where there was a radio. Even if the guide went back double time to get help, it’d still be at least three days before he could return with a helicopter. If a helicopter were available at all. And in three days, I’d probably be dead from my injuries. So that was why everybody was crossing carefully. Because out in nature a little slip could be deadly.
But let’s return to religion. If Eden is a fantasy that never existed, and mankind wasn’t ever noble and kind and loving, if we didn’t fall from grace, then what about the rest of the religious tenets? What about salvation, sustainability, and judgment day? What about the coming environmental doom from fossil fuels and global warming, if we all don’t get down on our knees and conserve every day?
Well, it’s interesting. You may have noticed that something has been left off the doomsday list, lately. Although the preachers of environmentalism have been yelling about population for fifty years, over the last decade world population seems to be taking an unexpected turn. Fertility rates are falling almost everywhere. As a result, over the course of my lifetime the thoughtful predictions for total world population have gone from a high of 20 billion, to 15 billion, to 11 billion (which was the UN estimate around 1990) to now 9 billion, and soon, perhaps less. There are some who think that world population will peak in 2050 and then start to decline. There are some who predict we will have fewer people in 2100 than we do today. Is this a reason to rejoice, to say halleluiah? Certainly not. Without a pause, we now hear about the coming crisis of world economy from a shrinking population. We hear about the impending crisis of an aging population. Nobody anywhere will say that the core fears expressed for most of my life have turned out not to be true. As we have moved into the future, these doomsday visions vanished, like a mirage in the desert. They were never there—though they still appear, in the future. As mirages do.
Okay, so, the preachers made a mistake. They got one prediction wrong; they’re human. So what. Unfortunately, it’s not just one prediction. It’s a whole slew of them. We are running out of oil. We are running out of all natural resources. Paul Ehrlich: 60 million Americans will die of starvation in the 1980s. Forty thousand species become extinct every year. Half of all species on the planet will be extinct by 2000. And on and on and on.
With so many past failures, you might think that environmental predictions would become more cautious. But not if it’s a religion. Remember, the nut on the sidewalk carrying the placard that predicts the end of the world doesn’t quit when the world doesn’t end on the day he expects. He just changes his placard, sets a new doomsday date, and goes back to walking the streets. One of the defining features of religion is that your beliefs are not troubled by facts, because they have nothing to do with facts.
So I can tell you some facts. I know you haven’t read any of what I am about to tell you in the newspaper, because newspapers literally don’t report them. I can tell you that DDT is not a carcinogen and did not cause birds to die and should never have been banned. I can tell you that the people who banned it knew that it wasn’t carcinogenic and banned it anyway. I can tell you that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, whose deaths are directly attributable to a callous, technologically advanced western society that promoted the new cause of environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide, and thus irrevocably harmed the third world. Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in the twentieth century history of America. We knew better, and we did it anyway, and we let people around the world die and didn’t give a damn.
I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it. I can tell you that the evidence for global warming is far weaker than its proponents would ever admit. I can tell you the percentage the US land area that is taken by urbanization, including cities and roads, is 5%. I can tell you that the Sahara desert is shrinking, and the total ice of Antarctica is increasing. I can tell you that a blue-ribbon panel in Science magazine concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century. Not wind, not solar, not even nuclear. The panel concluded a totally new technology-like nuclear fusion-was necessary, otherwise nothing could be done and in the meantime all efforts would be a waste of time. They said that when the UN IPCC reports stated alternative technologies existed that could control greenhouse gases, the UN was wrong.
I can, with a lot of time, give you the factual basis for these views, and I can cite the appropriate journal articles not in whacko magazines, but in the most prestigious science journals, such as Science and Nature. But such references probably won’t impact more than a handful of you, because the beliefs of a religion are not dependent on facts, but rather are matters of faith. Unshakeable belief.
Most of us have had some experience interacting with religious fundamentalists, and we understand that one of the problems with fundamentalists is that they have no perspective on themselves. They never recognize that their way of thinking is just one of many other possible ways of thinking, which may be equally useful or good. On the contrary, they believe their way is the right way, everyone else is wrong; they are in the business of salvation, and they want to help you to see things the right way. They want to help you be saved. They are totally rigid and totally uninterested in opposing points of view. In our modern complex world, fundamentalism is dangerous because of its rigidity and its imperviousness to other ideas.
I want to argue that it is now time for us to make a major shift in our thinking about the environment, similar to the shift that occurred around the first Earth Day in 1970, when this awareness was first heightened. But this time around, we need to get environmentalism out of the sphere of religion. We need to stop the mythic fantasies, and we need to stop the doomsday predictions. We need to start doing hard science instead.
There are two reasons why I think we all need to get rid of the religion of environmentalism.
First, we need an environmental movement, and such a movement is not very effective if it is conducted as a religion. We know from history that religions tend to kill people, and environmentalism has already killed somewhere between 10-30 million people since the 1970s. It’s not a good record. Environmentalism needs to be absolutely based in objective and verifiable science, it needs to be rational, and it needs to be flexible. And it needs to be apolitical. To mix environmental concerns with the frantic fantasies that people have about one political party or another is to miss the cold truth—that there is very little difference between the parties, except a difference in pandering rhetoric. The effort to promote effective legislation for the environment is not helped by thinking that the Democrats will save us and the Republicans won’t. Political history is more complicated than that. Never forget which president started the EPA: Richard Nixon. And never forget which president sold federal oil leases, allowing oil drilling in Santa Barbara: Lyndon Johnson. So get politics out of your thinking about the environment.
The second reason to abandon environmental religion is more pressing. Religions think they know it all, but the unhappy truth of the environment is that we are dealing with incredibly complex, evolving systems, and we usually are not certain how best to proceed. Those who are certain are demonstrating their personality type, or their belief system, not the state of their knowledge. Our record in the past, for example managing national parks, is humiliating. Our fifty-year effort at forest-fire suppression is a well-intentioned disaster from which our forests will never recover. We need to be humble, deeply humble, in the face of what we are trying to accomplish. We need to be trying various methods of accomplishing things. We need to be open-minded about assessing results of our efforts, and we need to be flexible about balancing needs. Religions are good at none of these things.
How will we manage to get environmentalism out of the clutches of religion, and back to a scientific discipline? There’s a simple answer: we must institute far more stringent requirements for what constitutes knowledge in the environmental realm. I am thoroughly sick of politicized so-called facts that simply aren’t true. It isn’t that these “facts” are exaggerations of an underlying truth. Nor is it that certain organizations are spinning their case to present it in the strongest way. Not at all—what more and more groups are doing is putting out is lies, pure and simple. Falsehoods that they know to be false.
This trend began with the DDT campaign, and it persists to this day. At this moment, the EPA is hopelessly politicized. In the wake of Carol Browner, it is probably better to shut it down and start over. What we need is a new organization much closer to the FDA. We need an organization that will be ruthless about acquiring verifiable results, that will fund identical research projects to more than one group, and that will make everybody in this field get honest fast.
Because in the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don’t know any better. That’s not a good future for the human race. That’s our past. So it’s time to abandon the religion of environmentalism, and return to the science of environmentalism, and base our public policy decisions firmly on that.

April 28, 2011 2:16 pm

Lady Life Grows says:
April 28, 2011 at 9:48 am
“Rocky Road posted an accurate definition of cult–it is a pejorative for religion, like “the N-word” is a pejorative for blacks. I find it offensive that people pretend there is something wrong with being black, and I find it offensive that people find something wrong with religions. The cult word offends me greatly and I do not even believe in God.”
There is at least one definitive difference between a religion and a cult IMHO; and that is that a cult controls the communication of its members and shields them from outside information to shape their thinking into the desired direction.
Compare to the Australian ABC or BBC; where voices opposing the AGW consensus are simply not reported and AGW is not treated anymore as a scientific hypothesis but as fact. Let alone the Deutsche Welle or any other German broadcaster.

April 28, 2011 2:32 pm

Good find. Thank you.

Ian L. McQueen
April 28, 2011 2:35 pm

Re Betapug’s helpful reference to the Globe and Mail review of Flannery’s latest (written by Alanna Mitchell), I was reminded of that old put-down, “Bring up another waggon, Joe. This one’s full.” I know Mitchell from an earlier book that she wrote on the supposed coming death of the oceans through acidification and from a description of her trip to “Antarctica” that proved to be a tour that anyone can make on a commercial basis. And…..her trip, which she passed off as an insight into the future of Antarctica, didn’t take her even half-way along the Antarctic Peninsula.
My impression is that she is shameless.

April 28, 2011 3:53 pm

Always compate what people say they want to what they do.
What poeple do is what they want. If what they do doesn’t lead to what they want? They’re demonstrating they’re willingness to compromise their desires.
The green movement has cost the west some of it’s productivity, jobs and ability to produce life saving wealth and technology. This is obvious to anyone paying any amount of attention to anything going on over the last 30-40 years.
What the green movement, therefore, wants is to stiffle western style development and progress. Why would the green movement do what it does if this wasn’t the case?
Oh I forgot, it’s become a religon.

April 28, 2011 3:58 pm

Lady Life Grows says:
April 28, 2011 at 9:48 am

Rocky Road posted an accurate definition of cult–it is a pejorative for religion, like “the N-word” is a pejorative for blacks. I find it offensive that people pretend there is something wrong with being black, and I find it offensive that people find something wrong with religions.

There is nothing wrong with being black. That being said, may we eliminate the “N-word” by eliminating racism and focusing on character as Dr. King so elequently said:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
There is also nothing wrong with religion. That being said, may we also eliminate the perjorative “Cult” I’ve applied to climate science by treating it as a science and not by making a religion of it, for it automatically becomes a cult when it is devoid of truth.

Peter O'Brien
April 28, 2011 4:52 pm

Anyone who doubts that environmentalism, at least as represented by AGW, is the new religion has only to read the introduction to An Inconvenient Truth. Let me quote:
‘The climate crisis also offers us the chance to experience what very few generations in history have had the privilege of knowing: a generational mission; the exhilaration of a compelling moral purpose; a shared and unifying cause; the opportunity to rise.
When we do rise, it will fill our spirits and bind us together. Those who are now suffering in cynicism and despair will be able to breathe freely. Those who are now suffering from a loss of meaning in their lives will find hope.
When we rise, we will experience an epiphany as we discover that this crisis is not really about politics at all. It is a moral and spiritual challenge.’
And so on, and so on! Gore is the quintessential American evangelist! All he lacks is a Sunday television show and a sex scandal!

April 28, 2011 5:52 pm

In my view Al Gore’s real aim is about getting rich quick via his carbon investments.

Al Gore – March 2009
“They’re seeing the complete disappearance of the polar ice caps right before their eyes in just a few years,” he says.”

Now he has pushed back his prediction in the face of the evidence. He will continue pushing back his failed predictjons until he gets it just Goldilocks style!
I could rant on about Al Gore but I’ll leave it here for now.

April 28, 2011 6:33 pm

I went to the Forbes article, and engaged in a series of comments with tennynaumer and renewableguy. What I found was typical AGW talking points, and no command of facts.
The renewableguy had his underwear in a twist over the Koch brothers, which I will never understand. What the heck have the Koch brothers ever had to do with anything related to climate?
The real sad sack is tennynaumer. She is conversant with last year’s AGW talking points. Otherwise, she is poorly informed. Her strategy seems to be to snipe continually at the article’s author until he gets tired of dealing with strident comments saying the same thing, over, and over, and over.
The sad part is that she doesn’t realize just how far out in the weeds her thinking really is with conspiracy theories, bad science, and a religious dedication to the AGW meme.
Whenever you folks get wind of a good fight like this, cruise on over and engage. It is fun.

April 28, 2011 7:56 pm

Jim G says:
April 28, 2011 at 9:35 am
The Greens have lots of practice from years of getting injunctions stopping all salvage logging and endangering replanting of burned forests. They have graduated.
Now they are after all forms of energy that they don’t approve of.
There are even stirrings of them targeting agriculture itself.

Al Gore's Holy Hologram
April 28, 2011 11:51 pm

An idiot with a religion is a bigger idiot

April 29, 2011 8:39 am

it’s an echo chamber in here.

April 29, 2011 8:43 am

exxon is loving this comment thread

April 29, 2011 8:55 am

You guys are crazy. I kinda like Al Gore. You like to pretend like he’s some sort of cult leader, but he really just felt strongly about an issue facing the world we live on and it resonated with people all over. There were environmentally conscious people before Al Gore presented ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ too.
Now tare my comment to shreds! I know you can’t resist. And you have nothing else to do anyways.

April 29, 2011 5:09 pm

The irony of the these pieces and discussions are so typical and based on the lack of real transparent information and/or consensus, with a splattering of self denial.
Lets face facts industrialisation has both positive and negtive impacts, costs, implications and consequences, which both the corporations and consumers don’t want to accept or face up to unless our lives, profit or families are directly or personally effected by it..or unless there’s additional profit to be made from it. I love all this finger pointing madness, cos it shows how far the truth is from us and how delluded we are, about some of the key fundimental realities of life. To say we are not influencing, polluting or changing either our environment or the climate with the toxic waste and junk we create and dump …is worrying, but not surprising as we are living in denial about so many things around us these days. Which technology can’t help because like governments, corporations and all institutions science is also corporate machine of division too. My suggestion is stop reading, open you mind, go do your own field research and see for yourself. You might surprise yourselves just how f@%*ed things really are.

April 30, 2011 5:16 am

Dale says:
April 29, 2011 at 8:55 am
“Now tare (sic) my comment to shreds!”
I would “tare” it but there’s no weight to it.

April 30, 2011 6:12 am

April 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm
“[…] To say we are not influencing, polluting or changing either our environment or the climate with the toxic waste and junk we create and dump …is worrying, […]”
Yeah, but… CO2 isn’t a toxic waste. It’s plant food. Put down the Diet Coke and think about it.
Meanwhile, industrial toxic waste in the U.S. is handled very well nowadays and reduction and containment of toxic waste in the U.S. is continually improving. You might want to go discuss toxic waste with China. They’re not doing very well in that department at the moment.
And state-mandated use of toxic materials to replace rather benign materials (I’m talking CFLs replacing incandescents here) which will then generate a toxic waste stream seems to be a topic you should be discussing with your congress-critter.
Toxic waste = bad.
CO2 = plant food (and livens up beverages).

Christopher J. Shaker
April 30, 2011 5:36 pm

If Al Gore really believed the things he says, would he be living like he does?
ABC News found Al Gore’s power bill has been around $30,000 (yes, thirty thousand!) a year. How do you even spend that much money on power?
“(2/27/07 – NASHVILLE, TN) — Back home in Tennessee, safely ensconced in his suburban Nashville home, Vice President Al Gore is no doubt basking in the Oscar awarded to “An Inconvenient Truth,” the documentary he inspired and in which he starred. But a local free-market think tank is trying to make that very home emblematic of what it deems Gore’s environmental hypocrisy.
Armed with Gore’s utility bills for the last two years, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research charged Monday that the gas and electric bills for the former vice president’s 20-room home and pool house devoured nearly 221,000 kilowatt-hours in 2006, more than 20 times the national average of 10,656 kilowatt-hours.
“If this were any other person with $30,000-a-year in utility bills, I wouldn’t care,” says the Center’s 27-year-old president, Drew Johnson. “But he tells other people how to live and he’s not following his own rules.” ”
Look up Al Gore and Occidental Petroleum on Gore: The Other Oil Candidate
“Gore recommended that the Elk Hills be sold as part of his 1995 “Reinventing Government” National Performance Review program. Gore-confidant (and former campaign manager) Tony Coelho served on the board of directors of the private company hired to assess the sale’s environmental consequences. The sale was a windfall for Oxy. Within weeks of the announced purchase Occidental stock rose ten percent.
That was good news for Gore. Despite controversy over Dick Cheney’s plans to keep stock options if elected, most Americans don’t know that we already have a vice president with oil company stocks. Before the Elk Hills sale, Al Gore controlled between $250,000-$500,000 of Occidental stock (he is executor of a trust that he says goes only to his mother, but will revert to him upon her death). After the sale, Gore began disclosing between $500,000 and $1 million of his significantly more valuable stock.
Nowhere is Al Gore’s environmental hypocrisy more glaring than when it comes to his relationship with Occidental. While on the one hand talking tough about his “big oil” opponents and waxing poetic about indigenous peoples in his 1992 book “Earth in the Balance,” the Elk Hills sale and other deals show that money has always been more important to Al Gore than ideals.”
Gore isn’t quite as green as he’s led the world to believe
“For someone who says the sky is falling, he does very little. He says he recycles and drives a hybrid. And he claims he uses renewable energy credits to offset the pollution he produces when using a private jet to promote his film. (In reality, Paramount Classics, the film’s distributor, pays this.)
Public records reveal that as Gore lectures Americans on excessive consumption, he and his wife Tipper live in two properties: a 10,000-square-foot, 20-room, eight-bathroom home in Nashville, and a 4,000-square-foot home in Arlington, Va. (He also has a third home in Carthage, Tenn.) For someone rallying the planet to pursue a path of extreme personal sacrifice, Gore requires little from himself.
Then there is the troubling matter of his energy use. In the Washington, D.C., area, utility companies offer wind energy as an alternative to traditional energy. In Nashville, similar programs exist. Utility customers must simply pay a few extra pennies per kilowatt hour, and they can continue living their carbon-neutral lifestyles knowing that they are supporting wind energy. Plenty of businesses and institutions have signed up. Even the Bush administration is using green energy for some federal office buildings, as are thousands of area residents.
But according to public records, there is no evidence that Gore has signed up to use green energy in either of his large residences. When contacted Wednesday, Gore’s office confirmed as much but said the Gores were looking into making the switch at both homes. Talk about inconvenient truths.
Gore is not alone. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has said, “Global warming is happening, and it threatens our very existence.” The DNC website applauds the fact that Gore has “tried to move people to act.” Yet, astoundingly, Gore’s persuasive powers have failed to convince his own party: The DNC has not signed up to pay an additional two pennies a kilowatt hour to go green. For that matter, neither has the Republican National Committee.
Maybe our very existence isn’t threatened.
Gore has held these apocalyptic views about the environment for some time. So why, then, didn’t Gore dump his family’s large stock holdings in Occidental (Oxy) Petroleum? As executor of his family’s trust, over the years Gore has controlled hundreds of thousands of dollars in Oxy stock. Oxy has been mired in controversy over oil drilling in ecologically sensitive areas.
Living carbon-neutral apparently doesn’t mean living oil-stock free. Nor does it necessarily mean giving up a mining royalty either.
Humanity might be “sitting on a ticking time bomb,” but Gore’s home in Carthage is sitting on a zinc mine. Gore receives $20,000 a year in royalties from Pasminco Zinc, which operates a zinc concession on his property. Tennessee has cited the company for adding large quantities of barium, iron and zinc to the nearby Caney Fork River.
The issue here is not simply Gore’s hypocrisy; it’s a question of credibility. If he genuinely believes the apocalyptic vision he has put forth and calls for radical changes in the way other people live, why hasn’t he made any radical change in his life? Giving up the zinc mine or one of his homes is not asking much, given that he wants the rest of us to radically change our lives.”
Chris Shaker

May 13, 2011 7:34 pm

And I thought I was the sensible one. Thanks for setting me straight.

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