I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. -- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The End of American Hegemony?
Bye-Bye, Copenhagen and Obama; Hello, Beijing!

Much of the discussion of the collapse of the Copenhagen Climate Summit has missed the real story: the collapse of the climate conference symbolizes a significant turning point in world history, not simply because of the issue of global warming, but rather because it represents the collapse of American leadership in the world.

I pointed out shortly before the conference began that the Chinese had clearly determined beforehand to reject the proposals of the United States and its allies (“a major offensive on rich nations at the Copenhagen conference on climate change,” to quote the exact words used by The Times of India ) and that the Chinese had put together an international coalition able and willing to advance their goals.

The course of the Conference was indeed controlled by the Chinese: the UK Prime Minister whined that the Western powers were “held to ransom by only a handful of countries” led by China.

And, the President of the United States was treated with contempt.

In a report by NBC News environmental correspondent Anne Thomspon on the final day of the Conference, December 18, 2009, President Obama referred to the Chinese proposal by saying, “That doesn’t make sense. It would be a hollow victory.”

Changhua Wu, China Director for the Climate Group, brusquely dismissed Obama’s statement by sharply declaring, “It’s not only an attack; it’s humiliating to a certain level.”

The full extent of the humiliation suffered by the American President was described by Ms. Thompson:
For thirteen hours, the President went from room to room, meeting with various world leaders, trying to figure out what they could agree on. Frustrations reached a crescendo when, waiting to meet with the Chinese Premier and Brazil’s leader, Obama found out they were already meeting and walked in uninvited.
The President of the United States was left waiting by the Chinese because they were meeting with the leadership of Brazil. And he managed to get in to the meeting only by barging in “uninvited.”

Thompson summed up the President’s experience by declaring:
The final agreement, which even the most optimistic environmental groups called insufficient, left the President clearly exhausted and dejected.
Exhausted and dejected indeed.

What does this have to do with homeschooling?

As I pointed out recently, we Westerners view and teach history as if the ascendancy of the West during the last several centuries was natural and inevitable.

The perspective from much of Asia is rather different: the period of Western ascendancy seems a peculiar but brief historical anomaly that is ending now that Asia is reasserting its natural supremacy.

The real issue here is not partisan politics, Barack Obama’s personal political skills, or even global climate. What we observed in Copenhagen is a reassertion of Asia’s sense of its natural superiority over the West, and the collapse of the United States’ position as the natural, and generally acknowledged, leader of the world.

Twenty years from now, the whole Copenhagen fiasco, possibly the whole issue of “global warming,” will be a distant memory, rather like earlier environmentalist frauds such as the supposedly disastrous “population explosion”: try reading the 1968 best-seller The Population Bomb by Stanford Professor Paul Ehrlich and his wife, and have a laugh over how ludicrously wrong their prophecies turned out to be (I myself actually read Ehrlich’s book a year after it was published at the urge of my high-school history teacher, so I can remember how serious people once took Ehrlich seriously).

However, while the Copenhagen conference may strike our grandchildren as ancient history, the collapse of American preeminence and the rise of Asia will strike our grandchildren as very real. At some level, this is no doubt inevitable: the physical size of Asia and the fact that the majority of the human race lives in Asia means that Asia was always destined to be of key historical importance.

Of course, the foolishly irresponsible financial, educational, political, and environmental decisions pursued by the American political and cultural elite make the American decline even more certain and, potentially, catastrophic.

But, however one views the decline of the United States of America and of the West in general, it is of historic importance, and it is clearly illuminated by the collapse of US influence at Copenhagen.

The news of the last few days makes a very good history lesson for us homeschoolers to discuss with our kids.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Climate Scientist Allegedly Threatens New York Times Reporter with the 'Big Cutoff'

Allegedly, Michael Schlesinger of the University of Illinois recently e-mailed the following message to New York Times science reporter Andy Revkin:
Copenhagen prostitutes?
Climate prostitutes?
Shame on you for this gutter reportage.
This is the second time this week I have written you thereon, the first about giving space in your blog to the Pielkes.
The vibe that I am getting from here, there and everywhere is that your reportage is very worrisome to most climate scientists.
Of course, your blog is your blog.
But, I sense that you are about to experience the 'Big Cutoff' from those of us who believe we can no longer trust you, me included.
Copenhagen prostitutes?
Unbelievable and unacceptable.
What are you doing and why?
This, of course, is bizarre on several levels – the Copenhagen prostitute story is simply a silly story about Copenhagen politics that should not have worried Schlesinger or any serious scientist.

More importantly, this is apparently the second time in one week that Schlesinger tried to tell Mr. Revkin how to do his job as a reporter.

But, the most significant point is the threat to punish Revkin with the “Big Cutoff,” presumably denying him access to “superstars” like Mike Schlesinger.

Except… Mike Schlesinger is no superstar – I’d never even heard of him before this incident (although he does indeed seem to be senior faculty at U. of Illinois).

Being cut off from access to Mike Schlesinger is not exactly a catastrophe for the New York Times!

I’m sorely tempted to believe that this is just some bizarre practical joke… except that it fits in with this leaked e-mail from the CRU Team (note the “p.s.”):
At 17:07 27/10/2009, Michael Mann wrote:

Hi Phil,
Thanks--we know that. The point is simply that if we want to talk about about a meaningful "2009" anomaly, every additional month that is available from which to calculate an annual mean makes the number more credible. We already have this for GISTEMP, but have been awaiting HadCRU tobe able to do a more decisive update of the status of the disingenuous "globe is cooling" contrarian talking point,
p.s. be a bit careful about what information you send to Andy and what emails you copy him in on. He's not as predictable as we'd like [emphasis added]
In fact, Revkin has not been noticeably hostile to the climate fraud folks. Note the complaint: he’s “not as predictable as we'd like.” Exactly what level of predictability did they expect from Mr. Revkin?

I'd planned on writing a post here about the serious issues of scientific method involved in the global-climate fraud and the need to discuss these issues with our kids: the fundamental problem with the global-climate modeling is that real science makes predictions that the scientists accept as make-or-break tests of their models. The global-science-modelers, on the contrary, treat failed predictions as simply an excuse for further tweaking of their models, not as proof that their science is simply and provably wrong.

They are not real scientists.

However, rather than going into the needed details on that issue, I felt compelled to address this current, truly bizarre behavior from Professor Mike Schlesinger.

Mike, let me give you some advice: it is not cool to threaten a reporter from The New York Times with the "Big Cutoff" in an e-mail since, given the current situation, that e-mail is likely to be published all across the Web.

Mike, you're nearly sixty-seven years old. Maybe, it is time to step aside in favor of a younger person who has some understanding of how the modern world works: you know, modern things like e-mail, the Web, The New York Times?

You're only making this whole scandal worse, much, much worse.

And, someone, please tell me that this is really some weird prank, and that senior faculty at the University of Illinois, once one of the country's great public universities, are not really this stupid!

Note added: A few minutes before posting this, I watched Anderson Cooper on CNN discuss the scandal. Representing the climate establishment was Bill Nye the Science Guy! Nye is not a scientist -- he has a Bachelor's in engineering and has been a successful children's entertainer, a younger version of "PeeWee Herman." Nye made a fool of himself. Was CNN really unable to find an actual Ph.D. scientist to represent the climate establishment? The critic of the climate establishment was Pat Michaels, a serious scientist whose book I recommended in a previous post. Perhaps by choosing Nye to represent the establishment view, CNN is trying to send the subtle message that the climate-alarmist view should only be taken seriously by children. The whole story just gets weirder and weirder -- Bonfire of the Vanities meets Waiting for Godot.

(For my earlier comments on Climategate, see here, here and here. Here are my comments a couple months before Climategate became public, in which I pointed out that those of us who are scientifically competent had known for some time that there was something seriously rotten within the media-governmental-scientific global-warming establishment.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

MIT Meteorology Professor on Climategate

Those of us scientists (and there are a lot of us) who have tried for years to warn of the scientific misconduct that has been occurring among global-climate modelers have often been dismissed on the grounds that we have not done work in the climate field ourselves or that we do not hold positions at sufficiently prestigious universities.

It was therefore with some glee that I saw that, on the same day that I initially published my own views here on the Climategate scandal, Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT (and a member of the National Academy of Sciences), published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Climategate.

What makes me rather gleeful is that Professor Lindzen’s views so nicely confirm my own conclusions.

Lindzen’s key point is:
At this point, few scientists would argue that the science is settled. In particular, the question remains as to whether water vapor and clouds have positive or negative feedbacks.
Exactly. As I have said again and again, it is true that CO2 produced by humans has made the globe at least slightly warmer than it otherwise would have been. But how much warmer? Will it be enough to be a real problem?

The only honest answer is that we do not know. Contrary to the lies in the mainstream media, the magnitude of global warming is not “settled science.”

Lindzen’s other key point is:
The answer brings us to a scandal that is, in my opinion, considerably greater than that implied in the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit (though perhaps not as bad as their destruction of raw data): namely the suggestion that the very existence of warming or of the greenhouse effect is tantamount to catastrophe.
Yes, if the CRU crew did intentionally destroy their raw data to keep it out of the hands of their scientific critics, that is serious scientific misconduct (and perhaps a crime). But, the real scandal in the field of global climate change is the repeated claims by some prominent climate scientists, repeated incessantly by scientific illiterates in the American news media, that it is “settled science” that “the greenhouse effect is tantamount to catastrophe.”

The CRU gang’s misconduct is comparatively minor. The real fraud is the claim of settled scientific results that do not in fact exist, and the attempt to use that fraudulent claim to impose controls on the global economy that may not be at all necessary.

Let me reiterate what I have said before. Yes, the CO2 we have dumped into the atmosphere will almost certainly make the world at least a bit warmer than it otherwise would have been. Yes, this might be a big problem.

But, it might not be a problem at all. It might even be beneficial if, perchance, we are entering a natural cooling period.

We just don’t know.

Lindzen also has a brilliant and fascinating, though much longer, paper, well worth reading, that discusses in more detail the science at issue here as well as the underlying sociological, political, and economic motives that have caused some climate scientists to engage in scientific fraud, aided and abetted by many politicians and by the mainstream news media. Again, I am in nearly complete agreement with Lindzen’s paper: to be specific, his points about how academic science can suffer severe dysfunctions as the result of government funding matches my own personal observations.

In particular, he makes a crucially important point about some scientists' discovering that dishonest fear-mongering was the way to gain funding and advance their careers:
It is my impression that by the end of the 60’s scientists, themselves, came to feel that the real basis for support was not gratitude (and the associated trust that support would bring further benefit) but fear: fear of the Soviet Union, fear of cancer, etc. Many will conclude that this was merely an awakening of a naive scientific community to reality, and they may well be right. However, between the perceptions of gratitude and fear as the basis for support lies a world of difference in incentive structure. If one thinks the basis is gratitude, then one obviously will respond by contributions that will elicit more gratitude. The perpetuation of fear, on the other hand, militates against solving problems.
Yes. If your job depends on convincing people that global warming is a massive threat to civilization, then you certainly do not want to publicize the conclusion that it may not be that much of a problem after all, now do you?

Note that this paper is dated a year before the Climategate scandal broke; yet, the paper explains in detail the underlying problems that have led to Climategate.

Let me make clear that I reached my own conclusions on all this, before I had ever heard of Professor Lindzen, based on my own personal knowledge of math, physics, and computer modeling, and my own observations as to how academic scientists behave. (Indeed, I posted here back in September, a couple months before the current scandal broke, a warning about the scientific and media misconduct in the area of global warming.)

But, since both Professor’s Lindzen’s knowledge and his prestige in this area are so much greater than my own, I am very gratified to see his essays confirming my own conclusions.

Let me also make clear that, of course, I am not claiming that Professor Lindzen is right on every single detail concerning global climate change: he would not claim that himself. But, he is a credible guy who has disagreed for a long time with the now-discredited “consensus.” That alone should have been enough to keep people from saying that the old fake “consensus” view was “settled science.” If serious people with excellent credentials, such as Lindzen, had serious, detailed scientific objections to the fraudulent “consensus” then the science was not at all “settled.”

Furthermore, as a serious and active climate scientist himself, Professor Lindzen has had a ringside seat to the long chain of misconduct, abuse, and chicanery, which many of us strongly suspected and which has now been publicly revealed thanks to the CRU whistleblower.

From now on, when the issue of global warming comes up, I plan to start by saying that I agree with the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT.

Try it with your friends – that is, if you actually know anyone who still believes in the lies about global-warming.

(For my earlier comments on Climategate, see here and here. Here are my comments a couple months before Climategate became public, in which I pointed out that those of us who are scientifically competent had known for some time that there was something seriously rotten within the media-governmental-scientific global-warming establishment.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

The New “Classical Carnival of Homeschooling.”

Back in October, Ritsumei began a “Classical Carnival of Homeschooling.” I'm happy to say that my post on homeschooling world history and how we divide history into periods was mentioned in the first edition of the carnival (this is a belated announcement due to my vacation and illness).

The newest edition just became available today.

I hope the new carnival will be complementary to, not competitive with, the long established “Carnival of Homeschooling.” The CoH deals with homeschoolers of all varieties; I think it also does make sense to have a Carnival that centers on those of us who are focused on an academically classical approach to homeschooling.

I have provided cute little links somewhere over on the right of this page to both carnivals, and I hope to contribute form time to time to each of them.

And, Ritsumei, thanks for your efforts in setting up the new Carnival!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Collapse of the Global-Warming Fraud?

The Times of India reports that the rising Asian powers have decided to reject the attempts by the United States and Europe to stifle the global economy in the name of the global-warming fraud:
In an unprecedented move, India on Saturday joined China and two other developing countries to prepare for a major offensive on rich nations at the Copenhagen conference on climate change next month.

The four countries, which include Brazil and South Africa, agreed to a strategy that involves jointly walking out of the conference if the developed nations try to force their own terms on the developing world, Jairam Ramesh, the Indian minister for environment and forests (independent charge), said.

“We will not exit in isolation. We will co-ordinate our exit if any of our non-negotiable terms is violated. Our entry and exit will be collective,” Ramesh told reporters in Beijing…
The developing nations will also not accept any pressure from developed countries to establish legally binding emission targets at Copenhagen.
No “legally binding emission targets” means, of course, that they will wait and see if global warming turns out to be a real problem (and, yes, that is possible) or if it turns out to be of little consequence (and, yes, that too is possible) before agreeing to any action of any real substance.

Until there is real scientific evidence – all we have now are the results of deeply flawed computer models – that is the only sensible approach.

The times they are a’changin’ – who’d have thought, a few decades ago, that India and China would be teaching the West the virtues of common sense and the dangers of over-regulation of market economics?

I also recommend a wonderfully fair and balanced discussion of Climategate on the Freakonomics blog: Steve Dubner points out that, quite aside from all the sound and fury over the whistleblower's publishhing of the CRU e-mails, “the central scientific issue here” is:
that the most prominent climate scientists’ computerized models may be neither as robust nor as predictive as many people think…
He goes on to quote from my fellow physicists Nathan Myhrvold (of Microsoft fame) and Lowell Wood, explaining why the computer models should not be trusted.

At The Atlantic, Clive Crook explains why he is more outraged now that he has waded through the leaked CRU e-mails than he expected to be:
The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering. And, as Christopher Booker argues, this scandal is not at the margins of the politicised IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] process. It is not tangential to the policy prescriptions emanating from what David Henderson called the environmental policy milieu [subscription required]. It goes to the core of that process.
I'm also surprised by the IPCC's response. Amid the self-justification, I had hoped for a word of apology, or even of censure. (George Monbiot called for Phil Jones to resign, for crying out loud.) At any rate I had expected no more than ordinary evasion. The declaration from Rajendra Pachauri that the emails confirm all is as it should be is stunning. Science at its best. Science as it should be. Good lord. This is pure George Orwell. And these guys call the other side "deniers".
Perhaps what Crook had particularly in mind was CRU head Phil Jones' allegedly declaring:
The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone...
The “two MMs” are mathematician Steve McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick, two Canadians who have been trying to uncover the details of the global-warming fraud for the last several years

Now, reports indicate that the original raw data, absolutely vital to judging the scientific validity of CRU's global-climate work, have been either "lost' or, possibly, intentionally destroyed.

Obviously, the e-mail from Jones raises the possibility that he carried out his plan and actually did intentionally delete the vital information, perhaps to cover up scientific malfeasance.

If anyone ends up going to jail for all this, the destruction of data to illegally evade "freedom of information" requests may be the reason.

Anyone who wants to get their hands dirty actually digging through the leaked documents might start at the blog Shadow of the Olive Tree, which has kindly posted the infamous "Harry Read Me" file for everyone's enlightenment.

Let me emphasize once again that of course the CO2 we have dumped into the atmosphere will almost certainly make the world at least a bit warmer than it otherwise would have been. And, yes, this might be a big problem.

But, it might not be a problem at all. It might even be beneficial if, perchance, we are entering a natural cooling period.

We just don’t know.

The fraud comes not from those who claim that global warming might happen and that it might be a problem. The fraud is from the handful of scientists, and the large number of scientific illiterates in the mass media, who keep saying that it is “settled science” that global warming will be huge and hugely damaging.

That is not settled science. The fraud of global warming consists of the false claim that global warming will be a major problem when neither the empirical data nor the deeply flawed computer models are yet able to indicate how large global warming will actually be.

In a way, the CRU gang have become the fall guys for a much larger scandal: yes, we know from the published e-mails that the CRU guys played nasty little unprofessional games to silence their critics, that they were more concerned with protecting their turf than with advancing science, and that they are incredibly poor computer programmers.

But the real scandal is the larger group of climate modelers around the world who have falsely claimed to know how big a problem global warming will be when they do not really know at all but are simply relying on very dicey computer models.

Over my career, I have been involved with numerous computer simulations, ranging from elementary-particle physics detectors to satellite-communication systems. No responsible scientist fully trusts such simulations until they have been well validated by experimental data.

The global-warming simulations are more speculative, less embedded in accepted science, than the simulations I have worked on. Yet, the global-warming simulations have not been validated by making detailed, unambiguous predictions and then rigorously checking those predictions against reality.

This is not science: it is pseudo-science.

The real fraud in the area of global warming is the covering up of this fact by the mass media, by the political establishment, and by so many climate scientists themselves.

(See also my September post, published before the current scandal broke, explaining why the global-warming scam is fraudulent, and my previous post on the Climategate scandal.)