CAGW – the pessimists choice

Submitted by Professor Bob Ryan

The debate between advocates of CAGW and ‘sceptics’ is a rerun of an old argument between those who take a pessimistic and those who take an optimistic view of humanity.  Following the collapse of communism – an extreme version of the pessimists’ creed – those who took that position had to regroup around a new agenda.  This post,  which is an opinion piece,  argues that in searching for their new Trojan Horse the pessimists discovered, in climatology, the ideal opportunity to bring together science, political expediency and social uncertainty in a way that would enable them to capture the political high ground. – Professor Bob Ryan

Although many of us would prefer it otherwise arguments are won through the heart as much as through the mind.  To turn the tide against the advocates of CAGW we should recognise that fact and understand what has been happening over the last 20 years. I believe that it is only through recognising the ‘global warming’ debate for what it is that we can make sense of the violence and antagonism it has generated and come up with a successful counter-narrative to the CAGW position.

Throughout recorded history individual and political opinion has always polarized into two camps. There are those who fundamentally believe that humanity is irredeemably lost, that people must be subordinated to social control and that individual choice cannot lead to desirable social outcomes; and there are those who take the opposite view.  This is what I describe as the ‘pessimistic’ and the ‘optimistic’ view of humanity – this distinction has been manifest in many ways: the catholic versus the protestant, the communist versus the capitalist, and now those who support the CAGW version of environmentalism and those who do not.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s the pessimists were in disarray.  Communism, the creed which had emerged as the 20th Century expression of the pessimists’ agenda had collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions.  For a short while those who believed that humanity could, through individual action and freedom, create a better world appeared to have won the argument.  The retreating left had to find something – anything – to turn the tide in their favour.  They needed a much more sophisticated argument to express their world view – an incontrovertible argument that would allow them to capture the moral high ground and be sufficiently alarming in its implications to win over politicians and populations to their agenda.  The beauty of CAGW is that it cannot be fixed by the individual or indeed the individual state.  It needs a global solution because if runaway global warming has the potential to wipe out a large proportion of humanity then action to prevent it must be equally drastic.

However, the last dozen years have not been good for those who take a more optimistic and liberal view of humanity.  The turn of the century brought a nasty dose of millennium angst and a fundamental questioning about where we go from here.  Y2K, the crash, 9/11, financial boom and bust have all produced fertile ground for the pessimists to regroup and in climate science they found their Trojan Horse.  Here was a relatively new science bringing under a single umbrella a wide range of sub-disciplines: geo-physics, oceanography, meteorology and many others – all populated by scientists who whilst not technically involved in atmospheric physics might well be sympathetic to the central CAGW message.

By good fortune for the pessimists, a small sub-group of relatively modest UK and US research institutions had been developing their specialism investigating the recent history of global temperature change and the role of CO2 and other atmospheric gases in regulating the climate. Bring them together with a group of savvy and articulate politicians of the (mainly) left, establish a UN panel with the remit of winnowing out of the scientific literature anything which supported the CAGW position and marginalised anything that challenged it, and the Trojan Horse was assembled.

The attack came on two fronts: first the CAGW narrative had to be sufficiently persuasive to win over those scientists whose research, no matter how tangential to the central thesis, would give it added credibility.  With this a claim of ‘scientific consensus’ could be established supported by the various scientific bodies who in one way or other act as mouthpieces for the scientific community.  Second, the political agenda had to be captured.   In this the pessimists were aided by another social and political change.

Across the major economies, politicians had found it increasingly difficult to relieve their populations of their cash.  The old approaches to the taxation of income were no longer viable – so called ‘progressive’ taxation and the ‘welfarism’ it supported were becoming very unpopular.  Politicians, who by and large are a pragmatic lot, had to find ways of relieving us of our cash by stealth.  In the UK, for example, hundreds of tax wheezes were invented to raise taxes in ways the political class hoped would go unnoticed.  Furthermore, stealth taxes are much harder to avoid – no accountant or tax lawyer can reduce the tax you pay when you buy a new TV, fill your car with fuel or buy an airline ticket.  So the last 20 years have been characterized by a search for new ways to relieve us of our money.  In CAGW, the scientific and moral argument could be made for the ultimate stealth tax.   Use energy and we will tax you.

And so we have it: a potent brew of political fundamentalism, fiscal expediency, social anxiety, uncertain science and huge vested interests.  I do not think science can now resolve the debate about global warming. It is not that the science is of no consequence – it has simply been marginalised in the much bigger social and political debate that is underway.   Scientists are highly specialised, discoveries come in bits and the knowledge gained is provisional.  For the young working scientist cracking the next problem and publishing the result is the main priority.  They will interpret the significance of what they discover, just like the rest of us, according to their underlying beliefs about the way the world works.  But as far as the bigger picture is concerned their views are no better than anyone else’s.

The positive message is that the tide is now beginning to turn against the pessimists.  Climategate and all that went with it gave hope to those arguing against the CAGW orthodoxy. But in the end the revelations were not conclusive.  What is and will be conclusive is the fact that the climate is simply not playing ball.  The balmy climate of the last 50 years may be coming to an end.  Global temperatures appear to have steadied over the last ten year, the rate of increase in sea level is slowing and across the planet things are not quite going the way the prophets of doom would have us believe.  It is not decisive yet but in 5 years it might well be, and as further good quality research establishes the role of other forcings in climate change the pessimists will have to look for another outlet for their world view.  But be of no doubt – they will.   The battle will be reengaged but next time on a different stage.

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June 9, 2011 8:00 am

Pessimism is thinking that Murphy was an optimist.

June 9, 2011 8:08 am

This battle will be fought for a long time to come. We witness things that simply scream “Inquisition” from alarmists and some flawed idea that we can go back into time as a society.
That will not go away, and its been popping its head up a lot since roughly the 50’s and 60’s. I tend to think this is more of a continuation of the failed idea of eugenics then anything, a philosophy based on death and population control. We never killed off the movement like we should have then…
And as such there is always the possibility that we will repeat these same mistakes time and time again until we utterly demolish the movement in its entirety.
First step is to fix science and get it back to the basics of its method. Yes, the scientific method has not been used correctly for some time, and this is a large part of the problem. Fix this, and downgrade the scientists who jumped on the warming band-wagon. They have no part in the scientific world when they can not even follow the basic tenants of the scientific method.
And more then anything else, remember who said what. Quotes are very useful as they will tell us the people who should be derided and ignored in the future. They gave up their worth when they quoted lies, distortions and insults at people who disagreed with them.
The fight will happen someday, and if we do not fight it today, tomorrow we might be facing a second holocaust worst then the first. That is the end result of the AGW alarmism. If you follow the basic ideas to their logical conclusion, the only reasonable way you can “save the planet” and “reduce CO2 emissions” is by killing off a large portion of the world’s population. This is also why you see such terms as “Carrying capacity” and “overpopulation fears” as being paramount by the same people who spread AGW alarmism.
If this battle is not fought today, it will be much worse tomorrow. But regardless, the true nature of the beast is a false and evil philosophy that believes that mankind can live in harmony with nature. I would have thought the history of Yellowstone Park by itself would have shown how futile that is, but go figure…those who promote fear tend to either not understand history or just ignore it.

Neil Jones
June 9, 2011 8:08 am

Murphy was an optimist.

June 9, 2011 8:11 am

I consider myself an optimist, and I would not be the slightest bit suprised if this is the way things have transpired since the wall came down. However, I need examples of known socialists/communists who ran to the green movement. Do we know of any examples? Anyone by name?
BTW – I’ve heard Patrick Moore, formerly of GreenPeace say this very same thing. So, I’m not doubting this senario. I would just like to see some proof before I start talking to others about it.

June 9, 2011 8:14 am

Much as I’d like to agree with the proposal, one thing nags at me. That they, the CAGW crowd, are always making unwarranted assumptions about us, the deniers and lukewarmers. They don’t acknowledge our individual positions, they assume that if we are not complete buyers of the consensus then we have a given view on religion, evolution, GMOs, politics or whatever, and that we take our cue from those who are ‘funded by big oil’. Now, that is not a fair position, as we would all agree. But it’s out there. The last thing we ought to be doing is assuming that some CAGW supporter is of a certain view on any other thing at all, unless he states it explicitly. Not tree huggers, not zero population growthers, not anything else but what they say. This keeps our side honest. Probably won’t work on them though.

Mark Grigoleit
June 9, 2011 8:22 am

As the movie trailer voiceover might say, “In a world where confidence in human ingenuity has failed, and irrational fear takes hold, …” And people with too much to eat were fearful of slightly milder winters. Well, you fill in the details.

June 9, 2011 8:27 am

Murphy was an engineer. Operating under the assumption that if something can go wrong it will is not a bad way to design machines. Assuming the same thing about humanity or nature, however, is not such a good idea. We are both complex systems with adaptation and homeostasis mechanisms. That’s why Mathus and the neo-Malthusians (e.g. Ehrlich) got it so ridiculously wrong, and keep doing so.

June 9, 2011 8:33 am

I’ve never stopped to think if I’m a pessimist or optimist.
…..I just have a keen sense of smell………………………

June 9, 2011 8:35 am

Jason says:
June 9, 2011 at 8:11 am
I consider myself an optimist, and I would not be the slightest bit suprised if this is the way things have transpired since the wall came down. However, I need examples of known socialists/communists who ran to the green movement. Do we know of any examples? Anyone by name?

Well try here for a start… article: Green left
Far-left political parties or joint electoral lists have been formed over the years, most often between socialists and left-oriented greens. Example include:
* GreenLeft of the Netherlands: a political party that began 1989 as an electoral alliance comprising the Communist Party of the Netherlands, Pacifist Socialist Party and the Christian left parties Evangelical People’s Party and Political Party of Radicals. The alliance had been known as Rainbow for the 1989 European elections.
* Red-Green Alliance of Denmark: a political alliance, later a political party formed in 1989 by the Left Socialists (VS), Communist Party of Denmark (DKP) and Socialist Workers Party (SAP).
* The European political alliance Nordic Green Left Alliance, formed by the Left Alliance (Finland), the Left-Green Movement (Iceland), the Left Party (Sweden), the Socialist Left Party (Norway) and the Socialist People’s Party (Denmark). The MEPs of the NGLA sit in the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) grouping in the European Parliament, although the Socialist People’s Party MEPs sit in The Greens–EFA group.
* The Italian The Left – The Rainbow: a short-lived political alliance, formed in December 2007 and dissolved in May 2008, comprising the Federation of the Greens, the Communist Refoundation Party, Party of Italian Communists and the Democratic Left.
* Left Ecology Freedom: initially a successor of sorts in Italy to The Left – The Rainbow, also comprising the Federation and the Greens and Democratic Left, along with former-communist Movement for the Left and Unite the Left, and the Italian Socialist Party, a centrist social-democratic party. However, by November 2009, both the Greens and Socialists had abandoned the alliance. Left Ecology Freedom became a formal party in October 2010.[2]
Hope that helps.

Ian H
June 9, 2011 8:36 am

This account views the world through a very distorted and excessively political lens. I don’t think this kind of thing is constructive.

June 9, 2011 8:36 am

Horsesh*t was the big issue in 1897. An architects’ congress in New York despaired at the prospect of accumulating horsesh*t in the central avenues of big cities. Solidified piles of horsesh*t reaching three stories high would choke London and New York by 1930, they predicted and concluded that the future was impossible.
Doomsday scenarios usually turn out like the horsesh*t predictions of 1897. No matter how diligent, futurologists cannot foresee the unpredictable results of unforeseeable technical developments. Who in 1950 could have foreseen the impact of cell phones in 2010?, Of twitter, blogs, the Net and the resulting efficiencies they bring about from the saving on unnecessary travel to mention just one effect.
So when you hear doomsayer prediction think of horsesh*t.

June 9, 2011 8:36 am

I have always been an optimist, both for my personal life and for humanity. And I have been an individualist, not wanting government to get in the way or do things that individuals can do on their own. However, some things do require government intervention. Our air and water could be cleaner than they are, for example; but they would be much dirtier without laws that reduce the dumping of wastes into them. The vast majority of commenters here don’t think that climate change is a problem, or that humans have anything to do with it, or that anything should be done about it. I disagree. As much as I wish otherwise, government action is required to slow (and eventually reverse) the changes we are causing. I am becoming pessimistic, not because of natural inclination (as Prof. Ryan seems to think), but because so many people fail to see this need.

June 9, 2011 8:46 am

The projection that the Global Warming argument will fail when the climate stops cooperating has already happened. However, the alarmists have simply changed the argument to faith in Climate Change. The climate will always support that belief system.
Arguing that the issue is simply philosophical while mostly true opens the skeptic up to charges of being anti-science. The anti-science charge has credibility because the CAGW believers are still clinging to the fig leaf of science even after abandoning the hypothesis of CO2 forced global warming.
Every mention of a partisan divide in Climate Change with conservatives not accepting the science can be met with two points.
1. There is nothing partisan about science.
2. There is no science in Climate Change.
I don’t believe in Climate Change. I’m a Methodist.

June 9, 2011 8:50 am

I am in almost complete agreement with the Professor.
Ironically, we are being told to reduce our “footprint” at a time when things are already incredibly better than they were.
Fuel economy became a priority during the Energy Crisis of the 70s, and vehicles get increasingly efficient. What happens? Everyone ignores ‘economical’ and, by definition, lower emission vehicles and moves to bigger, faster vehicles. Vehicles themselves become increasingly disposable, as they self-destruct to save their passengers from their own mistakes. Apparently nobody factors in the cost to replace a self-destructed vehicle after a crash, and by cost I mean the cost of resources (energy, etc.)
Our “environment” is in more danger from “environmentalists” than from normal, intelligent people. Such insanity as reintroducing predatory species creates a more hazardous environment. Here in Calgary, we are seeing wildlife encroach on the city to an amazing extent. I know two people whose cats have vanished this year, most likely eaten by the coyotes that freely wander the area now. Dandelions and mosquitoes are no longer sprayed for, and the entire city is a carpet of yellow, with disease-carrying insects running rampant.
All soaps and detergents were changed overnight with NO public knowledge, resulting in a massive number of people having to buy new dishwashers and washing machines because they didn’t realize it. My parents got a water softener and new dishwasher before they realized that the problem was meddling by ignorant people.
It is called the “LAW of unintended consequences”, and everyone out to “change the world” had better be prepared for it. The inane soap/detergent thing alone has done an immense amount of environmental harm, certainly more than the simple upgrading of sewage processing would ever have done.
Changing food crops to fuel use has resulted in food shortages in many areas, but they are hidden from view so “we” can safely ignore them.
But hey, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from communism, it’s that a LOT of people have to die before it can possibly work. And everything looks good on paper, too bad it always gets messed up by the “real world”.

June 9, 2011 8:53 am

Prof Bob
Agree entirely with your summary of where we are.
However, what happens if the CAGW gravy train heads for the buffers ?
Where will all the increasingly extorted cash come from then ?
Who will re-employ the millions in the green economy currently with non-jobs ?
Who will carry the losses of all the Greenie companies getting subsidies (our money) in order to exist ?
My fear is that the clear path toward barely disguised ‘global governance’ will accelerate before
the ‘science’ unravels. CAGW cannot fail – the survival of the pessimists will be paramount
and once a fully unelected soviet style elite is in power they will control the planet
and all the science within it.
The EU is an example of what is happening already – a faceless cabal of pessimists
decide policy and a local council (sorry parliament) does the implementation as directed
by the UN/IPCC. From UN documents already seen the intention is clear, an important
subject such as CAGW requires undemocratic intervention for the good of ‘the people’ (the people being themselves of course)

David S
June 9, 2011 8:55 am

Well I’m both a skeptic and a pessimist. But what I’m pessimistic about is that the warmers will drive us to ruin.

June 9, 2011 9:00 am

Not even this relatively famous left wing anti-nuclear activist buys into AGW. He states that Murphy’s Law is an absolute, as an argument against nuclear power. He then proceeds to delightfully trash AGW.

June 9, 2011 9:08 am

A broader pattern may be the cycles of boom and bust as described by Howard Bloom.
The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism
There is a tremendous loss of faith and emotional commitment to “capitalism”, and it is losing its broad progressive innovative and creative power. It has lost mass appeal, even at a time when it has yielded the greatest uplift for humanity from base suffering and disease.
Just as the West is losing touch with the deep drivers of growth which are part of our very nature and biology and psychology, Bloom’s message is being picked up and championed by crown Princes and heads of development in the Middle East, who point to his book as the future for the Arab world.
People in the West often talk about the need for a post-capitalist world, but that seems in part to be a misunderstanding of the deep nature of capitalism. In its deep drives, capitalism isn’t winding down, it is just getting started.

June 9, 2011 9:09 am

Jason says:
June 9, 2011 at 8:11 am
I consider myself an optimist, and I would not be the slightest bit suprised if this is the way things have transpired since the wall came down. However, I need examples of known socialists/communists who ran to the green movement. Do we know of any examples? Anyone by name?
11. Energy and Environment Czar: Carol Brower- Political Radical -Former head of EPA — known for anti-business activism. Strong anti-gun ownership.
She was a member of a socialist party.
Until summer 2008 she was a member of Socialist International’s Commission for a Sustainable World Society,[60][61][62] From Wiki.

Theo Goodwin
June 9, 2011 9:11 am

Jason says:
June 9, 2011 at 8:11 am
I consider myself an optimist, and I would not be the slightest bit suprised if this is the way things have transpired since the wall came down. However, I need examples of known socialists/communists who ran to the green movement. Do we know of any examples? Anyone by name?
I can give you a list of thousands. All of them prominent. But I continue to be employed by a university, so I cannot. Of course, a list is easily available to all Americans. At the top are Farrakhan, Rev. Wright, the infamous “Green Czar,” (whose name I forget), Cass Sustein, most of Obama’s advisors, everyone employed in the Department of Justice; the list is endless.

June 9, 2011 9:27 am

I find myself agreeing with this professor. Specifically to the point science is now irrelevant to the argument used by greens world wide. Many once reputable scientists such as Hansen are following this path as is Jones from East Anglia not to forget the IPCC. Greens increasingly do not use science in their arguments as science itself refuses to agree with their narrative. As does real world weather combined with the ten years average of weather all failed to agree with their predictions. Greens are increasingly using emotion and fear tactics – further Greens who are failing to win the AGW argument have moved their fear and emotion movement inside the western classrooms concentration on children in their longer term plan to win the argument by any means necessary. No doubt with this approach this is NOT over – not for decades yet to come.

Jim Clarke
June 9, 2011 9:28 am

Ian H says:
June 9, 2011 at 8:36 am
This account views the world through a very distorted and excessively political lens. I don’t think this kind of thing is constructive.
Ian, do not dismiss this perspective so quickly. It may not be hard science, but Professor Ryan’s insights are vital to understanding the cognitive dissonance resonating through science at the present time (and, indeed, throughout the history of science). Ultimately, the science will win out, but do we want it to win out in our life times, or only after a thousand years of avoidable suffering, like we saw in the Dark Ages.
The more cognizant we are of the social and political forces at play, the more likely we are to avoid the misery those forces can produce. I think the professor is illuminating a world that you may have never observed, leading you to believe that his observations are distorted. Trust me, if you look at that world carefully, you will find that the professor is right on.

June 9, 2011 9:45 am

May Day parade held in downtown Los Angeles on May 1, 2011. Obama’s favorite thugs SEIU – The leader of their contingent proudly waves a bright red communist flag and joins in his troops leading the cheers for “Legalizacion o Revolucion! (Legalization or Revolution) among many other causes. Joining the SEIU members are several other labor unions including the United Teachers of Los Angeles, members of La Raza (The Race), a racist organization promoting Hispanic superiority, and brown-shirted Brown Berets from what appears to be a para-military Hispanic organization called “La Causa” pumping their fists in the air and leading chants of “Chicano Power” and “Viva la raza!” Gays are represented by a full-throated contingent chanting: “We are the Queers.”
The scores of communist flags on display are flown alongside many Mexican flags and maps and posters calling for the “Reconquista” or reconquering of California and other lands ceded by Mexico in the late 19th and early 20th century. The full litany of leftist causes is represented from the call for open borders, to signs demanding free health care, seemingly out-of-place posters promoting environmental protection, and “Tax the Rich” t-shirts and posters. Posters calling for war and revolution are rampant as are militant headgear including the aforementioned berets and checkered headwraps one would expect to see at a Palestinian demonstration. Posters featuring Che Guevara, Lenin, Marx and Ho Chi Minh are everywhere in evidence.

June 9, 2011 9:45 am

The great optimist Julian Simon is remembered for winning a wager with the neo-malthusian P. R. Ehrlich —
I suggest that Anthony and others offer similar bets to the AGW cabal. The leaders will decline, of course, since they know that AGW is mostly propaganda. Some of the lesser lights who actually believe in AGW might take the bait, however. If the Dalton Minimum analog continues to develop, within a five years the data will be beyond Hansenization.
Given the rate of technical advancement that has been seen since, say, the second world war, burning fossil fuel will be obsolete by mid-century. And the writing on the economic wall will be obvious long before the last legacy system is abandoned. It might be a little early right now, but at some point there will be a great short sale play in the shares of subsidized wind or solar companies. Jim Chanos, the leading bear in the US, is already short First Solar, FSLR.
Truth will out.

T Huxley (from Heaven)
June 9, 2011 9:49 am

As Nigel Lawson has it – “green is the new red”

Tom in Florida
June 9, 2011 9:58 am

Can one be optimistic about being a pessimist?

June 9, 2011 10:09 am

Best commentors in the blogosphere. Thank you guys for answering my question!

June 9, 2011 10:12 am

@ Jason
Here is another green-socialist example:
“Anti-poverty activist Sue Bradford has revealed she left the Green Party over what she saw as its shift toward right wing politics….
“My position within the party became untenable in 2009, not just because of the co-leadership vote, but also because I could see clearly that a majority of members preferred a cleaner, greener capitalism to the ecosocialist agenda which I support.”

June 9, 2011 11:13 am

Bob…I think you need to look much deeper into this as a social phenomenon – it is not as simple as thinking that reds became greens in order to further an agenda of social control and dominance – capitalists were doing that well before communism made a bid for global dominance!
I am a close observer of the modern green movement, having helped to found the whole thing in the 1970s and working as scientific advisor to Greenpeace and others throughout the 1980s. The modern greens are not at all the same people. They have become ideologues – closed minded, target-oriented, bureaucratic and most surprising, technocratic – more likely to embrace Siemens, AMEC and GEC as mega-turbine makers, as any small-is-beautiful appropriate technology. They refer and defer to authority in the UN, the Royal Society, the science academies and government chief scientists with no apparent historical knowledge of the appallng history of these organisations on matters of environmental prediction or protection. They embrace the likes of Tony Blair and the dodgy-dossier makers (report of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction) as well as Al Gore and turn a complete blind eye to his banking business and any disclosure of interests. Not for them any hint of hidden controllers, Bilderbergers, high-level corruption or the more mundane academic malpractices in climate research. They speak darkly of democracy not delivering the targets which – to quote from my local Friends of the Earth in the district newspaper, must be met and their critics silenced by ‘whatever means’. They are a modern political phenomenon that I find quite scary….and I am a dyed-in-the-wool environmentalist with a long record.
They are no more ‘left’ than they are truly ‘green’. They embrace capitalism – after all it is the only system that will support their own bureacracies – they are funded by the concerned middle classes, whom they feed carefully filtered alarmist information (with the support, as we know, of the science establishment). They get government and EU money to do it! Their support in the media comes via the BBC and the Left-liberal press, not the right-wing tabloids….who are largely sceptical. Yet this agglomeration of interests would happily raise trillions in unavodable carbon taxes and hand that over to the UN/IMF with no democratic oversight, to be spent on ‘development’ of largely high-tech mitigation policies that will decimate the things they apparently care about – indigenous peoples, forests and biodiversity, those in poverty and food scarcity. Natural beauty and landscape hardly figure at all on their balance sheets.
I would say that there is an underlying tendency in any political process for a technocratic and bureacratic elite to seek to instill fear and then manipulate and control things to their own advantage – this transcends left-right politics. George Orwell nailed it.

June 9, 2011 11:15 am

Socialism is a religion. It may not have a god but it does have a devil. The devil is capitalism. Every problem is due to capitalism. Only by eradicating capitalism can all the problems of the world be solved. That is it. A new religion. Nature abhors a vacuum. So when people stopped believing in sky fairies during the birth of the industrial revolution. When science seemed to give us answers. Some thing had to fill the void in these losers. It was socialism. That’s why socialism has issues with Islam. Even though Islam goes against all of it’s so called values for humanity. It seems to be anti-capitalism. Pol pot meant well. Castor is a nice guy. Bonkers or what.
When shown the errors of their ways they will simply move on. What we need is a new common sense religion that can fill the voids in these losers heads. Can’t wait for the next big deal. Oh joy.

John W. Garrett
June 9, 2011 11:30 am

“An optimist is one who upon smelling a rose concludes that it will make a better soup than cabbage.”
-H. L. Mencken

Bloke down the pub
June 9, 2011 11:32 am

On the theme of politicians jumping on the CAGW bandwagon, it should be remembered that Margaret Thatcher was very enthusiastic at the start, as it gave an excuse to shut down large chunks of the coal industry and screw the miners, especially Arthur Scargil.

jim hogg
June 9, 2011 11:40 am

Most of you choke on AGW, and quite rightly imv, but seem remarkably willing to swallow this whole! Now, that does make me pessimistic! If only humans and human societies were this simple . . .

John in NZ
June 9, 2011 12:01 pm

” UN panel with the remit of winnowing out of the scientific literature anything which supported the CAGW position and marginalised anything that challenged it”
This is the best description of the IPCC that I have seen.

Pompous Git
June 9, 2011 12:04 pm

“Throughout recorded history individual and political opinion has always polarized into two camps. There are those who fundamentally believe that humanity is irredeemably lost, that people must be subordinated to social control and that individual choice cannot lead to desirable social outcomes; and there are those who take the opposite view.”
This is known as a false dichotomy in philosophy. I couldn’t be bothered reading past this point…

Martin Brumby
June 9, 2011 12:19 pm

Two Russian definitions.
A pessimist is a man who thinks things will get worse.
An optimist is a man who thinks things can’t get any worse.

June 9, 2011 12:42 pm

I’d say Prof. Ryan is on the right track, maybe not US, but concerning EU.
When the wall fell ordinary decent people happily adapted to a new reality, the communist and the other socialist that had been walled up suddenly lost everything, their control, their power, and their faith. These people, who would be religious fanatics if not for their socialism, ran around like delirious headless chicken without their master’s visionary utopia to unite them around. What were the road to utopia? Major capitalist evil to give up everything that is you and you rights to beat and best and pummel to the ground, before finally, everyone could enter utopian society where everyone could, equally finally, live in peace and prosperity.
Does it sound familiar at all when it comes to the climate communist hippie parade?
I don’t mind the climate hippies, not even the crazy ones, in general, or people smoking weed, but I do mind being whipped into submission to pay to enforce their doped up “visions” of a better world, their utopia, their version of garden of eve.

Interstellar Bill
June 9, 2011 12:44 pm

Ann Coulter’s new book ‘Demonic’ is a trenchant dissection of the Liberal Mob.
Before CAGW they successfully blamed natural ozone fluctuations on Freon and inflicted a trillion dollar loss on the world economy.
Before that they successfuly shut down DDT, humanity’s number one weapon against malaria, due to the Rachel Carson hoax.
They continue to double down on Malthusianism, with especially woeful results in China’s severe gender imbalance. All over the world huge swaths of countryside are marred by the windmill fraud, which uses 50 times the steel and concrete per delivered Watt than nuclear power, which kills more birds every year than all the oil spills in the world (and more people too).
All those frauds continue apace, so why do you expect the CAGW fraud to disappear just because of the truth? Now that so many 100-billion dollar frauds have succeeded, they’ll never give up on the $ten-trillion CAGW fraud.
We see that the livlihoods, careers, and reputations of tens of thousands of bureacrats, politicians, crony capitalists, ‘scientists’, ‘educators’, and ‘stakeholders’ are at stake, so they will never, never see reason or heed facts. They still wield tens of billions of dollars for their ferocious causes. Beyond them are the millions of ignoramuses comprising the Liberal Mob, with huge emotional & religious attachment to CAGW.
As the LIttle Ice Age proceeds, they will simply turn up the volume, because it always worked in the past. I love the way they turned on a dime after the recent cold winters, which they never predicted, neatly displaying the Mob’s utter indifference to contradiction: “Global warming, you see, is causing all this snow”.

June 9, 2011 1:08 pm

“For a short while those who believed that humanity could, through individual action and freedom, create a better world appeared to have won the argument. ”
How ironic. It is the “left” (the pessimists), not the conservatives, that thinks humanity can “pull itself up by it’s bootstraps,” although that has been proven false over and over for thousands of years.

Paul Deacon
June 9, 2011 1:27 pm

Jason says:
June 9, 2011 at 8:11 am
I consider myself an optimist, and I would not be the slightest bit suprised if this is the way things have transpired since the wall came down. However, I need examples of known socialists/communists who ran to the green movement. Do we know of any examples? Anyone by name?
Jason – you do not need to look in the past. The former communists are in Green (and other) parties in the here and now. In New Zealand, Russel Norman, MP and co-leader of our Green party, was formerly a member of the Australian Socialist Workers Party (a Trotskyite, i.e. Internationalist party). He is now the Green’s spokesperson on climate change. Also in NZ, a recently retired Green MP, Sue Bradford, thinking of standing for parliament again for a party to the left of the Greens (!), was a longstanding activist in the Unemployed Workers Movement (founded in the 1930s by Communist affiliates – there is now no Communist Party as such in the country). In Germany, prominent Green MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit (“Danny le Rouge”) was the leader of the 1968 student revolt in Paris (he was exiled, which is why he became an MP in Germany). The UK’s very own Baroness Ashton (EU foreign minister) is believed by some East European politicians to have accepted Soviet money in her younger days when she was secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (a good example of a broad movement led by the radical left). I have read that she is a former Maoist (presumably in her student days), but I cannot confirm that.
These are just a few examples off the top of my head, from memory.

Paul Deacon
June 9, 2011 1:38 pm

Dear Professor Bob – well done writing this article and having the courage to post it. While I accept the thesis that the radical left in the West (mainly communist and often pro-Soviet at the time) rapidly moved into the green/environmental movement at the time of the fall of the Iron Curtain, I suggest that some of the generalisations used in your article are simplistic and not necessarily helpful, indeed tending to error or personal bias (optimist vs. pessimist, Catholic vs. Protestant, etc.). Perhaps you need to search for better dichotomies than these (and you need to support the dichotomies with hard facts – this means quite a bit of work, I know).
All the best.

June 9, 2011 2:25 pm

On Communism I’d say you have it backwards.
I know that I don’t encourage Communism because of pessimism of human nature but I discourage it because of pessimism of human nature. The old power corrupts. In Communism you give sweeping powers to those in charge. When ever you do that its a recipe for disaster.

June 9, 2011 2:30 pm

CAGW = Computer Aided Global Warming ??!

Tom in Florida
June 9, 2011 3:10 pm

Here’s my take on elected officials in this Country:
Our Republicans/conservatives/right wingers want my money but don’t care how much money I make as long as I pay a portion to the government.
Our Democrats/liberals/left wingers want my money so they can take care of me ( in a manner suitable to them) but also want to restrict the amount of money I can make as a matter of “fairness”.
Either way, someone is after my wallet.

Professor Bob Ryan
June 9, 2011 3:10 pm

Thank you all for your comments which have been most interesting and in many cases thought provoking. Many of those who have posted here support my proposition that our social actions are conditioned by our fundamental beliefs about the nature of humanity and I would accept that whilst the pessimist – optimist dichotomy is broad brush that does not necessarily make it false as ‘pompous git’ asserts. I take Paul Deacons point that the dichotomies ‘communist versus capitalist’, ‘catholic versus protestant’ etc are not the only illustrations and need stronger justification. Maybe one day I will engage with that project..
To Peter Taylor: delighted to see you pass by and thank you for your comments. I do hope ‘Chill’ has done well – it deserved to.

Greg, Spokane WA
June 9, 2011 3:25 pm

Pompous Git says:
June 9, 2011 at 12:04 pm
“Throughout recorded history individual and political opinion has always polarized into two camps. There are those who fundamentally believe that humanity is irredeemably lost, that people must be subordinated to social control and that individual choice cannot lead to desirable social outcomes; and there are those who take the opposite view.”
Seems to me that most of the history of humanity has been controlled by the former group with only rare appearances by the latter. Mostly people try to stay out of the way of those in power, knowing that raising too much fuss will be painful or deadly.
Then some leader type rounds up the peasants to kick out the existing leadership, perhaps succeeds, then the new leaders kill off a few inconvenient people and the people see little change. Even though the new leaders now loudly speak of how much better the lives of the little people will be. Let some group of greens take control and it will be the same.
Probably the only way out of that is to keep the central government as weak as possible and the rights of the individual as strong as possible.

June 9, 2011 3:47 pm

Peter Taylor says:
June 9, 2011 at 11:13 am
All excellent points. I would add your thoughts to what Professor Bob posits and suggest that what we are witnessing transcends mere political ideology and is more akin to some sort of puritanistic religious movement. Environmental catastrophism has always been a powerful draw for various religions and cults throughout history, and some very clever people — likely beginning with Maurice Strong — have found a way to bring it into the mainstream. I am hopeful North America will be the firewall against the further spread of this disease. And it should be considered a disease as it will likely prove to be as deadly as any plague has ever been.

June 9, 2011 3:48 pm

Oh, and thank you Professor Ryan!

Pompous Git
June 9, 2011 3:57 pm

Bob, when I stated that the dichotomy you present is false, I did not mean to be offensive and hope you did not take it that way. However, the assertion that you are a member of of only one of two possible camps is not borne out by my life’s experiences. I have been labelled both a communist and a reactionary, because I fall somewhere in the middle. There is no middle in a dichotomy.
I am reminded of a remark made by one of Geoffrey Blainey’s students in regard to his supposedly being right-wing: when you are at the extreme left, nearly everyone is right wing.

Pompous Git
June 9, 2011 4:20 pm

Greg, Spokane WA @ June 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm
quoted the Pompous Git quoting Bob Ryan and said:
“Probably the only way out of that is to keep the central government as weak as possible and the rights of the individual as strong as possible.”
I could not agree more 🙂

R. Gates
June 9, 2011 4:24 pm

Interesting idea– to look at human personality in such simplistic and dualistic terms. This statement:
“This is what I describe as the ‘pessimistic’ and the ‘optimistic’ view of humanity – this distinction has been manifest in many ways: the catholic versus the protestant, the communist versus the capitalist, and now those who support the CAGW version of environmentalism and those who do not.”
Seems to be the core of your conjecture. Are humans really so one dimensional in that they exist on a spectrum that is so reidculously simplified so as to be one thing or another, and not complex mixtures? The mere attempt to simplify the human psyche– to make it a absurd cartoon of the full rich and complex dynamic that it is, reminds of all other failed attempts to see the human soul in absolute opposite terms of black and white, good vs. Evil, us versus them, etc. They are never useful or enlightening, tell us nothing about the true depth and variety that is in each of us, and in the extreme, such attempts to dichotomize the human experience leads to conflict and war, as one can more easily kill another human if “they are not one of us.”

June 9, 2011 4:30 pm

Gates says:
“Are humans really so one dimensional in that they exist on a spectrum that is so reidculously simplified so as to be one thing or another, and not complex mixtures?”
R Gates is a two-dimensional mixture: 25% skeptic, 75% alarmist.☺

June 9, 2011 4:59 pm

We need to remember that under communism man oppressed his fellow man, whereas under capitalism, it is the other way round.

June 9, 2011 5:08 pm

Funny, Murray. But keep in mind that “capitalism” is a Karl Marx word, based on conflating labor and capital. Small businessmen might disagree that they’re not laboring, while providing jobs for others. But I suppose that particular battle is lost, and ‘capitalism’ is here to stay.
The truth of the matter is that the free market – of which capital is only a part – provides expanding wealth for all. Unlike communism, which provides economic equality for the proles, who are uniformly destitute as a result.
Take your pick: unequal prosperity and expanding national wealth, or equality of results through redistribution of wealth, and universal poverty. South Korea vs North Korea, if you will.

June 9, 2011 5:34 pm

@R. Gates
“Are humans really so one dimensional in that they exist on a spectrum that is so reidculously simplified so as to be one thing or another, and not complex mixtures?”
The biochemical electrical process’ might be complex but peoples behavior resulting from such process’ are always either or or in limbo awaiting to make a decision. Western society are based upon the either or, yes or no, decision and that’s what defines us. Through out history, it used to be, and it still is in lots of countries, the king’s, or queen’s, or dictator’s, or emperor’s, or communist leader’s, decision that you had to officially accept as the word. People’s behavior is very predictable, generally speaking, like Pavlo’s dogs, it is learnt, not come of enlightenment by individual reason, but learnt from birth. You either jump off the bridge, like all hippies, or you don’t.

Greg, Spokane WA
June 9, 2011 5:48 pm

Smokey says:
June 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm
Take your pick: unequal prosperity and expanding national wealth, or equality of results through redistribution of wealth, and universal poverty.
It’s not universal, except among the “little guys.”. Those tied closely to the party do very well. Cuba, for example. I’ve heard rumors that Castro is a billionaire, or close to it. Those close to that Gov are the ones that Mr. Moore showcases in his “documentaries.” Everyone else is kept far from prying eyes. To keep from being corrupted, you know. In any communist country the same is pretty much true. There’s a comment somewhere above regarding the Soviets and their stores and perks that were for the elites only.
Having the greens rule in the name of “Save The Earth!” would be no different. They’d live well and we’d be like the bulk of the Soviet citizens, quietly complaining to ourselves while sipping some cheap imitation of Vodka. No thanks.
At least in Capitalism and a free society the little guy has a chance to become a much bigger guy.

June 9, 2011 5:55 pm

Interesting article. But I think there may be other ways of describing what is happening here. Namely:
1) Socialists LOVE to tell other people what to do. Whether this is due to a pessimistic view of human nature or the rather more banal lusts for power, money, and prestige is debatable.
2) After the fall of the Soviet Union, socialism was for a time greatly discredited. There were a lot of people who wanted to tell others what to do, but no way to justify doing so.
3) Enter Global Warming (now CAGW.) The wonderful thing about it is that it is remarkably complex and scientific. But it is just the justification for telling LOTS of people what to do, and helping themselves to money- by controlling energy production and usage.
The result is the WATERMELON: Green on the outside, RED on the inside.
Thus the entire debate on climate is a cat’s paw for achieving radical control over the production and consumption of energy.

June 9, 2011 6:27 pm

While pondering if I’m either a pessimistic or an optimistic person within the context of this interesting article and it’s readers comments, I’ve actually realized something, What I’ve realized is, being a pessimistic or an optimistic person is absolutely irrelevant to me. The inferred contradiction of terms are a psychological limitation for me, It’s very Freudian, I mean, If it looks like a glove and fits like a glove then it probably is a glove or maybe it’s just a glove shaped cigar… Having a pessimistic or an optimistic view of any particular subject gives no indication or the true nature of the factual content. Or maybe I’m just being “cutesy and coy” again as Willis would put it. 😀

Pompous Git
June 9, 2011 6:37 pm

1DandyTroll said @ June 9, 2011 at 5:34 pm
“People’s behavior is very predictable, generally speaking, like Pavlo’s [sic] dogs, it is learnt, not come of enlightenment by individual reason, but learnt from birth. You either jump off the bridge, like all hippies, or you don’t.”
Let’s take the Australian historian Keith Windschuttle as an example so that you can enlighten me. When I met him these many long years ago, he was a Communist. These days, he is the bête noire of the Left. Since you claim he cannot be but one, or the other, which is he?
And for Bob Ryan, who quite possibly has met him too, at what precise point in time did Keith cease to be a Communist and become its diametrically opposed opposite? If the dichotomy be true, it is not possible that he changed gradually over time.

R. Gates
June 9, 2011 10:25 pm

1DandyTroll says:
June 9, 2011 at 5:34 pm
@R. Gates
“Are humans really so one dimensional in that they exist on a spectrum that is so reidculously simplified so as to be one thing or another, and not complex mixtures?”
The biochemical electrical process’ might be complex but peoples behavior resulting from such process’ are always either or or in limbo awaiting to make a decision. Western society are based upon the either or, yes or no, decision and that’s what defines us. Through out history, it used to be, and it still is in lots of countries, the king’s, or queen’s, or dictator’s, or emperor’s, or communist leader’s, decision that you had to officially accept as the word. People’s behavior is very predictable, generally speaking, like Pavlo’s dogs, it is learnt, not come of enlightenment by individual reason, but learnt from birth. You either jump off the bridge, like all hippies, or you don’t.
And thank God for hippies and others who protested the Vietnam war or even more American lives might have been completely wasted over there fighting a war that never should have been.
And what about the greedy SOB’s that bet against America and nearly brought down our banking system? Were they liberal or conservative? Pessimist or Optimist? You see, this simpleton way of looking at the world doesn’t really capture the essence of the true complexity of the human experience. There is greed and love and fear and passion and curiosity and and so many other rational and emotional experiences that motivate humans. We are all unique and you can’t divide humans into just two types without becoming trivial and bigoted in your perception and inclined to distrust those who don’t think just like you.

Paul Deacon
June 10, 2011 12:04 am

Professor Bob Ryan says:
June 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm
Thank you all for your comments …
Dear Professor Bob – if you want to trace the green/environmental movement back to its roots, I think you have to go back at least to the early/mid 18th century in the works of French writers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau (and his precursors, whom I have not read). In their works you will find a pre-Romantic idealisation and love of “nature”, and a corresponding implied dissatisfaction with current humanity and its works. The related concept of “the noble savage” goes back at least to the 16th century. Starting with 20th century communism is a bit late, I suggest.
All the best.

June 10, 2011 1:08 am

@R. Gates
I agree that its very simplistic, but to measure anything, we need to break it down to parts that are measurable. In doing so we lose some of the gestalt honesty of the whole, but at least you get a spectrum that can be described or measured quantitatively. From what I’ve seen, there’s definitely an individual vs collective focus spectrum, and another spectrum I can’t quite describe.
The rest of my family (who now look down on me for stating that I don’t believe in global warming any more) seem to be life’s and the world’s victim’s in their own minds. I think that encourages the propensity to find AGW appealing. Many environmentalists I’ve met in the past, seem very full of anger and needing an outlet, someone to point it at. “The Other” in that case is the evil oil baron or capitalist. But to blame a section of society (never yourself) for destroying the world is pretty common stuff for life’s victims in many different arguments. I once set up a AGW website, and was about to publish the thing when I realised that everything about it was negative. It was an interesting observation.
The current fuss in Australia because of the proposed carbon tax, was fascinating. The major piece of news from that was that the “climate scientists” had received death threats. A recycled piece as it turned out, but again – its the victim story being used as justification. At the same time that a columnist suggested that “deniers” should be tattoo’d. I wonder if they’d considered the juxtaposition themselves…

June 10, 2011 2:32 am

R. Gates wrote:
And what about the greedy SOB’s that bet against America and nearly brought down our banking system? Were they liberal or conservative?

“Greed” is also a blanket category. Yes individuals want more. But as a mass human driver, wanting more is just evolution exploring possibilities and looking forward for more, throwing forward new potentials. That’s also what “problem” means, “something thrown forward”.
When something goes wrong we think of it as a negative and associate it with other negatives like “greed”. But that’s just a habitual mental association. Yes the messy suffering arises, but that is pain of change. That is life and growth and death.
All those who ask for the end of greedy capitalism and greedy consumerism are also asking for change, and change will bring new problems and new suffering, in growing pains.
The “pessimists” in this context are those who see the current system as irrevocably outdated and broken. The “optimists” in this context are those who see the system as having achieved a lot and is something to improve upon.
The “pessimists” are those who believe technology will not solve humanity’s problems. The “optimists” are those who believe it can, and business as usual will continue to gradually improve life for everyone.
One reason I linked to the Howard Bloom book is that he talks about greed, and about economic cycles based on promising technology, but in his view, developments is neither hindered by greed alone nor encouraged by new technologies.
He points to places in history where often there is a lot of new technology bursting forward and yet the economy goes into a depression. He points to times when greed seems dangerously rampant and yet the economy goes along fine. So how can this make sense?
His idea is that actually there is a natural cycle of boom and bust that’s simply the way all life evolves and changes. Occasionally it bursts forward with creative novelty, and then at the end of the cycle it contracts and cuts off the useless parts and consolidates around the most useful structures, and fixes them into place. Then it bursts into creative novelty, and so on.
The pessimists, in that context, are those who are seeing the end of the creative cycle and, losing confidence, want to cut back, withdraw, conserve, socialise the system, create safeguard rules, and tightening things down. The optimists, in that context, are those setting out, trying stuff just for the sake of it, experimenting, full of confidence and daring, going wild with crazy ideas, feel secure about venturing out, and are looking for more and more opportunities.
Bloom’s point seems to me to be that whether we like it or not, as a mass of humanity we are driven to these cycles of boom and bust, exploration and consolidation, freedom and control, breaking limits and setting limits, simply as part of the nature of life’s creative process. And that nature doesn’t care about us. In the human sphere, greed is just a component driver as is the thirst for novelty and the need for security. (And it is no accident that books like “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism” get written, as people can be driven by greed to seek spiritual blessings and join spiritual communities, just as they might shop at the mall for a new dress or look for a new partner at a party.) The deeper driver is the cyclical life process of creation and consolidation.
In that perspective, a prescription like “The Limits to Growth” can’t be sustained, because nature habitually cycles between exploration and consolidation. At some point we consolidate; when we happen to be in the cycle of consolidating, things appear to confirm the “truth” of “the limits to growth”. But nature will then, after consolidation, expand anew into a new cycle, and break the old limits. And we as humans are nature, so we as humans will again break the limits in a new cycle. The wisdom of the limits of growth will become the stagnation of old sterile and banal systems that are too stable, that don’t change, that are sucking the life out of everything, and so we’ll enter a new cycle of wild experimentation and even more startling growth.

June 10, 2011 2:46 am

NikFromNYC says: June 9, 2011 at 9:00 am
Thanks for posting Nic, this is the third time I have watched this video, most interesting. I can’t work out why there is no apparent wind or sunshine. But then I am from Australia.
At 3.28-4.26 he speaks of the weight of bulls**t.
But surely this is where self interest steps in, as opposed to a less reactionary eg Marxist super-structure? Ah, accumulating s**t, what can we turn this into?
Politics outstrips science? Use of language outstrips science?
I find the video difficult to understand. If a country can run nuclear, fine. And those countries with natural gas and capacity to use and export, fine. And if there is still available coal, fine.

June 10, 2011 4:38 am

I understand the desire to rant about the leftists, but the real problems are the statists, those who actually believe that governments fix things. Individuals fix things, period.
I fully understand why “Capitalism” is getting a bad rap. When Crony Capitalism and “State & Private Partnerships” are ruining the markets and sucking money out of our pockets, it’s not hard to see why people blame Capitalism. But it isn’t Capitalism, it’s Feudalism under a new guise.
Very few Universities teach non-Keynesian Economics, and most of those are Econometricians. The Austrian School has been ignored, their warnings ridiculed. There are very strong parallels between how they’ve been treated and how largely the same group of people have ridiculed those of us who are skeptical of AGW.

June 10, 2011 8:15 am

As my dad always says:-
“There are no such things as conspiracies, only convenient convergences of self-interest”

Steve C
June 10, 2011 9:55 am

Thanks Prof. Ryan for an interesting and thoughtful post, also to Peter Taylor for as cogent a comment as could be wished. The commenters who continue to flog the dead horse of the “left-right” paradigm, imo, really ought to think a little more about the authoritarian-libertarian axis, where most of the action has been for years now.
Here in the UK, in 2008, a Conservative (“right wing”) MP, David Davis, resigned from Parliament as a show of principle over the Labour (“left wing”) government’s latest expansion of the State’s intrusion into our lives. In one of the resulting TV interviews about the affair, Tony Benn (now retired, but formerly practically a leftmost marker for Labour) was asked by the interviewer whether he didn’t find it a little strange to be supporting Davis’ action in the company of all these right wingers. Benn chuckled, and assured him that left and right “sort of met round the back” when it came to opposing authoritarian power structures and encouraging libertarian ones.
His observation is no less true today: the UK’s “coalition” government of nominal right and centre (whose activities I view in much the same light as does Archbishop Rowan) has made one or two public displays of “rolling back the surveillance state” as both parties had promised – for instance, they scrapped Blair’s and Brown’s less-than-popular ID card scheme – but of course, the underlying structure of databases, cameras (some with microphones and speakers, FFS, so they can listen to what you’re talking about, and shout at you for dropping litter), bank records, social security records … grows apace, with little apparent public awareness, still less control. Cameron’s promise to “regulate the use of CCTV”? – It turns out to mean not reducing the number of cameras shoved in your innocent face each day, but ensuring that all are upgraded to HD to ensure that the forensic evidence against you is of the highest possible quality.
Does this approach show Cameron to be “to the right” of Blair? No, but it shows him to be just about as authoritarian – which if anything fits rather oddly with the traditional “right-wing” belief in individual freedom. Really, the right-left labels are only even left in place nowadays to attract that party’s “traditional” voters: what you increasingly get, whichever, you vote for, is government by people who know nothing about the world outside politics, for the benefit of international corporations and banks, period. Blair’s “Third Way”, Cameron’s “Big Society” – both are smoke-and-mirrors to divert attention from the encroaching centrally controlled communitarianism underneath. And it’s just the same where you live.
Ultimately, if humanity insists on building these power structures, then we are going to find that the people at the top of them are the people who are best at clawing their way up power structures, by definition. “Élites” is a popular word used to denote them, those who use it apparently unaware that “élite” is properly an adjective, which simply means “best at something“, not “best human being“. What these people are élite at is demonstrating the fairly obvious truth I first heard on the radio years ago, that top businessmen and politicians have the same sort of psychological profile as psychpaths – the same fixity of purpose, the same willingness to smile and lie and cheat and do whatever is necessary to “get ahead”. It’s quite a popular theme on the “conspiracy” sites these days, though it must be thirty years since I first heard it.
What we have at all levels at the moment is a “kakistocracy”, rule by the worst – the most plotting, devious, scheming, unprincipled critters on the planet, fighting for power. That one realisation is probably the greatest single help in trying to make sense of what goes on around Planet Earth: basically, a handful of alpha males are playing their power games with our planet now, and don’t give a monkey (pun quite intentional) what normal people think.
For the enlightenment of those who comment negatively about political topics surfacing in the comments, last time I looked the words “puzzling things” and “recent news” were still up there at the top of the page. “Recent” needn’t only be whatever nine day wonder the mainstream media are blathering about today, and increasing numbers of people are wondering where the hell sanity went in most of what goes on, so why not talk about it when it comes up? Global politics is, de facto, a dimension of particular importance as it applies to AGW – it’s the main driver, for Heaven’s sake.
Oh, and everyone commenting here is an optimist – we want to help humanity come to its senses whether about AGW or NWO or WHY (“what have you”), but let’s be honest, now – while those big alpha male monkeys control all the drivel the general public absorbs from the MSM all day, most people are still going to think we’re the nuts.
At least, until a few cold winters with unreliable energy supplies wake them up at last. Sh*t safely on course for fan, folks, it’s not going to be boring.

June 10, 2011 10:36 am

Steve C….I had a pleasant surprise a few months back….David Davis’s secretary rang and asked if I would come in and discuss the implications of my book (Chill: a reasssessment of global warming theory). He is a senior Tory, former shadow Home Secretary…I didn’t know at the time anything about him, but the internet told me he had resigned on principle over the extension of ‘terrorist’ legislation…hence unlikely to prosper under Cameron. We spent a couple of hours talking – he had read Chill, all 400 pages, and was clearly open minded and appreciative of scholarship….and I think a lot of people listen carefully to what he has to say.
I should add that not a single other politican has asked to see me! Nor any of my former ‘green’ allies, despite the second half of the book talking about how to create a truly green energy policy that was resilient to climate variability – especially the potential for it to get colder.
I live in rural Somerset. We have noticed a steady deterioration with the police. A week ago they raided a ‘gypsy’ caravan encampment ‘looking for a man reported to own a gun’. The pictures in our local paper showed a full SWAT team, with machine guns, body armour, visors and helmets. This week, some old guy with 6 pot plants had his door smashed in at 5am and he was hauled off. There is a prosecution pending now for a musician who leads a circle of singers who drink ayahuasca in ceremony….the tea (which contains a small amount of DMT) is sourced ecologically in Amazon communities – entirely legal in Brazil, and many such groups have already won the right to drink this in ritual in the USA, Netherlands, Australia – after equally heavy handed attempts by the authorities to brand it a ‘drug’ and the singers as criminals. The police will almost certainly lose the court case. But this is about harassment. The singers were all arrested in dawn raids, their bank accounts frozen, tagged and given house-arrests under bail (meaning they could not earn a living from organising the gatherings). Yet, a friendy interview would have told them they were not dealing with criminal gangs.
I begin to worry for this country. I have had a brother in law and best friend in the police force… local beat copper taught my son to box at the youth club… I know what good policing looks like…..but there is something bad happening….the cameras are everywhere and nobody raises any objections, it is really spooky to travel the motorways where they are on high stands at all the junctions.
I doubt that politicians have much say in it all….other forces are at work behind the scenes and they are quickly told where to stand. Blair or Cameron, Third Way or Big Society… you say, Steve, all smoke and mirrors.

June 10, 2011 10:51 am

Bob – thanks for the comment on ‘Chill’….it has sold well for a small publisher and a weighty tome, about 2500 copies so far with very little publicity….all the left-liberal press refused to review it (not even to give it a bad review!) and it got a few mentions in the Mail, Express and on Al Jazeeera! In the past the Independent has reviewed my books (full page spread on ‘Beyond Conservation’ in 2005) but completely blanked me. New Scientist likewise. It certainly woke me up to the extent of the bias….never seen anything like it, not even in the anti-nuclear campaigns – when the Media would show both sides of the argument. The Greens then slander me for only using the right-wing press! George Monbiot at the Guardian is typical….says I have a good reputation as an ecologist – he has read my work, but then says I have no business commenting on climate when I am not a published climate scientist. I am afraid none of them will listen until my analysis surfaces in the science lit…and as Richard Lindzen posted here…..we may be wasting our time with western journals. However, there are some offers outstanding – one in the paleo-climate field, and it is just a matter of time (and funding).
It is a small figure in the grand scheme of books, but I do know that it gets to the decision makers – the financial community have shown the greatest respect and interest in its conclusions….they know a bubble when they see one and want to know when it will burst! I had one group of international bankers call me in for a breakfast seminar and they were so well-briefed they wanted a discussion on the shifting jetstream, the PDO….I couldn’t believe it!

Steve C
June 10, 2011 1:43 pm

Peter – A pleasant surprise indeed! The man has just gone up a notch in my estimation. There seem to be one or twp MPs with principles in Westminster most of the time if you look hard enough; Manny Shinwell was another on the Left, who worked tirelessly on behalf of working people for decades, Enoch Powell one on the right who dared to repeat in public “unpopular” views on race, rather than denouncing them in the approved manner. Such “one-offs” will be kept safely away from the levers of power, of course, and actually used as evidence of how we have free speech.
It’s good to see that the “grassroots environmentalism” which I’ve inclined towards myself for most of a lifetime is still around – and still keeping an eye on reality by frequenting at least one fine science blog! As with socialism (basically, the principle that humans are social animals, and we do better if we look out for one another), environmentalism (the principle that you take responsibility for not fouling up your environment with your poisons, stink or whatever) seems to have proved itself too readily open to takeover by extremists. Those pesky big monkeys again, getting us all used to their armed police on the streets and helicopters in the sky and training the kiddies to spy on the neighbours. I wish I didn’t think it, but I do:we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. It’s not just the lunatics who’ve taken over the asylum – it’s the élite lunatics, remember.
Good luck with Chill – I shall drop by your site and look round when I have a little more time.

June 10, 2011 5:53 pm

@R. Gates
“And thank God for hippies and others who protested the Vietnam war or even more American lives might have been completely wasted over there fighting a war that never should have been.”
The hippie movement didn’t stop the war and since, it has never stopped anything, but how many need to die or get mangled for life because of the hippie “pacifist” movement Mr Gates, before they take responsibility?
But of course, hippies has the self proclaimed birth right to blame all crap, including theirs, on everyone, and everything, else.
Do you even know that it was communist Minh that violated his own peace agreement? Had there been any more war had he not done so? Not against US, Canada, Australia, UK, and the rest, but still against South Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand.
Or maybe you think the Vietnamese people should have suffered the japanese or french still?
Hippies, never did anything to stop a war and the only people the hippies ever helped was drug addicts getting more drugs. But you keep on being proud of such otherworldly feats of accomplishments. :p

Brian H
June 10, 2011 9:01 pm

At the highest levels, the desire and search for money and power merge. The money is both a marker/scorecard, and a tool to exercise power, and the power enables access to the “unlimited” pool of public goods and funds. These wannabe global controllers collaborate, while carefully watching for opportune moments to take each other down.
And the game is shielded from public view in plain sight. Watch Bill Gates for a view of a poster child of the evolution of money seeker to World Controller. He’s not quite up to it, but he’s trying hard. And so on.
Gorbachev (who is, Jason, another interesting example for your list), is pretty much in like Flynn, too. He’s leveraged reputation and contacts into a sizeable pile, and associates with all the au courant movers and shakers. Strange bedfellows like Gorbachev and Kissinger and Soros are not actually to be wondered at. Players in the Great Global Governance Game.

R. Gates
June 10, 2011 10:02 pm

1DandyTroll says:
June 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm
@R. Gates
“And thank God for hippies and others who protested the Vietnam war or even more American lives might have been completely wasted over there fighting a war that never should have been.”
The hippie movement didn’t stop the war and since, it has never stopped anything, but how many need to die or get mangled for life because of the hippie “pacifist” movement Mr Gates, before they take responsibility?
Wow, seems you’re a bit touchy on the subject of the Vietnam war. Hard for you to admit that it was a huge waste of time, money, and American lives, and that regardless of their other deficits, “hippies” were right on this issue– it was simply the wrong thing for America to be doing. This is the problem with those who want to always see everything in black and white terms…i.e. EVERYTHING that “hippies” did must be wrong, and of course, the inverse would be need to be true as well…everything that those who hate “hippies” do must be right.. This is the exact issue with trying to put the world into neat little boxes of “us’ versus “them”…it is too simple in the extreme. Humans are complex creatures, and certainly capable of complex motivations that don’t fit into neat little boxes and to attempt to do so does not clarify anything, but only serves the cause of creating division. The absurd notion that “communists” and “Catholics” and those who believe in AGW are all “pessimists” is so absurd and myopic that if it weren’t so sad it would be laughable in the extreme. It seems, strangely enough, that the groups who wanted to see things is such black and white myopic terms through history tended toward extremism and authoritarian rule…and began first by showing how wrong those people were who didn’t believe or think the same way, and then the next step was to dehumanize the “others” before moving on to the final solution… which is of course to eradicate the “others” who, in the minds of the black and white thinkers, are barely human, and certainly subhuman anyway. Black and white, us-versus-them kind of thinking leads to some very nasty and inhuman acts…

H Crawford
June 11, 2011 9:39 am

“The desire to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it” — H L Mencken

June 12, 2011 7:47 am

The hearts and minds issue is indeed important. But this analysis is far too superficial and overtly political. Let me give my own take on the question of hearts and minds which sadly is much less upbeat.
I believe we will win the battle but we have already lost the war.
The battle was about the science. We will win that battle because in science being right means you eventually get to win. But hardly anyone will care or even notice. The war was all about determining the great `cause’ of the 21st century. We’ve lost that war. The great cause of the 21st century will be the international drive to achieve a `zero carbon’ economy. And yes I think the silliness will indeed go that far.
The team told their big lie and defended it viciously and made it stick for the best part of two decades and by now what they started has an unstoppable momentum. It may have escaped your attention but while we were all arguing an entire generation has grown up knowing no other truth. They deeply believe that carbon is evil. There is no doubt in their minds about that. There will be absolutely no stopping this idea until that generation retires in another 50 to 60 years and the generation that follows them may then have a chance to rebel against what was done, if indeed they want to – who can say what the world will be like by then.
Winning the argument over the science will be satisfying, but it won’t be an easy or quick win. Some will never be convinced and we’ll have to wait for them to retire. But the truth will eventually prevail. Sadly however, few people pay attention to or care much about scientific truth. Indeed at least half the population think in a manner completely orthogonal to science. These are the people on the arts side of the arts/science divide. They want to ban chemicals, believe in crystal healing, and buy homeopathic remedies. Their thinking processes are based on emotion and feelings. They think modern technology is too good to be true,and that there must be a day of reckoning. They believe everything natural is good and all the works of man are evil. They feel guilt because they live in prosperity and want to atone. The story of man destroying the planet by burning hydrocarbons resonated very deeply with them, It aligned perfectly with what they already knew. It justified what they already wanted to do. They will not give this idea up no matter where the science goes from here.
And with them goes the bulk of society. Even the majority of people of a scientific and technical bent are at least prepared to go along. Most haven’t been paying much attention and at this point are simply deferring to the ‘experts’. They still believe the lie. Many have been persuaded that skeptics are anti-science. Even skeptics themselves are prepared to go along with the program, taking the attitude that we would have to give up burning hydrocarbons at some point anyway, so what does it all matter?
So there you have it. The 21st century will be all about windmills and power blackouts and bicycles and public transport and taxes on absolutely everything. The drive to a zero carbon economy will be relentless and quite nasty, and as the scientific rug gradually gets pulled out from under it, will look more and more illogical. People will be impoverished – the standard of living in western countries will be driven down (for some that is indeed part of the plan). And we will all just have to suffer through it as we’ve already passed the point of no return. No politician is going to be brave enough to stand in front of this train. This movement will have to be allowed to run its course.

June 12, 2011 9:08 am

In response to Cynical Scientist….I don’t recognise your dichotomies!
Firstly, I spend as much time among crystal healers/homeopaths and other assorted New Age practitioners as I do among scentists/computer specialists…..I work professionally in both spheres. Having a published book on a critique of climate science I get many invites to talk – from the smallest cafe group to Universities and larger conferences. It is the alternative society – arts/healing/truth-movement – that most wants to hear about the sceptical science (the editor of Caduceus, an alternative health journals asked for an article and he sent it back asking for MORE scientific references and less reflection on aspects of consciousness!). A very large, perhaps majority, of UK populace does not believe in ‘global warming’ and thinks the science is dodgy….and I have played my part by writing for the tabloid press, ( I was recently quoted on the front page of the Daily Express) – so there is a very large non-New Age non-crystal-hugging constituency out there as well.
the ardent ‘believers’ don’t read criticisms of the science because they have already decided it is ‘settled’…..and they are the ‘green’ beneficiaries of the gravy-laden supertanker that is so hard to turn around – politicians, science labs and institutes, campaign groups and renewable techno companies. There is a lot of ass to cover these days.
As for atoning for prosperity……such cynicism is a cover presumably for your own derriere….I also know a great many people who work toward making the world a better place in the poor countries…..and there is a very genuine humanitarian mission – they do not go on about the colonial histories or modern day economic imperialism, but get on with projects that make a difference on the ground – unfortunately, the development aid groups have totally bought into the carbon story….and stand to benefit, they think, from the carbon credits bonanza (eco-agricultural schemes are already totting up the C-sequestration credits).

Professor Bob Ryan
June 12, 2011 2:32 pm

R Gates: thanks for your comments which raise many issues. You clearly do not agree with my point of view so in rounding up this thread let me clarify some points that I made in my essay.
The pessimistic – optimistic distinction classifies the general perspective individuals have to others and to their environment. My reason for classifying communism and catholicism as pessimistic world views rests in their positon with respect to the individual and the state/church which both adopt. in communism – even going back to Marx – the individual is subjugated to the state and in catholicism the individual is subjugated to the church. Both have a fundamentally pessimistic view of the nature of the individual – I am surprised that you find that proposition in any sense contentious.
From social psychology we know that individuals are attracted to others and to organisation and institutions that reflect their own world view. We also know from many studies of human affiliation behaviour that individuals are attracted to others who share their most basic emotional and behavioural dispositions. That does not mean that there were no optimists in the Soviet Union or no pessimists in the USA that would be silly – it would be equally silly to say that there were none who were just indifferent/resigned or ambivalent. However, I do believe that the Anglo-American faith in human rights,free trade, open markets and democratic structures are fundamentally optimistic and attract support across the world from millions who are emotionally committed to that view of humanity. Similarly those in the west who found themselves supporting communism and other ideologies of the left do not share the same view about the position of the individual. They see progress through structures, state control, and ultimately the subjugation of individual rights to the common goal as defined by the state. To put it all another way: ‘left’ and ‘right’ and yes if you want to include it ‘catholic’ and ‘protestant’ are first and foremost emotional commitments.
The point of my essay is that the ‘conflict’ between the advocates of CAGW and those who oppose them is not about science any more even if it ever was. It is about competing world views and the deep emotional commitment that people have made to their positions. As I suggest in my essay, science has been co-opted as a rhetorical weapon by the advocates of CAGW. I argue that CAGW is a deeply pessimistic view of the dangers that we face and more importantly the ability of individuals through the choices they make to adapt and if necessary to change things. The answer, the advocates argue, is a transnational agreement to limit and to police the emissions of member states – to effectively control the means of global production through the limitation and control of the energy supply. They have, through their penetration of the media, the research literature, politics and the UN sponsored IPCC distorted the debate. It is, I argue, a political/scientific world view which has attracted activists who have a deep dislike of the individualism and freedom that the Anglo/US model represents. It has sucked into itself a broad spectrum of individuals who given their view of the world and notwithstanding their ignorance of the science have found another opportunity to attack the capitalist system. In this sense, like communism CAGW represents a deeply pessimistic view of human development and the ability of people to manage the changing climate whatever the source of the change.
All the best

Professor Bob Ryan
June 12, 2011 2:45 pm

Peter – delighted to hear that Chill has done well and given the way that you presented your case I am not surprised that the hard-nosed money men (and women) perked up and took notice. I hope you can keep your research and your advocacy going forward at full speed. It is frustrating when so much of the media blanks out one side of the debate t but you have reached and influenced a substantial audience – no mean achievement.

Keith Sketchley
June 18, 2011 8:23 am

Well, pessimism vs optimism is a great theme, well-founded, but your article has odd things:
– I don’t see the relevance of “catholic versus protestant”
– climate alarmists were active in the 1970s, long before government policy led to both the 9/11 attacks (failure to defend) and the mortgage collapse (coercion of lenders, enticement of borrowers, and ponzi-like agencies), long before the fall of the USSR. (Albeit that reduced credibility of the Old Left, and the New Left rose further.
– Y2K was insignificant, the dot_com bust was nothing substantial
As for connections between environmentalism and Marxist political ideology, look at the number of greens who advocate socialist measures and the number of leftist activists who are avid environmentalists.
And “Pompus Git” shows that s/he is indeed pompous.
To “jae” I say that the left’s method of pulling up by bootstraps is some kind of spontaneous collective notion that always turns out to be oppressive, whereas those who believe in individuals see the only viable method as self-improvement.
I recommend Ayn Rand’s book “The New Left: The Anti-industrial Revolution” (new edition titled “Return of the Primitives”).

Keith Sketchley
June 18, 2011 8:26 am

YEP said on June 9, 2011 at 8:27 am
“Murphy was an engineer. Operating under the assumption that if something can go wrong it will is not a bad way to design machines.”
and contrasted that with humans.
Well, you have to understand engineering more broadly but recognize the limited context of a machine (as you in effect say, humans are different, and I say the context of the climate debate is much wider than a machine).
Engineers have confidence in many parts of the machine, having specified quality materials and tested important functions. They have explored how it might fail and what the consequences might be. In a society able to afford high reliability, failures might be mitigated at all costs – such as by duplication of functions, and backups like the manual pitch trim in the fly-by-wire 777 airplane.
But engineers put the machine into operation, by users who accept some risk. Otherwise they wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning (but if they didn‘t starve first it might collapse in an earthquake, so maybe they’d find a cave except it too might collapse in the earthquake if a flood or bear didn’t get them first).
You note that humans have adaption mechanisms, which is one area where Malthus et al went wrong. (He was beginning to realize in old age the effectiveness of actions like conservation and substitution. Even a machine can be programmed to conserve and substitute, within the limited capability of machines of course – programmed by humans. If the 777 airplane has a shortage of electrical power it sheds less important loads like galleys. If it is short of hydraulic power it drops a small turbine into the airstream to drive a hydraulic pump.)
Climate alarmists fail to look at the full picture. Their neglect of real data and some feedback mechanisms is regularly chronicled herein. They fail to do what good engineers do. Worse, they evade the impact of their actions on human life, willingly sacrificing others to their cause.
For many the reason they don’t integrate and value human life is some psychological problem. Some of my friends say it is the guilt that drives much altruism, fed of course by Marxist fixed-pie presumptions, but it seems apocalyptic as well. I wonder if it is like the fascination some people have with skeletons and bleeding, which in some people leads to nihilism such as of the killers at Columbine high school. (Note the suicidal types who take as many others with them as they can, instead of just quietly committing suicide. For Islamic Totalitarians that may be a way to “heaven”, but in societies like the US the motivation of nihilists– which neo-marxist/post-Modernist teachings are full of including their “art”, is less easily identified.)

Keith Sketchley
June 18, 2011 9:08 am

Here’s a lead to glacier change I stumbled across, a study of growth/retreat of a modest glacier in the coastal mountains north of Vancouver B.C.
“Mass balance and streamflow variability at Place Glacier, Canada, in relation to recent climate fluctuations” by R.D.Moore and M.N. Demuth, in journal “Hydrological Processes”, 2001, vol. 15, no18, pp. 3473-3486.
This bit from the abstract shows part of what they did: “Place Glacier’s winter and net balances are correlated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). ….. A reconstruction of net balance extending back to the 1890s, based on a regression with winter precipitation and summer temperature, displays decadal-scale fluctuations consistent with the PDO.”
Payment is required to read the whole article.
The article in Wikipedia on Chinook winds briefly mentions an aboriginal legend about the glacier, but it sounds as though claims in the legend may be vague analogies. (IIRC human settlement on the BC coast goes back several thousand years, trading between tribes was common but so was war.)

Keith Sketchley
June 18, 2011 9:34 am

Moderator – sorry, my post on the Place Glacier was intended for Tips & Notes.

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