Climate Perception, Projection and Propaganda

Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

A major reason why Al Gore’s deceptive use of the melting Arctic ice was so effective is because most people have little idea what the real world is like. They have no image of the Arctic Oceans, shape or size, partly because they effectively live in a two-dimensional world. That is not a problem for them or society until someone exploits it. Gore was part of a global political agenda that exploited it. It was an agenda that expanded H L Mencken’s comment about politics to a global scale.

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Now, it was less likely people would know it was imaginary.

People have no accurate image of the Arctic Ocean because of how they are born, nature, and educated, nurture. They are primarily a combination of nature/nurture that prioritizes what is necessary for individual survival. In addition, their inabilities are a result of several things, but primarily, a limited ability to grasp and imagine three dimensions. Their daily visual stimuli tell them it is a flat earth. As humans moved to expand their horizons, they were confronted with the challenge of producing two-dimensional maps that attempt to portray a three-dimensional world. I learned about all these limitations when teaching and running labs for students using weather maps, topographic maps, aerial photographs and satellite imagery. It is why two-dimensional weather maps are adequate, but a forecaster needs to be able to visualize the third dimension depicted by isobars.

One of the most difficult ideas to explain to students about weather and climate is the Coriolis Effect. First, there is the challenge of it causing a change, so it appears logical to assume there is a force involved. As a result, people speak incorrectly of a Coriolis Force. Second, is the challenge of understanding a three-dimensional world, when our perceptions are essentially two-dimensional. Nowhere is this more evident than in map projections and people’s perceptions and understanding of the world.

Human adaptation of the third dimension is very much an intellectual, philosophical, and perceptual issue. The “Greek Miracle”, from approximately 700 to 400 BC, is embodied in the Parthenon. It wasn’t just the mathematical proportions, but also accommodation to a world seen by the curvature of the eye. The base of the Parthenon is not level, but raised in the center. If built level then, if viewed from either end, it would appear to dip in the middle.

The third dimension returned as an intellectual view of the world with the Renaissance or rebirth of the Greek ideas. Depth perception became important with introduction of the “vanishing point” in art and architecture. Canaletto made the idea a major part of his paintings (Figure 1)


Figure 1. Doge’s Palace, Canaletto 1725

Other intellectual applications of the third dimension at approximately the same period include, harmony in music and a Copernican Solar system in astronomy.

In the section of a first-year climate course discussing Coriolis, I used a prop to illustrate the mental gymnastic our two-dimensional brains find difficult to comprehend. The prop was a globe on a spindle. I pointed it at them so they were looking down on the North Pole. I set it spinning in the proper direction, and then turned it around so they were looking down on the South Pole. Now, it was spinning in the opposite direction yet they knew it continued spinning. Many of the challenges for understanding climate are created by the Earth’s rotation. This requires facility with grasping three dimensions that a two-dimensional public, do not have.

Map projections are a classic example of the challenges. Throughout history people produced maps that met their needs, rather than ones that represented reality. Two examples I have studied, illustrate the point. A 19th century map, drawn by Chipewyan aboriginals of the west coast of Hudson Bay, was a straight line with rivers running at right angles. It was all they needed as they followed the coast and the only challenge was the rivers they had to cross. Another map of the Arctic coastline, drawn by Inuit, the Canadian name for Eskimos, was very accurate in most details.

Most people do not have a map or vertical view of the world, unless it is required for their survival. A helicopter pilot friend was working in Somalia and had aerial photographs to help him. I knew from teaching labs on reading aerial photographs that many students could not relate. He was surprised to find the local Somalis had no difficulty. The apparent reason was, like the Inuit, they already had a mental map. The region was very uniform over large areas with no outstanding salient features. They hunted larger game with a slow acting poison arrow, which required tracking for many hours over great distance. It required a mental map to assure getting home.

An example of a map designed for a specific need was the Mercator projection (Figure 1). European colonial powers were sailing the world in search of new territory and resources. They needed maps that provided accurate information for ocean travel. There were two parts, one was on the open ocean they wanted the shortest distance between two points, known as the Great Circle line. The second were detailed coastlines, with descriptive place names that could be sung out in sequence in sea shanties.

Mercator maps (Universal Transverse Mercator)


Figure 1

The only part of this map that is accurate is right along the Equator. Distortion increases as you move away until at the top and bottom you have a single point, the Poles, represented by a line equal to the Equator. This is the map most used in schools and known to the public. It is the main reason that they have no image of the Arctic Ocean (Figure 2) or even know it is 14,056,000 km2. By comparison the US is 9,889,000 km2.


Figure 2

There are many other distortions that make proper understanding of the world and the events that occur. Most of these are created by how we see and are educated about the world. For example, traditionally the Eskimo held that the world was saucer shape rising up all around them. This is a result of a regular phenomenon in the Polar Regions called “looming”. An optical effect, created by a thin layer of warm air at the surface, makes the horizon appear elevated. It was an effect used by people to navigate more easily because they could “see” over the horizon.

Relative distortions occur because of social and economic factors. Most people think North America (NA) is much closer to Europe than South America (SA) is to Africa. In fact it is approximately half the distance at the closest point. Distortion occurs because of the amount of contact between the two regions. There are likely as many flights in a few hours between NA and Europe as there are in a week between SA and Africa. One map (Figure 3) tried to offset this by weighting size of countries according to population. It is a form of application of Newton’s gravitational theory that the force of gravity is proportional to the distance, times the mass (population).


Figure 3

The underlying theme of environmental and climate alarmism is claims the world is overpopulated and using up resources at an unsustainable rate. Chief architect of the overpopulation issue was Paul Ehrlich. Few know that he admitted that humans occupy no more than three percent of the Earth’s land surface. A map of world population density by nation, illustrates the point (Figure 4).


Figure 4.

Ehrlich admits the population only occupies about 3 percent of the land surface. The question is why is the overpopulation claim so effective? The answer is in the Eskimo saucer perception of the world. People see the world in the horizontal. They drive along roads and travel railways that take them through the inhabited regions. They occasionally get a sense of the vastness of the empty spaces, but they are not used to a bird’s eye view, as the Arctic projection illustrates.

I became aware of the problem while flying search and rescue in northern and Arctic Canada. We were on a search for missing US private airplane that left Fort Chipweyan to fly to Edmonton. The family, which we were told owned most of the California redwood saw mills, were visiting a sawmill they owned in Fort Chipweyan. Bush pilots opted not to fly, but they left anyway and never arrived at their destination. The search began and on the third day members of the family showed up with plans to walk line abreast along the route. When we asked them if they had any idea of the conditions they said they looked at the map and it looked fine. They agreed to act as spotters on search aircraft.

One brother of a missing passenger flew with us as a spotter. By noon he angrily accused us of flying in circles. His proof was he had not seen a road, a settlement, and no sign of life at all. We said welcome to Canada .We had actually covered most of Wood Buffalo National Park (Figure 5), which is three times larger than Connecticut. To help him understand, because he remained skeptical, we flew him back to Fort Chipewyan along the Peace River then the Slave River letting him stand in the cockpit and follow on a map. His only comment on landing was, “I will never worry about overpopulation again.”


Figure 5. “A” marks Fort Chipewyan. Adjacent green area is Wood Buffalo Park.

To most people the world is flat, with a limited horizon determined by their height. Worse, they cannot imagine what is beyond that horizon. People I took on tours east of Winnipeg into the Boreal forest could not believe there was nothing to the north until they reached the southern region of Russia thousands of miles away (Figure 6).


Figure 6

Our view of the world is determined by our senses and those are very limited. We have extended that view with technology and every time we do our science, philosophy and societies are changed and expanded. Jacob Bronowski made this point in his superb 1973 book and documentary, The Ascent of Man. The telescope, the microscope, and satellites, especially Hubble, have all significantly changed our view of our world, the universe and thereby ourselves.

Meanwhile most people continue to live in a two dimensional world.

The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012 and released on Friday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

To the question “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth,” 26 percent of those surveyed answered incorrectly.

The truth is it doesn’t matter to the 26 percent or even most of the people for that matter. As long as the sun rose and set, there was no problem. All this changed with environmentalism and global warming and exploitation of those ideas for a political agenda. It was necessary to have a threat that was universal crossed national boundaries, and required a singular global government.

Maurice Strong organized, through his position at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), a 1983 book titled, Only One Earth. Fellow authors were Barbara Ward Jackson and Rene Dubos. Slogans were created that are essential to a political campaign. Dubos coined the phrase, “think globally, act locally.” Another Strong initiative produced Gro Harlem Brundlandt’s report, Our Common Future with the ambiguous phrase, Sustainable Development, that means everything to everyone and nothing to anyone.

Most people don’t know that the troposphere, within which most weather occurs, is twice as deep at the Equator as it is at the Poles and it is of little or no consequence to them. The myth of us all being interconnected and that what happens in one region is of consequence to everyone is a myth exploited to perpetuate global governance. Gore exploited this myth and did it in the Arctic, a remote little known or understood area, because it is of little consequence to most people.

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.


133 thoughts on “Climate Perception, Projection and Propaganda

  1. One could always ask google earth to include a real time (approximation) of the ice coverage at the north pole, every time I skim in to find somewhere it shows glorious open water edge to edge so I`m not surprised people think there is a problem with ice melt.
    Perhaps google could think of it as an educational service.

    • The religion of democracy has led US to these dire straits.
      “It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot; and as oligarchic when they are filled by election. (Politics Aristotle)”

      • It is also the misconception that it is democracy that is the important issue, it is not it is individual freedom that is the issue. Democracy can be every bit as totalitarian as any other form of government. The founders of this country concern was with individual liberty they chose a democratic Limited republic because they felt it was the only form of government that had a chance to preserve liberty. as Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. This is why when we try to bring democracy to other nation it fails, because it is not the ability to vote that makes one free, it is the understanding that my freedom is dependent on your freedom and vise a versa and the willing to appose any and all who put the state first.

  2. Confused about “harmony in music”. The latter half of the 18th century saw the rise of equal temperament, the octave divided into 12 equal parts. Even so it wasn’t a new idea and not the same as harmony

  3. That Figure 1 is not a Mercator Projection, or at least not in its original and most commonly used form. The Arctic is effectively impossible to show on a true Mercator Projection.

      • It is not a Transverse Mercator projection either. It is a simple equidistant cylindrical projection used to easily display the UTM grid … each cell of which is a unique Transverse Mercator projection defined by the grid cell’s central meridian. In a global Transverse Mercator, the central meridian is a vertical straight line at true scale, while all others are curves of increasing scale error. Not a very good visual example for what he’s trying to convey in the text

  4. “Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.”
    That is a bit harsh Tim. Most people are very cynical about their political leaders
    Even if true, Churchill was on the money when he said; “Democracy is the worst system of Government, except for all the others”
    People from Dctatorships and Socialist Sytems will take enormous risks to try to relocate to a Democracy because they perceive that it offers a better life.

    • As above, “It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot; and as oligarchic when they are filled by election. (Politics, Aristotle)” How democracy is practiced is at issue, now and to our US Founding Fathers that rightly feared it. There is no right to vote in natural law or US Constitutional law.

  5. Pete Young, my old geography teacher, always said that he found it easier teaching pupils who also studied technical drawing. Because they had a better grasp of space in three dimensions, they’d find it easier to understand weather charts and geological surveys etc.

  6. The good Dr Tim Ball does not mention the part our Main Stream Media play in disseminating & dramatising the myths by which we are ruled : overpopulation, resource depletion, our countries latest enemies which need subduing, CAGW, etc. The meme of rule by fabricated frightening myth reaches into our schools, because the governing class know they need to start young.
    TV, Hollywood & the corporate controlled press all contribute to fabricating the illusions we live under.
    Perhaps the chief of these illusions is that we live in democracies. Elections now are a function of money & spin, & the candidates & parties put before us are severely culled by the 1%s & their Hollywood/BBC/CBC/ABC….spin machines.
    Over a year ago, Putin issued instructions to his staff to no longer regard the US as a democracy.

    • “The meme of rule by fabricated frightening myth reaches into our schools, because the governing class know they need to start young.”
      They are STILL showing ‘Gore’s Movie’ in public elementary schools, I kid you not.

      • Here in the UK, the film is supposed to be shown along with a booklet exposing its “errors of fact” as the judge in a Brit court case so delicately put it. Lord Monckton has identified 35 lies as I would put, in blunter Anglo-Saxon speak. I’ll find out how that plays out in reality.

      • This is also explainable by the psychology of many teachers: They often belong to the idealistic “do-gooder” breed of humans who are deeply convinced that they know best how to improve the universe, even if their true knowledge of things like CAGW is only uncritically loaned from “trustworthy” sources as GREENPEACE or Al Gore.
        AND: The psychological state of many journalist is rather identical because they are often former teachers who quitted school service owing to their failure there.
        Thus, it’s easy to understand why schools and the main stream media are such fertile grounds for all types of green alarmism stories and especially the secular cult of climatism.
        BTW: The same sort of people with the same deep-rooted complacency were convinced they would improve the world by burning witches and heretics about 500 years ago…

  7. There are those whose fears about global warming and CO2 run so deep that they are willing to abandon their commitment to government by strong republican democracies. They fear democracy and its inevitably ignorant citizenry. They fear an unruly mob incapable of making the decisions needed to assure humanity’s survival. They forget that the loss of freedom and a return to slavery is a threat that equals or exceeds the threat of CO2.
    They forget is that the purpose of democracy is not efficient government. Democracy’s main purpose is to shield us from from disasters on despotic dictatorial government — no matter how scientifically skilled and intelligent it may be.
    They must come to realize that the only possible way they can accomplish their goals is to simultaneously keep democracy and its commitment to individual freedom strong and healthy.
    We say teach us your wisdom. Don’t turn tail and run from the challenge of debate and discussion. Don’t muffle the voices of dumb dissenters — educate them. Don’t be afraid to openly test your climate science through a rigorous application of the scientific method, and the welcoming of those who wish to challenge your vision of truth through a detailed falsification procedure that you are obligated to prescribe.
    That is all we ask.

  8. Don’t underestimate people – ultimately people in large groups tend to solve their problems.
    China is still a “communist” country – even though most of their people now have enough to eat, and their president often quotes Adam Smith.
    An awful lot of people in America who say they favour open immigration voted Republican in the recent election.
    This applies to global warming as well. If you ask most Australians if they are concerned about global warming, most of them say yes – but they still voted for a skeptical government. On some level, instinct, intellect, who knows, they knew there was something very wrong with the stories they were being fed.

    • China has moved from being a cimmunitst dictatorship to being a capitalist dictatorship.
      The “West” is moving from capitalist democracy to being captialist dictatorship.
      That’s why Pres. O manages to find common cause with Pres Xi.

      • We heard this joke recently in China: A man dies and goes to hell. He finds two doors at the Gates to Hell. One has a long line-up, the other has none.
        The man goes to the door with no lineup and asks what happens if I enter? He is told this is capitalism. If you enter you will be boiled in oil and cut with scissors into small pieces.
        Not liking the answer he goes to the other door and asks what happens if I enter? He is told this is communism. If you enter you will be boiled in oil and cut with scissors into small pieces.
        But, he asks, why is there such a long lineup if I will receive the same treatment in the end. Ah, he is told. Sometimes we don’t have enough money for oil or scissors.

    • The Chinese economy is being systematically lionized in the press. Chinese people make less than 2,000 per year. This is then adjusted up generously for “purchasing power parity.” Obviously, the American people who make avg 40,ooo per year (roughly) are having their own purchasing power destroyed by rising prices on power, water, and all other necessities. Regulatory fees and tax law also add steadily to the loss of purchasing power.
      This is just one example of fudging and adjusting the Chinese economy. The motive for doing this is that the Progressives and the progressive scientists wish to justify communism + and the one-child policy.
      A test of Chinese communist control is the recent crackdown on open society, education, market, and elections in Hong Kong, and of course, recall that there is strict control of the internet and over 300 re-education camps. You say that it is a capitalist dictatorship but the economic reforms we hear about so loudly in the press are possibly in name only. I will provide a quote below this.

      • The U.S. Should Be Wary of Fake Chinese Economic Reform
        By Derek Scissors, Ph.D.
        “Better late than never. The absence of pro-market economic reform in China is now widely recognized, if years too late. Much of the world awaits the Communist Party’s autumn plenary meetings, hoping for a restart of the process. According to General Secretary Xi Jinping, his new government will “deepen” reform.[1] But what is packaged as reform will not be welcome outside the Party, or even recognizable.
        In advance of the fall plenum, observers should understand which possible changes will have which effects. Reforms that boost competition and private ownership will be opposed by Party cadres enriched via state commercial dominance. Yet only these reforms can enhance prosperity on a sustained basis.
        Other important actions, such as environmental improvement and payments to farmers, could be valuable but are not pro-market reforms. They will not invigorate the economy or help China’s national and commercial partners. The first step in evaluating Chinese reform, therefore, is recognizing what is (not) authentic. In particular, American policymakers should be aware that China changing course does not mean that it is going in a direction the U.S. likes.”

      • Zeke, It is not that prices are rising, its just that it takes more of your US dollars to purchase the same goods and services. The value of the products like food and NRG remain static. The dollars are not as valuable.
        Look at the Dow Jones adjusted for inflation since the 1930s.

      • We recently visited the 3 largest cities in China. Total population something like 90 million people combined. Millions of new cars, huge skyscrapers, multilevel freeways, modern bridges everywhere. Shanghai has 4 levels of freeways. You are driving on roads higher than the surrounding apartment buildings, like something out of a science fiction movie.
        The shopping centers were packed with well dressed Chinese in the latest designer fashions. Better dressed than in lots of cities in the developed nations. We spent a week on the Yangtze, watching an endless line of barges go by loaded with gravel, to build the row upon row of apartments going up. Construction cranes everywhere.
        So, I would not advise sitting on your laurels, thinking the Chinese are not doing well economically. There is an economic miracle underway in China that the west is only vaguely aware of.

    • Interesting question, from the view of space, up and down has no meaning. Certainly people living at the south of the equator do not consider themslevles living upsaide down. Somewhere along the line it became a social convention that North was “up”. Maybe due to concentrations of civilization above the equator.

    • Visit the Map Room Gallery in Vatican City.
      This gallery, called simply the Map Room or the Gallery of Maps, was named after the 40 topographical maps of the regions of Italy, and of the Church’s possessions that Gregory XIII had painted here between 1580 and 1583. These maps constitute and extremely important record of 16th century geography and cartography.
      They all are oriented with South on top.

  9. ” … exploitation of those ideas for a political agenda “
    That statement sums up the revelation I had about the falsehood of global warming. When I first detected that groups of people were attempting to influence public opinion and then implement Government policy based on nebulous ‘facts’, I knew there was a motive and it was not as stated up front. The exploitation of science for a political agenda is a basic tenant of critical thinking that all people need to examine before lending their support to the agenda.
    Presenting anthropogenic global warming as a science whose solution is political (and benefits one political group) should be recognized for what it is:
    FAIL .

    • Much less knowing that most are harmless and highly beneficial to human habitation by controlling rodent infestation.

    • Brilliant film. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
      It is obviously not up-to-date with the climate establishment but the mappings are self-evident.

    • While what he says is “truthy,” the Russian who made these videos for the John Birch Society was making educated guesses–he didn’t have any sort of inside information about the KGB’s operations. He was, at most, co-opted to help KGB operators while he was a journalist.
      Actually by the time he had contact with the KGB’s operators in the 60s and 70s, the KGB was running on fumes.
      That said, he’s on the right track. Not even the KGB of this guy’s time knew their own history. The master operators started and ran the covert influence operations designed to destroy Traditional American culture–from 1918 to around 1935. After that Stalin systematically purged and killed the most effective operators.
      Full details:

  10. Indeed. Humans have many limitations. They are inbuilt. Even fundamental cognitive processes such as categorization and generalization are nonetheless also the source of profound and devastating delusions. The intellectual maturity required to manage these processes with caution (and, yes, suspicion) is seldom developed by the population at large.

  11. It is why two-dimensional weather maps are adequate, but a forecaster needs to be able to visualize the third dimension depicted by isobars.

    Not sure the use of “third dimension” is helpful here. Isobars do not measure altitude.

    • But pressure is the most pertinent “dimensiton” for weather, which is metorologists usually measure “height” in mBar and not km.
      Physical linear measurement is one, very restricted use of the idea of dimensions. It is not the only meaning of work in science and engineering.
      Time is also a dimension. In physics, one check of validity of an equation is dimensional analysis, where the dimensions are M,L,T : mass length and time.
      All three spacial dimensions are treated equally as “L”.
      Referring to pressure is correct and if it prompts a realisation that linear distance is not the only meaning, it indeed be helpful.

    • When I took my met study in school we were taught that an isobar was was a aline depicting and area of equal pressure. To fully understand then you have to look at them from the horizontal along side the plan. When you do you will see that the SHOW altitude, not so much as MEASURE it. In that context it is altitude related and indeed a third dimension to understand when looking at a plan view of gegraphic weather patterns

  12. To the question “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth,” 26 percent of those surveyed answered incorrectly.

    Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.

    Oh well, perhaps Gruber was right.

    • Education systems have been deliberately dumbed down, to further the 1%s globalist ambitions for One World Totalitarian Govt, based on Carbon Taxes.
      Charlotte Iserbyt knows the score.
      We must not forget that a vast & completely unnecessary depopulation agenda is central to the 1%s plans.

  13. It is not only perspective in a 3-D world that is giving people difficulties, it is the hubris of the politicians who want to change the world. An example: When the BBC changed its weather forecasting graphics some years ago they showed the entire sweep of the British Isles in true scale. This so annoyed the Scots, who claimed that their country was shown to be so much smaller than the rest of the UK that the BBC was forced to alter the perspective of the maps so that Scotland appeared to look a lot larger during the broadcast.

  14. Great essay and I learned a few things too. Here is another question / misconception tied to population.

    The Breakthrough Institute – May 8, 2013 – Martin Lewis
    “In a recent exercise, most of my students believed that India’s total fertility rate (TFR) was twice that of the United States. Many of my colleagues believed the same. In actuality, it is only 2.5, barely above the estimated U.S. rate of 2.1 in 2011, and essentially the replacement level. (A more recent study now pegs U.S. fertility at 1.93.)…..
    …In today’s world, high fertility rates are increasingly confined to tropical Africa…..
    …fertility rates are persistently declining in almost every country in Africa, albeit slowly. Many African states, moreover, are still sparsely settled and can accommodate significantly larger populations. The Central African Republic, for example, has a population of less than 4.5 million in an area almost the size of France……
    …Thus while the education of women is no doubt significant in reducing fertility levels, it is not the only factor at play……
    That television viewing would help generate demographic stabilization would have come as a shock to those who warned of the ticking global population bomb in the 1960s…..

  15. Can someone help me out. (I am NOT talking about the population maps above by Tim Ball. ) I vaguely recall some maps of the world physically make some countries look physically bigger than they really are in relation to others. I think the UK had been mentioned. Does anyone have a link or info?

  16. Great circles are the shortest route between points but needs very accurate navigation. A straight line on the Mercator is a rhumb line so navigation is easier, one compass heading, and this would have been used by the sailors of old.

  17. The race was well and truly fixed before it began.
    What chance does the naive, ill-educated, ill-informed, miss-informed and uninformed have against the biggest, most expensive, most sophisticated propaganda campaign ever launched?
    Not a lot, I imagine.

  18. To the question “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth,” 26 percent of those surveyed answered incorrectly.

    I wonder if they asked political afiliation. I am guessing it would be about 50-50 as each party needs it’s share of the extremely ignorant which aligns with :

    “Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.”

    That last quote does seem quite harsh, but the rise of Obama and Bush before him, 2 men clearly unqualified, whom the media and super political organizations created out of whole cloth, and voters who ignore evidence as needed in support of their candidate, it is also accurate. I would change the first sentence however to, “Democracy as practiced now is a form of worship”. No reason to disparage Democracy due to the men that have corrupted it.

    • It could have been far worse. Let us suppose that Albert Gore prevailed in 2000. Then your statement might have been “Obama and Gore before him”. Or 2004 …. “Obama and Kerry before him”.
      It’s all relative. It think my alternative scenarios are far worse than yours.

  19. “A major reason why Al Gore’s deceptive use of the melting Arctic ice was so effective is because most people have little idea what the real world is like.”
    Also essential to the propaganda was the building of the meme that it matters. I wish the Arctic WAS ice free in summer. It would be very beneficial. Same with global warming, which would actually be a good thing. They are trying to scare us with GOOD THINGS!.

  20. Overpopulation: when I was a child I was told that the entire population of the earth could stand on the Isle of Wight in the UK. This has an area of 380km2, and I realise now this would be a bit of a stretch (about 20 people per square m).
    However, it would seem that the current population of the earth (approx 7bn) _would_ fit on an island approximately the size of Majorca (off the mediterranean coast of Spain). Area approx, 3640 km2, requiring about 2 people per square m).
    It really does seem to make the population problems of the planet seem insignificant when you consider how little space we would all occupy when put in one place. See if you can even see Majorca on a typical map of the whole earth.

  21. I was expecting a post about the Arctic sea ice and how perception was distorted to alarming levels, then eventually parked on the back burner all because of the use of one kind or another map. Maybe something along the lines of just how much square km were washed out to sea in 2007 compared to other more familiar land masses, and how much has returned. That answer to the beginning quandary didn’t materialize, instead fading into a sea of world maps and finally a summary statement on politics, not Arctic ice.
    The author led us out of the Arctic than left us wandering in the wilderness.

    • Agreed Pamela, it seemed like a pointless ramble to me.
      Figure 1
      The only part of this map that is accurate is right along the Equator. Distortion increases as you move away until at the top and bottom you have a single point, the Poles, represented by a line equal to the Equator. This is the map most used in schools and known to the public. It is the main reason that they have no image of the Arctic Ocean (Figure 2) or even know it is 14,056,000 km2.

      This is of course not true, the most important feature of a Mercator projection is that straight lines are rhumb lines, or lines of constant compass bearing. Thus it is a great map for navigation, which is what it was designed for. Locally shape is also preserved, at the top and bottom you do not have the poles since the projection is clipped prior to the poles. In any case the map he shows is a Universal Transverse Mercator which doesn’t have that property, there the distortion is E-W.
      For navigation usually two maps are used, a Gnomic projection, and a Mercator, the first shows Great circles as straight lines so you use it to map your course, and the Mercator to determine the headings of a few rhumb lines to approximate to that route.
      I guess it’s not done now but when I was at school the geography room had a globe which is the only way to get an accurate depiction of the Earth.
      For someone who taught in geography dept to so screw up such basic facts is surprising.

      • Yes. With navigation, it matters little how big or small a land mass is, as long as you get to the harbor you had planned on getting to.

    • Reply to Pamela Gray ==> I can’t agree with you. [ With the exception of the incongruous inclusion of the repeated Mencken quote as the last paragraph, which strikes me as just plain weird…] I thought the essay was fabulous. Interesting thoughts about how our modern perception — and misconceptions — of the world around us — the physical world — can lead to both misunderstandings and inability to arrive at sensible conclusions about geography, economics, politics, global climate and many more.
      My wife and I just finished an anniversary trip, traveling the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway by car at the peak of the leaf-peeping season. Panorama after panorama of nothing but mountains and treetops as far as one could see. Much of rural United States is like this. Ball mentions this misperception — that all the forests have been cut or that most of our natural resources have been pillaged and all is one big strip mall (or whatever…). The reality could hardly be further than the truth.
      Scientific misperceptions, misconceptions, and misrepresentations are even more pernicious…..and when science facts are intentionally misrepresented–when misperceptions and misconceptions are intentionally created in others–for political/personal/professional/advocacy-propaganda gain, then we have reached near the bottom of the moral barrel.

    • Agreed. Largely gimcrack arguments. Maybe it’s just a sloppy use of “2D brains” – since I can’t imagine anyone denying the existence of depth perception.
      The fact that it took a long time to learn how to reproduce 3D effects in a 2D picture doesn’t refute the fact that we’re basically wired for 3D perception. This seems to be the main mistake in this article. Actually, the simple fact that people took the trouble to learn how to depict perspective in a plane figure demonstrates that our basic perceptions are 3D.

  22. I believe that a large part of the inability of people, particularly in the U.S., to understand more technical issues is the fact that it’s taught poorly from the start. My granddaughter discusses some of her 4th grade school work with me on a regular basis, and in math and geography it’s becoming clear: The teacher is clueless. It appears that they are working verbatim from teacher’s edition notes. Fortunately, for my granddaughter, there is a plan “B”, she talks to me, I give her a few games she can play with the lesson, she scores 100% and then says, “oh, this stuff is cool.” I’m not so hopeful for the rest of the 4th graders of the world.

    • I am afraid your granddaughter’s experience is not unusual. I have always felt that elementary teachers know very little subject matter–they learned how to teach and follow the book, and that’s it. Further, my college experience with would-be teachers left me even more afraid for the kids they would teach. Most were in that major because it was the easiest one they could find.

  23. Think about this: the troposphere is about 10 miles in height, take a well known point 10 miles from your house, a route you travel often without thinking, then take that route and stand it up straight. That’s all there is of the troposphere. Scary isn’t it?

    • Tom; actually, the atmosphere is composed of elements from the oceans, which makes a pretty deep well of material to work with. Without the oceans, there would be no atmosphere.

  24. “Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.”
    So why does Democracy work better than anything else? Because we replace our Jackasses regularly.

    • Democracy has proved to be the most durable and enduring system, despite all its faults. Beware of imitations.

      • We don’t know yet about durability.
        Throughout known human history it is clear that dictatorships, hereditary “royal” or by force, have been around far longer, and are still around, then democracy. Time will tell the rest.
        Democracy is only just now coming out of adolescence and for freedom of expression the best we have right now. It can be said in “democracies” that those who view themselves as progressive are also the ones who have the biggest problem with that freedom. It was democracy that enabled them to express their views, now the world has to abide by that view. If that takes hold properly, as the UN seems determined to do, democracy is out the door.
        Not that a dictatorship has to be bad for a country, the person leading it often has the best of intentions in the early stages of reign. Before it all starts to get into their head, lust for pure power and greed take over, rather then the continued want to do good for the country.
        Others of course are pure evil from the start.
        We can argue that countries that have systems in place to make it difficult for more then 2 political parties to operate are not democratic, they just give their citizens the chance to make a choice between one or the other who often display little difference in real view, on the surface maybe for cosmetic purposes only.
        However, further to the article, to assert that it does not matter to the rest of the world what is happening in one region or how that happening may affect the rest of the world seems simplistic. Ehrlich is over the top but so is this statement.
        If Russia were to stop supplying Europe with gas, the Europeans will come to the US, amongst others, this will drive up the prices of gas in the US and elsewhere. Explain again how what happens in one region does not affect the rest.

    • It works only if you replace the Jackasses regularly.
      On another note. I see people in this thread conflating economics with politics. Capitalism is an economic system whereby the means of production are owned by private parties and all risks are undertaken by private parties in volitional exchange.
      If you deviate from this you don’t have Capitalism, you have some form of Socialism. The Political instantiation of the non-capitalistic system may be dictatorial, or not, but if risks are not controlled by private parties under volitional exchanges you don’t have capitalism.
      With Capitalism people like to talk about “Free Markets,” i.e. unrestrained trade. The only essentially free market the world has ever seen is in electronics. You can watch as the various coercive entities fight to get it under control – “For the Good of the People.” News, exchange, transportation – human action of all types is seeing freedom only dreamt of in the past.

    • No. We replace our jackals regularly.
      The jackasses are the public; they get replaced gradually. How rapid the replacement of the jackals takes place is the test of the democratic process.
      As an addendum, I favour a constitutional monarchy over a republic. In a constitutional monarchy, the sovereign has all the power but can exercise none. He or she is a bird in a gilded cage . . . that’s real power to the people. Most republics around the world are dictatorships, most presidents act like emperors. A prime minister makes a cock-up, he’s out of there in days; if a president is hopeless, you’re stuck with him.

  25. Mercator maps.
    The primary reason for the form of the Mercator map, is that angles on the map are the same as angles on the real Earth. So you can determine a heading or track, and actually get to where you want to go.
    Liberal apologists say the Mercator map was designed to make Africa look smaller, and the northern nations more important. But if you use an equal area map for navigation, as they suggest, you will be lost after the first hour.
    The modern technical world was built upon rationality, not emotive fantasy.

    • Yep. Navigation is about getting from one port to the other. The Mercator map is the one that will get you there.

  26. i agree with Ralph; “The modern technical world was built upon rationality, not emotive fantasy.”.
    They didn’t have to worry about political correctness either.
    By the way, according to an entry in my diary, today is WUWT’s 8th birthday.

  27. The reason the propaganda works is because:
    1) The alarmists spend the majority of the time speaking about the worst case scenario, and because of this, people understand it to be the most likely scenario.
    2) The bias of the press is to promote the above, and to challenge anti-alarmism, a la…
    Chicken Little: It was 21C this morning, and now it is 25C. At this rate, we will all fry like bacon by Thursday.
    Press: [crickets]
    Anti-alarmist: According to the satellites, there has been no warming in 18 years.
    Press: Yeah, but you need [moveable goalpost number of years] to say anything about climate.

  28. I understand the concept of space on Earth’s land surfaces and how inadequately the general public perceives it. But there are two points, or rather “concepts,” which very few, if any of us really grasp their true extent.
    The first is the depth of the oceans, and thus the volume of water that creates. Except for the thin layers at/around the polar seas, it is all liquid, and thus not only holds vast amounts of heat can move it around. The good people of UK and Ireland more than most people understand and appreciate how this world of circulating water keeps their islands warm.
    The second is deep time. We frequently discuss here at the LIA or MWP and how the public gets exploited for its general lack of awareness of those natural climate variances. We extend frequently the prehistoric parts of the Holocene and the HTO with of course more murkiness in the extent of that period. But those discussions only scratch at the surface of deep time. I like to think of the rock layers in the Grand Canyon to understand how inadequately we mentally grasp deep time. At the bottom of the GC where the Colorado River flows today is the Vishnu schist layer. That layer was put down 2.2 to 1.7 billion years ago. Just above that, which is to say the Grand Canyons walls, are formations starting at around late pre-Cambrian. They are “only” 550 million years old. The missing layers, having been completely eroded away, is termed an unconformity. So thinkabout that. Almost 1.2 billion years of rock is missing. That is enough time that two complete Grand Canyons could have been built and lost, to have the one we see today. And the Vishnu Schist layer only takes us back to half of Earth’s present age.
    We simply cannot grasp what kinds of changes that amount of time allows for. Couple that deep time with a deep vast liquid water ocean and a reliable single sun in a quiet solar system, the idea of climate change (of a degree or two) as is thrown around by ignorant politicians (and less than scientific scientists) is inconsequential and a really bad joke.

    • Thanks Joel. Reminds of one of the best things I have ever done in my life, that is to raft the Grand Canyon. It is remarkable disconnect from civilization, and as you present, a real trip back in time as one goes deeper into the Canyon, one goes deeper into the eroded upthrust layers of rock.

      • Except that the flow of the Colorado River through the Canyon is controlled by civilization, ie upstream dams.

      • From your link:
        ‘The ocean heat transport warms the North Atlantic Ocean and the land on both sides by a modest few degrees C.’
        What are they on at Lamont-Doherty? Two degrees C is the end of the world according to the IPCC.
        Perhaps we should start saying that global warming at worst can only warm the planet ‘by a modest few degrees C’.
        Richard Seager seems to have made a career at Lamont-Doherty with his ‘Gulf Stream Myth’.

    • One of the most useful weapons in the climate alarmists’ arsenal is vagueness over timescales. A glimpse at the geological record viz a viz temperature proxies will tell you that nothing of note happens over a scale of less than millenia, and yet we are expected to swallow predictions based on a few decades worth of data. Worse, the time scale changes to suit the scare of the moment, or even two different scales are used simultaneously, to cause maximum confusion.
      This is an even more useful bit of sophistry than their constant cry of, “Look, we predicted it for fifty years in the future, but it’s ALREADY HAPPENING!” (No, it’s not. And if it was, that would *disprove* your theory.)

  29. The entire AGW machine depends upon public ignorance of the natural world. The Arctic is (technically, was) melting! Is this unusual? Has it happened before? The scammers are guilty of plotting trend lines with only one data point. People with a better understanding of the natural history of climate know that nothing unusual has happened, that climate changes constantly and that human civilization has flourished during warm periods and suffered during cold ones.

  30. Ah, the Earth’s rotation and shape – what a wonderful topic that few understand.
    I put a question to each and every one of you and the chances are that none of you can answer it correctly How many times does the Earth turn for the same amount of time it takes to make one circuit of the Sun ?.
    The most popular reference website out there gets it wrong but then again they are merely repeating an error that is a few centuries old –
    “During one orbit around the Sun, the Earth rotates about its own axis 366.26 times, creating 365.26 solar days” Wikipedia main article about the Earth
    The answer to the question is a lead into the solution with is not restricted to but does involve climate.

    • Go on then, enlighten us all. How many times does the Earth rotate per circuit of the sun, if it isn’t 366.26?

    • A “day” is improperly define, as “one rotation of the earth.” The earth actually rotates in 23 hours, 56 minutes. A day is actually one apparent rotation of the earth.

  31. Only a day ago, this blog took offence with the following statement in relation to health care:
    ” the public is too “stupid” to understand the topic and, should they be exposed to the true facts, would likely come to the “wrong” conclusion. ”
    Today, this blog item opens: “A major reason why Al Gore’s deceptive use of the melting Arctic ice was so effective is because most people have little idea what the real world is like. ”
    Think about that 🙂

    • There are two big difference in these two thoughts.
      With Gruber, he called people stupid. With the quote you’re referring to, it is implying ignorance. Stupidity and ignorance are not the same thing.
      Second, from every single soundbite from Gruber (make no mistake – Gruber is not the only one that was in those closed-door meetings that holds these views), he is gleefully exclaiming how he and, by extension, every politician, including the President, that supported Obamacare, exploited the “stupidity of the American voter” to pull the wool over their eyes as to what the were actually doing.
      When people here, or elsewhere, not of Gruber’s ilk, talk about the ignorance of the American electorate, it is to lament that it is the case. We don’t want people to be ignorant to what the power players are doing with regards to climate change shenanigans.

  32. “Sustainable development that means everything to everyone and nothing to anyone. ”
    Kinda like “hope and change”.

  33. In the 50’s Frank Lloyd Wright calculated that the entire population of the USA could live in Texas, and everyone could have five acres.

    • Present average planetary population density is about 47 people per square kilometer of land surface, (That’s ~120 per sq. mile, or 5.33 acres per person.) Some of that land, such as Antarctica, isn’t very productive, but if need be, we can live at sea.

  34. The reality is that the Cannabis Generation is betraying and committing treachery against its own countries in favor of foreign/globalist interests.
    Naturally, they would claim that representative government with individual rights don’t work because of the stupidity of the people.
    They would say that, wouldn’t they.

  35. FACT: The entire world population can stand on Rhode Island with more than 4 sq ft for each to occupy. Much better conditions than standing in a crowded subway car or being crammed in an airline spam in a can. Not being greedy, however that leaves 57,308,738 sq miles for me. 🙂 lol
    The pilots of the world understand the vastness of vacant land. The astronauts look to earth with nary a spec of human influence.

    • Not just pilots, but passengers. The first time I flew to the Left Coast, I was stunned by the nothingness from Amarillo, TX, to San Diego.

  36. ars est celare artem = True art is to conceal art
    I was thinking about the Parthenon when I first came across this and its curvature of lines that should have been straight. They would have looked like poor craftsmanship on their own. They were not done to show off some skill (art). They were too subtle to notice themselves but had a huge aesthetic effect on the structure.

  37. A substantial majority of the believers in the prophesized Thermaggeddon™ are residents of small, cramped apartments in zip codes 02138, 10021 and 20001. A lot of these people are political junkies who really don’t travel or spend time outdoors. They haven’t got the foggiest idea just how big the world is.
    Anatopism is widespread thanks to the proliferation of state-sponsored diploma factories.

  38. We need to write an eBook Climate Change for Dummies that exposes the facts to the ordinary people.

  39. It doesn’t change the points Dr. Ball is making in his article, but he is mistaken in stating that Rene Dubos coined the phrase, “Think globally, act locally.” This is generally attributed to Jacques Ellul whose sociological and theological work sought to find ways to exercise freedom in a world increasingly dominated by the technological imperative.

  40. 1. Not all Eskimos are Inuit.
    2. Many years ago I read that the entire population of the world could fit on the Isle of Wight. This seemed like a good idea, since it would be easy for them to pop up to London for the weekend.

  41. When one sees photos from space of the world at night with so many areas of dense light, its possible to think the world is overpopulated. But that is probably an illusion.

    • I suspect the photos you’re alluding to are composite images with considerable amplification and deletion, as with VIIRS.

  42. Take a standard letter-format sheet of paper. Take a ballpen and trace the largest circle you can (roughly 8-1/2″ in diameter.
    the thickness of the ink line is, proportionally, typically that of the whole solid earth’s crust, PLUS all of the atmosphere.

    • It is an interesting exercise to reduce the earth to an inch in diameter, and calculate the surface perturbations from a perfect sphere. It is amazingly smooth.

  43. It is very typical for the humans to greatly enjoy trundling along in an automobile with splendid vistas to the left and right. (These vistas should not, ideally, consist of nothing but black spruce)
    At convenient intervals of about an hour and a half, a commercial establishment is very welcome where one can procure snacks and beverages before resuming one’s travel.
    At the end of the day, it is much to be desired that the expanse of natural beauty be interrupted by a substantial agglomeration of habitations and other structures, obviating the tedium of a night passed out of reach of a cell tower.

  44. The saddest thing about people today, who take our democracy and liberty for granted, is that very few ever bother checking what they are told. Consequently, they render themselves gullible to false ideas and notions that are dressed up as fact. This is what we are seeing in relation to the dangerous man-made global warming doctrine.
    The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity is no longer socialism or communism but, rather, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism.

  45. Vs,-164.69358;alt=7676571
    Serious question, which one is correct? I’ve been looking for global representations now for a while to show friends, on one the pacific ocean appears to occupy half the planet with near no continental intrusions, on the other.. not so much. Same if you spin these to show Africa, one looks substantially larger than the other. As is rotating these to show Antarctica.
    Whatever, the world is a vast place!

  46. Ignorance is our enemy. No doubt. I asked 2 smart young men I know…age 16 and 17, I asked them tonight how much would ocean levels rise if all of the sea ice in the arctic ocean melted. Let’s say it melted tomorrow. How much? One said ten feet. The other said I don’t know but it would be bad. Nuff said…they are that stupid. My 16 year old daughter did know the right answer…bless her heart. My influence? Maybe.

  47. Dr. Ball You didn’t complete the story about the people lost in a small aircraft. Were they found alive?
    Anyone who has flown in the Canadian north can attest to the vastness of the region.

  48. “most people have little idea what the real world is like.”
    I’ve often noticed how many people that buy the AGW theory wholesale have little to no understanding of why any particular part of the earth has the temperature it does. The basic processes of weather are not understood in any way, yet the belief that these (unknown) processes have been anthropogenically changed is still held. What’s up with that?

  49. Two comments. The first is yes, the land mass is vast, but it doesn’t matter how vast the land mass is if it doesn’t actually support population. The size of the Earth that adequate supports population is far smaller. I still worry about over population, but I don’t think we are there yet.
    Second, the IPCC was set up to give the UN it’s “war on terror,” the all consuming, never ending war that requires centralized control, and the one world government people, like Gore and Clinton quickly climbed aboard since it led to that Valhalla they dreamed of – a planet under their thumbs.
    And a caveat thrown in for the hell of it – how people perceive is truly based on how they are taught. If people still only see in 2 dimensions, it’s because teachers teach it that way. The child’s mind is not the mind of an adult, and can see into dimensions that adults only know about in mathematics, but if they are trained to see the world as a flat sheet by their teachers, that is what they see when they grow up. So, Dr. Ball, if your students couldn’t see in 3 dimensions blame it on those that you taught that taught them.

  50. Ball spends a lot of time trying to distract from a few facts.
    1 – no matter how big or little people perceive the Arctic Ocean to be, the summer ice is declining rapidly in recent decades – as measured by satellites which do take the big old world into view.
    2 – the land area people live on is a tiny fraction of the land area people use. India has over 50% of its surface used for farming, Ukraine as well.
    But he tells a story about one of the biggest, emptiest countries to try to propagandize in the opposite direction. If the missing plane he told of has been flying over the American mid-west and crashed, odds are extremely high it would have been on someone’s field.
    So yeah, the Earth has a large surface area. What’s that got to do with resource use or climate change?

  51. One of your best essays Tim with a wealth of interesting references. I just got back from 8 days in Florence Italy so am very attuned to the advances in perspective, engineering and astronomy that occurred there during the renaissance. As a boy 60 years ago I had three hobbies that promoted an understanding of geography- stamp collecting, ham radio, and weather/climate. One would hope that the computer/cell phone generation, with even greater opportunities at understanding geography, would know more. Seems not to be. Another problem seems to be our short memories and our suggestibility. When I was young, a popular phrase was,” there’s nothing new under the sun,” The current replacement, “its unprecedented,” can be used to describe almost anything without the pushback it almost always deserves.
    We need to learn a lot more about perspective!

  52. Thanks Tim.
    Worse is that people believe what they want to believe.
    In the Victoria BC area people claim that there is no forest anymore, as the reason deer are in the city and other bad things are happening. Occasionally I get into print recommending that they drive up the Malahat Mountain Highway and look around as they go through Goldstream Park, or hike into the park. Or drive to Port Renfrew and observe the replanted forests growing at half a metre or more a year. If they read the newspapers they get their alarmist letter in they’d have read many mentions of forests.
    Worse is an accomplished aviation technician in the Comox area, who makes the same claim despite having flown over much of VI low and slow.
    (Deer are in the city because the food is better and there are few cougars. They can handle dogs with their hooves and agility, but do have trouble recognizing cars as a threat. (Some wildlife experts don’t like the city diet, saying it is not natural – too easy to find and eat.)

    • A scam last week was the claim that humans are causing a disastrous decline in the number of species of butterflies in the Victoria BC area. Centrepiece of their pitch was fewer “Garry Oak Meadow” grasslands. Just a few wee problems with that however:
      – Garry Oak is not a long-term resident, it will be supplanted by Douglas Fir, as happened to the west in Metchosin. So IF the buttefly is dependent on that tree, its population will decline without human activity.
      – The meadows were created by tribal people who cleared openings in the forest to facilitate more shrubs at the interface between open and forest. Animals and birds feed and shelter in interface vegetation, not in deep forest. Tribal people harvested them, and Camus lilly roots from the meadows. The meadows were maintained by setting fires, which suppressed competing vegetation.
      – The butterfly species supposedly dependent on those meadows is found in small open areas in the forest, such as along trails, and is found south of the range of Garry Oak (White Oak in the US).
      – The Victoria BC area is at the northern limit of the viable range of Garry Oak, thus variation is to be expected. (It is rare in the adjacent mainland are called “Fraser Valley” but found south into northern California.)
      So any butterfly population dependent on those trees will not be stable even without human activity, and it’s continued presence is the result of human activity.
      I also question how dependent the species is on that tree, perhaps it is better food for them but they could survive on other vegetation

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