My green credentials aren’t too bad, I like to think, overall. My hectare of land is managed without chemicals largely as woodland and (rare) wild-flower meadow. My economical Suzuki does less than 6K miles a year, even though I live in the country with no public transport, and I haven’t even been on a plane since my daughter’s wedding in France in 2013. My book God’s Good Earth was endorsed by one of Britain’s leading scientific environmentalists as “a call to action.” Mr Chlorophyll, me.
There’s more: the small church where I’m an elder is on target to be the first Baptist church to get a Gold Eco Award from the environmental group A Rocha. And my country is the only one to bind itself legally to carbon neutrality (stupidly, since nobody else will follow, and EU carbon-trading rules mean Eastern European countries will generate all the CO2 we save): yes, it’s virtue-signalling economic suicide – but it’s greener than your country, wherever you live, and my taxes are funding it.
And so I was mildly amused to see, in the comments on the most recent (and excellent) chapter-by-chapter review of God’s Good Earth on The Internet Monk, that one commenter cast doubt on my judgements from Scripture on the basis that he had detected my anthropogenic global warming skepticism here at The Hump. It was fun to see a jolly pillow-fight ensue there between “alarmists” and “denialists,” quite eclipsing any discussion on the principalities and powers in my chapter, that are undoubtedly behind one side or the other. Or both.
The comment showed the same failure to think in terms of evidence, instead of ad hominems, that first set me investigating the whole subject of climate change after a post I did at Peaceful Science. There, I presented evidence that a David Attenborough documentary on walruses fell seriously short of truth, and instead of answering the evidence, several self-styled scientists dismissed my source as a “climate denialist,” and so myself as one by association. That response (including accusations of oil company funding) is so hackneyed that it lends credence to the late Christopher Brooker’s 2018 paper on scientific groupthink.
In the real world of thought, being wrong on one matter (if indeed I am on climate change) does not count against your judgements in a quite different field: for example, in God’s Good Earth I make some quite scathing criticism of former BioLogos president Darrel Falk, but have reason to cite him with appreciation in my forthcoming book, The Generations of Heaven and Earth. Galileo was right about heliocentrism, but woefully wrong about both circular orbits and, less excusably, the nature of tides. People have forgotten how to discuss ideas, let alone how to do science.
The mythology of climate change revolves around the “no true Scotsman” fallacy: all the climate scientists agree that anthropogenic global warming is a crisis, and those that don’t aren’t proper climate scientists, being senile, in the pay of Shell, and (if all else fails) plain “bad actors.”
The thing is, though, that it depends on which scientists you consult (leaving aside the actual strength of their arguments for now). Way back I did a post on aposematism, the main value of which was to show me, in my reading, how science is divided up not only by disciplines, and by fashions over time, but by national traditions. One specific thing I observed was how, firstly, the rich scientific tradition of Russia was cut off from the West by the Iron Curtain, but also how the Soviet Union’s defeat in the cold war had persisted in isolating it. In other words, Russian science retains its independence from any English-speaking tendency to groupthink.
It is interesting to see how this has played out in climate science, which as far as the academy, the press, the NGOs, the governments and even the schools are concerned here, is “settled.” Apart, that is, from the inconsiderable number of inconsiderable denialists waiting in the wings to be stoned to death by righteously angry mobs of schoolchildren once the Maldives finally sink beneath the waves and Europe is a parched desert.
You may not be aware of the interesting meeting organised by the Russian Academy of Sciences after the Kyoto agreement. It was, after all, a long time ago for some of you. Mr Putin, not quite the demagogue he is now, initially rejected the agreement because he was advised by his scientists that the IPCC science was faulty: climate change, Russian experts said, was primarily a cyclical solar phenomenon, and CO2 levels followed, rather than led, temperature change.
Nevertheless, under western pressure the Academy first asked the IPCC ten key questions – to which they never received a single promised reply – and booked a conference a year ahead, in July 2004, to hammer out the science with the westerners, if the Russian Federation was to commit vast resources to the Kyoto protocol.
The IPCC delegation was led by Tony Blair’s chief scientist, Prof David King. This is that same David King who later advised the government to push diesel vehicles to reduce emissions, leading (at least according to current epidemiological models) to many thousands of extra deaths each year from micro-particles and financial losses both for manufacturers and those ordinary people, like me, who bought diesels.
It is also the same David King who set up the Energy Technologies Institute in 2007 with a billion pounds of finance largely from Shell-BP and fuel-burning power companies. It’s amazing they could spare it after paying all those climate deniers, but the same firms are recouping their losses by still being paid to serve on this body’s board. This is green (or pink and fluffy) big oil money.
Before the conference King put great pressure on the Russians to change their agenda and to disinvite all the non-Russian speakers not pushing the IPCC line, in which he failed – a very different situation from what is regularly seen in the “free west,” where dissenting voices are silenced, by sacking them if necessary, and certainly by refusing them platforms or publication in journals.
During the conference, King staged several time-wasting walkouts when other speakers disagreed with the IPCC position, including one where he left the stage rather than answer a scientific question. All in all, the Academicians were struck by the “total inability” of King’s team to answer a single substantive query. The summing up of the conference by the distingushed chairman, Andrei Illarionov, is scathing both of the science and of those presenting it, as you may judge for yourself here.
Illarionov’s final conclusion from the conference was astonishly vehement as the summary of a scientific conference:
There have been examples in our fairly recent history of how a considerable portion of Europe was flooded with the brown Nazi ideology, the red Commie ideology that caused severe casualties and consequences for Europe and the entire world. Now there is a big likelihood that a considerable part of Europe has been flooded with another type, another color of ideology but with very similar implications for European societies and human societies the world over. And now we in Russia are facing a historical opportunity: are we going to let the genie out of the bottle as the previous generations let the Nazi and Communist genies out of the bottles or not?
Surprisingly, history records that not much later, Vladimir Putin did indeed endorse the Kyoto agreement, despite the opposition of his scientists, which (since the US had refused to do so) was what enabled it to be brought into force. Putin the pragmatic politician was responsible for this:
President Putin had earlier decided in favor of the protocol in September 2004, along with the Russian cabinet,against the opinion of the Russian Academy of Sciences, of the Ministry for Industry and Energy, and of the then-president’s economic adviser, Andrey Illarionov, and in exchange for the EU’s support for Russia’s admission into the WTO (Wikipedia).
Just how persuaded he was by the science is shown by the submission Russia made to the Paris Accord in 2015. As Christopher Brooker records:
The fourth largest emitter, Russia, despite having slashed its emissions after 1990 by closing down many of the old Soviet industries, was now proposing to increase them from their 2012 level by up to 38 percent.
Brooker goes on:
The only government in the world wholly committed to meeting that 40 percent target by 2030 under its Climate Change Act was that of the UK, the 14th largest emitter, by now responsible for only 1.3 percent of the global total. This was less than China or India were each now adding every year, as Britain continued to shut down those fossil-fuel power plants that in 2015 still provided two-thirds of its electricity. (Brooker, page 72).
The little-publicised Paris submissions give a good idea of what was going on: for the most part the developing nations have paid lip-service to climate-change (the neo-colonialist West, after all, controls international politics) knowing that Paris allows them to increase their emissions (and consequently those of the world as a whole) until they reach the same standard of living as the west, and the western nations are supposed to pay them financial compensation from a climate fund that, in the event, has never materialised (only the US ever made any substantial contribution to it in any case).
If this is putting the world on a war footing against climate change, then most of us seem to be conscientious objectors.
But there seems a good deal of evidence that this is not just cynical politics (though it is cynical politics, of the kind that fleeces suckers in card games on the train). It looks as though many, at least, of the excellent scientists working in India or China, whose work is not translated into English, simply don’t think IPCC climate science is up to scratch, and (as Illarionov’s remarks show) that it is corrupted by its own rather sinister political motivations. In this, they appear to be on board with the tiny and inconsiderable minority of denialist troublemakers in the west – some with extraordinarily good scientific credentials.
Big Oil doesn’t hold much sway over the Russian Academy of Science, whose members continue to generate papers contradicting what western models say is happening to polar ice, and, as recently as 2017, suggesting that the world may soon be entering a period of significant cooling.
They may, of course, be wrong: indeed they are more willing to admit that than the “consensus” here in the west, because they retain a notion of scientific uncertainty with which the IPCC has largely dispensed, and which policy-makers since Al Gore have shouted down in the rush to spend green trillions. My own government is at the forefront of the spenders, though just how costly it will be has not been spelled out to those voters whose fuel poverty and competitive economic disadvantage will fund it.
My judgement that this is a criminal trampling on basic humanity may, indeed, be wrong, but it is legitimate – and at least it views people as the solution to the world’s problems, not the enemies of the planet.