The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, November 02, 2015


I am a strong proponent of a clean environment. Getting rid of pollutants and moving rationally toward alternative energy strategies is a smart move for every developed country. Unlike many who blab endlessly about "saving the planet", I have put my money where my mouth is. I purchased a zero non-trivial percentage of the electricity my car and house requires. In essence, my car runs on sunshine and produces zero emissions of any kind. I lack the hubris to talk about saving the planet, but my approach can't hurt.

However, being a proponent of a clean environment is not the same thing as being a "climate change" hysteric.

First a comment—climate change is real, always has been, always will be. The climate has changed since the earth formed. No one is debating that truism. In just the last 1000 years, Greenland was in fact green during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) between the years 950 to 1250 and then cooled during the Little Ice Age (LIA) from 1300 to 1850. It's now warming again, although global temperature are currently stable. The famous "hockey stick" graph of global warming, promoted by Al Gore, demonstrates an interesting scientific consensus but not one he intended. The majority of serious scientists agree that the hockey stick is a fraud because it uses poorly constructed "proxy" data from extremely limited sources and conveniently leaves out the MWP and LIA to give the impression that global temperatures were constant until the 20th century and only then began to rise. Global temperatures, when measured over centuries are never constant. They rise and fall with time.

But what about human activities in the 20th and 21st centuries? The real question isn't even whether human activities and carbon-based fuels affect the climate—they undoubtedly do so. The real question is: how much?;The answer is still unknown—in fact, it's not even possible to accurately separate all of the many factors that affect global temperatures. Despite propaganda and bogus computer models to the contrary, there is NO scientific consensus on how much (in absolute terms) human activities and carbon based fuels affect global temperatures, nor is there any consensus on what order of magnitude percentage (is it 0.01% or 10%) that affect might be.

Here's what is worrisome. Among many people, climate change has morphed from an legitimate area of scientific research into a religion in which belief, not science, holds sway. Even more troubling, world leaders have joined the religion and are establishing policies that are not based on good science. For example, when asked recently for an example of true global leadership, Barack Obama responded that he is "leading the fight against climate change." When asked what the greatest strategic threat to our nation was, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, replied, "Climate Change." Hillary Clinton is somewhat more reserved, but still embraces the religion. Am I to understand that they're "fighting" climate change—something that has been going on for millions of years?

Progressives applaud these statements, reject rational arguments or facts that might question their deeply held beliefs, disparage those who are asking legitimate questions about the nature of climate change, and support radical policy changes that will be extremely costly and will have an unknown affect on climate change.

The big question, really, is why so many otherwise intelligent people buy into the religious aspects of climate change? Richard Fernandez comments on this question:
The famous physicist Freeman Dyson has long been puzzled by the inexplicable credence given to “climate change”. Dyson, a self described Democrat and Obama supporter, is still a scientist and could not understand how it could be treated seriously among the liberal set.

An Obama supporter who describes himself as “100 per cent Democrat,” Dyson says he is disappointed that the President “chose the wrong side.” Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere does more good than harm, he argues, but it is not an insurmountable crisis. Climate change, he tells us, “is not a scientific mystery but a human mystery. How does it happen that a whole generation of scientific experts is blind to obvious facts?”

The human mystery of scientific blindness can be understood by referring to starlings. Starlings are small birds famous for gathering over European skies and flying in intricate patterns all over the sky in what are called murmurations. As we shall soon see, humans behave in some respects just like starlings.

These murmurations generate a seemingly random swarm of evasive actions that help the starlings frustrate predators like the peregrine falcon. You can think of murmurations as nature’s version of the 8th Air Force's Combat Box. Like the 8th Air Force the starlings can hold their own against raptors by using these massive formations. Interestingly the birds can maintain information with very little global information. By welding on the wing of their six or seven closest neighbors they form a cell, each of which locks on to the adjacent ...

The irrational attachment to “climate change” that Freeman Dyson observed is proof liberal scientists can fly in formation. They were maintaining position on a lead observing the rules of social proof. “Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”

They didn’t have to know what everyone was doing. All that the liberal birds had to know was what the 6 or 7 closest to them were up to and form up on them. The ability to fly formation is a an effective method for achieving mutual defense. One of the key roles of president Obama is to act as the lead by communicating his position via social media. He does this well. What he does not necessarily possess is any geographical notion of where his flock is going (you can fly formation on a drone). His key skill is to squawk a position and vector and the flock will follow.
The danger in all of this isn't the fact that climate change has become a religion. On an individual basis, it's relatively harmless—belief what you want to believe. But problems arise when a flock comes together, forces those who really don't want to be in the flock to fly along, then gets bad "position and vector" information, and flies the entire flock into the ground.

Every decision made by governmental leaders has consequences—some intended, but others unintended. Every decision has costs, some known, but others unknown. Some of those consequences and costs affect real people, their jobs, their homes, their businesses, and their communities. Before a leader makes a decision, he or she should be very clear on what is real and what isn't.

Climate change is real, but that doesn't mean that human activities are a dominant factor that drives it. Until we know for sure (and we don't yet know that), I have to wonder why this president or his successor doesn't adopt something that he seems to embrace and, in fact, often brags about—"strategic patience."

UPDATE (11/04/2015):
If you are a starling, it might be instructive to look not only to your left and right, but backward, to say, 1978, when the progressive media were more than a little alarmed about global cooling:

I wonder, are those who are strong proponents of AGW simply deniers of global cooling?