Fatalism & Will of God

Sep 2nd, 2009, in Opinion, by

Other worldly factors in climate change, are Indonesian students right?


A report in the Jakarta Post, which said that a significant proportion of young Indonesians were content to regard the current climate change panic as

God’s Will

caught my attention, even before my agnostic and atheist friends exploded into mirthful indignation. (Why is it that so many non-believers here, who’d not think to blare out their scepticism back home, tend to take on a noisy resemblance to the long-dead League of Militant Godless – is it a reaction to the local fanatics?)

I’m certainly not an especially godly sort, but it seems to me that these young folks have a broader perspective than the panic-merchants. The more we read of the Gore Brigade, the more we find that their hysteria is manufactured. Gore’s own film was faulted by a British court of law, which decreed that, not least in view of the various lies/errors/inaccuracies it contained, showing it in schools had to be accompanied by a bias health warning.

If we think there’s a God up there, or even just Mother Nature, then it is patently His, or Her, doing that the climate is changing. Many scientists tell us exactly that, and get stridently abused and even persecuted for saying so. Others insist the climate is not significantly changing, or even going the other way from that which the panickers tell us.

A while ago we had a lengthy thread of argument on IM about climate (Saving the Planet?) and it became so self-absorbed that I gave up reading it. Since then I have paid sporadic attention to the issue, mainly due to my interest in free speech, and what I’ve learned from reading back and forth into the past decade has worried me about the character of the scientific establishment. A lot of these guys want and need government grants and are unlikely to upset their cosy apple-carts by challenging the in-crowd’s prejudices. Why should those people quoted in the Jakarta Post article be held up to scorn for preferring explanations that don’t depend on vested interests?

An article in the Wall Street Journal by a Mr. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, in April 2006, reported that

Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions.

He also states that censorship is in vogue in the journalistic sphere.. ‘At Science and Nature, such papers are commonly refused without review as being without interest.’ Not a very open dialogue, is it?

Lindzen’s own experience with a paper he worked on is also worrying.

‘…Normally, criticism of papers appears in the form of letters to the journal to which the original authors can respond immediately. However, in this case (and others) a flurry of hastily prepared papers appeared, claiming errors in our study, with our responses delayed months and longer. The delay permitted our paper to be commonly referred to as “discredited.” Indeed, there is a strange reluctance to actually find out how climate really behaves. In 2003, when the draft of the U.S. National Climate Plan urged a high priority for improving our knowledge of climate sensitivity, the National Research Council instead urged support to look at the impacts of the warming–not whether it would actually happen.’

God, Nature, man-made, inevitable…? We are not being given the whole story, for sure, and cui bono? In these circumstances, it makes more sense for Indonesians and the rest of us to seek answers from a level we trust, rather than bought-and-paid-for apparatchiks. What is really behind the panic? Is there a hidden agenda?

147 Comments on “Fatalism & Will of God”

  1. David says:

    I had a look at the report, can be found here – http://www.britishcouncil.org/indonesia-society-climate-education.htm,

    Most respondents recognised increasing local temperatures (46%
    students and 71% teachers) and unusual changes in climate behaviour
    (45% students and 67% teachers), rather than sea level
    rise or shifting seasonal periods.

    I thought temperatures had been falling in recent years, that’s why they had changed the slogan from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’.

    But on the main thing

    Interestingly, a small number of student respondents at all school
    levels (11% of SD students, 19% of SMP students, 14% of SMA
    students and 10% of university students) also considered that
    climate change was God’s will and that there was nothing that
    they could do to prevent it.

    So the Jakarta Post decided to beat up that side of the story….

    I wonder how much money and resources were put into producing such a useless report.

  2. Ross says:

    Yeah, I wish the British Ambassadfor would keep out of it. Just brings the UK into disrepute as a kind of neo-imperilaist nanny state

  3. Odinius says:

    This is exactly why Marx called religion “the opiate of the masses.” Like usual, he was over the top about it. But sometimes, it’s an apt descriptio, as it has the unfortunate tendency to make people accept things they can change, rather than actually do something about it.

  4. Baeksu says:

    What country, after the United States and China, is responsible for the third-largest net contribution of greenhouse gases due to human activity?


  5. Odinius says:

    That’s good evidence that fighting climate change pays other dividends as well.

  6. Ross says:

    Yeah, religion can produce fatalism, but even Calvinists’ predestination never stopped them working hard to get things done. As my old Grandma on the farm used to say, God helps those who help themselves.
    And yes, attention to our environment makes sense – it’s the dirty tactics used by the Gore-panickers i don’t care for.

  7. Brother Mouzone says:

    If we think there’s a God up there, or even just Mother Nature, then it is patently His, or Her, doing that the climate is changing.

    Actually, I’m pretty sure that most religions argue that man has free will. Meaning that if man chooses to screw up the world beyond all recognition, God will not intervene.

    Religious belief and recognizing that climate change is man made are not mutually exclusive, regardless of what Fox news might have you believe.

    (Why is it that so many non-believers here, who’d not think to blare out their scepticism back home, tend to take on a noisy resemblance to the long-dead League of Militant Godless – is it a reaction to the local fanatics?)

    Sort of, yes. I think you’ll find that agnostics and atheists are far from militant as a general rule, either here or back home. It is the faithful who feel they have a God given right to get in everybody’s grill and spread their dogma.

    In developed nations, people proselytize less, so non-believers feel less inclined to defend their own beliefs. Here, the faithful (of all denominations) take every opportunity to spread The Word, so non-believers are more inclined to take a stand.

  8. ET says:

    Ross said

    Is there a hidden agenda?

    I think there is. And not necessarily a bad one. Anything that leads us to become less reliant on oil, especially Mideastern, diversify our sources and pushes us to use our imagination and explore alternative possibilities is more than welcome. It could well be that the climate panic is more or less based on hype but change, especially mentality change, has a lot more chance to be realized when induced by fear rather than by scientific reasoning.

  9. Odinius says:

    Not only does better care of the environment lead to a more hospitable climate–and potentially stave off the crises some scientists believe are imminent–but it also renders the world a nicer place to live in.

  10. DumadiSatrio says:

    I thought temperatures had been falling in recent years, that’s why they had changed the slogan from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’.

    Its the wrong way of looking at things. What is disconcerting is where climate is changing and how. Especially with “warming”.
    For instance, currently the Arctic is warmest in 2,000 years ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8236797.stm ) and the antarctic is also warming (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/science/earth/22climate.html ).
    Melting ice shelfs in the arctic and antarctic would lead to two big issues, that would be have catostophic effects for many populations…
    If global warming ever causes the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to collapse, as many experts believe it could, the resulting sea level rise would mean people in places like west Sumatra, South Java, Jakarta, and Surabaya would need to find another place to live. The effects would be even worst on Europe.

    Another big concern would be the effect on ocean currents, and the results that would have on global climate and weather and marine life.

    These things have happened before, over 10,000 years ago, before the end of the Ice Age the Persian Gulf was temperate fertile dry land (kind of gives you an idea where those flood stories came from).
    these changes will happen in the future.
    The question is going to be if we prepared for them.

  11. Odinius says:


    Scientists never liked the term “global warming.” Here’s the thing. Average sea temperatures are steadily rising. But given that weather patterns are complex, and based on more than just sea temperatures, the warming of the seas does not necessarily produce warmer temperatures everywhere and at all times. Hence why “climate change” is a better term.

  12. PrimaryDrive says:

    Well, Indonesia sits right on a tectonic fault, with hundreds of active volcanes. Under the Toba lake you have a volcano with a mega magma chamber, enough to wipe out the entire west Indonesian population if it ever erupts again. Earth quakes, tsunamis, volcanes … they will strike when Allah will, … unless some of you can come forward with some magic science to predict them.

    Given that back ground, those students attitude towards climate change is no surprise. Aren’t they wise? 😉

  13. enigmatic says:

    While it is true that climate change is caused partly by God’s will, there’s no denying that there are factors within human control. We can’t force God’s will, but we can, to some extent, mitigate its effects by reducing its causes.

    Things like deforestation, especially slash and burn methods of clearing land are main contributors to global warming. Even if we can’t prevent God’s will, surely we can do something about this?

  14. Brother Mouzone says:

    @ Odinius

    Scientists never liked the term “global warming.

    I read somewhere that another reason for dropping the term “global warming” is because, to sun-starved Europeans and North Americans, “global warming” sounded pretty benign and did not exactly inspire the kind of behavior-changing fear needed.

  15. Arie Brand says:


    Ironically Lindzen’s whinge about the suppression of contrarian opinions appeared in the Wall Street Journal, a paper that probably has more readers, and especially powerful and influential readers, than a few of the most prestigious scientific journals combined.

    It has been so all along. The contrarians constitute a minority in the scientific community (I take it that you are familiar with Naomi Oreske’s research on the degree of consensus there and Benny Peiser’s failed attack on this) but they are continuously in the news. A recent example here in Australia is Ian Plimer’s recent book ‘Heaven and Earth’.

    Though its scientific merits seem more than dubious. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven_and_Earth_%28book%29 and
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/global_warming/plimer/ ) its first print run of 10,000 copies was sold out in a few weeks, the man got immediately an applauding review in a national paper (The Australian), was interviewed in various television programs and, in short, got publicity any mainstream scientist can only dream of. By now the book has had five printings in an equal number of months.

    About Tennekes: Tennekes himself says that has no proof that he was dismissed at the KNMI, the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute where he was a Research Director, for the reason suggested by Lindzen. He merely believes that to be the case. The KNMI is a government agency and its employees are therefore presumably protected by civil service regulations. A special court protects civil servants’ working conditions. I have searched far and wide but never found the slightest hint that Tennekes tried to have the reason for his dismissal tested in that court. Why not? My surmise is that the KNMI reordered its priorities as far as research was concerned (probably in a direction that had to do with global warming), that Tennekes didn’t agree with this and therefore had to go. He was, after all, as said the Research Director.

    As to Sutera and Speranza disappearing from the debate after 1991: two years before Lindzen wrote this they co-published this: Bordi, Dell’Aquila, Speranza, Sutera (2004), On the mid-latitude tropopause height and the orographic-baroclinic adjustment theory, TELLUS A vol.56 Iss.4. That doesn’t look like disappearance to me.

    Lindzen’s argument that the consensus scientists who insist that the fundamentals of global warming are clearly established and that it is now time for action do so to attract funding is logically flawed. The people who claim that more research, and therefore, by implication, more research funding is needed are to be found in the other camp – the camp in which people proclaim that all this is still very uncertain (see for a very extensive rebuttal of Lindzen’s WSJ piece “Lindzen – point by point” http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/lindzen-point-by-point/#comments).

    Lindzen’s whinge about not having his response to criticisms of a paper of his published speedily enough, so that critics could discredit it before he could respond, sounds a bit funny to me. Apart from the fact that the editor seemed to have a bona fide reason for the delay (I have forgotten what it was) if I am not mistaken that paper had to do with his hypothesis on the so-called Iris effect, a hypothesis that remained controversial also after he had ample opportunity to get his word in.

    Tell me Ross why contrarians can always find a ready outlet in the right wing press (the Wall Street Journal in the US, the National Post in Canada, the Daily Telegraph in Britain,The Australian here). Has it to do with the most powerful advertisers there coming from the oil, coal and auto world? Is it the fear for governmental interference that the acceptance of the IPCC view on global warming will require? I don’t know what it is but the phenomenon is very conspicuous.

  16. Odinius says:

    BM said:

    I read somewhere that another reason for dropping the term “global warming” is because, to sun-starved Europeans and North Americans, “global warming” sounded pretty benign and did not exactly inspire the kind of behavior-changing fear needed.

    That sounds a bit apocryphal, but maybe there are legs to it. As I understand it, though, the problem is that if you say “global warming,” everyone expects it to warm every year at all times compared with the year before. But all a rise in sea temperatures does is move the jet stream, which may cause more severe winters in places that are traditionally temperate. Seattle is a good example. Typical climate is rainy 9 months of the year, and dry/warm for 3. This past year they had more snow in the winter, and more days above 30 degrees in the summer than ever recorded. Not that this will necessarily return next year, but this kind of freakish weather will become more common as a result of rising average sea temperatures.

  17. Brother Mouzone says:

    That sounds a bit apocryphal, but maybe there are legs to it. As I understand it, though, the problem is that if you say “global warming,” everyone expects it to warm every year at all times compared with the year before.

    Apparently it was Thomas Friedman who first suggested that we think of an alternative to both “global warming” (which sounds lovely) and “climate change” (which just sounds neutral). Some scientists are now using “Global Climate Disruption” which at least contains a word with negative connotations.

  18. Arie Brand says:

    Ross wrote:

    “Gore’s own film was faulted by a British court of law, which decreed that, not least in view of the various lies/errors/inaccuracies it contained, showing it in schools had to be accompanied by a bias health warning.”

    Ross, first of all I don’t see why the minor errors Justice Michael Burton found in an amateur movie trying to summarize the mainstream consensus at a particular point would be a reflection on that mainstream consensus as such.

    In view of what contrarians have been trying to make of this judgment you might be wise to have a look at it yourself. Here it is:


    The minor errors have to do with such questions as whether or not there is already migration from low lying Pacific islands to New Zealand or what to think about the influence of climate change on the Kilimanjaro or how long it might take for the Greenland ice to melt etc.

    The important thing is that the judge agrees, under his point 17, that the main scientific hypotheses advanced by the movie are “ supported by a vast quantity of research published in peer-reviewed journals worldwide and by the great majority of the world’s climate scientists.”

    These scientific hypotheses have to do with the increase in average global temperature with manmade emission of CO2 as a cause, the significant adverse effects this might have on the world and its population if unchecked and the fact that governmental measures can reduce and mitigate all this.

    It is interesting to note that the Judge found that in some of his errors Gore himself departed from the mainstream consensus.

    Question for you: the fellow who brought this case to court, a certain Stewart Dimmock, is, I understand, a bus driver in daily life. Apparently the action cost him 60, 000 quid. Where did this money come from?

  19. Ross says:

    Arie, I don’t think those errors are especially minor. It’s like the hogwash over drowning polar bears…any lies that will advance the panic-merchant argument are adduced as if fact.
    And happily there are obviously people in the UK who beleive that ordinary working people should be afforded their chance for justice. I’d certainly have sent him a fiver, and folks who can afford more evidently did so.

    Why not? Given the way our tax dollars and pounds are being lavished willy-nilly on the panickers’ campaign, whether we agree with it or not, and opposition scientists are being censored by the establishment, thanks be that voices of dissent are funded by whomsoever.

    Here’a long list of scientists who have various disagreements with the panickers. Are they all just heretics to be derided?

    Believe global warming is not occurring or has ceased

    Surface temperatures measured by thermometers and lower atmospheric temperature trends inferred from satellitesTimothy F. Ball, former Professor of Geography, University of Winnipeg: “[The world’s climate] warmed from 1680 up to 1940, but since 1940 it’s been cooling down. The evidence for warming is because of distorted records. The satellite data, for example, shows cooling.” (November 2004)[5] “There’s been warming, no question. I’ve never debated that; never disputed that. The dispute is, what is the cause. And of course the argument that human CO2 being added to the atmosphere is the cause just simply doesn’t hold up…” (May 18, 2006; at 15:30 into recording of interview)[6] “The temperature hasn’t gone up. … But the mood of the world has changed: It has heated up to this belief in global warming.” (August 2006)[7] “Temperatures declined from 1940 to 1980 and in the early 1970’s global cooling became the consensus. … By the 1990’s temperatures appeared to have reversed and Global Warming became the consensus. It appears I’ll witness another cycle before retiring, as the major mechanisms and the global temperature trends now indicate a cooling.” (Feb. 5, 2007)[8]
    Robert M. Carter, geologist, researcher at the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University in Australia: “the accepted global average temperature statistics used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that no ground-based warming has occurred since 1998 … there is every doubt whether any global warming at all is occurring at the moment, let alone human-caused warming.”[9]
    Vincent R. Gray, coal chemist, founder of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition: “The two main ‘scientific’ claims of the IPCC are the claim that ‘the globe is warming’ and ‘Increases in carbon dioxide emissions are responsible’. Evidence for both of these claims is fatally flawed.”[10]

    Believe accuracy of IPCC climate projections is questionable
    Individuals in this section conclude that it is not possible to project global climate accurately enough to justify the ranges projected for temperature and sea-level rise over the next century. They do not conclude specifically that the current IPCC projections are either too high or too low, but that the projections are likely to be inaccurate due to inadequacies of current global climate modeling.

    Hendrik Tennekes, retired Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute: “The blind adherence to the harebrained idea that climate models can generate ‘realistic’ simulations of climate is the principal reason why I remain a climate skeptic. From my background in turbulence I look forward with grim anticipation to the day that climate models will run with a horizontal resolution of less than a kilometer. The horrible predictability problems of turbulent flows then will descend on climate science with a vengeance.”[11]
    Antonino Zichichi, emeritus professor of nuclear physics at the University of Bologna and president of the World Federation of Scientists : “models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are incoherent and invalid from a scientific point of view”.[12]

    Believe global warming is primarily caused by natural processes

    Attribution of climate change, based on Meehl et al. (2004), which represents the consensus viewIndividuals in this section conclude that the observed warming is more likely attributable to natural causes than to human activities.

    Khabibullo Abdusamatov, mathematician and astronomer at Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences: “Global warming results not from the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but from an unusually high level of solar radiation and a lengthy – almost throughout the last century – growth in its intensity…Ascribing ‘greenhouse’ effect properties to the Earth’s atmosphere is not scientifically substantiated…Heated greenhouse gases, which become lighter as a result of expansion, ascend to the atmosphere only to give the absorbed heat away.”[13][14][15]
    Sallie Baliunas, astronomer, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: “[T]he recent warming trend in the surface temperature record cannot be caused by the increase of human-made greenhouse gases in the air.”[16]
    George V. Chilingar, Professor of Civil and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California: “The authors identify and describe the following global forces of nature driving the Earth’s climate: (1) solar radiation …, (2) outgassing as a major supplier of gases to the World Ocean and the atmosphere, and, possibly, (3) microbial activities … . The writers provide quantitative estimates of the scope and extent of their corresponding effects on the Earth’s climate [and] show that the human-induced climatic changes are negligible.”[17]
    Ian Clark, hydrogeologist, professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa: “That portion of the scientific community that attributes climate warming to CO2 relies on the hypothesis that increasing CO2, which is in fact a minor greenhouse gas, triggers a much larger water vapour response to warm the atmosphere. This mechanism has never been tested scientifically beyond the mathematical models that predict extensive warming, and are confounded by the complexity of cloud formation – which has a cooling effect. … We know that [the sun] was responsible for climate change in the past, and so is clearly going to play the lead role in present and future climate change. And interestingly… solar activity has recently begun a downward cycle.”[18]
    David Douglass, solid-state physicist, professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester: “The observed pattern of warming, comparing surface and atmospheric temperature trends, does not show the characteristic fingerprint associated with greenhouse warming. The inescapable conclusion is that the human contribution is not significant and that observed increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases make only a negligible contribution to climate warming.”[19]
    Don Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology, Western Washington University: “global warming since 1900 could well have happened without any effect of CO2. If the cycles continue as in the past, the current warm cycle should end soon and global temperatures should cool slightly until about 2035″[20]
    William M. Gray, Professor Emeritus and head of The Tropical Meteorology Project, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University: “This small warming is likely a result of the natural alterations in global ocean currents which are driven by ocean salinity variations. Ocean circulation variations are as yet little understood. Human kind has little or nothing to do with the recent temperature changes. We are not that influential.”[21] “I am of the opinion that [global warming] is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people.”[22] “So many people have a vested interest in this global-warming thing—all these big labs and research and stuff. The idea is to frighten the public, to get money to study it more.”[23]
    William Kininmonth, meteorologist, former Australian delegate to World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology: “There has been a real climate change over the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries that can be attributed to natural phenomena. Natural variability of the climate system has been underestimated by IPCC and has, to now, dominated human influences.”[24]
    George Kukla, retired Professor of Climatology at Columbia University and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said in an interview: “What I think is this: Man is responsible for a PART of global warming. MOST of it is still natural.”[25]
    David Legates, associate professor of geography and director of the Center for Climatic Research, University of Delaware: “About half of the warming during the 20th century occurred prior to the 1940s, and natural variability accounts for all or nearly all of the warming.”[26]
    Tad Murty, oceanographer; adjunct professor, Departments of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa: global warming “is the biggest scientific hoax being perpetrated on humanity. There is no global warming due to human anthropogenic activities. The atmosphere hasn’t changed much in 280 million years, and there have always been cycles of warming and cooling. The Cretaceous period was the warmest on earth. You could have grown tomatoes at the North Pole”[27]
    Tim Patterson[28], paleoclimatologist and Professor of Geology at Carleton University in Canada: “There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth’s temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years. On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century’s modest warming?”[29][30]
    Ian Plimer, Professor emeritus of Mining Geology, The University of Adelaide: “We only have to have one volcano burping and we have changed the whole planetary climate… It looks as if carbon dioxide actually follows climate change rather than drives it”.[31]
    Harrison Schmitt, former Astronaut, chair of the NASA Advisory Council, Adjunct Professor of engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:”I don’t think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect”.[32]
    Tom Segalstad, head of the Geology Museum at the University of Oslo: “The IPCC’s temperature curve (the so-called ‘hockey stick’ curve) must be in error…human influence on the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ is minimal (maximum 4%). Anthropogenic CO2 amounts to 4% of the ~2% of the “Greenhouse Effect”, hence an influence of less than 1 permil of the Earth’s total natural ‘Greenhouse Effect’ (some 0.03°C of the total ~33°C).”[33]
    Nir Shaviv, astrophysicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: “[T]he truth is probably somewhere in between [the common view and that of skeptics], with natural causes probably being more important over the past century, whereas anthropogenic causes will probably be more dominant over the next century. … [A]bout 2/3’s (give or take a third or so) of the warming [over the past century] should be attributed to increased solar activity and the remaining to anthropogenic causes.” His opinion is based on some proxies of solar activity over the past few centuries.[34]
    Fred Singer, Professor emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia: “The greenhouse effect is real. However, the effect is minute, insignificant, and very difficult to detect.”[35][36] “It’s not automatically true that warming is bad, I happen to believe that warming is good, and so do many economists.”[37]
    Willie Soon, astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: “[T]here’s increasingly strong evidence that previous research conclusions, including those of the United Nations and the United States government concerning 20th century warming, may have been biased by underestimation of natural climate variations. The bottom line is that if these variations are indeed proven true, then, yes, natural climate fluctuations could be a dominant factor in the recent warming. In other words, natural factors could be more important than previously assumed.”[38]
    Roy Spencer, principal research scientist, University of Alabama in Huntsville: “I predict that in the coming years, there will be a growing realization among the global warming research community that most of the climate change we have observed is natural, and that mankind’s role is relatively minor”[39]
    Philip Stott, professor emeritus of biogeography at the University of London: “…the myth is starting to implode. … Serious new research at The Max Planck Society has indicated that the sun is a far more significant factor…”[40]
    Henrik Svensmark, Danish National Space Center: “Our team … has discovered that the relatively few cosmic rays that reach sea-level play a big part in the everyday weather. They help to make low-level clouds, which largely regulate the Earth’s surface temperature. During the 20th Century the influx of cosmic rays decreased and the resulting reduction of cloudiness allowed the world to warm up. … most of the warming during the 20th Century can be explained by a reduction in low cloud cover.”[41]
    Jan Veizer, environmental geochemist, Professor Emeritus from University of Ottawa: “At this stage, two scenarios of potential human impact on climate appear feasible: (1) the standard IPCC model …, and (2) the alternative model that argues for celestial phenomena as the principal climate driver. … Models and empirical observations are both indispensable tools of science, yet when discrepancies arise, observations should carry greater weight than theory. If so, the multitude of empirical observations favours celestial phenomena as the most important driver of terrestrial climate on most time scales, but time will be the final judge.”[42]

    Believe cause of global warming is unknown
    Scientists in this section conclude it is too early to ascribe any principal cause to the observed rising temperatures, man-made or natural.

    Syun-Ichi Akasofu, retired professor of geophysics and Founding Director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks: “[T]he method of study adopted by the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) is fundamentally flawed, resulting in a baseless conclusion: Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Contrary to this statement …, there is so far no definitive evidence that ‘most’ of the present warming is due to the greenhouse effect. … [The IPCC] should have recognized that the range of observed natural changes should not be ignored, and thus their conclusion should be very tentative. The term ‘most’ in their conclusion is baseless.”[43]
    Claude Allègre, geochemist, Institute of Geophysics (Paris): “The increase in the CO2 content of the atmosphere is an observed fact and mankind is most certainly responsible. In the long term, this increase will without doubt become harmful, but its exact role in the climate is less clear. Various parameters appear more important than CO2. Consider the water cycle and formation of various types of clouds, and the complex effects of industrial or agricultural dust. Or fluctuations of the intensity of the solar radiation on annual and century scale, which seem better correlated with heating effects than the variations of CO2 content.”[44]
    Robert C. Balling, Jr., a professor of geography at Arizona State University: “[I]t is very likely that the recent upward trend [in global surface temperature] is very real and that the upward signal is greater than any noise introduced from uncertainties in the record. However, the general error is most likely to be in the warming direction, with a maximum possible (though unlikely) value of 0.3 °C. … At this moment in time we know only that: (1) Global surface temperatures have risen in recent decades. (2) Mid-tropospheric temperatures have warmed little over the same period. (3) This difference is not consistent with predictions from numerical climate models.”[45]
    John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, contributor to several IPCC reports: “I’m sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never “proof”) and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.”[46]
    Petr Chylek, Space and Remote Sensing Sciences researcher, Los Alamos National Laboratory: “carbon dioxide should not be considered as a dominant force behind the current warming…how much of the [temperature] increase can be ascribed to CO2, to changes in solar activity, or to the natural variability of climate is uncertain”[47]
    William R. Cotton, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Colorado State University said in a presentation, “It is an open question if human produced changes in climate are large enough to be detected from the noise of the natural variability of the climate system.”[48]
    David Deming, geology professor at the University of Oklahoma: “The amount of climatic warming that has taken place in the past 150 years is poorly constrained, and its cause – human or natural – is unknown. There is no sound scientific basis for predicting future climate change with any degree of certainty. If the climate does warm, it is likely to be beneficial to humanity rather than harmful. In my opinion, it would be foolish to establish national energy policy on the basis of misinformation and irrational hysteria.”[49]
    Chris de Freitas, Associate Professor, School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science, University of Auckland: “There is evidence of global warming. … But warming does not confirm that carbon dioxide is causing it. Climate is always warming or cooling. There are natural variability theories of warming. To support the argument that carbon dioxide is causing it, the evidence would have to distinguish between human-caused and natural warming. This has not been done.”[50]
    Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and member of the National Academy of Sciences: “We are quite confident (1) that global mean temperature is about 0.5 °C higher than it was a century ago; (2) that atmospheric levels of CO2 have risen over the past two centuries; and (3) that CO2 is a greenhouse gas whose increase is likely to warm the earth (one of many, the most important being water vapor and clouds). But – and I cannot stress this enough – we are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to CO2 or to forecast what the climate will be in the future.”[51] “[T]here has been no question whatsoever that CO2 is an infrared absorber (i.e., a greenhouse gas – albeit a minor one), and its increase should theoretically contribute to warming. Indeed, if all else were kept equal, the increase in CO2 should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed.”[52]

    Believe global warming will not be significantly negative
    Scientists in this section conclude that projected rising temperatures will be of little impact or a net positive for human society and/or the earth’s environment.

    Craig D. Idso, faculty researcher, Office of Climatology, Arizona State University and founder of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change: “the rising CO2 content of the air should boost global plant productivity dramatically, enabling humanity to increase food, fiber and timber production and thereby continue to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for their still-increasing numbers … this atmospheric CO2-derived blessing is as sure as death and taxes.”[53]
    Sherwood Idso, former research physicist, USDA Water Conservation Laboratory, and adjunct professor, Arizona State University: “[W]arming has been shown to positively impact human health, while atmospheric CO2 enrichment has been shown to enhance the health-promoting properties of the food we eat, as well as stimulate the production of more of it. … [W]e have nothing to fear from increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and global warming.”[54]
    Patrick Michaels, part-time research professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia: “scientists know quite precisely how much the planet will warm in the foreseeable future, a modest three-quarters of a degree (Celsius), plus or minus a mere quarter-degree … a modest warming is a likely benefit… human warming will be strongest and most obvious in very cold and dry air, such as in Siberia and northwestern North America in the dead of winter.”[55]

    Self-declared skeptics
    Individuals in this section have asserted that they are skeptics of the prevailing assessment of climate change, but have not made statements that contradict the principal scientific findings of the mainstream view.

    Freeman Dyson, physicist and member of the Institute for Advanced Study. “The climate-studies people who work with models always tend to overestimate their models… They come to believe models are real and forget they are only models.”[56] “My objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, about which I do not know much, but it’s rather against the way those people behave and the kind of intolerance to criticism that a lot of them have.”[57]

  20. Ross says:

    Following on from that, I’ve been up early surfing this subject and found some significant references to a book by Mick Hulme, a Brit socialist…. he gives a lot of the game away

    Why We Disagree About Climate Change, By Mike Hulme
    Cambridge University Press, 2009 432 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0521727327

    “Because the idea of climate change is so plastic, it can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical, and spiritual needs….should be seen as an intellectual resource around which our collective and personal identities and projects can form and take shape. We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but to ask what climate change can do for us.”
    Now, Arie, that sounds to me more like a pseudo-religion than science. If the panic-merchants see their panic-movement in such terms, no wonder they are so intolerant.
    I’m no scientist, but have been drawn to this issue by the censorious character of one side of it.
    If they seek to demonise critics and shut them out of the argument, then I get into sceptic mode pdq.

  21. Ross says:

    And since I’m up in the wee hours, I decided to do the job Arie ingenuously suggests has been left undone, and found the answer to his question about how a working-class scholl governor was able to take on the establishment.
    These are extracts from the UK’s lefty newspaper, the Guardian.
    Dimmock credited the little-known New Party with supporting him in the test case but did not elaborate on its involvement. The obscure Scotland-based party calls itself ‘centre right’ and campaigns for lower taxes and expanding nuclear power.
    Records filed at the Electoral Commission show the New Party has received nearly all of its money – almost £1m between 2004 and 2006 – from Cloburn Quarry Limited, based in Lanarkshire.
    The company’s owner and chairman of the New Party, Robert Durward, is a long-time critic of environmentalists. With Mark Adams, a former private secretary to Tony Blair, he set up the Scientific Alliance, a not-for-profit body comprising scientists and non-scientists, which aims to challenge many of the claims about global warming.
    The alliance issued a press release welcoming last week’s court ruling and helped publicise Dimmock’s case on its website. It also advised Channel 4 on the Great Global Warming Swindle, a controversial documentary screened earlier this year that attempted to challenge claims made about climate change.
    In 2004 the alliance co-authored a report with the George C Marshall Institute, a US body funded by Exxon Mobil, that attacked climate change claims. ‘Climate change science has fallen victim to heated political and media rhetoric … the result is extensive misunderstanding,’ the report’s authors said……Dimmock also received support from a new organisation, Straightteaching.com, which calls for politics to be left out of the classroom. The organisation, which established an online payment system for people to make contributions to Dimmock’s campaign, was set up by Tipp and several others. Its website was registered last month to an anonymous Arizona-based internet company.
    So no big secrets, Arie…nothing very sinister, unless you think that Exxon funding means Exxon dictates the results of research, and maybe so. By the same token, does government funding mean….?

  22. Brother Mouzone says:

    Arie…nothing very sinister, unless you think that Exxon funding means Exxon dictates the results of research.

    Perish the thought!

    Next they’ll be saying that the cigarette industry tried to influence the trials they funded on the effects of smoking!


  23. Arie Brand says:

    Hi Ross,

    I regret that my question about the funding forced you to do some homework that led to the demise of your touching belief in the ‘people power’ activities of all those small folk who wanted the truth to be out. You have scooped me there. BTW the source is the Observer, the Sunday sister paper of the Guardian.

    So, ExxonMobil and a mining magnate have been revealed as the main sources of funding. Nothing very sinister, you say. I beg to disagree. ExxonMobil is on record as having fought a deliberate disinformation campaign on this matter.

    Seeing what is at stake here this is in my book not just sinister, it is downright criminal.

    Gore was quite right to comment: ‘Our experience is that when the vested interests do not like the message, they tend to use diversionary tactics to create uncertainty or to fund individuals and groups to shoot the messenger. In this instance, it appears they are trying to do both. According to these reports, Mr. Dimmock will still not fully reveal who funded the case.’

    At any case the point stands that this was an amateur movie with minor ‘inaccuracies’ (Justice Burton’s word) and of which the main message (dangerous climate change caused by anthropogenic CO2) is, in Burton’s words,’ ‘supported by a vast quantity of research published in peer-reviewed journals worldwide and by the great majority of the world’s climate scientists.’ That being the case I can only find the shenanigans of some contrarians around this matter another example of their bad faith.

    And now to your ragbag list of contrarians. Since it comes straight from Wikipedia (entry ‘list of scientists opposing the mainstream scientific assessment’) it might have been simpler for you to just give us the website address. For one thing Wikipedia has set it out a bit more clearly.

    Let me start with some obvious observations.

    1.Only about a quarter of these folk can credibly claim to be working in the field of climatology. Allow me to elaborate a bit here. I did my first degree in social geography and had, in that context, to take a unit in ‘meteorology and climatology’. I hasten to add that I don’t claim any particular expertise because of this. For one thing it is about fifty years ago. For another, the whole topic of ‘global warming’ was then still a matter of the future. But what I do remember is that geology and climatology were then regarded as fields of totally different expertise and I don’t see any reason why that would be different today. But, lo and behold, the number of geologists who now feel compelled to contribute their tuppence worth to the matter and claim expertise about it is alarming. Let me come with some obvious ‘sociology of knowledge’ here. In ‘my time’ geology was a far more prestigious field than climatology. For one thing it could lead to greater pecuniary rewards. Now matters have changed, not so much as far as the pecunia are concerned but in terms of relative prestige. That geologists are now sniping from the sideline is a ‘human, all too human’ phenomenon.

    Prime examples here in Australia are: Bob Carter (the ‘expert’ for the plaintiff in the Gore court case and one name in your ragbag list) and Ian Plimer. On Tim Lambert’s weblog, ‘Deltoid’, people have had a whale of a time tearing their statements to shreds. Not that they seem to have noticed while they are laughing all the way to the bank.

    The Great Contribution of the geologists is that the world has always known periods of warming and cooling and that it often has been hotter than it threatens to become now. You don’t say. No climatologist who is worth his salt has denied that. However, we can be confident that the geologists’ rock strata did not suffer under these temperature changes. But we are talking about present day human society here, a society of which the continued existence depends on a fairly narrow temperature range.

    I have picked on the geologists but similar observations hold for the other ‘experts’ mentioned here: geographers, physicists, astronomers, engineers, the lot..

    2. A goodly number of the people on your list are, in fact, retired (Ball, Tennekes, Zichichi, William Gray, Kukla, Singer, Stott, Veizer, Akasofu, Freeman-Dyson). This is a fact to keep in mind when they go on, as some of them are wont to do, about the unreliability of modeling for instance. How much do they know about modern models not to speak of other issues?

    3. Most statements quoted in this Wikipedia article come from newspaper articles rather than the peer reviewed scientific literature. People can just say about anything there provided it will not displease the readership and be in accordance with the prejudices of the relevant editor. Internal consistency is no requirement. Here is the illustrious Timothy F.Ball, for instance, as quoted in your (i.e.Wikipedia’s) ragbag list: ‘[The world’s climate] warmed from 1680 up to 1940, but since 1940 it’s been cooling down. The evidence for warming is because of distorted records. The satellite data, for example, shows cooling.’(November 2004)[5] ‘There’s been warming, no question. I’ve never debated that; never disputed that. The dispute is, what is the cause.’ Poor Tim, retired, beleaguered as to the credentials he claimed in the past, and notorious for these pirouettes on the high wire. He once sued for libel when his credentials were publicly questioned but later dropped the case. The statement of defense filed with the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench has the interesting sentence; ‘The Plaintiff (Dr. Ball) is viewed as a paid promoter of the agenda of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist.’ Oh well, a man has to keep body and soul together. There are a few others on your list who obviously feel that need too. Look for instance at the bona fides of Fred Singer.

    4. The objections people of the ragbag list come up with can be summarized in 8 or 9 points. I am confident that these ALL have been refuted over and over in the scientific literature but the whole thing has the air of a Punch and Judy show in which, no matter how often Punch has been knocked down, he comes up again to the delight of the children roaming around on the contrarian blogs.

    If I can summon the energy I will come up with a summary of these points and indicate the sources where you can find the refutation.

  24. Ross says:

    well, good morning to all!
    So a very long list of scientists, some of whom are obviously more distinguished than others, is refuted by applying the word ‘ragbag.’ One wonders whose interests Arie is serving, that he should resort to mere name-calling. If they are such no-hopers all, perhaps he could identify each of their failings.

    And he is appalled, apparently, that a man without the means to fight big government should be helped by some guys who have that means. Shoud Mr. Dimmoxk have kept silent when a hypocrite like Gore’s propaganda was foised on his kids?

    I have to get to work now. No doubt tomorrow’s IM will be fun.

  25. Arie Brand says:

    “One wonders whose interests Arie is serving, that he should resort to mere name-calling.”

    Did you read by any chance ‘ratbag’ – a well known pejorative in Australia and maybe in Ulster?

    Because, dear Ross, the word ‘ragbag’ is a neutral and descriptive term:

    Noun 1. ragbag – a motley assortment of things
    farrago, gallimaufry, hodgepodge, hotchpotch, melange, mingle-mangle, mishmash, oddments, odds and ends, omnium-gatherum
    assortment, miscellanea, miscellany, mixed bag, motley, potpourri, salmagundi, smorgasbord, variety, mixture – a collection containing a variety of sorts of things; “a great assortment of cars was on display”; “he had a variety of disorders”; “a veritable smorgasbord of religions”

    Your (Wikipedia) list had a ‘motley’ assortment of scientists of a variety of disciplines and a ‘hotchpotch’ of opinions ( some of which are directly contradictory).

    So to complain about name-calling is, as far as the whole argument is concerned, to rely on the weakest of crutches.

  26. Arie Brand says:

    Here are some Australian dictionary entries for the term ‘ratbag’. I have found it more often applied here with the meaning given under (3). But there appears to be also a somewhat positive connotation. So if I said “the Wikipedia list consists of a ragbag of ratbags” I can still claim to be engaged in civilised discourse.


    Any person whose eccentricity I find appealing I am apt to call a ratbag. To me, it’s a word that implies fondness, an Australian idiom it seems. The British dictionaries either don’t know the word, or don’t see any positive connotation in it, and my old Websters doesn’t know the word at all. Here’s what I found:

    Macquarie dictionary (1991):
    ‘n. colloq. 1. a rascal; rogue. 2. a person of eccentric or nonconforming ideas or behaviour. 3. a person whose preoccupation with a particular theory or belief is seen as obsessive or discreditable: that Marxist ratbag. -ratbaggery, n. -ratbaggy, adj.’

    Australian national dictionary (1988):
    ‘A trouble-maker, a rogue; an eccentric; a person to whom some opprobrium attaches. Also attrib. … [examples cut] … Hence ratbaggery n. … [examples cut]’”

  27. ET says:

    @ Ross

    Believe global warming is primarily caused by natural processes

    The entire climate debate is mostly focused on CO2 emissions. But if it wasn’t for the CO2 spewed out by volcanos under the influence of increased tectonic plate activity thereby triggering a greenhouse effect, the earth would still be a giant snowball from pole to pole like it was 460 million years ago. Notwithstanding the fact that manmade emissions may have an impact, the big question scientists are confronted with is whether this impact retains its significance when compared to the scale of the natural processes that are going on.
    But even so, the supplementary produce of CO2 may trigger more local and secondary effects like the melting of the permafrost, thereby releasing enormous quantities of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas, which could make the greenhouse effect spin out of control.
    Tinkering with nature is fine but always be prepared for unexpected backlashes.

    unless you think that Exxon funding means Exxon dictates the results of research, and maybe so.

    Believe me, definitely so. They always have had a very strong ideological bias. I know because I was on the payroll a long time ago.

  28. Arie Brand says:

    Healthy scepticism is a desirable thing in science. But assuming a conspiracy among the great majority of the world’s climate scientists to trump up results is not scepticism but paranoia or, in the case of industrial giants such as ExxonMobil, deliberate misinformation. I, for one, believe that the world is in dire straits and that those who keep playing on their contrarian fiddles while Rome is burning are loading a heavy responsibility on themselves.

    Here are a few passages of a recent column (28th June 2009) by Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

    Betraying the Planet

    Published: June 28, 2009

    “To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

    The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

    Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there’s growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    In other words, we’re facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?

    Well, sometimes even the most authoritative analyses get things wrong. And if dissenting opinion-makers and politicians based their dissent on hard work and hard thinking — if they had carefully studied the issue, consulted with experts and concluded that the overwhelming scientific consensus was misguided — they could at least claim to be acting responsibly.

    But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.

    Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday’s debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a “hoax” that has been “perpetrated out of the scientific community.” I’d call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

    Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause.

    … the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.”

    To comprehend just a bit of what an average temperature rise of nine degrees would mean it is instructive to have a look at the precis of Mark Lynas’ book Six Degrees. For every degree of temperature rise he has tried to figure out the potential consequences. The book won the Royal Society Science Books Prize. Lynas doesn’t go up to nine degrees because he believes that even at six degrees the earth might become uninhabitable. This is, in short, what might be the consequences of six degrees:

    “6C and above

    Danger of “runaway warming”, perhaps spurred by release of oceanic methane hydrates. Could the surface of the Earth become like Venus, entirely uninhabitable? Most sea life is dead. Human refuges now confined entirely to highland areas and the polar regions. Human population is drastically reduced. Perhaps 90% of species become extinct, rivalling the worst mass extinctions in the Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history.”

    I think many people are unable to grasp the consequences of such a temperature rise because they are accustomed to daily fluctuations in the temperature of several degrees which have no great impact. But we are talking here about average temperature.

    But Ross – keep talking about ‘bought-and-paid-for-apparatchiks’. Sleep well.

  29. Ross says:

    Arie, I know Australia well enough to understand how ‘ratbag’ is used. But ragbag is not a neutral term. Rags are not highly regarded in any society. The connoatation is clearly unfavourable. But your terminology is not a big deal – what bothers me is your avoidance of the issue that provoked my interest in this issue; persecution and censorship. Some fool even called for critics of panic-propganda to be put on trial! So much for the scientific method. All to shifty.

    ET makes much of my comment on the possibility of Exxon’s wealth influencing researchers -fair enough. But he declines to follow thorugh on my adjacent comment, that the vast resources – from tax-payers’ pockets – shady regimes like Obama’s and Brown’s might just direct their researchers down the desired path..

    Brown is a master of skullduggery, his devious performance over the recent release of a convicted mass-murderer being just the latest example, whilst Obama is still throwing bushels of money agianst efforts to prise open minimal details of his own background.

    Who on earth would trust such men? Well, Arie and ET, I guess.

  30. Ross says:

    Anyway, I’m tired. Let’s resume again tomorrow, if you please! Sorry for the typos above. It’s late.

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