Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
Richard Hooker explained,
“Change is not made without inconvenience, even when from worse to better.”
People know change occurs. They also know it always has and always will. They know that when it occurs everyone is inconvenienced as Hooker observed and some gain and some lose. They fear change because they might be in the loser group but don’t know.
The general condition and view of change in the natural world were reinforced and promoted in western science by a philosophy developed by Hutton and Playfair. The latter was a Church of Scotland minister, mathematician, and naturalist who promoted James Hutton’s work on the theory of the earth called uniformitarianism. It entered mainstream thinking because it provided a basis for Sir Charles Lyell’s thinking in his famous book, Principles of Geology. It became even more pervasive because Darwin took a Lyell’s book with him on his famous Beagle voyage. Darwin acknowledged in his journals that it along with Thomas Malthus’ essay on population together with the fossil evidence were most influential in his theory “On the Origin of Species.” The basic tenet of uniformitarianism is that change is very gradual over long periods of time. It replaced the biblical view of Neptunism that events were either pre- or post-Noah’s flood.
Darwin’s theory was never tested, as normally occurs in the scientific method. His theory of evolution was used by the scientific establishment of the time to defeat religion. Unfortunately, this painted science into a corner. It meant that if anybody challenged Darwin, they were automatically branded as creationists. An example of the level of scientific elitism in existence at the time was the shunning of probably one of the greatest scientists of all time. However, don’t take my word for it he was one of three, along with Newton and Maxwell, scientific heroes of Einstein. He had pictures of all three on his office wall. Faraday’s sins were that he did not have a university education and he belonged to a very strict fundamental religious group called the Sandemanians.
The general theme of the challenges to Darwin, who was aware as anyone of the limitations of his ideas, is that natural selection is a well-observed phenomenon. The problem comes in the evolution portion where there is no evidence to support the increasing evolutionary tree of speciation (Figure1).
Two good books on the subject are Michael Denton’s, “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis,” and a second volume, “Evolution: Still a theory in Crisis.”
The failure to test Darwin’s theory is important, but of little consequence to most people. This is like some 40% of the European and American public still think the Sun goes around the Earth even though Copernicus showed it was the opposite 475 years ago. It doesn’t matter to most people. As long as the Sun rises and sets, everything is fine. It changed and became personal with implications for everybody when Darwin said we were animals and just another species of apes.
Another hypothesis with profound implications for everyone evolved in the 1960s and is generally known as anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Like Darwin’s work, it evaded the scientific method. It was never tested and became prey, ironically because he avidly supported Darwin, in Thomas Huxley’s observation 120 years ago
The great tragedy of Science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”
An ugly fact appeared after 1998 that dealt a mortal blow to the beautiful AGW hypothesis. It was a beautiful hypothesis because it appeared to confirm the central thesis of the new paradigm of environmentalism that humans were a cancer on the planet. This ludicrous notion, which ignores humans as the most successful animal on the planet from a Darwinian perspective, even received credibility from supposedly thoughtful people. The AGW hypothesis assumed that an increase in CO2 would cause an increase in temperature. After 1998, the CO2 continued to increase, but temperature levelled. Promoters tried to ignore what was going on, but that caught the eye of those humorous cynics, the cartoonists (Figure 2).
The people controlling the AGW deception were aware of what was happening. Emails from 2004 leaked from the University of East Anglia revealed the concern. Nick at the Minns/Tyndall Centre that handled publicity for the climate story said,
“In my experience, global warming freezing is already a bit of a public relations problem with the media.”
Swedish climate expert on the IPCC Bo Kjellen replied,
“I agree with Nick that climate change might be a better labelling than global warming.”
Many people noticed the change but didn’t understand the implications. It was still about global warming because CO2 had to remain the demon, but now change became the operative and important word. Promoters of the AGW scoured the world and filled the media with stories of change. The problem is they are all natural and well within natural variability. It resonated because the people listened with uniformitarian ears and minds. Supposedly educated people made innocuous statements sound menacing. Consider this comment from biologist Daniel Inouye and labelled an “accidental climate scientist” shows he doesn’t understand. The problems are most climate scientists are accidental, dealing with one small piece of a complex puzzle.
“These days, plants and animals are arriving at Rocky Mountain Biological Lab a week or two earlier than they were 30 years ago. The robins that used to arrive in early April now show up in mid-March. Marmots end their winter slumber ever earlier.”
Consider this 1772 quote from biologist, fur trader, and arctic explorer Samuel Hearne. His research and description of Arctic Fox and their behavior is still considered by many as the best. How does Inouye explain such significant change, cooling in this case, before AGW could have occurred?
“I have observed, during my several journeys in those parts that all the way to the North of Seal River the edge of the wood is faced with old withered stumps, and trees which have been flown (sic) down by the wind. They are mostly of the sort which is called here Juniper, but were seldom of any considerable size. Those blasted trees are found in some parts to extend to the distance of twenty miles from the living woods, and detached patches of them are further off; which is proof that the cold has been increasing in those parts for some ages. Indeed, some of the older Northern Indians have assured me that they have heard their fathers and grandfathers say, they remembered the greatest part of those places where the trees are now blasted and dead, in a flourishing state.
Hearne knew the context of this. The tree line advanced during the warmth of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) then retreated in the cooling to the nadir of the Little Ice Age (LIA). This is what Hearne describes with his comment that this is “proof that the cold has been increasing in those parts for some ages.”
It is just 180 years since Louis Agassiz suggested the Earth experiences Ice Ages. It is so recent that most, even scientists, don’t realize that there were four phases in the recent Ice Age and that there have been possibly nine previous ice ages approximately every 250 million years. Most can’t imagine that just 20,000 years ago over half of North America was covered with an ice sheet larger in area than the current Antarctic ice sheet. Even more remarkable sea level was at least 130 meters lower than today (Figure 3). Amazingly, most of the ice melted in approximately 8000 years and sea level recovered in that same period.
As climate change became the new target of the deception, many of us pushed back. When it was called global warming, those who challenged, were designated, skeptics. With the shift to climate change, they became deniers. The problem was that most, like me, spent their careers explaining to people how much climate changed all the time naturally. There was pushback because people noticed the change of name and knew climate changes, but they didn’t know how much and assumed it was small because of uniformitarianism.
The response of AGW supporters was to claim the change was more rapid than ever before. They argued that it was outside the natural rate, but it wasn’t. Most of the public didn’t know that because they are not even aware of how rapidly society changes.
It is just 85 years since Hitler came to power. How much has happened since then? World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, the Internet, people on the moon, Satellites, Cell phones, collapse of communism, Jet airplanes, nuclear power, and you can add your own choice to the list. Who predicted any of it? Maybe somebody mentioned the possibility of one or two, but they are usually a result of randomness. The response to such an argument by AGW alarmists is that this is proof of it being a recent phenomenon.
A broad response is in English historian Arnold Toynbee’s observation that history is just one damn thing after another. I also urge you to read the diaries of Samuel Pepys (1633-1703). He began a diary in 1660 and kept it for almost ten years. It is a remarkable read and illustrates how much society changes all the time. For example, he watched Charles I executed and the monarchy replaced by a Republican government under Oliver Cromwell. Pepys’ served in that government and is primarily responsible for the development of the Royal Navy that became the vehicle of global power for the British Empire. Because of his position, he was on the Navy ship that brought Charles II back to England to restore the monarchy. Imagine in your working lifetime going from a monarchy to a republic and back to a monarchy. Fortunately, he only spent a short time in the Tower of London, but that was more because of suspicions he had Catholic leanings.
It is a cliché to say change is the norm, but what people don’t understand is how quickly and dramatically it occurs. That natural pattern is what made people innately afraid of change. People supporting AGW exploit that fear, but they also exploit it by using natural events and claiming they are unnatural and occurring faster than ever before.