Tuesday, August 14, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: Study Finds Conservatives Are ‘Right To Be Skeptical Of Scientists’

Breaking The Climate Spell

In this newsletter:

1) Study Finds Conservatives Are ‘Right To Be Skeptical Of Scientists’
Toni Airaksinen, Campus Reform, 6 August 2018
2) Welcome To Dark Age Britain: Anti-Frackers Demand Research Ban On Shale Gas
Global Warming Policy Forum, 12 August 2018 

3) Rupert Darwall: Breaking the Climate Spell 
The Weekly Standard, 13 August 2018
4) Steven Hayward: Make Socialism Scientific Again!
Power Line, 9 August 2018
5) Is It All Over For The ‘Anthropocene’ Promoters?
Global Warming Policy Forum, 12 August 2018
6) And Finally: Roger Harrabin Forced To Retract Latest BBC Lie
Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 13 August 2018

Full details:

1) Study Finds Conservatives Are ‘Right To Be Skeptical Of Scientists’
Toni Airaksinen, Campus Reform, 6 August 2018

A new study by University of Oxford researchers suggests conservatives are right to be skeptical of scientific establishments, given the history of “scholar activism” in fields like sociology and political science.

Led by Nathan Confas, the study “Does Activism in the Social Sciences Explain Conservatives’ Distrust of Scientists?” can be found in the recent issue of the American Sociologist, a special edition dedicated to ideological diversity and conservative issues.

The study takes aim at the oft-repeated claim that conservatives distrust science because they find it threatening to their religious worldview, and the insinuation that religious conservatives align with a backwards, regressive approach towards science.

Research confirms that every decade since 1974, conservatives’ trust in scientists has decreased. But little has been done to explore why. Some suggest that conservatives are less likely to accept data that “threatens their worldview,” note Confas and his team.

But Confas told Campus Reform that this is a misguided approach. If anything, he said, published research indicates that liberals and conservatives are equally likely to discredit science if it conflicts with their world-view, citing studies such as this one and this one.

Confas and his research team propose a different explanation. They suggest that increasing levels of skepticism towards scientific institutions is partly a reaction to the politicization — namely, the liberalization — of these institutions.

The distrust is not driven by all scientists, but rather by what Confas and his team refer to as “impact scientists.” These are researchers, typically working in the social sciences and environmental science, who often conduct research with the stated goal of raising awareness of left-liberal issues, or acceptance of left-liberal policy solutions.

“There is a strong possibility that conservatives are not opposed to, or skeptical of, science per se. Rather, they lack trust in impact scientists whom they see as seeking in influence policy in a liberal direction,” explains Confas.

He points to the field of sociology as an example. A recent study surveying 479 sociology professors discovered that only 4 percent identify as conservative or libertarian, while 86 percent identify as liberal or left-radical.

The unstated goal of sociology, Confas suggests, “involves reorganizing society to fight inequality, oppression, poverty, hierarchy, and the like. Its ideological orientation arose out of…civil rights, feminism, Marxism, and other progressive movements.”

Most sociologists would claim, in good faith, to be objective. But emerging research suggests that the political slant in the field is corrupting objectivity, due to a variety of issues including confirmation bias and scholar-activism in the field.

“Taking the easy route isn’t something that I or my coauthors are tempted to do. We want to do our part to help correct the science,” Confas told Campus Reform.

“Conservatives are right to be skeptical,” he added.

Full story

2) Welcome To Dark Age Britain: Anti-Frackers Demand Research Ban On Shale Gas
Global Warming Policy Forum, 12 August 2018 

It was just a question of time before radical greens would demand an end to scientific research into fields and areas they categorically oppose. In the latest show of dark age mentalities in Green Britain, anti-fracking campaigners are demanding that a new scientific research centre in the North West of England should be banned from researching any issue that deals with shale gas. Welcome to the New Age of unreason and extremism.

Anti-frackers demand energy research centre won't investigate shale gas
Chester Chronicle, 10 August 2018

Anti-frackers demand a proposed energy research centre near Chester concentrates on renewables but avoids investigations perceived as supporting the shale gas industry.

Government-funded plans envisage a site at Ince Marshes looking at shale gas as well as carbon capture and storage with a sister site in Glasgow focused on geothermal energy.

But Frack Free Dee want British Geological Survey (BGS), who will deliver the project, to drop the shale gas research element fearing its data will be used to support the fracking industry.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the controversial method used to extract the gas from the shale layer with associated concerns around water and air contamination as well as earthquakes. And the government has made no secret of its intention to convince the public that fracking can be safe using independent research.

In a statement, Frack Free Dee said: “We do not support publicly-funded research into an already failed and discredited industry and call on the British Geological Survey to remove this aspect of their research programme at Ince Marshes. There are significant issues with BGS being seen to promote this industry, including loss of professional reputation as identified in their own strategy.

“Frack Free Dee would be supportive of those aspects of research which would remove our dependence upon fossil fuels, have a positive effect on our communities, and help our nation meet its climate change responsibilities.”

Full story

3) Rupert Darwall: Breaking the Climate Spell 
The Weekly Standard, 13 August 2018

Getting out of the Paris Agreement was just the first step on the road to a realist global energy policy.

Thirteen years ago, a Republican president who had pulled the United States out of an onerous climate treaty faced isolation at the annual gathering of Western leaders. “Tony Blair is contemplating an unprecedented rift with the U.S. over climate change at the G8 summit next week, which will lead to a final communiqué agreed by seven countries with President George Bush left out on a limb,” the Guardian reported of the meeting at Glen­eagles, Scotland. France and Germany preferred an unprecedented split communiqué to a weak one, the article said.

George W. Bush, who had pulled the country out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2003, blinked and agreed to an official document that affirmed global warming was occurring and that “we know enough to act now.” The 2005 G8 put the United States back on the path that ultimately led through the Copenhagen climate summit—when China and India thwarted U.S.-led attempts at a global climate treaty—to the Paris Agreement 11 years later.

There was a very different American president this June at the Charlevoix G7 (as it has been since Russia’s suspension in 2014). Had it not been for the row with Justin Trudeau, when the Canadian prime minister responded to President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs with retaliatory tariffs of his own, the big story would have been the climate split. Where 15 years ago the mere possibility of isolation pushed Bush to compromise, Trump embraced the isolation and inserted an America-only paragraph into the summit communiqué outlining a position fundamentally contradicting the rest of the group’s.

“The United States believes sustainable economic growth and development depends on universal access to affordable and reliable energy resources,” it reads, going on to offer a manifesto for global energy realism. That single paragraph is more definitive than the president’s announcement last August that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris treaty.

After all, George W. Bush nixed the Kyoto Protocol that Bill Clinton signed. And Trump, when announcing the Paris withdrawal, left the door open to U.S. participation in a renegotiated climate deal. At Charlevoix, he closed it. Unlike in 2005, it’s very hard now to see any way back.

This is about far more than process. Trump is breaking the spell of inevitability of the transition to renewable energy. The impression of irresistible momentum has been one of the most potent tools in enforcing compliance with the climate catechism. Like socialism, the clean-energy transition will fail because it doesn’t work. But it requires strong leadership to avoid the ruin that will disprove the false promise of cost-free decarbonization.

That reality is already hurting those countries that are farther down the renewable-energy path of ruin than the United States—and, when offered the chance, voters are taking it out on politicians. In March, a fanatically pro-wind and solar energy Labor government in South Australia, one of the eight states and territories that make up the country, decided to make the state elections a referendum on renewable energy. With some of the world’s most expensive electricity and a serious blackout in 2016, South Australia voters kicked out Labor and voted in a government vowing to repeal the state’s renewable-energy target.

Days before Justin Trudeau took the center of the global stage as host of the G7 summit, his Liberal party was trounced in provincial elections in Ontario. The province’s party had won four consecutive terms in office and had pressed virtually every pro-renewable, anti-hydrocarbon policy imaginable. In the June 7 elections, they took just seven seats in the 124-seat legislature. “I made a promise to the people that we would take immediate action to scrap the cap-and-trade carbon tax and bring their gas prices down,” newly elected premier Doug Ford announced.

Nowhere has confrontation with the physical and economic realities of renewable energy been more painful than Germany, the birthplace of renewable-energy ideology. As party leaders negotiated a new coalition agreement after the September 2017 elections, they acknowledged for the first time that Germany was going to miss the sacrosanct 2020 target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels. This had been set in 2007, and the first 20 percent had been easy. Thanks to German reunification, the former East Germany had seen its industries collapse, and there were plenty of inefficient power stations to close. It had always been clear, Angela Merkel declared three weeks after the September federal elections, that it was not going to be easy to cut the other 20 percent “at a time of relatively strong economic growth.” Note: Stronger growth equals higher emissions.

Launching the German renewables transition in 2004, energy minister Jürgen Trittin promised that it would put no more than the cost of an ice cream on monthly electricity bills. Nine years later, his successor, Peter Alt­maier, admitted that the costs could amount to $1.34 trillion by the end of the 2030s. At a meeting in June of E.U. energy ministers, Germany ran up the white flag. Altmaier shocked fellow E.U. energy ministers by rejecting higher renewable-energy targets. “We’re not going to manage that,” he told them. “Nowhere in Europe is going to manage that. Even if we did manage to get enough electric cars, we wouldn’t have enough renewable energy to keep them on the road.”

No country has a greater abundance of hydrocarbon energy than the United States. The corollary is that no country was as big a loser from participating in the Paris Agreement and its intention to progressively decarbonize the world’s hydrocarbon superpower. On July 10, the Energy Information Administration forecast that next year, the United States will produce 12 million barrels of oil a day and overtake Saudi Arabia to be the world’s number-one producer. When it comes to the politics of energy, the interests of the United States and European green ideology are irreconcilable.

Donald Trump understands this. “Our country is blessed with extraordinary energy abundance, which we didn’t know of even 5 years ago and certainly 10 years ago,” the president said in 2017. Those remarks were not only a paean to America’s energy resources, they were a full-dress rejection of the policies of his predecessor and of the Democrats’ goal of Europeanizing American energy policy.

We have nearly 100 years’ worth of natural gas and more than 250 years’ worth of clean, beautiful coal. We are a top producer of petroleum and the number-one producer of natural gas. We have so much more than we ever thought possible. We are really in the driving seat. And you know what? We don’t want to let other countries take away our sovereignty and tell us what to do and how to do it. That’s not going to happen. With these incredible resources, my administration will seek not only American energy independence that we’ve been looking for for so long, but American energy dominance. And we’re going to be an exporter—exporter. We will be dominant. We will export American energy all over the world, all around the globe. These energy exports will create countless jobs for our people, and provide true energy security to our friends, partners, and allies all across the globe.

For the first time since 1992, when George H.W. Bush went to the Rio Earth Summit, an American president was outlining a global energy strategy diametrically opposed to the tenets underlying the U.N. climate process. Trump was establishing a rival pole based on energy realism and energy abundance.

The Rio Summit was the brainchild of Canadian Maurice Strong, and he understood that what most motivates political leaders, bureaucrats, and corporate CEOs is the fear of being left out. “The process is the policy,” Strong said, and the annual climate conferences that have been held since the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted in Rio created a sense of irresistible momentum. It’s that spell Trump is now breaking. Countries around the world are being damaged by the anti-hydrocarbon policies encouraged by the U.N., but leaving the Paris Agreement was a step only the United States was strong enough to take. Now it is up to the Trump administration to help other countries act in their economic interests.

Energy secretary Rick Perry has talked of U.S. willingness to lead a global alliance of countries wanting to make fossil fuels cleaner rather than abandoning them. Of the G7, Japan has traditionally been most leery of decarbonization, and after the 2011 Fukushima accident Japan decided to expand its coal-fired generating capacity by half, building 45 new coal power stations.

Poland is another coal-based economy that has no intention of phasing out coal. Of all energy-realist nations, Poland is the one that sees eye to eye with the Trump administration. During the Brezhnev years, Poland—alone of the Eastern Bloc nations—refused to sign up to sulphur-emission cuts designed to isolate the U.K. and the United States at the height of the acid rain scare. As host of the next round of U.N. climate talks, at Katowice in December, Poland is more than usually important as a U.S. energy ally. Australia, the world’s largest coal exporter, is another obvious U.S. partner.

Where the United States can make the biggest difference, though, is with the developing nations who depend on overseas finance to build out their electrical grids and need the cheap, reliable energy only coal can supply. Last September, Southeast Asian energy ministers, noting the rising use of coal in the region, called for greater promotion of clean coal. In June, India struck a strategic energy partnership with the United States, described by Perry as an “amazing opportunity for U.S. energy” to sell clean coal, nuclear technology, oil, and gas.

In October 2016, Nigeria’s finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, railed against the West’s energy imperialism and the hypocrisy of using coal to industrialize and then denying it to Africans. “By telling us not to use coal they are pushing us into the destructive cycle of underdevelopment; while you have the competitive advantages, you tie our hands behind us,” she said.
Denying the world’s poor cheap electricity is the official policy of the World Bank. In 2012, Barack Obama agreed to the appointment of Jim Yong Kim as president of the World Bank, and the next year, the bank stopped the financing of coal-fired generation.

Although the Trump administration publicly opposes the coal ban and the United States has the largest number of votes at the World Bank, the institution is doubling down on its anti-fossil-fuel agenda. At Emmanuel Macron’s climate summit in December 2017, Kim announced the bank was extending the financing ban to upstream oil and gas. Here is the first order of business for a global energy alliance—to pressure the World Bank to lift its hydrocarbon financing bans and serve the world’s poor rather than sacrifice them to a regressive climate agenda.

As it is, China is the biggest winner from the World Bank’s energy policies. A June 2017 World Bank report notes China’s “global dominance” in the supply of materials needed by renewable energy technologies. In addition to China’s control over the supply of base and rare-earth metals, last year 7 of the top 10 global suppliers of solar panels were headquartered in China. An eighth is in Hong Kong and a ninth in Canada, but with Chinese links. For as long as the World Bank’s hydrocarbon-financing bans remain, American taxpayers will be funding a war on American coal and subsidizing China’s solar industry. If this seems an unappealing prospect, the Trump administration should move fast to assemble the necessary votes ahead of the World Bank meeting in October.

Domestically, the climate caravan keeps rolling. At the beginning of June, 13 Republican senators wrote to the president urging him to submit the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, described by the U.N. as “another global commitment to stop climate change,” for the Senate’s advice and consent. Two weeks later, the New York Times carried a report and associated op-ed by former senators Trent Lott and John Breaux on a new group, Americans for Carbon Dividends, which has hired the bipartisan pair to lobby for a carbon tax. “We must put a meaningful price on carbon,” they wrote, arguing for a $40 per ton tax “high enough to encourage a turn to cleaner energy sources.”

Former Fed chair Janet Yellen, another member of the group, told the Times that taxing carbon emissions is “absolutely standard textbook economics.” The textbook actually teaches that a carbon tax would be efficient if it replaced all the tax credits, subsidies, portfolio standards, and regulations supporting the expansion of uneconomic wind and solar energy. Their inherent defect is that the amount of energy they produce depends on the weather, not on demand. Because of the way the electrical grid works, they dump their intermittency costs on other generators, particularly the reliable coal and nuclear plants. It is not surprising that the backers of Americans for Carbon Dividends and its seven-figure annual budget include First Solar, Inc. and the American Wind Energy Association.

Only a small portion of the putative climate benefits of a carbon tax would ever flow back to the United States in the form of avoided climate impacts. Insofar as cutting greenhouse gas emissions creates environmental benefits, it’s a vast foreign aid program in which costs are incurred domestically and most of the benefits go abroad. Worse still, federal government estimates of the social costs of carbon still rely on climate models using computer-simulated data.

These produce higher values than estimates based on actual climate data. According to a 2017 paper by the economists Kevin Dayaratna, Ross McKitrick, and David Kreutzer, a $37 per ton carbon tax using model-based estimates for the climate sensitivity of carbon dioxide would be halved if based on empirical data. Dayaratna, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, has also noted that one of the impact assessment models used by the Obama administration even produces a negative estimate for the social cost of carbon under “very reasonable assumptions.” A negative carbon tax—subsidizing carbon emissions—is hardly what First Solar and the American Wind Energy Association are funding some of Washington’s most expensive lobbyists for.

For all the energy revolution so far, the Trump administration’s energy agenda remains incomplete. The Clean Power Plan is being rolled back, but the EPA’s 2009 greenhouse-gas endangerment finding on which it stood remains in place. There has been talk from the administration of creating red and blue opposing teams of climate scientists to give politicians and the public a more balanced view of our understanding of climate. On energy policy, Rick Perry’s grid-security study can be extended to examine how wind and solar subsidies distort the costs of electricity. That way, Americans will begin to see the true price of renewables and the extra they’ll have to pay to keep the lights on thanks to the intermittency problem of generating energy from the winds and the sun.

Exiting Paris was the first step. The president has also ended his predecessor’s war on coal. Globally, the administration’s continued advocacy for energy realism can win friends among the world’s poor and make allies of some of the world’s most dynamic economies. The geostrategic potential of American energy is already being felt. American gas is being shipped to Poland and American coal to Ukraine—reducing the region’s dependence on Russian gas. As the president pointed out at the NATO summit in early July, Germany’s pipeline will see it paying “billions of dollars” a year to Russia, although he subsequently undercut the strategic logic of his argument at the disastrous press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16. The Trump administration should now formalize its ties with other energy-realistic nations and show the world the benefits of America’s energy exceptionalism—jobs at home, booming exports, and an escape from dismal energy policies predicated on bogus resource shortages. Having broken the spell, America and its friends around the world can reap the benefits.

RUPERT DARWALL is the author of Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex.

4) Steven Hayward: Make Socialism Scientific Again!
Power Line, 9 August 2018

Remember the good old days when socialism was “scientific”? Keep in mind that the orthodox Marxism of “dialectical materialism” was understood as a scientific doctrine of history, not advocacy based on the abstract principles of egalitarianism. But then socialism crashed and burned everywhere (except on college campuses), which is why today socialism comes to sight as a religious faith, a trait it always had from the beginning, which is why you often found cleric-scientists among the ranks of its enthusiasts in the 19th century. Today I think socialism is more akin to witchcraft. In fact, hold on to that image for a bit.

Meanwhile, I have been dining out for years on the highly revealing statement made back in 2004 by Harvard’s renowned geneticist Richard Lewontin, who told the New York Review of Books that year:

Most scientists are, at a minimum, liberals, although it is by no means obvious why this should be so. Despite the fact that all of the molecular biologists of my acquaintance are shareholders in or advisers to biotechnology firms, the chief political controversy in the scientific community seems to be whether it is wise to vote for Ralph Nader this time.

This time? How about any time? It’s one thing for academic scientists to lean left (though many I know emphatically do not), but this is the kind of statement that makes you wonder. Lewontin deserves his scientific reputation; his political judgment is clearly juvenile.

This is preface for noting the release of a new article from PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), which usually publishes serious and sober work. But I think the fumes in the editorial lab must have been strong the day this article was accepted:

Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene
Will SteffenJohan RockströmKatherine RichardsonTimothy M. LentonCarl FolkeDiana LivermanColin P. SummerhayesAnthony D. BarnoskySarah E. CornellMichel CrucifixJonathan F. DongesIngo FetzerSteven J. LadeMarten SchefferRicarda Winkelmann, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.

In other words, another typical Malthusian callback to how the world is doomed if we don’t hand over power to an enlightened elite. I’ve highlighted the key part of the last sentence, because those judgments cannot be called “scientific” in any way whatsoever. The complete text of the article is even worse:

We suggest that a deep transformation based on a fundamental reorientation of human values, equity, behavior, institutions, economies, and technologies is required. . .

In other words, we have to change everything.

Although the authors won’t say so directly, the implication is global governance of some kind, which by definition will have to be undemocratic. (Which for many people on the left is a feature, not a bug.)

Perhaps this is an entirely unremarkable restatement of a common view that is probably published in an academic journal a dozen times every day, but there is one interesting irony of this particular article. If you look at the fine print, you find this acknowledgement: “Edited by William C. Clark, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved July 6, 2018 (received for review June 19, 2018).”

I’ve never met Prof. Clark, and don’t know him at all, but he is the author of one of my very favorite articles about the institutional problems of science and politics way back in 1980: “Witches, Floods, and Wonder Drugs: Historical Perspectives on Risk Management.”

It’s a terrific article. It was the late columnist Warren Brookes who first brought it to my attention. Clark’s comparison of the institutional incentives for witch-hunting with contemporary risk assessment (built partially on the terrific work of the late Aaron Wildavsky) has a perfect application to today’s Malthusian environmentalism and especially climate change thermaggeddonism—especially apt for the Inquisition-like treatment of dissent from climate change orthodoxy.

Some samples from the article:

Collective action by the central authority was henceforth required, and any action taken against a particular individual was justified in the name of the common good. In the case of the witch hunts, this “common good” justified the carbonization of five hundred thousand individuals, the infliction of untold suffering, and the generation of a climate of fear and distrust—all in the name of the most elite and educated institution of the day. . .

The institutionalized efforts of the Church to control witches can be seen, in retrospect, to have led to witch proliferation. Early preaching against witchcraft and its evils almost certainly put the idea of witches into many a head which never would have imagined such things if left to its own devices. The harder the Inquisition looked, the bigger its staff, the stronger its motivation, the more witches it discovered. . .

Since the resulting higher discovery rate of witch risks obviously justifies more search effort, the whole process becomes self-contained and self-amplifying, with no prospect of natural limitation based on some externally determined “objective” frequency of witch risks in the environment. . .

In witch hunting, accusation was tantamount to conviction. Acquittal was arbitrary, dependent on the flagging zeal of the prosecutor. It was always reversible if new evidence appeared. You couldn’t win, and you could only leave the game by losing. The Inquisition’s principal tool for identifying witches was torture. The accused was asked if she was a witch. If she said no, what else would you expect of a witch? So she was tortured until she confessed the truth. The Inquisitors justified ever more stringent tortures on the grounds that it would be prohibitively dangerous for a real witch to escape detection. Of course an innocent person would never confess to being a witch (a heretic with no prospects of salvation) under mere physical suffering. The few who lived through such tests were likely to spend the rest of their lives as physical or mental cripples. Most found it easier to give up and burn.

You can see here an early version of the “precautionary principle” (“The Inquisitors justified ever more stringent tortures on the grounds that it would be prohibitively dangerous for a real witch to escape detection”) and many other prominent traits of the climate campaign.

Here is Clark’s killer sentence:

Many of the risk assessment procedures used today are logically indistinguishable from those used by the Inquisition.

And this coda, for which you should swap out “risk assessors” with “climate change advocates”:

Today, anyone querying the zeal of the risk assessors is accused at least of callousness, in words almost identical to those used by the Malleusfive hundred years ago. The accused’s league with the devil against society is taken for granted. Persecution in the press, courts, and hearing rooms is unremitting, and even the weak rules of evidence advanced by the “science” of risk assessment are swept away in the heat of the chase. This is not to say that risks don’t exist, or that assessors are venal. It is to insist that skeptical, open inquiry remains theory rather than practice in the majority of today’s risk debates. That those debates are so often little more than self-deluding recitations of personal faith should not be surprising.

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5) Is It All Over For The ‘Anthropocene’ Promoters?
Global Warming Policy Forum, 12 August 2018

The global body tasked with naming geological eras, the International Commission on Stratigraphy, has rejected the proposed Anthropocene epoch,  the controversial ‘geological’ epoch in which mankind allegedly dominates natural processes. The international commission has now rejected the proposal and has instead split the Holocene Epoch into three different geological ages, all of which were primarily shaped by natural, not human factors.


Will Steffen’s paper gets scientists hot under the collar
Graham Lloyd, The Australian, 11 August 2018

Will Steffen’s “Hothouse Earth” paper has gone viral since its publication this week. Amounting to a call to arms, the paper’s key message is that society needs to be radically reordered if we are to prevent the runaway impacts of human-induced climate change.

Behind the scenes is a smaller story of thwarted ambition over whether or not human impact on the planet should define a new geological age.
The paper by Steffen and his 15 co-authors, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, a leading science journal, was titled “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene”. Anthropocene is the name proposed for a new geological epoch defined by human impact on Earth.

All going well, the naming of this new era might have coincided with the release of the paper by Steffen, a member of Australia’s Climate Council. However, the global body tasked with naming geological eras, the International Commission on Stratigraphy, had other ideas. Last month, rather than announce a new Anthropocene Epoch, it declared it would split the Holocene Epoch, in which we have been living for the past 12,000 years, into three ages.

The decision has unleashed rancour, with claims of ethical lapses, scientific misrepresentation and unseemly publicity-seeking among those determined to declare the age of human planetary impact is upon us.
The ICS says we are living in the Meghalayan Epoch, the third of the three new ages that started about 4250 years ago. The epoch is defined by a mega-drought that caused the collapse of a number of civilisations in Egypt, the Middle East, India and China, about 2250 years BCE. The name comes from the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya where a stalagmite recovered from a cave provided chemical evidence of the drought.

Defining a geological epoch around human impact has become highly politicised and the decision is considered a blow to those pushing hardest for tough action on climate change.

ICS’s decision is clearly a blow to those pushing hardest for tough action on climate change. The decision is something Mark Maslin, Professor of Earth System Science at University College London, says “has profound philosophical, social, economic and political implications”.

“There is a huge difference to the story of humanity if we are living in the Meghalayan Age that makes no mention of the human impact on the environment — or in the Anthropocene Epoch, which says human actions constitute a new force of nature,” he writes in the UK equivalent of The Conversation this week. “The Meghalayan Age says the present is just more of the same as the past. The Anthropocene rewrites the human story, highlighting the need for planetary stewardship.”

The scientific community is divided. In an interview with The Atlantic magazine, the chairman of the ICS Anthropocene working group, British academic Jan Zalasiewicz, accuses his colleagues of “committing ethical lapses and of courting an unseemly amount of press coverage”.

“They have an incredible press campaign that has misrepresented the science and history of the units of stratigraphy,” he is quoted as saying. The
Anthropocene working group had fixated on finding a “golden spike” in time to start the new epoch, but failed to find “a stratigraphic unit”, a rock layer that associates with the Anthropocene, he says.

Climate scientists and geologists had been debating whether the Anthropocene should be dated to the first atomic bomb blast, the start of the industrial revolution or as early as 6000 years ago when farmers began to remake the land surface.

Geological critics of a formalised Anthropocene alleged the idea did not arise from geology; that there is simply not enough physical evidence for it as a strata; that it is based more on the future than on the past; that it is more a part of human history than the immensely long history of Earth; and that it is a political statement, rather than a scientific one.
Steffen’s latest paper says regardless of the stratigraphic committee decision it is becoming apparent that Anthropocene conditions transgress Holocene conditions in several respects.

The article says crossing the “Hothouse Earth” threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2m years and to sea level rises of tens of metres. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies.

However, doubters have questioned the paper’s foundations, claiming there is no real evidence that a rise of global temperatures of 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels will be a tipping point.

“There is no new science that this is a threshold after which global warming will become unstoppable. No new science, no new scenario and consequently no new cause for panic,” Global Warming Policy Foundation science editor Dr David Whitehouse said this week.

6) And Finally: Roger Harrabin Forced To Retract Latest BBC Lie
Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 13 August 2018

Readers may recall this BBC report from Roger Harrabin in May, which falsely stated that there was a ban on new onshore wind farms.

This is an outright lie, promulgated by the renewable lobby and often repeated by the likes of Jillian Ambrose.

I filed an official complaint with the BBC, along with one of our regular readers. Weeks went by without a response, other than a “sorry for the delay” message.

Eventually they fobbed me off with an amendment of the article to read “effective ban”, at which stage I lost the will to live!

Fortunately the other complainant refused to accept this and pressed for a full retraction. He has now received this reply:

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