The silly season is drawing to a close, and after an intellectual hiatus caused by enjoyment of the weather, visitors, chores and visits to interesting places, the darker evenings bring me back to my computer. When I started this blog I had no clear idea in mind, except I wanted an outlet for the increasing stupidity, nonsense, greed and idiocy that affected my life. I’m still not sure whether it’s for my own benefit, or in the hopes that I find some other people with similar views, I don’t suppose it matters.
So I thought I would restart with a bit of background, to get my ideas straight about some issues and to explain how I arrived at them, I shall start with global warming and climate alarmism.
I’m not a climate expert, but I approach from a common sense point of view. A maths teacher once suggested that with a numerical calculation the first move should always be a quick mental estimate. Forget the detail and just get a ball-park answer. Then do the calculation, but if it falls way outside the estimate look for what you did wrong, a misplaced factor of 10, or a missing variable. This approach, i.e. check against common sense first, is something the world seems to have forgotten about and yet it is even more important when dealing with things that cannot be easily measured.
Here goes. My thoughts on Global Warming:
1, I have worked for many years with computers and know that computer models and simulations are not reality. They are useful but only for limited scenarios where all inputs are known. Climate (so called) science hasn’t a clue about most of the inputs needed for their models.
2, I have worked in an academic social science setting for years. I have seen how some modern academics take bland data then torture it with a barrage of assumptions and increasingly esoteric statistical tests until the required outcome is found. This is an outcome that conforms to the groupthink of their contemporaries, and hence leads to publication and future grant application success. One might expect that modern communication and travel opportunities coupled with international science co-operation and specialist conferences would help science progress, but in some cases, those where assumptions and expectations are built into the research exactly the opposite has happened, it has encouraged a situation of groupthink and the exclusion of dissenters.
3, We have absolutely no idea of what the ‘right’ temperature of the globe should be. Records go back with increasing inaccuracy for about 100 years or so and are certainly not good enough to draw conclusions to an accuracy of a degree or less. Nor is the record long enough to see long term cyclic variations. Further back we have proxies and some written descriptive documentation. These are of doubtful usefulness except as a broad indication. What they do indicate beyond any doubt is that there have been huge naturally occurring changes in climate in the past. Even in written records we can find evidence of times when it has been measurably warmer than today and times that were colder. The obvious examples being the Roman warm period when grapes were grown in Yorkshire (and not modern hardy varieties that will grow here now), the mediaeval warm period and the ‘little ice age’ with pictures of ice fairs that we still find on Christmas cards. Climate changes, and has always changed, for reasons we don’t know. Hence it is the height of absurdity to decide that the changes over the past century are all caused by just one atmospheric factor.
4, We have no idea what the optimum world temperature or climate is. What would we like it to be? For us people in northern climes cold is our worst enemy so global warming would be a bonus. It can be argued a milder climate around 1000 years ago allowed prosperity for social improvement and education to happen and lead eventually to our modern society. For some people in Saharan Africa more heat might be unwelcome, but increased rainfall would be beneficial. I see no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in changes to climate that justify a huge investment in trying to prevent them, even if that were in any way possible.
5, We have no idea what other influences are active on climate. Yes of course changes in atmospheric makeup must have an effect, but so must the sun, the Earth’s internal nuclear activity, particulate pollution, building and changes to the surface, changes to forest cover and all sorts of other little understood mechanisms. Even something as fundamental as the effect of CO2 is uncertain and the carbon cycle, that removes CO2 from the atmosphere and defines how long it survives and where it is most concentrated, is very badly understood. Until these things are known no sensible conclusions can be drawn.
6, Into this crucible of uncertainty and proto-science were drawn all the worst elements of personal egos, corporate greed, political grandstanding and opportunists. We were fed lies, absurd alarmist horror stories, more lies and bad science then forced to follow and pay for poorly thought out knee jerk responses which enriched the corporate and political backers. It’s tempting to call it a conspiracy, but I suspect it’s simply an amalgam of the very worst of human nature. A generation of people who had travelled through school without being taught how to think logically were easy to co-opt into an army of believers, thus supporting the corporate money grabbers and political opportunists who jumped onto the climate money-go-round. I accept such a situation doesn’t prove climate alarmism is wrong, but it does make it almost certain that any genuine problem has been amplified and distorted.
7, We are constantly being harried by reports of the worst storm since year x, or the hottest day since year y. But all these alarmist reports contain the seed of their own disproval as anything more than normal weather. The fact that such rainfall, or snowfall, or drought, or temperature is comparable to something that happened many years ago simply illustrates that weather does bring extremes. Often these extremes are the ‘once in 100 year’ event or ‘once in a lifetime event’, but that’s how it works. Personally I can just remember the North Sea floods of 1953, they were devastating, and hopefully not to be repeated, but they were caused by a natural mix of natural factors. We had a hurricane on the south coast in 1987, that wasn’t caused by CO2 levels of over 400ppm either. I have experienced heavy snow in May and mild weather in January. These unusual and extreme events happen, and have always happened; it’s just ignorance to suggest that they are a new phenomenon simply because we personally haven’t experienced weather like it before down our street in our lifetime.
8, The world has become more alarmist. It used to be that the weather forecast gave a forecast of the typical weather expected in the next few days, and it was concentrated on the south east of the UK, where the weather is usually least troublesome. So they would forecast a windy day and that’s what most people would get. Some unfortunate folks in North West Scotland might find themselves in storm force winds but the forecasts ignored such outliers. Nowadays the opposite happens, a forecast invariably foretells the worst expected extreme in the worst location, often with amber and red warnings of extreme weather. So we will be warned of storms and savage winds, only for most of the UK to have perfectly ordinary if breezy day. Yes, somebody somewhere will get the brunt of the nasty forecast, but compared to 30 years ago such forecasts have done considerable damage in spreading the myth of increasing extreme weather.
9, Compared to 50 years ago we are more crowded, we rely daily on quite fragile technology and infrastructure and there is less margin of error. We have built on flood plains, creating housing estates that are prone to flooding and at the same time losing that flood plain reservoir that helped regulate river flow and prevent flooding downstream. We build housing on open fields where once extreme rain would have puddled, formed temporary ponds, and gradually soaked into the ground or only gradually run into the rivers. Now, with that field covered in houses, concrete and tarmac the rain is directed into a drainage system that dumps it as a sudden instant surge into the rivers. No wonder there are more floods and we need better flood defenses, but that has nothing to do with climate change or CO2 or changes in weather. It has to do with compromises made by planners and civil engineers.
10, We have been forced to try and ‘mitigate’ climate change with renewable like windfarms. The problem is that they are basically useless. Yes, of course they produce electricity, but at an enormous financial and environmental cost. They create environmental disaster in mining rare minerals, cause untold damage to virgin land with concrete bases and roads, kill birds and bats, create visual blight, cause noise and flicker for nearby residents and even then can only provide a variable, uncertain supply that is anathema to a national grid tasked with providing constant reliable power for industry, hospitals and homes. It appears to my ‘common sense’ view that (even if we accept a problem with CO2) these are a non-solution. If used at all it would have been sensible to use them to produce some storable power, maybe as stand-alone hydrogen plants where variability would not be a problem, then convert part of our transport fleet to hydrogen, not try and integrate electric vehicles. Again lack of planning, narrow thinking and greed has left us with a system that is the worst of all possible worlds, basically a square peg to fit a round hole.
11, The effects on wildlife and flora are also reported with ridiculous amounts of alarmism. In the past year the temperature in my garden has varied between minus 15 and plus 32 degrees Centegrade. The plants and animals have survived – with the usual random variations that makes some years more suited to some and harsher for others. So even if we get warmer what will one or two degrees matter? It’s a long term average of something that is strongly variable in the very short term so the extra temperature might appear as a couple more hot summer days, or maybe a couple more frost free nights, or maybe a slightly shorter winter season. So what, why would it be a problem? Mr. Hedgehog would hibernate a few days less, the plants in the cold corner of the garden would do better, those in the warm corner might or might not but nature is nothing if not adaptable.
12, As far as I can see, with just 60 year’s personal experience of climate, it went pleasantly warmer in the 90s and now it’s getting colder again. Most independent measurements seem to agree with that empirical observation.