Global warming is not a scientific issue.

Earthrise (NASA)

Earthrise (NASA)

Thanks to Stefanthedenier for prompting this.
Whilst many assume global warming is a scientific issue, my long held view is that it is not.
Global warming is a social issue.
It is really a question of the way we decide as a society what is true and what is not. It was not science, that led to “global warming”, instead it was because of a specific set of social conditions in the late 20th century which led to a group of academics being given an almost god-like kudos and a low threshold of evidence for asserting their theories to be “true”. These social conditions were:

  • Climatology was a new discipline, where results took decades to come in. It had had very few of its ideas tested and had not the experience of other subjects of finding cherished theories were eventually disproven. So this new subject not only did not have an established culture, but the culture that was developing did not have the caution that comes from having established theories overturned by the evidence.
  • The manned space flights and lunar landings, were one of the first truly global events and created an entirely new perspective for humanity: that of us looking down on our planet as a single entity
  • Global communication networks meant that the peoples of earth were no longer isolated from each other.
  • The internet strengthened that sense of global “unity”, but also very importantly, it bypassed traditional communication networks through the press and TV.
  • As a result of the global perspective and globalisation of industry, Global environmental groups grew up, particularly aimed at air pollution and nuclear fears.
  • But by the late 1990s, air pollution was already being effectively tackled, and the end of the Berlin wall brought an end to the immediate fear of nuclear disaster. As such environmental groups were bereft of any serious threat on which to focus.
  • In the 1990s the internet (largely developed for academia by academia) was developing, and increasingly it allowed international communication between academics. As such subject specific inter-university “communities” of academics developed to replace the older intra-university communication which predominated before easy national and international communications.
  • These new international academic communities, being very focussed on their own area of interest, became very insular and inward looking. They found new freedom from the constraints of their old colleagues from other subjects (who hampered them with “traditional” standards) and started defining their own internal community methodologies, working standards, ethical standards with little reference to other subjects. So, those areas without a long history and so without an established culture or established standards of work, were quick to adopt new ideas and those included ideas such as “post normal science” – which rejects many of the traditional foundations of science such as the requirement for the scientific method as the standard for the validity of scientific theories.
  • As environmentalists looked for new issues, some moved into campaigns for anti-globalisation, anti-industrial, and anti-oil (largely from the increase in oil use and the growing number of oil spills). The common thread here was that they were against an industrial economy powered by fossil fuel.
  • From the 1970s-2000 there was a period when recorded temperature appeared to rise sharply. This coincided with the fall of the Berlin wall, the need for environmental groups to find new issues to campaign on, the rise of the internet.
  • When it was recognised global temperatures were rising, the scene was set. The environmentalists rushed into this new issue, encouraged by the academics (with no culture of holding back).
  • The issue of global warming, quickly picked up momentum and unified the academics, environmentalists, and anti-fossil fuelers into one mass global campaign using the new power of the internet. Free from the old gatekeepers of the press, global warming was able to very quickly dominate public discussion.
  • This created a new culture in which environmentalist felt free to use their access to the establishment press and their new freedom on the internet to engage  repression and “witch hunts” of any who questioned the idea of CO2 induced warming.
  • However, something else had changed. In the past, whilst the press often created such “bandwagon” scares, it was ironically often the huge investigative resources of the wealthy press that finally uncovered the truth and brought the scare to a shuddering end. But this time the scare originated from outside the press and after 2000, the internet began seriously eating into the advertising revenue of newspapers as online advertising began to take over. In the past, if one wanted to sell a house, a car, find out what was on – then there was no choice but to buy a newspaper. Newspapers therefore had huge revenues and could afford to employ many journalists to investigate stories to fill the news sections. After 2000, as the internet took over the newspaper revenues crashed. Serious investigative journalism was now a luxury that could only be afforded on major scandals. As the internet took over, newspapers found themselves unable to do much more than copy and paste press releases without checking.
  • Not only did this stop newspapers investigating, it also meant that papers could only afford to print “copy and paste” news. This meant that they focussed on the large institutions whose size guaranteed credibility. This was important as the journalists did not have to waste their limited resources checking up on the source of these stories. Also these institutions were large enough to afford to employ the staff who began doing the journalists job and writing the stories in a  ready-to-print format.
  • Smaller, less credible groups, without the resources of PR staff, failed to get press coverage. This further exacerbated the divide because only the big established organisations could afford to get the press coverage that got establishment funding.
  • As a result, these new campaign groups had no real alternative. They could not get heard in the traditional print media, and so went online. This established a very sharp division in social communication: On the one side the old press, now reduced to “copy-and-pasting” establishment press releases and stories fed to them. On the other the new “peer-to-peer” internet completely bypassing all the establishment and talking to the public directly. This new internet was a “wild-west” atmosphere where anything went and there was no controls over what was said and whilst a lot was said, much of it lacked authority and credibility.
  • This is where those opposed to the now establishment orthodoxy of climate now got their message across.

So, for a variety of reasons almost entirely social and economic and not scientific, we found ourselves in a two-tier society.

  • On one side the establishment – largely talking to itself and regurgitating without question the views of a small group of academics in the new and untested area of climate.
  • On the other, a group of highly qualified and experienced individuals, who in former times would have been listened to without question when the press investigated, but who in the new internet age were forced to communicate without any credibility or authority on the internet.

In effect, the old “gatekeepers” of our knowledge were led to endorse as “true” an untried theory with almost no critical examination of that theory either from academia or the media.
And by labelling their speculative theory as “true”, this in turn labelled as “false” all other speculative ideas – such as those like Stefan.
This was wrong. This shut down scientific debate for over two decades creating an impasse as “science” became a series of statements of dogma from the authority of the establishment. The press were no better. They stopped having any serious critical facility and this further entrenched the view of the establishment that “there was no serious alternative view”.
This is all social.
The whole issue developed from an idea in science, but overwhelmingly the reason it developed was the social conditions of the late 20th century as new space and communication technology fundamentally changed the way society communicates with itself.
One finding I haven’t focussed on from the survey of skeptics is that one of our key distinguishing features is that we demand high standards of evidence. As such, we focussed not on what society was telling us was right, but on the evidence. That is what unified us. That is why we were the first to see the theory was speculative at best. That is how we correctly predicted that when the evidence came in, it would not support these speculative theories.
The problem for “science”
The science establishment is now in a very precarious position. Having asserted as “unequivocal” the speculative theories of climate academics, it now finds that those theories are increasingly being challenged by the evidence such as the lack of recent warming (predicted by all the models).
However, if the science establishment now backs down on its “unequivocal” assertions, not only will it lose face over this issue, but the whole credibility of all science will be called into question.
The “Science” establishment is against the wall on this.
It does not want to lose face by admitting how wrong it was. But it cannot just keep waiting. It is certain, that eventually, whether by sudden revolution or slow evolution, the “establishment” view on climate predictions will change to that of us skeptics: that the climate is largely unpredictable, and that whilst CO2 is likely to cause modest warming, we cannot say much if anything more about the future.
That change will be a change in “social consensus” – not something where skeptics excel!
If it is a change in social consensus led by the “science” establishment, it will be science, the media and politicians who work together on this.
If, however, they wait till the evidence becomes so clear that a large number of important people outside academia decide that “science” is corrupt and that their theories of catastrophic global warming are at odds with the evidence  – it will be led by the media and politicians against the science establishment.
Unfortunately, because the media and politicians will need support from other credible establishments, I think if the media leads the charge, it will end up inevitably with the courts being asked to pass a final judgement. Is so, many “scientists” will be subject to humiliating trials and even imprisonment. (They do not seem to understand how serious this situation is!)
But, whatever the mechanism, sooner or later, the gatekeepers of knowledge will backtrack to the sustainable position of “we are not certain, we must be willing to examine all good contributions”.
At that point, I’m sure ideas like those of Stefan, will start to be discussed along with many other ideas that are presently repressed by the authoritarian dogma that demands consensus for the one, and only one theory, of catastrophic CO2 warming.
And, then, when the conditions are right for the development of new ideas, one of the “little ideas” or even an entirely new idea, will be added to the melting pop of discussion, and slowly but surely one of those ideas will evolve to become the dominant theory, where upon it too will be given the social status of “truth” by the gatekeepers of knowledge in society.

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16 Responses to Global warming is not a scientific issue.

  1. lleuadci says:

    Spot on ..and it leaves me sad for the todays youth who have grown up inside the fraud. It will be akin to a ‘leap of faith’ for them to realise they have been manipulated. The phrase ‘losing my religion’ seems appropriate.

    • When I went to school, we got a textbook, and that is what we worked through. Now they have so much access to information that they are used to dealing with multiple conflicting sources (many disagreeing with the parents and teachers).
      The next generation are far more knowledgeable with what they can and cannot trust – they are used to judging between multiple conflicting sources. And they no longer view particular TV or press as “authoritative”, not least because they no longer watch the save TV or read the same papers we took as our “trusted” and “authoritative” sources of information.

  2. Mike I have reblogged on my site today with this response to your bulletpoints:
    Climatology was not doing badly till the politicians came along, poured money into it and appointed their own creatures. My opinion is that the reason “climate science”, “social science” and “the science of economics” aren’t science is because promotion is determined by what government wants and government wants results that support them rather than ones which are accurate. If promotion in astronomy were political it wouldn’t be a science now either.
    – The effect of the lunar flights and pictures of Earth were important but the effect of “environmental” scares such as DDT and the Linear No Threshold nuclear radiation one predate the Moon landings. LNT seems to have been faked in 1945. The growth rate in developed countries peaked in 1958/9 which I suggest can only be caused by government/eco parasitism at that point surpassing the increasing rate of technology growth.
    – Agreed. perhaps the most scary thing is how close we are to a de facto world government since such a thing would mean there is no outside competition to keep government efficient and non-parasitic.
    •As a result of the global perspective and globalisation of industry, Global environmental groups grew up, particularly aimed at air pollution and nuclear fears. – As the Indians have demonstrated the importance of western “N”GOs and established wealthy individuals (eg the Club of Rome founders and promoters has been extensive worldwide.
    – Not just “environmental” groups. Here I would like to direct anybody who hasn’t read it to Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which, while masquerading as a thriller is a surgical dissection of not just the “environmental” movement but the carious government promoted campaigns designed to keep us scared and obedient. In particular the chapter Oct 13 9.33AM page 536 in the UK edition is simply a lecture on the history of the media promotion of scares – including how it was provably ramped up several fold within days of the fall of the Berlin Wall when a (possibly) real scare was no longer available. It was not just, or even primarily, “environmental” groups who were bereft of a useful scare, it was all the apparatus of state bureaucracy. It is also likely that the fall of the USSR (“the end of history”) removed the competition on government keeping it a bit honest and not wholly parasitic.
    – Crichton’s book, same chapter, develops the theory that, under the state pressure mentioned above, academia gave up its traditional role as a manufacturer of knowledge and became a manufacturer of scare stories. As can be seen our press, almost daily, report some silly new “report” by a “researcher” at some uni on how, having asked 20 students they have found that there is a 10% above average statistical correlation between smoking/getting laid/eating salt/owning a hat and feeling ill/having politically incorrect ideas/expecting to die before 100.
    – Also if you want to be a scientist you can be one in a government approved “new” discipline, and better paid than those stuffy old disciplines – see Mike Hulme’s article on how wonderful the Post Normal Science he does is, where all you have to do is say whatever politicians want and how it is able to prove things that, like CAGW could “self evidently” never have been discovered by traditional science.
    – Even more against one powered by nuclear fuel. Essentially simply against anything that would allow human beings to control more energy because, as Mike and others have demonstrated, human progress marches in lockstep with increases (or reductions) in energy use. Inherently those at the top of society are conservative since any change in society can only take them off their perch.
    – I would say from 1979 – prior to that we had a decade of what appeared to be decline – which was used as a campaign scare story too.
    – True.
    – I maintain that the unifying power was the state. The internet was not a major factor, except perhaps in academia, until well into the 1990s – for example NATO’s Yugolsav wars were possible only because there was no internet competition to the state approved media, but this changed for both Iraq and Syria.
    – Again I think state power was far more important.
    – then there was no choice but to buy a newspaper. Newspapers therefore had huge revenues and could afford to employ many journalists to investigate stories to fill the news sections. After 2000, as the internet took over the newspaper revenues crashed. Serious investigative journalism was now a luxury that could only be afforded on major scandals. As the internet took over, newspapers found themselves unable to do much more than copy and paste press releases without checking. – I’m not sure the press was ever that good but you make a good point that now they cannot afford to even try journalism, rather than just rewriting press releases.
    – Ok so they don’t always much rewrite the press releases. The concentration on large institutuions, almost always officially part of the state or state funded sockpuppets. There are not likely to be more truthful but, because od state power they may be more “credible” – a self reinforcing process. In fact I would say most serious online sources are more reliable than most approved ones, if only because online you can check primary sources. Today even in matters of military intelligence online private sources have a better record of knowing what is going on than the CIA.
    This has always been the case.
    – The great thing is that we now do have an online alternative.

    • Neil, a great contribution. I kind of threw that together in a hurry. Yes, the time the internet started to come into play was 1990. Early on it was entirely academic (and military – but we don’t hear about that). What I assume is that environmentalists either through universities or because so many academics are environmentalists, was a very early adopter of the internet. In effect, they saw the internet as a way of bypassing the “oversight” of the press and that is how they campaigned. So, e.g. by the time wikipedia came along the environmentalists were so good at using the internet, that they just took over these websites. Finally, we saw the “old fogeys” like us skeptics starting to use the internet. Now, the internet is possibly dominated by skeptics.
      It would be interesting to compare the behaviour of “new” climate departments and old “climatology” type departments. If I’m right, then most of the worst “hot-heads” should be from universities that started up climate departments.
      Your point on nuclear power is correct. What I was trying to show is how “CO2″/fossil fuel, became a beacon around which a whole lot of disparate groups could unite. I suppose I should also have added “wind developers” and “oil companies – seeking to look green”.
      In terms of government, I tend to view what government & politicians do as a cock-up. I do think many politicians were extremely gullible and thought “being green” was a very cheap way to get votes. There was a time every government minister wanted to be photoed in front of a windmill – because they were falsely led to believe by the wind lobbyists that it was a no-lose way to be portrayed as “caring” and being “with it”.
      All politicians were told that wind was:
      a) free
      b) clean
      c) “wanted”
      d) attractive
      e) would create jobs
      f) They were left thinking it was just a few small windmills that no one would notice.
      g) had no drawbacks.
      Politicians and civil servants ALMOST ABSOLUTELY NONE OF WHOM ARE ENGINEERS. Were left believing it was total madness not to go all out for wind. And they left themselves be poisoned by the evil wind developers (whose biggest contributors were oil companies) and gullible “greens” into actively excluding anyone who questioned their policy as they were told we were “EVIL OIL-PAID/mad/deniers/witches/bogey men”
      No, the press were never that good. But as the lady from “No Fracking consensus” said to me – these days each journalist needs to get 10 stories out each and every day. They simply do not have the time even to rewrite a badly worded press release. Unless it’s word perfect — in the bin!!
      In the past, a journalist would expect to meet local campaign groups (and local campaign groups would be really keen to talk to journalists – as there was almost no other way to get their message to the public). What is more the people in the campaign – would buy the paper to hear the latest news.
      These days, if you need to organise a campaign – you go online. The press are an after thought, and less and less people buy newspapers to get updates from these types of campaigns.
      For a journalist, these local campaigners are a real nightmare – they really expect the journalist to write the story for them, that takes up a huge chunk of time (From what I saw, about a full man-day, when journalist and photographer are added together). That compares to perhaps 30mins for a professional press release.

    • neilfutureboy says: ”Climatology was not doing badly till the politicians came along, poured money into it and appointed their own creatures”
      In the 60’s-70’s there were lots of Marxist in the western democratic countries… where are they now, not one left.
      They all put a green topcoat on their natural red, and are still continuing with their original agenda; they are ashamed of their original colour and surfaced as ”green”
      I call them ”the Chameleons”
      Because I had to grow up east of the Iron Curtain, I can recognize them better, and understand their tactics, also can predict their next move .
      For them is: creating misery – so they can help you
      Sponge the wealth from the nation -and preach that wealth is bad
      Oppress the people and silence anything that doesn’t suit their theology
      Treat the people as battery chikens

  3. Thanks. I’ve put your reply up too. We disagree on who is behind the curtain, or rather who is behind the final curtain. I think it is the inherent pressure in any bureaucracy to empire build, balanced only by the tendency to bankruptcy if too incompetent – a counterbalance that does not exist in government.
    “Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:
    First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.
    Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
    The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.”
    Civil servants funding fakecharities to push the CAGW scare, possibly even more than the politicians who are their “bosses”, are members of that 2nd group.
    I really do recommend Crichton’s State of Fear. It is never going to be made into a film because the plot, the lectures are hung on is threadbare. It also has a bibliography, unmatched in the history of thriller writing.

  4. David Eddy says:

    How we got to this situation is a mute question. The right question is what can we do to survive the pending changes in the weather and quit making it worse.

    • David Eddy says: ”How we got to this situation is a mute question”
      What ”situation” you are referring about David? It’s nothing wrong / different with the climate than it was 150-300-450-700y ago – they say that is getting worse – and after repeating 7 times something; people start believing = how many times the words ”climate change” have being and are repeated?!?!?
      Human destroyed the climate by inventing how to make fire artificially by rubbing two sticks = that created the deserts, deserts are bad climate. CO2 has nothing to do with the climate.
      By the way: human released much more CO2 when was turning Savannahs around the planet into deserts, than any CO2 was and will be produced by the industrial age

    • According to a report by Trenberth (a very ardent catastrophist), there has been no measurable change in the weather of our planet in the last 40 years.
      Instead, I read a report that suggested rising CO2 was boosting crop yields globally and helping to reduce famine.
      Is that what you mean by “worse” – no discernible impact on weather and more food to feed the human population?

      • David Eddy says:

        I am sorry that you and skeptic friends are so obviously in denial and will prevent the necessary response to a critical threat to people’s lives.

  5. David Eddy says:

    Where is my reply?

    • If you wanted a reply to “The problem is carbon monoxide pollution not carbon dioxide.” I understand that air pollution in China is a problem – but I don’t know enough to add much to what you said.

  6. Tom says:

    What is your evidence that global warming is not a scientific fact? because many graphs show that since the beginning of the 1940s the average annual temperature is steadily growing and that’s a fact! Here is a link for you make use of this service it helps you don’t ever write such dumb things!

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      It’s cooled this year by 1C. It is therefore not a scientific fact.
      It’s also cooled since the period of the dinosaurs. It’s cooled since the Bronze age and Roman warm period. I can pick many periods and state there has been cooling.
      Therefore “global warming” – which is a temperature trend without a time period is not scientific.
      And that was the point of the article – “global warming” is just “science-wash” applied to political agendas. Whilst there may be science, it is just being used to justify political action. Instead, if it were real science, we’d start with an impartial attitude – plan how to gather the required facts (not use a lot of useless equipment because they can’t be arsed to spend any money) – employ the right people (not idiots who cannot use excel or write decent programs), we’d then create models and test them (not totally ignore the fact they all failed to predict the pause). And then …. only at the end …. would we start talking about policy (whereas at present they talk about policy and the science-wash is an afterthought).

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