So What Happened to Integrity?

Guest essay by John Ridgway

My father, when he was alive, used to be a wire rope salesman. In that capacity he would tour the coalmines of the North of England, trying to sell the cables by which colliers would be lowered into their abyss. One day during the early 1980s, when prime minister Margaret Thatcher was at her zenith, he returned from work to reveal a startling fact:

“I can predict which coalmine is the next to be closed down,” he proclaimed. We all sat back and listened obediently.

Apparently, the National Coal Board had a substantial stock of roof joists that had been purchased to shore up any new excavations. Clearly, in view of the ongoing programme of pit closures, these were soon to become entirely redundant. However, what to do with them in the meantime? The solution was as inspired as it was devious: The entire national stock was to be stored at just one of the collieries. With such a huge overhead of redundant assets to account for, the chosen mine was bound to appear financially unviable when assessed. Accordingly, the coalmine would be summarily closed down and the joists would be moved on to the next hapless pit held firmly within Thatcher’s governmental crosshairs. My father’s peripatetic job enabled him to discern a pattern of behaviour that would have escaped the attention of those whose only clue of impending doom was the unexpected delivery of lorry-loads of shiny new joists. When visiting a pit, all my father needed to observe was the re-appearance of that increasingly familiar pile of beams; then he knew which mine was next for the axe. Thus was Thatcher able to scourge the North of England, like some latter-day William the Conqueror, administering death by spreadsheet.

Nowadays, the erstwhile coalmining communities, bereft of their economic lifeblood, stand as models of the UK’s creaking welfare system. The colliers, once proud and strong men, scuttle about on mobility scooters, sustained by oxygen bottles to mitigate the worst effects of their occupational emphysema. Rusting iron statues adorn many of these villages. They depict the men in their pomp, wielding statuesque picks and shovels; a well-intended homage to the communities’ heritage. It’s just a shame such respect was not forthcoming when it was most needed. I don’t like going home any more.

Whether or not one sees such a sad decline as an inevitable consequence of the depletion of finite resources, the collateral damage resulting from a political war between a government and over-powerful unions, or even the price to be paid to save our children from the risk of global warming, is not the point. The reason I recount this story is that it demonstrates just how easily integrity can be discarded when it gets in the way of a ‘noble’ cause. The roof-joist trick wears the same bouquet of duplicity that I sometimes detect within the advocacy of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW). If only out of loyalty to my scientific upbringing, I would dearly love to accept without question the CAGW arguments on offer. But every time I get the magnifying glass out, I find something creeping amongst the detail that I don’t like the look of. As a result I am left devoted only to my doubts.

We’re All Doing It

Climatology is the motherboard for many causes, each of which may be tainted by short-circuited morality. So let us not kid ourselves, it isn’t just the Water Melons who push the boundaries. Yes, there is the cherry pie baking, the HARKing, the ‘hiding of the decline’ and . . . well, basically everything that Al Gore has ever said on the subject. But on the other hand, it is not uncommon to find opponents of the CAGW hypothesis playing games with the data. We are all desperate to have our instinctive judgement validated, and whenever it happens, you’ve got to admit it, it doesn’t half feel good. Who amongst us can say, hand on heart, that the release of dopamine experienced when the brain rewards us for getting something right1 hasn’t turned us into confirmation junkies? And, as with all drug addiction, there is that temptation to go to any extreme to secure the next fix. That is why it is so important to be constantly on one’s guard. I say I am devoted to doubt, but wouldn’t a true devotee be prepared to doubt such dubiety?

So I have to ask myself, is it the climate science consensus that lacks integrity, or is my scepticism merely a smokescreen for a lack of integrity on my own part? That is certainly what Team CAGW would say: I just don’t want to believe. I’m wantonly ignorant because it doesn’t suit my purposes to support the actions required to deal with the problem (I know most of my Big Oil sponsors certainly feel that way). Or maybe I just hanker for a return to the good old days, perhaps with a miraculously revitalised coal industry. I just can’t accept that the world has changed, and so I’m in denial. That’s it! I’m just a no-good, no-clue climate change denier.

Inevitably, there will be those for whom at least some of the above applies. Which is just fine and dandy, because that gives those on one side of the debate (at least) all the straw men they require to feed their own bias. That’s the best thing about confirmation bias; it endorses the assumption that all your opponents come from the same degenerate stock. When we promote our position, we do so against the weakest version of our opponents’ argument and then unfairly attribute this weak reasoning to all our adversaries. This habit of placing all opponents into the same psychological camp is an obvious error to make and, therefore, should be easy to avoid. But, unfortunately, this is not the case. As a CAGW supporter, you can even get a degree in such stereotyping – it’s called ecopsychology.

I Talk to the Trees, But They Don’t Listen to Me

The basic idea behind ecopsychology is that mankind’s modern disconnect with nature is a prime source of the ecological disrespect that you see exemplified by your typical CAGW sceptic. Furthermore, the malaise has resulted in such a profound loss of psychological integrity that CAGW scepticism is tantamount to a psychiatric condition; not only are we disconnected from nature, but by failing to accept the self-evident truth of CAGW we are also patently disconnected from reality. We should all hang our heads in delusional shame.

In truth, ecopsychology is a pretty heady cocktail of cod psychology and environmentalism that begs outright dismissal. But how many of us have a degree in ecopsychology from Naropa University, the Viridis Graduate Institute, Prescott College Arizona, or any of the other equally world famous seats of learning that offer such a qualification? Have you even engaged in the ‘Ferocious Integrity GreenWave Process’ yet? I’m guessing not. So perhaps we should withhold our hasty judgement, and work just a little harder for our next dopamine fix. For my part, I didn’t want to casually dismiss the ecopsychology phenomenon without having first looked into it in some depth. So I spent more time than I should have, scouring the internet for a deeper understanding of what it is all about.

I’d like to say that I’ve now fathomed the ecopsychology movement, but the further I descended the rabbit hole, the curiouser and curiouser it all got for me.2 The only thing that I could discern with any surety is that you don’t need to understand even the basics of environmental science to have gained your master’s degree – though it does help to have hugged the odd tree or two. So, actually, I quite resent the idea that such people can pontificate upon my lack of mental integrity when they have invested so little of themselves in ensuring the integrity of their own beliefs.

Shall we leave it there? There is another popular denunciation of scepticism that I’d like to address.

Uncertainty for Hire

Naomi Oreskes has done more than most to explore the motivation of those who would oppose the consensus view on climate change. In her book, ‘Merchants of Doubt’, she posits that such opposition closely parallels previous attempts to discredit inconvenient science. Amongst her examples are the historical challenges against the idea that smoking causes cancer, that acid rain is destroying our forests, and that CFCs are depleting the ozone layer. In each case, as she explains, organisations with vested interests employed scientists to apply a veneer of respectability to tendentious uncertainty.

I don’t doubt that she has a point, but it isn’t one that has any bearing on my own outlook. As far as I am concerned, all she succeeds in doing is to reinforce the view that scientists do not operate in a social or political vacuum and so one has to be circumspect in accepting what any of them have to say, whether or not they are on the fringe. It is important that she highlights the problem, but her argument is oversold when she opines that folk such as myself have been beguiled into trusting bogus science and that is why we are unprepared to sign up to Club Ninety Seven. The truth is that I had a road to Damascus experience3 in which I was forced to abandon my naïve view of scientists. I came to realise that modern day science is much messier and more prone to abuse than it was in the days of Newton, Maxwell and Einstein. It is this disenchantment that robs me of my unconditional faith in the majority.

So I hate to burst the Oreskes bubble, but the seeds of my scepticism were not sown by the likes of Seitz and Singer; my scepticism was nurtured by the output of the likes of Michael Mann, Rosanne D’arrigo, Phil Jones and whoever it is who is writing the IPCC’s executive summaries. Unlike Naomi Oreskes, I do not accept that climate science’s integrity was broken as a result of political interference from the right wing, or the left for that matter. It had already been broken once the majority of climate scientists started to adopt unfalsifiable speculation as their primary role.4 The political intriguing is only possible because climatology lacks the scientific rigour to withstand it. Unconcerned with any of this, Oreskes seems to think that a scientific consensus is sufficient proof of integrity but, unfortunately, integrity is like Humpty Dumpty; once it is broken, not all the king’s horses and all king’s men can put it back together again. Playing the consensus card just doesn’t help.

By having such faith in scientific consensus,5 Oreskes sees a greater significance in the political backing of the minority view than she does for the majority. As far as the minority is concerned, she presumes that it requires its political backing because it has no scientific validity by which it can stand on its own two feet. In contrast, the majority position is self-validating, and the fact that it has political support in bucket loads is quite immaterial. In her world view everything is rather simple: Scientific consensus engenders political admiration – it’s all very innocent. Fringe views only survive because of political skulduggery – it’s all very shady. Am I alone in finding such an analysis naïve?

As I see it, the Oreskes argument is ultimately disingenuous. As with so many denouncements of scepticism, it confidently inveighs against a presupposed loss of integrity whilst failing to acknowledge that the integrity upon which such confidence is founded is far from secure. However, Naomi Oreskes is not alone in failing to recognise the prejudicial nature of her noble quest.

In the Integrity of Certitude We Trust

There are many ways to lose integrity. In some cases the individuals concerned are quite aware of the moral and ethical ramifications of what they say or do. Those who were ferrying joists from pit to pit back in the 1980s knew what they were up to, but they did it just the same because they believed in the righteousness of their cause. Likewise, scientists who may be tempted to tune their climate models purely to fit the existing record will do so because they wish to be part of a group who they believe are shining a light on the truth, even though they must realise such tuning is not a legitimate practice. That said, loss of integrity does not necessarily entail deliberate deception. It may result simply through the abandonment of an open mind.

If you look on YouTube you can find a number of presentations on the theme of ‘How to talk to a climate change denier’.6 Such advice, you will find, is offered in earnest tones, reminiscent of those used in Sunday School. There is no way that such individuals would see themselves as lacking integrity. Indeed, the sincerity is suffocating. However, as you peruse the advice on offer, you will search in vain for that most valuable of all: Try listening carefully to your so-called denier to discern whether there is any truth or wisdom behind what they are saying. The reason why this advice cannot be found is because it makes no sense to want to understand someone’s point of view when all that is really wanted or expected is compliance. This, I believe, is a serious mistake, as it is only by challenging one’s own views that one can safeguard their integrity. I hesitate to say it, since it is such a cliché, but this sort of approach is pure religion. As with all the attacks on climate science scepticism, there is more than a hint of the ‘he who hath no faith’ admonishment about it.

Last night I had a nightmare. I dreamt there was a knock on the door, and when I answered, standing before me was a family attired in smart suits, clutching leather satchels. The head of the family stepped forward and, thrusting a leaflet into my hand, said, “Did you know that Al Gore loves you?”

I woke up in a cold sweat. I had foreseen the death of integrity.7


Notes:

1 There are several good books available that provide an accessible account of the brain chemistry accompanying our decision-making. For example, I can recommend, ‘The Decisive Moment’, by John Lehrer, ISBN 978 1 84767 313 8. In the United Sates the same book was published under the title, ‘How We Decide’. I think the main point to take away from reading such material is that cognitive biases are universal. One cannot use them to explain climate change ‘denial’ unless you are also willing to explain how they cause blind faith in the scientific consensus. The reality is that psychological explanations are two a penny.

2 I gave up after reading, ‘We helped each other realize that our love for or attraction to Nature that we were exploring was our 54 natural senses organically registering Albert Einstein’s Higgs Boson Unified Attraction Field attracting all things into consciously belonging in the Universe’s time and space of the moment’. I think it’s fair to say that ecopsychologists are not the CAGW theory’s finest ambassadors.

3 Actually, it happened about thirty years ago on my journey back from work. Someone was being interviewed on my car radio about a new and relatively little-known hypothesis. The interviewee was concerned that by restricting research funding exclusively to this new idea, the government was at risk of eventually undermining the integrity and credibility of the scientific discipline concerned. This was my introduction to the economic, political and sociological reality of science. It was also my introduction to an interesting new hypothesis called Anthropogenic Global Warming.

4 And then, of course, came Climategate.

5 I believe it was Professor Oreskes who started the whole ‘my army is bigger than your army’ series of papers with: Oreskes, N. (2004), “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.”, Science, 306: 1686. PMID 15576594, doi:10.1126/science.1103618.

6 A particularly revealing one is offered by George Marshall of Climate Outreach. But be warned, it requires investing twenty minutes of your life and you will never get it back.

7 This essay is dedicated to the memory of my father, John Simpson Ridgway. RIP dad.

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142 thoughts on “So What Happened to Integrity?

    • Integrity is so pre-Post Modern.

      I think the lack of contact with real nature leaves people vulnerable to the Green insanity that substitutes for religion. People who get real contact with nature, farmers (who aren’t rent seeking and using AGW for advantage), hunters, etc. have a much more jaundiced view of the Green propaganda, people who live in cities and only really see nature on a TV or phone screen are a lot more gullible.

      • “Why is it that Hollywood tends to be leftist, while farmers tend to be on the right? It is because success in Hollywood depends on successfully manipulating people, while farmers must manipulate nature. You can make a list of professions, and easily see that the more Modian they are, the more left-leaning they tend to be, and the more Mundian they are, the more right-leaning. Thus people who work in the media tend to be on the left, and engineers tend to be on the right.”

        http://www.rishon-rishon.com/archives/351860.html

      • People who live removed from nature also appear to have an increasingly difficult time separating virtual reality from reality. I live adjacent to a National Park, and it’s absolutely amazing the number of times that people go down a trail or path they have no business being on simply because their iPhone gave them directions. They get a dose of reality when they find out that the rescue isn’t free, the towing, (recovery), fee for several “popular” two track roads can start at about $400, and rescues escalate up to $22,000 an hour if the Coast Guard helicopters are needed.

      • Why is it that Hollywood tends to be leftist, while farmers tend to be on the right?

        Hollywood lives in a land of make-believe.
        Farmer’s have reality on their front step.

      • “The reason I recount this story is that it demonstrates just how easily integrity can be discarded when it gets in the way of a ‘noble’ cause. ”

        Hit the nail on the head — amazing prose — “More Please”!

      • Clyde,
        Is there a single “Scientific Organization” left at this point which embraces context?

        I can’t think of one which hasn’t been corrupted.

      • UNFCCC was an amazing opportunity for Our World to focus on shared issues and create a common voice and share Science breakthroughs. They blew it because, historically, they aren’t insightful and can’t see.

    • Mankind is kicking God (of the Bible) out of everything. We do that at our own collective peril. But individually we are saved from evil (the fallen world) by grace thru faith in Christ Jesus. The world is going to continue to its prophesied end (one not caused by the eco-nazis, fascists, or the Democrats). Without God, there is no longer an integrity benchmark.

    • I remember integrity. I had an attack of it about six years ago. It was painless, but it did leave me breathless for a moment.

      What Oreskes and the other psychos – er, psychs (heh) completely miss is that the CAGW climate agenda is not about science. It is The New Religion. Every tactic she and the author describe as being used reeks of TV evangelism at its Godawful worst, a public, display of coercion, greed, authoritarianism, and intentional promotion of fear if YOU the Unbeliever do NOT convert to the preacher’s proselytizing and send him/her/it all your available cash.

      Anyone ever watch Little Jimmy Bakker and Tammy Faye? It’s the same thing, only this time, instead of corrupting religion, the aim is to corrupt science.

      Galileo is turning over in his grave.

      • So true, Sara. CAGW, or even AGW, left the arena of science long, long ago, and entered into politics and then became a religion. And of course also remains political so long as its religious zealots appear to have some control and numbers. But as soon as the politicians sense that that religion is failing, the politicians will throw them under the bus (AGW grants $$ and green subsidies start falling). And I believe even the religious zealots will eventually tire of their respective Jim and Tammys and move on to the next social issue – something stupid of course, like autonomous robots have rights too.

  1. In short, the field got political, and governed by the rules of advocacy politics. AGW is currently a subsidiary of the green movement, which got going with Rachel Carson, but has its origins back at least as far as the 19th Century.

    • BS. Most mine closures in Germany occurred with nary a new job in sight for the laid-off workers. The Ruhr area is a shadow of its former self, with some of the highest unemployment rates in what used to be West Germany.

      • But don’t the Socialist Governments world-wide promise jobs if you vote for them? Definitely here in South Africa, with nearly 40% unemployment, and the ANC government extremely hostile to business. But the only jobs that ANY government can create is unproductive “jobs-for-the-boys”.

    • The death of British coal was a political act necessitated by the Gangster Unionism/bottom up Communist insurgency/Mad dreams of dictatorship embodied in Arthur Scargill, who was the least Democratic man in Britain at the time.
      Whether something could have been done for the workers to transition them I’m not sure, just as I have no idea if Germany’s plans are viable or even honest. And you don’t know that either, Griff.
      Certainly, and for good reasons, Thatcher had no interest in creating a new and critical industry ruled by a disgusting traitor like Scargill. Also, the mines themselves in those days were not the technical industries they are today, and older workers without technical skills tend to be difficult to retrain.
      Union rigidity created a climate where it made no sense to put precious capital into the mines and they became progressively more inefficient.
      Since the Left seems to believe that the renewables industries’ need for massive quantities of labour to produce the same amount of power we make with far fewer is a good thing, you’d think they would be big on giving the coal miners dessert spoons so they could hire many, many more!
      I was in the U.K. in 1983 and saw firsthand Scargill’s bid for revolution. That’s what it was. He attempted a political overthrow of a duly elected government. His followers paid a price for the delusion he foisted on them. They needed a few more sceptics!

      • John

        Well said. Thatcher transformed Britain for the better at the expense of outmoded industries kept alive by such as scargill who had many perks from his union.

        We see it to this day with union bosses on fantastic salaries whilst they allow low paid EU workers to flood in and undercut the jobs of their members.which is why so many voted Brexit.

        Which is not to say that proper provision shouldn’t have been made for displaced miners but scargill so poisoned the well they were just forgotten

        Tonyb

      • More coal mines were closed under the preceding Labour government than under Thatcher. And she didn’t need the “joists”, many pits were simply uneconomical without massive subsidy.

      • Unions have always opposed modernization because doing the same amount of work with fewer workers means less money for the union bosses.

    • This is the same Germany that cut (reformed) worker pensions and benefits only to turn around and lead the bailout of the Greeks with their much more generous retirement benefits.

      • The Germans certainly did not bail out the Greeks but lent Them more money so the Greeks could repay the German banks.

        I recommend ‘adults in the room’ by yaris varoufakis the former Greek finance minister.

        What went on shames the EU, the IMF and a variety of individuals. . Greece should never have been allowed to join the eurozone, but then again Germany and Italy didn’t meet the criteria either

        Tonyb

      • Well, you don’t lend that much money to a small and shrinking economy without calling it a bailout. I guess that’s how they fool the masses with the story line….and buy time for the next story and the next bailout on a two or three year cycle.

      • I am certainly no Socialist and so I don’t agree overall with Varoufakis but I do agree with his assessment of the bailout(s). More rampant hypocrisy from the constant creeping Socialist experiment ongoing in the West since the 60’s if not since the Great Depression.

      • The Germans certainly did not bail out the Greeks but lent Them more money so the Greeks could repay the German banks.

        Most people do not appreciate this important fact. The Government PR has done its job and MSM has been complicit with FAKE NEWS.

        Under the Euro, Germany and France could not bail out their own banks, which banks were bankrupt since they had lent to a debtor nation (Greece) who could not repay the loans.

        There has been all but no bail out of Greece, and that is why it is still struggling. Essentially, all that has happened is that German and French banks have been recapatilised through the back door.

        Of course Germany and France could get away with this because they run the EU. If the German and French banks went under, as they ought to have, than the Euro may have collapsed. At the very least, it would have devalued to the benefit of the Club Med countries that are suffering from a strong Euro.

    • Griff,

      Have you noticed how wrong was your prediction of a new record low for Arctic sea ice this year?

      And that Arctic sea ice has been growing for five years now, despite a Super El Nino?

      • Sixto, the Arctic ice is still retreating this year. Maybe it will not be a record but I predict it will have been outside the 2 sigma range for most of the melt season

      • Arctic ice has been fairly stable for approximately the last 10 years.,/b> Some annual variability but around the same extent as that seen in 2007.

        And the Arctic is today no warmer than it was in 1945 or 1937 (37 month smoothing shows the same +1.8degC anomaly)

        In fact if you look at the data set, you will note that it is generally cooler today than it was in the past. Thus for the 24 year period from 1992 to 2016 there were only 6 years 91/4 of the period) when the temperature anomaly was + 4deg C or more, whereas in the 24 year period between 1922 and 1946 there were 12 years (ie., half the period) when the temperature anomaly was +4 degC, or more. In fact the postive anomalies were generally higher in the past, and no recent date comes anywhere near the + 7 degC anomaly observed in 1937/38.

        Further it would appear that there was less Arctic ice in the 1920s than there is today, so Arctic ice is up over the last ~95 years.

      • Dave

        Further to my above post, you should also see North Atlantic Sea Temps.

        There have been a number of recent papers on this, noting that the cooling between 200 to 2015 has reversed the previous decadal warming such that there has been no warming for 20 years, and one paper (Yeager and Robson (2017) suggests that North Atlantic Ocean is today no warmer than it was in the 1950s.

        No need to be overly concerned about what is happening the Arctic. All of this has been seen before and we and the Polar Bears survived. the planet is still here, and life is flourishing.

  2. AGW wasn’t a new hypothesis 30 years ago. It had been around since Arrhenius (1906) and Callendar (1938). What was new is that it was now considered catastrophic, rather than beneficial.

    • It started before humans. Fire predates modern humans so I guess the guys who started the first started the first religious nonsense. Seems some people want to manipulate us and some want to be manipulated.
      Go to an island with a volcano prey to the gods of the volcano. An island with no volcano they will pray to the monsters of the deep. The world has got warmer and we have been pumping out C02. We have been naughty and must be punished. The religious zealots will decide how the money is distributed. Same as it has ever been.

      • Apparently Harvey and Irma are part of the earth punishing us for electing Trump, according to some media elites. I wonder how Cuba and the Caribbean feel about that. They got walloped with a Cat 5, and they didn’t even elect him. Earth seems to be very unfair in its punishment.

    • I offer a slightly different take.

      CO2 AGW hypothesis became captive as an alarmism tool. Whether it was Global cooling or Global Warming, ozone holes, or the scare-de-jour, it made no difference. Whatever is most useful to the Left in furthering political goals of socialism and power accumulation via creating crisis and alarm in the eyes of the public. Once AGW/CC became politicized, whatever pseudoscience was needed to further those political ends was a justifiable means.

      • There is a less conspiratorial explanation: Green organizations found that fighting global warming to save the planet brought in ten times more donations than appeals to protect the two-headed mud turtle. So they ramped up the alarmism. (This alarmism also led to donations by big foundations to climate science, not just to green organizations.) The monetary benefit to NGOs that engage in CAGW-crusading is the original “apple” that has corrupted integrity and provided funding and a platform for alarmism.

        The other corrupter is the noble cause of saving the planet, which has led participants in the alarm to keep quiet about dodgy doings by others on their bandwagon.

      • Environmentalism became a movement to replace Communism as a means to control economic resources. (For example, look at the history of the Natural Resources Defense Council.) As is ever the case, motivations were pure, to help the helpless, but as is inevitable, the power obtained corrupts the do-gooders. This is human nature at work. This is what happens when the ends justify the means.

      • Roger, I like your analysis. I am not a conspiracy wonk, but feel that most of the left just feel like the science is right. If it feels like it is possible, then it most like is probable.

      • I don’t think Environmentalism is the replacement for Communism. It is the continuation of it under disguise. More probably it is just old fashioned Totalitarianism using whatever tricks and deceptions are available at the time. The Environmentalists seek to rule. That means over the rest of us. They will recruit as many of us as necessary to achieve that before they start to devour us. The wolves are telling the sheep they can protect them.

      • Roger,

        The Green organizations (environmentalists) had to find a way to influence the academic researcher. Researchers respond to grant money. So they got themselves elected to or supported guys like Vice President AlGore, for political power. They ensured appointments and positions in government funding agencies were filled with like minded people.

        Green Peace, NCDC, WWF, Sierra Club, etc bought political power to control the grant money. Having political power during the Clinton years then controlled what was allowed to be studied by academic climate researchers. It continued under Bush without much interference. Then ramped up more under Obama Regime.

        The real story is where NCDC and Sierra Club got the bulk of their monies.

    • nice little town, apparently there really is some obscure little liberal arts school there that gives out degrees in projecting one’s own psychoses on one’s enemies.

  3. This is how GM would engineer plant closings and negotiating more favorable contracts with the unions. They would move profitable part and assembly lines to Mexico and consolidate non-profitable processes to plants they wanted to close.

    • The consumers were the third party victims that were largely forgotten in all the head butting and tire slashing. That is until they found a way around the madness with choice. Without such choice we would still be living the labor-management battles of the 1970s which would eventually end up looking like France.

    • With certitude and money and executive orders in place of laws the process of paralysis is jump started like a powerful addiction that quickly devolves into truly bizarre behavior and dismissal of normal routines like sustenance.

  4. Integrity…something lost around the time of Adam and Eve. $cience is driven by greed when a political agenda determines to fund a lie. Don J. Easterbrook, PhD at WWU is just one example of how one is treated who has an once of integrity. And of course, lack of integrity continues because the money drives it. How about the pharmaceutical industry, science against humanity; an agenda to make everyone a lifetime drug customer. Concern for healing completing tossed out.

  5. the entire reporting on irma was HYPE…….NOT an element of truth was told about the potential storm surge…….”expert” claiming this afternoon is when the storm surge will hit tampa…..they clearly dont understand the most basics of what the storm surge IS.

    • You beat me to it.

      Those who were ferrying joists from pit to pit back in the 1980s knew what they were up to, but they did it just the same because they believed in the righteousness of their cause.

      Righteousness? They were happy for a pay check and hopefully a promotion.

  6. Mr. Ridgeway,
    You should win something like the Pulitzer Prize, if there was a prize for telling the truth.
    With your understanding of the situation, your courage is to be applauded, as well. You know full well that you have just painted a large target on your back. The naked Emperor doesn’t suffer grownups who dare tell him the truth.

    “…my scepticism was nurtured by the output of the likes of Michael Mann, Rosanne D’arrigo, Phil Jones and whoever it is who is writing the IPCC’s executive summaries.”
    —————–
    We got on the train at the same station.

    • Ditto. I started out assuming that AGW hypothesis was probably correct. So I thought I should learn more about it so I could defend my stance with facts and knowledge. I very soon found that I could not find such things that were satisfactory. Digging deeper I began to see falsehoods, illogic and politics disguising as science. The more I looked, the more disappointed and then disgusted I became. The acolytes of AGW convinced me by their attempts at deception that there was something rotten there. Turned out it was the whole thing!

  7. “It had already been broken once the majority of climate scientists started to adopt unfalsifiable speculation as their primary role.

    I am more cynical than that I’m afraid. I think of “scientists started to adopt unfalsifiable speculation” as an effect rather than a cause.

    In the US, it came down to their very livelihood being threatened via non-renewal of their next NSF/DOE/EPA grant. You note that scientists are of course human with human failings. They too have mortgages, kids to send to college, retirements to fund, and many have a staff they call friends and colleagues in need of pay. These friends likewise have similar financial needs. In the US at least, the Green-climate change establishment took hold of the reins at grant-approving bureaucracies and made it clear in the 90’s what happened to skeptical scientists, grants were not renewed. That hold on the grant machinery has not let up, even during BushJr’s years. Now with Trump, if firm backbone to stand up to them exists, the NSF/DOE grant approving staff needs a thorough house-cleaning. The intramural ihouse climate Senior scientists at NASA, NOAA, DOE need to be asked to retire or resign, lest their decades of embarrassing emails and internal memos (likely showing pal review collusions on manuscripts with journal editors, coordinated adjustments of data, etc) be publicly released through FOIA.

    So with their financial livelihoods on the line, the effect was a climate science community adoption of unfalsifiable climate change effects. They began to publish pseudoscience rubbish. Every possible weather outcome is now “explained” by the CO2 AGW hypothesis. And looking to future, there are so many climate models with varying projections, post hoc one can pick the few winners and claim an “I told you so” skill.

  8. There are two ways of approaching and applying scientific principles to AGW. Either:
    1. AGW is correct, “denial” is wrong. Scientific application is to disproving “denial” claims.
    2. “Denialism” is correct, AGW is wrong. Scientific application is to disproving AGW claims.

    Those in the camp of the former cannot rely on “well, 97% of scientists are in consensus” without offering hard evidential proof of our influence on climate. Those in the camp of the latter cannot rely on making outrageous claims of conspiracy theory without offering hard evidential proof of collusion to such, or whatever other claim is made as to why AGW theory is being promoted.

    I am of the mindset that the data is so corrupted, of such piecemeal origins, and of such complexity that we really don’t have any idea what’s going on with the planet’s climate. I’m more prone to believing that there’s a far lower climate response rate of CO2 than presumed but also believe that things like land use changes have an outsized impact not properly accounted for in the official publications. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter what I think because I don’t see any possible way of overcoming a potential catastrophic climate upending relying on solar and wind power without the complete collapse of modern society in developed nations and/or the commensurate elimination of vast numbers of humans. And those are very dark thoughts I don’t like thinking about—and why I’ve decided instead to enjoy life with family, friends, good food, wine, martinis, and a resolution to inevitability either way.

    • This is the right kind of thinking. Proper scientific application. And said application should be applied without fear or favour to ALL the competing theories of how the climate works. This includes the dragon slayer stuff and other current off-beat ideas. Every single one needs to be thoroughly examined and experimentally tested.

  9. I suppose you are going to argue that the coal mines were actually making money, and that it was purely political to kill them. Really the death knell for Britain’s coal mines began in 1947 when they were nationalized. That guaranteed they would never be run efficiently enough to make money. Subsidizing a backwards industry so it can send hundreds of thousands to miserable premature death from working in the mines to breathing dirty air is government at its worst.

    The fact that they became a subsidized incubator for left wing union activists that did their best to keep Britain a coal based economy so they could keep Britain hostage to their wage demands made it a nobrainer to pull the plug. I don’t deny it was painful at the time, and I feel sorry that you can’t go home again without nostalgia that a dirty inefficient industry isn’t still ruining people’s lives.

    Britain’s coal mining industry wasn’t sacrificed for politically correct CAGW concerns, it was a mercy killing because it was already economically dead, but still sucking the life out of the rest of the British economy to survive.

  10. Having described how the Thatcher govt shut coal mines, perhaps you could explain the method used by Harold Wilson’s Labour govt seeing as more coal mines were shut during that administration?

    • Not as a percentage. Sometimes mines work out and the miners move on elsewhere. This is how extractive industries work.
      The difference was that Thatcher closed the whole industry to fight the workers (unions) at the expense of UK independence and our economy.

      • Except the economy took off like shot under Thatcher’s government. In 83 there were protests about high unemployment as she undertook necessary corrections to adapt to the new high interest rate environment. When I went there next in ’86 there were no protests. People were too busy working! Only the Left keep crystal balls around that see the past murkily!

      • North Sea Oil took off and the City was deregulated (the latter storing up trouble for later).

        Look at the damage done to the North of England before imagining the UK was all like Howard’s Way.

    • UK coal mine closures had been going on since the 1950’s. These closures
      were one of the factors driving the militancy of the National Union of Mineworkers.
      The problem was that Britain was riven by union militancy in many industries, especially in the 1970’s, and I can remember the three-day week and the power cuts when I was at school.
      Labour had no guts to control the unions, who were of course their paymasters, so the British public gave the Conservative government a mandate to ‘sort the unions out’, so they did, and sadly it led to the near destruction of a vital industry.
      Arthur Scargill, the NUM leader at the time, has a lot to answer for.
      Note that miners’ wages weren’t rubbish at the time of the 1984 strike.
      I was then a university research assistant, on £7,000 a year. Not rich, but OK.
      Miners did have a much more demanding and dangerous job, but were considerably better paid than that close to double.

  11. I found this passage this morning while reading page 220 of Jason Zweig’s commentary of Benjamin Graham’s book, The Intelligent Investor, 2006 revision. It may have parallels in the global warming world. He suggests one can become effectively addicted to one’s own predictions:

    “Groundbreaking new research in neuroscience shows that our brains are designed to perceive trends even where they might not exist. After an event occurs just two or three times in a row, regions of the human brain called the anterior cingulate and nucleus accumbers automatically anticipate that it will happen again. If it does repeat, a natural chemical called dopamine is released, flooding your brain with a soft euphoria. Thus, if a stock goes up a few times in a row, you reflexively expect it to keep going–and your brain chemistry changes as the stock rises, giving you a “natural high”. You effectively become addicted to your own predictions.”

  12. RE: “…this sort of approach is pure religion” would be far better stated “…his sort of approach is religion at its worst stereotype”. In fact, the theological debates that would be analogous to scientific debates are (and have for centuries) been far more open than would be allowed in todays hallowed halls of climate science.

  13. I was taught that the moment you begin to believe your own hypothesis, you are a dead duck as a scientist. There are more True Believers than there are sceptics.

    • I doubt that many of the supporters of AGW have ever read Chamberlain’s Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses.

  14. Scientific integrity can be hard to maintain. Many years ago as a grad student I had just finished work on a rather complex piece of measurement equipment involving various optical elements, photomultipliers, amplifiers and so on. Never mind what it was for, I can hardly remember myself at this stage. However, when all was ready I set everything up into a known configuration, and took some measurements. Success! Everything panned out exactly!

    I then started taking measurements in earnest and found to my dismay that the results were rubbish. All the internal data checks were way out. At this point cognitive bias sprang into operation. Since I knew that the equipment worked, I had to find some way to explain the results I was getting, and I started developing some weird theories about unknown properties of matter that I had discovered. Finally after about two weeks I decided to repeat the original check with the same known configuration, and got a completely different result. After a further week of tearing out my hair I came to the correct conclusion, aided by many more tests, that the noise level in my system was so high (low quality amplifiers looking for signals which were buried in thermal noise to begin with) that all I was measuring was random noise, and my original and apparently correct result was just a fluke.

    It took me three difficult weeks to come to the conclusion that system I had built was rubbish. Nobody’s reputation save mine was at stake, and I was eventually able to take the measurements I wanted in another way. But suppose now that you and a host of other climate scientists have spent most of your professional lives developing theories about CAGW. No matter how much the evidence against it stacks up, admitting that you were wrong is an almost impossible exercise in humility. Far better to develop theories about how your opponents are delusional than to admit you have been barking up the wrong tree.

    When scientific integrity butts its head against professional reputation, scientific integrity is usually the loser.

    • For some warmist scientists, especially physicists, it’s likely that they lack the imagination to get outside of their reality tunnel of “it’s basic radiative physics.”

      • The physicists that say ‘it’s basic radiative physics’ are either lying or mentally ill. They are leaving out ‘necessitate’ from Occam’s razor, and if you build models like that, you will drop out things of your model until you remain with… nothing.

      • Do any physicists actually say that? I’ve only heard non-scientists like Mosher make that claim. Real, eminent physicists, such as Lindzen, Dyson, Happer and Giaever, know that CACA is a hoax.

      • The climate models start with radiative physics and first principles. But because there are huge unknowns in other critical atmospheric processes, like clouds/precip/convection, that occur on scales smaller than the smallest grid calculation, the subjective parameterization are added in to estimate their effects. Add in the effect of estimates of initialization values to start the run, and viola!, an error propagation machine output. And then the outputs are tuned even further in trail runs to achieve “expected” results. Pure Junk Science.

        Now they know this but guys like ATTP try to mislead the naive that models are entirely hard physics principles, when they are really no such thing.

      • I think most decent physicists stay away from climate science because of the politics and the vast and numerous uncertainties. They recognize that it is a difficult problem to figure out and the truth won’t necessarily be accepted. Those who do wade in are very brave and we should appreciate them. Ultimately, climate change cannot be understood properly without the physicists, in my opinion.

  15. The same people who say ‘we must save the earth for our children’ have pushed so much debt on their children without concern. The economics of debt are pretty cut and dried while the economics of global warming are squishy at best. Slimey is perhaps a better description.

  16. Naomy Oreskes is awfully ignorant in statistics and does not know this sad fact. She wrote a popular article where her argument on validity of consensus was based on formula from probability theory describing outcomes of a series of independent trials with the same probability of individual outcomes, like multiple tossing of a coin. It is completely irrelevant to consensus since opinions of individual scientists are not random and are not independent. Such elementary blunder makes it impossible to take her seriously on anything.

  17. I like “The Nightmare”.

    Climate witnesses. “Have you heard the BAD news? Man is destroying the planet….” . Trouble is, IMHO, they are nowhere near as polite as the JWs and often resort to foul language and threats. It’s a religion with hate and anger just bubbling below the surface. I lance the pus whenever possible. Can be messy especially in mixed company or at posh dinner parties.

  18. Speaking of Oreskes … Nowadays, Canada’s (very generously) taxpayer funded broadcaster, CBC, rarely lets a program air without paying due obeisance and/or obsequious homage to the purported perils of climate change. In fact, one might say that the CBC has morphed into Canada’s climate propaganda central.

    Furthermore, far too frequently for my taste, they often feature proselytizers of doom and gloom such as Hayhoe, Gore and others of the oh-so-green-dreaming ilk. So I cannot say that I was particularly surprised to read that on Thurs. Sept. 14, what used to be an eminently worthwhile daily program hour called Ideas will be featuring:

    DECODING THE RESISTANCE TO CLIMATE CHANGE: Are we doomed?
    Global warming is “Fake News”, a “Chinese Hoax”. So says a richly funded Conservative movement that’s become a world-wide campaign. In her book, The Merchants of Doubt, Harvard historian of science, Naomi Oreskes traces how this propaganda war started and how to fight it.

    And to pave the way for Oreskes’ oratory, a few months ago, this same program featured Australia’s Clive Hamilton. An excerpt from the intro:

    Are We F–ked? Decoding the resistance to climate change

    The evidence is everywhere: forests retreating, glaciers melting, sea levels rising. Droughts, floods, wildfires and storms have increased five-fold over the past 50 years. And we’re only just beginning to feel the strain of climate change. It’s estimated that rising sea levels will threaten 30 million people in Bangladesh alone. Miami could disappear within a generation. Despite all of these dire events and projections, the attacks continue — on climate scientists.
    […]
    Clive Hamilton is an Australian public intellectual who’s written books about global warming, among them: Requiem for a Species and Defiant Earth. His books were intended to enlighten the public. But as he says: “anyone who engages publicly in the climate change debate has been subject to threats and abuse from a global army of climate science deniers. There are a lot of disturbed, angry people out there, which is, of course, socially worrying.”
    […]
    The denial about climate change is widespread and profound. In fact, a term has been coined for it: “climate change denial disorder”. So how did we get here? That’s where Naomi Oreskes enters the picture. She’s a Harvard professor and historian of science. In her book, Merchants of Doubt, she traces the people behind what has become a global industry of climate change denial. […]

    So much for “integrity”, eh?!

  19. This article is dedicated to his father.

    Curiously, note 3 refers to a radio interview that I think may have been with mine.

  20. A great story except for the fact that by that time hydraulic pit props were in use and the embarrasing fact that the previous Labour administration of Harold Wilson closed twice as many pits as Margaret Thatcher’s government. Margaret Thatcher rescued UK from being the ‘sick man of Europe’. You had to live through it to know how dreadful it was before she arrived to save us from destruction.

    http://peoplescharter.org/pit-closures-were-a-labour-policy-wilson-shut-twice-as-many-as-thatcher/

  21. Likewise, scientists who may be tempted to tune their climate models purely to fit the existing record will do so because they wish to be part of a group who they believe are shining a light on the truth, even though they must realise such tuning is not a legitimate practice.

    With all due respect, tuning models is a perfectly legitimate practice. The issue, IHMO, is more subtle. When you create a model using parameterizations, as climate models do, you are not doing something based on first principles. Therefore, you are in an area called heuristics. Heuristics are used all the time to build models – such as linear programming. Heuristic models cannot be validated based on first principles. They are usually validated based on results. Tuning is one of the methods used to produce better results. What is important is that the models produce useful results. It doesn’t matter that the results aren’t correct. The important thing is that they produce results that are better than not using them. However, IIRC, heuristics can be proven to always be sub-optimal and, therefore, wrong. What is not supportable, IMHO, is claiming that the models are based on first principles, when, in reality, they are heuristic and use approximations and unrealistic parameters, such as atmospheres with hyperviscosity, to produce what appear to be reasonable results and then claiming that they are modeling reality. They are, indeed, creating their own, alternative reality, which can be useful for certain applications and is not, in and of itself, necessarily illegitimate.

  22. Sorry, the entire premise of this article is just wrong:
    “I came to realise that modern day science is much messier and more prone to abuse than it was in the days of Newton, Maxwell and Einstein.”
    Integrity and abuse are not modern issues. If you look at history, there are charlatans, abusers, and people who are just wrong in every generation.
    Look at some of the experiments done during Hitler’s Germany. The stories of quack doctor’s or scientists claiming they solved cold fusion or found the missing link or know the secret of eternal youth. How many failed theories in every generation or time period?
    The difference between now and the past is more a function of quantity than quality. There is much more information, but is the percentage of correct versus wrong information/beliefs any different than in the past? I really do not know.

  23. The idiots have stopped all normal independent analysis which is based on facts.

    It is Goffus Fascism, enthusiastic, forced chaos where we fight about everything and never solve any problems.

    There is no AGW problem to solve.

    The developed countries’ GDPs are now growing at 2 to 3 percent per year, yet we are still spending as if our GDPs were growing at 4 to 5 percent per year. We have not even discussed this problem.

    We do not hence have any money to spend on green scams that do not work.

    Roy Spencer – Cost Vs CO2 Reduction Paradox, Run out of money problem. No solution to a problem that does not exit.

    If the energy to construct the green scams and the reduction in electric grid efficiency is taken into account, the maximum that solar and wind can reduction CO2 emission is less than 20%, regardless as to how much is spent. (need batteries to reduce more, however the if the energy to construct the batteries is taken into account there is almost no reduction in CO2).

  24. Astonishing to learn about pit props being the arbiters of coal mine closures. I joined the NCB at 19 on 1st January 1962. After 2 years of night school & a year of day release studying marketing, I came to realise there was no future for me there as all that I was learning would not ever be applied by my employer. Consequently, I gave a month’s notice on 1st May 1965. The exit interview questions put to me, only revealed the antediluvian mindset that permeated the hallowed halls of Hobart House. My answers fell upon deaf ears. Coal is king & don’t you forget it, seemed to be the consensus. Does that sound familiar?

    My former wife’s family were Geordies who lived in Craghead, in the land of the Prince Bishops. They are all dead now. Her step father was a coal miner. He went down Craghead pit aged 13 in 1943 & came up when it closed in 1969. The only work thereafter for many of his mates & for him, was mending roads. After a severe heart attack, he could not walk into a stiff County Durham breeze & he died before he reached 70. Earlier today, I found four videos about Craghead colliery in the 1960s. Watching the miners & their families face the pit closure was deeply personal to me. Those people had integrity. Their stoicism in the face of such hardships is something today’s dysgenic snowflakes can & will never understand & they remain diminished by their failures.

    Craghead pit: Parts 1 & 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPYK2Os7Fho
    Craghead village: Parts 1 & 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AkKOrYx8xY

  25. The coal mine story and indeed the whole article seem to be missing a point or conclusion and are internally inconsistent. Who in the story is lacking integrity? Is the author suggesting that Thatcher and her government did not know which coal mines to shut and after each pit closure really started from scratch looking to find the least productive and then shut that one. In which case why was the National Coal Mining Board trying to shut down coal mines and get rid of their jobs. But then it is stated that the board moved the joists to “next hapless pit held firmly within Thatcher’s governmental crosshairs” which suggests that the coal board knew which pit was going to be closed and so there was no lack of integrity.

    Next the authors appears to blame the closure of the coal mines for the diseases suffered by the workers, e.g. “The colliers, once proud and strong men, scuttle about on mobility scooters, sustained by oxygen bottles to mitigate the worst effects of their occupational emphysema”. If anything this would point to the closure of the coal mines as being a good thing. Coal mining in Britain was an ecological disaster – for example see the last scene of Get Carter which shows a real coal mine dumping slag directly into the North Sea. In addition mining ruined the health of coal miners which is still one of the most dangerous occupations around. Although in fact the only thing worse than being a coal miner was being an unemployed ex-coal miner. The problem was not that the mines were closed it was that Thatcher did not care what happened to the miners after they lost jobs.

    Then the rest of the essay appears to be rambling from topic to topic without making any conclusions or points. His conclusion then appears to suggest that
    the coal board was playing both Thatcher and the miners for fools by secretly deciding which coal mines to close and that if only they had more integrity and fewer roofs joists Britain would still be a proud nation of miners. Which is complete nonsense.

    • An excellent summary, I come from a family of colliers, potters and engineers from Staffordshire. Plenty of pride but plenty of drinking and fighting too. Getting out of the pit to work in a pot bank or foundry was the ambition which tells you how bad working down the pit was. My father got into grammar school and then university and we didn’t look back.

      http://www.thepotteries.org/potworks_wk/133.htm

    • One correction here. “Coal slag” is a byproduct of the combustion of coal, not the mining of coal (other than a relatively small amount resulting from the generation of power for the equipment). I think you mean “spoil” – the material that is not coal, but has to be removed to access the desired product. Of course, it is not a good idea to dump spoil directly into a body of water when you can’t be certain of exactly what all is in it.

      Coal slag is actually a rather useful material for sandblasting, because it is an alumina-silicate glass produced by the intense heat of a coal boiler from the small amounts of “not coal” that is still in the fuel supply. Compared to slag from smelting, it has very little metal contamination – and, being black, it is very easy to tell whether you have cleaned up every bit of it after the blasting (or, if you are using a vacuum collection system, when the dang thing has sprung a leak).

      • Writing Observer September 11, 2017 at 3:17 pm
        One correction here. “Coal slag” is a byproduct of the combustion of coal, not the mining of coal (other than a relatively small amount resulting from the generation of power for the equipment). I think you mean “spoil” – the material that is not coal, but has to be removed to access the desired product.

        ‘Slag heaps’ certainly did refer to what are now apparently referred to as spoil heaps, it was certainly the term used in the mining districts by the locals. Also mines were closed down because there were no longer sufficient reserves left, the idea that you can continue mining a resource for over a century from small deep mines and not run out is rather odd. Up to the early 60s the UK was a coal based country, every house was supplied with coal gas, in ten years it switched over to natural gas from the N sea, that had a great impact on the industry but the likes of Arthur Scargill refused to acknowledge that.

        https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/eb047834cbb2208d2a5ad8439d1144ecfd75a961/0_0_1104_747/master/1104.jpg?w=620&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=303f5eb33810125f16947eeabd86d1cd

  26. Most of the items on that list are confirmation bias at play. Some effects of such things as acid rain, CFCs, etc. are observable – but are a minor player in the “crisis” at hand. (As is CO2 in climate change.) A few of these, alas, are outright fraudulent (such as the “consensus”).

    In fact, the only completely well-founded assertion in the list is “smoking causes lung cancer” – which, if properly stated, is “smoking enormously increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer.” The latter is well-established, the earlier statement is a simplification for alarmist purposes. The majority of smokers will still not develop lung cancer (partially, of course, due to the fact that a large number succumb to emphysema before they get the chance).

    However, even there, I have little truck with “interventions” to reduce smoking – there are many, many other environmental contributors to the development of lung cancer, and those are outside of the simple control of the individual, unlike choosing to smoke or not smoke. Remediation efforts, government or otherwise, should be focused on those factors. Other than ensuring that fraud is not perpetrated on the consumer, which has already been accomplished, the busybodies have no business.

    I would like to see an honest study of the “second-hand smoke” issue; there is an area where both sides have created biased studies. It is quite reasonable to believe that there is some causation there – but how significant? Somewhere between “no effect” and “same as a two pack a day smoker” – but where?

    • Writing Observer September 11, 2017 at 2:53 pm
      In fact, the only completely well-founded assertion in the list is “smoking causes lung cancer” – which, if properly stated, is “smoking enormously increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer.” The latter is well-established, the earlier statement is a simplification for alarmist purposes. The majority of smokers will still not develop lung cancer (partially, of course, due to the fact that a large number succumb to emphysema before they get the chance).

      However, even there, I have little truck with “interventions” to reduce smoking – there are many, many other environmental contributors to the development of lung cancer, and those are outside of the simple control of the individual, unlike choosing to smoke or not smoke. Remediation efforts, government or otherwise, should be focused on those factors. Other than ensuring that fraud is not perpetrated on the consumer, which has already been accomplished, the busybodies have no business.

      There may be ‘many other’ contributors to lung cancer but over 80% of cases are associated with smoking so that is the best place to start! Maggie Thatcher had the right idea, increase the tax on cigarettes every year, when told that if the tax went up to high then the revenues would go down she said ‘good!’.
      The extremely strong correlation between risk and number smoked leaves little doubt of the cause:

      Lung cancer death risk is around 5 times higher in smokers of 1-4 cigarettes per day, around 12 times higher in smokers of 8-12 cigarettes per day; at least 24 times higher in smokers of 25+ cigarettes per day; and 39 times higher in smokers of 42+ cigarettes per day, all compared with never-smokers (UK stats).
      Smokers are about 6 times more likely to develop emphysema than non-smokers. About the same number die each year from lung cancer and COPD.

      • So? The only reason to intervene on this is that YOU think that YOU have the DUTY to control other people for “their own good.”

        Now, Maggie might have had a justification for cigarette taxes – she couldn’t possibly get rid of the NHS, so the (non-smoking) taxpayers did have an interest in eliminating a bad health habit.

        However – much as I admire Maggie’s memory, she was a hypocrite! I don’t know whether there was a corresponding increase in taxes on Scotch, for instance – but I’m QUITE sure I would have heard about the start of the Second English Civil War when she tripled the price of beer!

      • Here’s a quote from Howe’s budget statement:
        “First, the duties on alcoholic drinks and tobacco. From midnight tonight I propose to increase the duties on drinks by amounts which, including VAT, represent about 4p on the price of a typical pint of beer, 12p on a bottle of table wine, 25p on a bottle of sherry, and 60p on a bottle of spirits.
        On tobacco, I propose from midnight on Friday to increase the duty by an amount which, including VAT, will represent 14p on a typical packet of 20 cigarettes.
        There will be consequential increases for other alcoholic drinks and tobacco products but a little less for pipe tobacco, which is used particularly by pensioners. I estimate that the increase on alcoholic drinks will yield £500 million in 1981–82 and £515 million in a full year. The increases on tobacco will raise almost exactly the same.”

      • WO,

        Wine and beer are food as well as drugs. Even distilled spirits provide empty calories, and might have some beneficial effects in moderation.

        Tobacco OTOH has little to no redeeming value.

      • Well done article. However, the point is still that 7% of the lung cancer cases can be avoided – by individual decision (which should be made on real information). So government should not be involved in this area.

        Many other things are not under the easy control of the individual – high radon levels in houses built on granite without adequate ventilation – heavy dust from construction sites – insulation misused – transportation emissions. There are proper areas for intervention by society through government (although one must watch that the intervention is not a bandage over the real problem that might ameliorate the immediate issue but cause more damage elsewhere – an all too common result of government regulation).

  27. From the post:

    The basic idea behind ecopsychology is that mankind’s modern disconnect with nature is a prime source of the ecological disrespect that you see exemplified by your typical CAGW sceptic.

    Interesting that here in the US most of Hillary’s votes came from urban, rather than rural areas.
    Most rural people are surrounded by the reality of nature and their livelihood depends on understanding it.
    Most urban people are surrounded by concrete and don’t realize that it is the rural people that put food on the shelves of their local supermarket.
    Talk about a “disconnect”!

  28. Global Warming as it first appeared in New Zealand back in the 1990s did not seem that scary until the Kyoto Accord .Our politicians rushed to sign up as they thought that with our abundance of hydro electric power that our carbon footprint was low and it would not cost the country anything in carbon credits. Unfortunately activists at Kyoto pushed for farmed livestock to be included in the treaty because they maintained that the methane emitted from the ruminating was a danger and a green house gas and this had to be taken into account . When I examined this claim [ as I have farmed all my life ] I came to the conclusion that methane from livestock can not make any difference to the temperature of the planet .CO2 is vital to all plant growth and animals eat plants and belch methane as they ruminate .I found that the half life of methane in the atmosphere is 8.4 years and that methane is broken down into CO2 and water vapor in the upper atmosphere .The CO2 is then absorbed by vegetation .and the cycle starts again .The methane level is increasing but it cannot be from farmed livestock . I have a brother who is a scientist and he believes in global warming because he says that CO2 has been proven in laboratories to warm the air but I disagree with him and I believe that the effect of raised levels of CO2 is much exaggerated in the real world . I have challenged him to prove that methane from livestock can be proven to warm the world and he cannot and I challenge anyone else to prove this theory .I mean prove it not just say someone said this or that ,Finally in conclusion I have become a skeptic and the more I hear how scientists hear in New Zealand and overseas are changing facts and temperatures of earlier years the more I am convinced that the whole climate change story is a scam.I

    • Here in Western Canada I cannot for the life of me tell the difference between today’s weather and that of the mid 1970’s. Almost 60 years of “Catastrophic Warming” and sweet F.A. to show for it. It would be a joke if not for the billions being borrowed from future growth and thrown down a hole! The West is approaching a fiscal wall at breakneck speed and still pedal to the metal.
      Still they tell us they have the answers and still we believe and elect the damn liars!

    • Gwan,
      In regards the question of whether or not methane from livestock causes global warming, my question would be what sort of evidence would you accept?

      Clearly we cannot create a second earth with identical conditions apart from non-farting cows, so there is no way of creating a control. You state that you believe that CO2 has been proven in the lab to be a greenhouse gas and presumably you would accept that methane can be proven to be a greenhouse gas in the lab as well. So would you accept the evidence that in the lab methane acts as a green house gas and we know that livestock produce methane and so therefore livestock contribute to global warming?

      There can never be a direct measure of the global warming (or lack of it) due to a single cause since there is only one atmosphere and at any one time there are multiple things happening (volcanic eruptions, CO2 emissions, methane emissions, aerosol emissions, land use changes etc etc). Attribution can only be done using computer models which again I guess you don’t believe in.

      • It’s Gwan’s brother who believes in CAGW. Read his last sentence again Germinio. Gwan wrote: ” I have become a skeptic and the more I hear how scientists hear in New Zealand and overseas are changing facts and temperatures of earlier years the more I am convinced that the whole climate change story is a scam.”

  29. How did we get into today’s climate science quagmire or, as Trump would say, swamp? The simple answer is the mass media have simply ignored scientific results that do not fit their preferred narrative. The death of integrity, the distinction between good and bad or right and wrong behavior, is a philosophical answer. But integrity is in the eye of the beholder. I suspect both the climate alarmists and the climate deniers would lay claim to the high ground.

    We need to name the perpetrators of the death of integrity. The use of debate and reason that worked so well for our forebears to advance civilization has been abandoned by the New Left. Instead, they now embrace the philosophy of Saul Alinsky, radical community organizer whose disciples include Obama and Clinton. Alinsky preached, “The man of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost: of means, only whether they will work.” That is, the ends justify the means, the holy mantra of the New Left. Right and wrong and debate and reason have no place in Alinsky’s vision. The death of integrity can be laid at the feet of the Alinskyites and their fellow travelers, the bulk of the mass media.

  30. Cherry picking goes on all the time, it is just that it usually goes unnoticed as the results don’t have wide economic implications. Like the correlation of the Christiansen Trough in infrared to feldspar in the plagioclase series. Nash made such a nice graph and it fits so well to his 7 data points. For all the earth, the poor man had only budget to study 7 rocks? Or maybe the correlation trend falls apart? Well, with more data, it does. Remote sensing of planetary rocks for plagioclase use this trend. It probably produces all sorts of spurious and irrelevant garbage. No one can check Nash by plotting, I dunno, 10 rocks? No one but me apparently. It is not the trivialty by which the data is manipulated, it is the triviality by which it is disproven that is so amazing.

  31. Uranus is one of the weather gods. Shu is the Egyptian god of the atmosphere. I forget the names for the Maya/Aztec gods and of course, there are many other primitive tribal names.
    I’m thinking of sacrificing a goat cheese, a cheap Sicilian red, and some good crusty bread to the Gods of Weather before the next Atlantic hurricane pops up. Maybe I should ask them to send a massive storm to the West Coast. A little rain on LaLa Land would do the lefties a world of good.

  32. I came across this posting way too late. No one will read this but, in the interest of accuracy, maybe I should point out that John Ridgeway’s story about the “joists” is generally accurate but misses a couple of interesting points.
    First, they weren’t joists. They were colliery arches. Joists are like beams (an H section). Normal arches were curved joists, three sections were bolted together to make the arch that supported the roof of an underground roadway.
    These particular arches were unusual because they were not preformed curved joists (“H”s) but “T” sections. A fancy new design to save steel. Someone very senior indeed in the National Coal Board had been to a big International Coal Mining trade fair and had ordered a bulk purchase of these wretched things. A huge order.
    These were to be delivered to the mines in the Barnsley Area. (Not sure if they went elsewhere as well) and at that time Barnsley Area was doing a Major Project (second only to the Selby Project). Lots of new development. Lots of new tunnels. Lots of arches needed.
    No-one had told the Managers of the mines to expect these things. One Manager took one look at them, pointed out that he hadn’t ordered them, could find no evidence that the fancy “T” sections were approved for underground use (they weren’t. A time consuming but essential testing programme to demonstate they were fit for purpose.) My friend the Manager turned the lorries around and sent them away. (He got demoted for that!)
    At another nearby mine, they built a section of roadway underground, which promptly collapsed. By a miracle, no-one was badly injured. But Her Majesty’s Inspector of Mines got involved and banned them for use underground. There would no doubt have been a big stink kicked up. But the guy who had ordered them was VERY senior!
    Another Manager at another nearby mine had a better solution. He had a massive hole dug in the mine’s spoil heap. As the lorries full of brand new but useless arches came in, they were taken straight up the spoil heap and burried. Sensible, I suppose. He probably intended digging them up and selling them for scrap when the ‘heat was off’, but by then, the Manager was gone and the pit was closed, after the 1984-5 strike.
    Anyway, the other pits had mountains of these useless arches. At one mine (OK, let’s name names, it was the ‘new’ Kinsley Drift Mine), I was a Chartered Engineer trying to finish the new mine surface, I had to pay Contractors well over a hundred thousand pounds to shift them, build the new stockyard and shift them back again. Madness. It was years later, after numerous ridiculous schemes to ‘use’ them for something, and after the strike, that they were sold off as scrap.
    Maybe this was a Machevellian scheme to close mines, as John suggests. I am tempted by that scenario. But it seems more likely that the Very Senior guy who ordered them got a free fishing rod at the trade fair and the rest of it was sheer incompetence.
    Unbelievable? Couldn’t agree more and I thought so at the time. Doesn’t detract from John’s piece but perhaps right to lift the lid after all these years.
    Lots more could be said about other comments. Don’t forget that the Selby Project, envied by Coal Mining Engineers around the world, may have been way more expensive than it should have been (and designed with rose-tinted spectacles – like Major Projects always are), but exceeded design output and produced good coal safely at a third of the cost of German mines at the time. It was closed down seven years after privatisation, partly because of management incompetence, partly because it was clear that the market had been rigged against coal by the Labour Party government. Eager to betray their traditional supporters. Thanks, Ed Miliband!

    • I worked in the UK electronics industry from the early 1970s. for all the big names Ferranti, Plessey, GEC (not the American company), ICL and some lesser known ones as well*. All now long gone. It seems to me that mismanagement at the highest levels has escaped blame in the decline in UK manufacturing. It has become a Unions/Thatcher argument. Many years ago I saw an interview with the last Stephen (Alexander Stephen I think) to manage the Clyde Shipyard owned by his family. His final comment was “Perhaps I wasn’t very good at managing a shipyard” he probably wasn’t and wasn’t alone.

      * One of the reasons for the variety was factory closures and redundancy.

      • I also worked at Plessey and partially agree with your views but feel you have ignored the fact that both Ferranti and GEC were victims of being sold worthless companies by the Americans. Had any non U.S. company tried frauds like the ones perpetrated on Ferranti and GEC on a U.S. one, the directors would have been extradited and faced very lengthy prison sentences. The US companies concerned were never punished at all to the shame of their legal profession and government.
        The take over of Plessey by GEC in spite of a near zero expertise by GEC in electronics was surprising until one realised that several senior ministers who gave the deal the green light subsequently got senior positions in the merged company in spite of them also having zero background in any aspect of the industry.
        The last straw was the huge 3G licence burden that Brown extorted from the telecomms industry That at a stroke ended so many design contracts to pay this tax by another name. This took us from word leaders to tail end charlie in less than two years in this fast moving industry and to add insult to injury there was a commons enquiry into the lack of 3G coverage in the UK compared to other far eastern countries.

    • Thank you so much, Martin, for this fascinating insight. I have wondered for years just how reliable my father’s anecdote was. After reading your post I am inclined to agree that incompetence and mismanagement were playing a major role. At the end of the day, my father was engaging in a conspiracy theory and it is often difficult to separate conspiracy from cockup. The only thing that can be said for sure is that those props would have been a significant liability to the pits that ‘owned’ them. I find it very plausible that they would have featured in an assessment of financial viability and I feel I have to respect my father’s claim that he had discerned a pattern of behaviour. The exact nature of the failure of integrity, however, is difficult to fathom, but your post goes a long way towards throwing a light on the things that were going on at the time. I would also like to thank you for clarifying the nature of the ‘joists’. The incorrect use of terminology is entirely my fault. I am sure my father would have got it right at the time. As you clearly appreciate, this does not detract from the message I was trying to convey.

      Also, on quite a different subject, I would like to point out to those who are critical of my political position regarding the Thatcher era, that I did not actually reveal it, since I feel to have done so would detract from the article’s purpose. By simply pointing out that her government actively pursued a policy of mine closures, and by expressing sympathy for the current state of affairs in the mining villages, I was not tacitly sympathising with the NUM’s position. As someone who was brought up living in the Barnsley coalfield area, and who then married a coalminer’s daughter, I would like to think that I have a better insight on the subject than someone who once watched Get Carter. Nevertheless, I shall keep my views to myself.

      • Arthur Scargill declared war on the community and not just the government so Thatcher opposed him. Once that war was won at a huge cost to Yorkshire mining, Thatcher wanted to reward the Nottinghamshire miners who shortened the battle considerably by supporting her but the green lobby led I seem to remember by Goldsmith blocked that and continued the battle against the very people who had supported her.
        Maggie was stabbed in the back for trying to honour her debt to the non striking miners. You need contacts in all three camps to get any insight at all into the issue. It was dirty fighting on two of the three sides and only the Nottinghamshire miners came out with integrity intact if not with their jobs.

      • Thanks, John.
        I think it likely that, were you and I (and your dad, in spirit) able to have a chat over a pint (and with others with actual experience and memories of 1984-5, rather than those whose opinions were formed from the media propaganda at the time!), we would have little disagreement.
        I have to say that I had considerable respect for the miners, both in 1984 and always afterwards. Respect for their leaders? Absolutely not. And precious little for the way HMG ‘won’ the battle. Although I recognise that it was essential that the battle against the communist leadership HAD to be won.
        Whether that justified the frankly illegal tactics HMG used at times is a moot point. Whether it was essential to have as much “collatoral damage” both to the mining communities and subsequently to the Country’s coal industry, seems highly unlikely.
        Conspiracy. Yes. There is no doubt whatever, that many aspects of HMG’s planning for the strike amounted to a conspiracy. Not just obvious moves like re-commissioning shuttered oil power stations and building coal stocks to record levels. But there were a raft of otherwise hard-to-understand things going on. Imposed bonus schemes richly benefitted the Barnsley miners, as did the decision to invest 1.5 Billion in Barnsley, when all the best coal had long since been extracted. Why? Perhaps to keep Barnsley happy until, with coal stocks at capacity, they announced the Closure of Cortonwood (long overdue for closure, make no mistake!).
        And Scargill fell for it AND refused a ballot which he almost certainly would have won.
        No prizes for guessing who had to meet the Bill for it all. The miners and Great Britain plc.

  33. I’m not paid by big tobacco or think that there aren’t seriously bad health effects but there is something dodgy. There was an Australian Broadcasting Corporation story on tobacco companies helping officials stop illegal traffickers (linked to funding terrorism). It seems to have been taken down because it was a blatant attack on the company even though one of it’s executives was bashed and stabbed by the traffickers.
    You can’t help but get the feeling that Big Tobacco rather than tobacco is the enemy.

  34. Integrity? Kind of hard to have that when we have been teaching kids for years that we all have our own truth, even if it is different than someone else’s truth, the facts be damned.

  35. In reply to Germino
    I stated that methane from ruminants cannot warm the planet as the methane is broken down into CO2 and water vapor. You and many others just don’t get it that no extra greenhouse gas is added to the atmosphere from deposits extracted from below the earths surface such as oil coal or limestone deposits .Any mathematical accurate audit will prove that livestock cannot add to any warming as the methane is part of a continuous cycle which has been going on for thousands if not millions of years .Please come back with some proof for your argument

  36. I think much of the problem with people talking past each other is confusion about the scientific method, Type I vs Type II errors, and the apparent adoption by the climate science community of the Precautionary Principle. I believe if most people understood how climate science has betrayed the enlightenment of rational scientific understanding, support for climate science would quickly evaporate.

  37. I want to correct my post above I intended to say that NO extra greenhouse gas is added to the atmosphere from methane emitted from farmed livestock UNLIKE emissions from the burning of fossil fuel that is extracted from the ground where it has been for millions of years ,Methane from livestock is a continuous cycle and is no difference than methane emissions from rice paddies which are exempt .

  38. After studying in Leeds for three years the following sentence definitely resonated with me: “a well-intended homage to the communities’ heritage”. Great article with some very interesting thoughts, thanks for sharing!

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