How Long Before They Drag in Global Warming?

I was wondering how long it was going to take before the Coronavirus epidemic got linked to Global Warming and Brexit. Not very long at all. Today’s Observer editorial:

From the spread of zoonotic viruses to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance and the climate crisis, the most existential challenges we face are truly global. They make a mockery of outdated notions of national sovereignty; the idea that so long as we exert control within our tiny corner of the world, everything will be fine. Global challenges like these will test to destruction the ability of transnational institutions such as the WHO, the EU and the World Trade Organization to chivvy along global coordination. They serve as a grave warning to those who would bury their heads in isolationism.

Zoonotic means transferred from animals to humans. Not everybody believes that the Coronavirus outbreak started in a fish market.

Saying that ideas of one sort or other are “outdated” always strikes me as being empty of meaning, or equivalent to “unfashionable” or “old-fashioned”. I can’t for the life of me see that the notion of national sovereignty should become outdated. It’s been a constant throughout human history. What’s novel – and very scary – is the notion of a new, globalised world in which national sovereignty has vanished, and the peoples of the world are subjected to rules and regulations over which they have no control whatsoever. For aren’t the raft of smoking bans introduced all over the world in recent decades the result of the WHO “chivvying along global coordination” of the most divisive and socially destructive and draconian kind imaginable?

And is there a “climate crisis”? No, there manifestly is not. The world today is pretty much exactly the same as the world as it was 50 or 100 years ago. Of course there could be a climate crisis sometime in the not-too-distant future. But it hasn’t happened yet.

And I hope that the current Coronavirus epidemic will indeed “test to destruction transnational institutions such as the WHO, the EU and the World Trade Organization.” The World Health Organisation believes that there is a “tobacco epidemic“, and any organisation that believes such an absurdity is clearly in need of destruction. And it seems to unfortunately be the case that these supranational organisations regularly develop internal ideologies which are in conflict with the beliefs of ordinary people, probably because they usually develop in the absence of any mitigating common sense. So we have a “tobacco epidemic” and now a “climate crisis” that have been identified by self-styled “experts” of one sort or other. No doubt there will be more.

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Time Isn’t Running Out

Jo Nova:

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – The world needs an open dialogue about climate change to heal the gap between sceptics and believers since time is running out to cut the emissions that drive global warming, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

Merkel doesn’t want an ‘open dialogue’. Nor does she want to ‘heal the gap’ between sceptics and alarmists. She really just wants the sceptics to agree that ‘time is running out.’

But this is precisely what sceptics can’t agree. For the sceptics don’t think there’s much global warming happening. Some even think there’s no warming at all. So the sceptics don’t think that ‘time is running out’ for anything.

It’s like two people in a car parked at a parking meter. One is saying “Let’s go! The meter says our time will be up in 5 minutes.” And the other one’s saying: “There’s nothing to worry about. This particular meter doesn’t work, and it’s always stuck showing 5 minutes left. I’ve been parking here all day for the last few months!”

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Coronavirus is a UK Patent Virus?

I’m in two minds over whether the Coronavirus epidemic in China is something serious, or really just another ‘flu epidemic. In a time when all health scares about everything are bogus, it’s most likely that this latest scare is bogus too, and it’ll be forgotten in a week or two.

But if it’s just a ‘flu epidemic, why has China locked down five or more large cities in the region where the Coronavirus outbreak started?  Road and rail and air travel out of Wuhan has been stopped. And that means that internal trade inside China in this region has also stopped. And supermarket shelves have been emptied. When will they be restocked?

One reason why the Chinese might be worried about this outbreak is that it might not be just another ‘flu epidemic, and it is that there’s a laboratory that studies dangerous pathogens in Wuhan. Are they worried that the new virus has come from there, and not from some street market as has been suggested?

Locking down entire huge cities – larger than London or New York – is something that hasn’t been done before, and nobody seems to know whether it’s possible. How must the citizens feel, locked in their cities with empty supermarkets on the day that the Chinese New Year starts? Not happy, I imagine.

Here in the UK there are now 14 suspected cases of Coronavirus, of which 6 have been cleared. How long does it take them to do the tests? A day? Two days? A week?

I get the feeling that the UK authorities are either not much bothered., or are playing it all down:

Public health bosses urge 2,000 recent arrivals from China to call NHS if they feel ill and GPs are told to shut suspected coronavirus victims in consultation rooms as 14 people are tested in UK

Isn’t that good to know, that Chinese visitors to the UK are being encouraged to phone the NHS if they feel a tad unwell?

ZeroHedge, the Guardian, and the Independent all started live stream reporting on the Coronavirus outbreak yesterday, but only the Guardian seems to have continued today.

Meanwhile in Wuhan, they’re building a 1000-bed hospital in double-quick time:

A new 1000-bed hospital is being built in Wuhan specifically to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and authorities plan to have it running by Monday, state media outlet Changjiang Daily reports.

Construction began on Thursday night with machinery, including 35 diggers and 10 bulldozers, arriving at the site.

If they’re doing that, then they must expect a lot more cases. And in fact, Wuhan hospitals are already overflowing, with new patients being turned away. So they’ll probably just be catching up with the backlog.

And what about this?


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-hosted a pandemic exercise in late 2019 that simulated a global coronavirus outbreak.

They also just happen to fund the group who owns the patent to the deadly virus and are working on a vaccine to solve the crisis.

On June 19, 2015, the UK government-funded Pirbright Institute filed an application for a patent for the live coronavirus, which was approved on Nov 20, 2018.

It’s a patent virus??? And it’s a UK outfit that owns the patent???

We’ll know in a week or two, I guess, whether this is something serious or not. Chances are still good that it’s not.

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Coronavirus: Just A Nasty Dose of Flu?

How serious is the new coronavirus epidemic?

A sense of anxiety is growing in Wuhan as the Chinese city goes into lockdown in an effort to control the spread of a new virus which has left 17 dead.

The authorities have suspended planes and trains in and out of the city of 11 million people, as well as buses, subways and ferries.

Residents have been told not to leave. Worried about a food shortage, one said it felt like “the end of the world”.

There are more than 500 confirmed cases of the virus, which has spread abroad.

It’s already spread to several other countries

I suppose that the Chinese authorities must think it very serious if they feel that it’s necessary to place a city with a population of 11 million under lockdown.

What’s been happening with Ebola, by the way? Is the latest outbreak over yet? Anything but, it would seem. The Ebola epidemic in the Congo, which began in 2018, is still growing, with 3804 cases in total, and 2224 deaths, up until the end of December 2019:

There seems to currently be about 1000 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic, and 17 deaths: so 98% of victims survive. In the case of Ebola in the Congo, with 3804 cases, only 41% of those infected survive.

So the Coronavirus epidemic is spreading much more rapidly than the Ebola epidemic. But is it any more dangerous than, say, influenza? Perhaps not:

The case-fatality rate is central to pandemic planning. While estimates of case-fatality (CF) rates for past influenza pandemics have ranged from about 0.1% (1957 and 1968 pandemics) to 2.5% (1918 pandemic)

Case-fatality rate with the current Coronavirus epidemic is about 2%, which is similar to the influenza epidemic of 1918.

Another estimate gives a figure of 1723 cases by 12 January 2020, which with 17 deaths is a 1% case-fatality rate.

The Coronavirus epidemic looks like it’s pretty much just a nasty case of ‘flu.

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Imaginary Threats Everywhere

Velvet Glove Iron Fist:

The deadly coronavirus that has infected hundreds of people in China and has now spread to the USA is the biggest global public health threat we have seen for some years. Naturally, therefore, the World Health Organisation spent yesterday putting out a series of deranged tweets about vaping.

The World Health Organisation thinks that we have a much more serious tobacco epidemic. From the foreword of the FCTC:

The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic.

Vaping, to their mind, is just a new variant and extension of the global tobacco epidemic, which is of course killing millions and millions of people. Coronavirus has hardly killed anybody yet. So the vaping epidemic is obviously far more important than the coronavirus epidemic.

These people are insane.

The “tobacco epidemic” is an imaginary threat. And CO2-driven global warming is another imaginary threat. We are beset with imaginary threats everywhere.

I’ve managed to get my new polyhedral world model to demonstrate glaciation cycles in the northern hemisphere.  The snow first covers 7 triangular regions (8 if Antarctica is included). Numbers show snow dept:

And then it all melts away, and there’s a brief warm interglacial period:

And there’s a nice cycle of long cold glacial periods, punctuated by brief warm interglacial periods.

The way the cycle works is that when deep snow settles on any region, the subglacial surface rocks gradually warm up,, and eventually melt the overlying snow. In this particular model there’s air mixing between regions, and 25% of the air in any triangular region is assumed to be at current global mean air temperature. The effect of this is to strongly entrain the different regions, so that they tend to all warm up and cool down at about the same time.

The graph below shows air temperatures and surface rock temperatures in the triangular “Europe” region. And it also shows the number of  glaciated regions:

Surface rock temperatures drop rapidly during interglacials, and rise slowly during glaciations. Air temperatures oscillate rapidly in the transitions to and from interglacials.

In this particular case, the glaciation cycle is only about 7,000 years long, and the interglacial only lasts about 1,000 years. This is about 13 times faster than what currently actually happens on planet Earth.

It’s not particularly meaningful, but it’s a nice little demonstration of a cycle driven by a process (subglacial surface rock warming) that climate scientists seem to be completely oblivious to. And this seems to be because they discount the Earth’s geothermal heat flow rate (about 70 milliWatts per square metre) as being too small to influence the Earth’s climate. From page 7 of Raymond Pierrehumbert’s Principles of Planetary Climate:

Once a solid crust forms, the flow of heat from the interior of the Earth to the surface is sharply curtailed, because the heat diffuses very slowly through solid rock. In this situation, supply of heat from the interior becomes insignificant in comparison with the energy received from the Sun, and the Earth has settled into a state where the climate is determined by much the same processes that determine today’s climate: a competition between the rate at which energy is received from the Sun and the rate at which energy is lost to space by radiation of infrared light. This is very likely to have been the case 4.4 billion years ago, if not earlier,

Pierrehumbert is perfectly correct: the geothermal heat flow is far too small to directly affect the atmospheric temperature. But when this tiny trickle of heat melts an overlying snow sheet, flipping the surface albedo from 0.8 to 0.3, it has a tremendous indirect effect on atmospheric temperatures.

But I’m not a climate scientist. I’m just someone who spent 7 years building dynamic heat flow models of buildings, many of them covered in thick layers of white insulation. Back then I was using expanded polystyrene, but I could equally have been using snow.

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We Need A New Solzhenitsyn

A few days ago I was listening to the historian Stephen Kotkin talking about the importance of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago, and it prompted me to think that there needs to be a Solzhenitsyn to write about the impact of smoking bans all over the world.

The Gulag Archipelago drew on the experiences of over 200 camp inmates, and an equivalent book might draw on the experiences of a similar number of smokers in America and Europe and elsewhere, men and women, from all walks of life.

I used to think that the most important experience in my life was to have lived through the topsy-turvy 1960s of long hair, pot smoking, and electric music. But now I think that living in the time of the smoking ban has been the more significant experience.

If nothing else, the smoking ban era has lasted longer than the 1960s, the great storm of which began for me in 1968, and had ended by 1973, by which time I had largely managed to escape the madness of the time. So that was a period of about five years. By contrast the era of the smoking ban started for me on 1 July 2007, and has lasted ever since, which is now 12½ years. And it looks set to continue for just as long again.

The 1960s had a big impact on me, and on everyone I knew. But I think that the smoking ban has had a much greater impact, and also a continuing impact. For a start, the smoking ban cost me all my friends (nowhere to meet them any more, basically). Nothing like that happened in the 1960s. In fact quite the opposite: I made lots of friends in the 1960s.

But the smoking ban had lots of other effects on me. For about 25 years I’d been a routine Lib Dem voter, but after the smoking ban I became a UKIP voter, largely because of its smoking and drinking leader, Nigel Farage. Before the smoking ban I was pro-EU, but after it I rapidly became anti-EU, particularly when I discovered how strongly antismoking the EU was. And after the smoking ban I started writing this blog, and if I continue to write it’s because I continue to experience a smoking ban.

The smoking ban has changed the way I think about a lot of things. And it continues to change the way I think. And since it has had such a large and continuing influence on me, I can only suppose that smoking bans have had similar effects on countless other people. And the fact that some people have even collected my writings, and even translated them into other languages, would seem to indicate that their experiences have been similar to mine.

Yet there are a lot of smoking ban experiences that I’ve never had. I never married, so I don’t know what it’s like to be a smoker married to a non-smoker. I also don’t know what it’s like to be a smoker working in an antismoking environment – I used to smoke all the time in my days as a freelance software engineer before the smoking ban. Nor do I have much experience of travel in our antismoking era: if I go anywhere these days it’s in my own car, and I always want to be home by nightfall. And I have no idea what it’s like to be a black smoker, or a gay smoker, or a Muslim smoker, or even a French or Italian or Greek smoker. Other people will have to write about these experiences.

What little I know has led me to think that a lot of what is going on in the world today – Brexit, and the rise of “national populism”, for example – is actually being driven by smoking bans and the response of smokers to those bans. Is it completely accidental that populists like Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini are all smokers? I doubt it. I think that there are millions and millions of people who have been getting more and more sick and tired of the top-down imposition of things like smoking bans and carbon controls – both of which are strangely closely connected to each other – by a global political elite. So I tend to see contemporary politics as the revolt of the world’s smokers against the world’s antismoking political class. It surprises me that nobody else seems to see it this way. But then hardly anyone speaks or writes about smoking bans and their impact on smokers.

So that’s why I think there needs to be a Solzhenitsyn to collect together all the different experiences of smokers, and put them all into a single book, or several books, and tell the world what happened to smokers (and maybe a lot of non-smokers) when smoking bans started appearing all over the world.

It’s not going to be me who writes that book. I’ll just be one of the many voices in it. For I’m not really a writer. I never think of myself as a writer. I’ve never written or published a single book. I’m really just someone who has been writing a diary for most of his life, because I find that writing about things forces me describe them as accurately as I can, far more so than merely thinking about them or even talking about them. So this blog of mine is really just a sort of diary of mine that I publish every day. It has a hand-written companion which overlaps it, but also includes topics like shopping trips and the daily weather. I’m a rather compulsive writer, and it’s become as effortless as breathing (or perhaps as effortless as breathing once used to be). For other people it seems to be harder: I’m still waiting, months later, for a promised description of what life is like for fat people in our present, intolerant, bullying world (I was told it was far worse than for smokers).

I think that such a book would have a great impact. I think it would make many non-smokers realise at last just what smoking bans have been doing to millions of people, in the same way that Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago shone light on what was happening in Soviet labour camps. Such a book might even serve to bring about the repeal of smoking bans, and the destruction of Tobacco Control, as well as the reform of the World Health Organisation and the medical profession and much else beside.

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Dark Foreboding

Perhaps it’s inevitable, but it seems that as soon as anyone is put in a position of authority, they will start to abuse the power they’ve been given. And instead of regarding themselves as temporary representatives of the people who put them there, they start thinking that they and they alone know best what’s good for everyone.

It’s as if when a man becomes a bus driver, driving a bus from Bradford to Burnley, he will pretty soon take it into his head to drive from Bradford to Birmingham instead, ignoring the protests of his irate passengers, and telling them that he knows better than they do where they should be going. He’s in control, and they should stop complaining.

Once there is a mechanism of top-down control, top-down control is inevitably increasingly exerted. And that’s our world today. We have authorities of every kind telling people that they know what’s good for them. So there’s Tobacco Control, and Gun Control, and Climate Control, and Thought Control, and increasing top-down Control of more or less everything. And sitting in their seats in the bus, the powerless passengers become more and more enraged, and shouting at the driver: You should be going where we want to go, not We should be going where you want to go.

Us Brits voted for Brexit because we wanted the British government to represent the British people. We wanted to take back control from the top-down rulers in an increasingly tyrannical EU. Whether we’ll get what we wanted is another question, but that’s what we wanted.

And Americans voted for Donald Trump, because they wanted a president who was one of them, with the same values as them, and working on their behalf, unlike an American political class which had ceased to represent the American people, in the same way that the European political class had ceased to represent the peoples of Europe.

Today there are two events in the USA, both of which illustrate the problem.

Firstly in Virginia there is going to be a protest against the top-down control of the Democratic state governor, who is trying to take guns away from Virginians.

And then in Washington there begins today the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump. And that is essentially the American political class setting out to take back control from someone who they think should never have been elected to the highest office in the land, because he was an outsider with no political experience, and not one of them.

They’ve been trying to get rid of him from even before he got elected. They thought that the long-running Mueller investigation would do it, but it turned out to be a dud. And so now, with opinion polls predicting that Trump will get an even larger vote in the November presidential election than he did four years earlier, they’ve decided to invoke the nuclear option, and remove him from office via the process of impeachment, before he can get a renewed mandate from the American people.

So, as I see it, the American political class is about to take back control over the American people. And they’ll probably succeed. All they need is about 20 Republican Senators to find him guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, and he will be removed from the office of President of the United States.

Will a Republican Senate vote to convict a Republican President? My answer is: Yes. Because this isn’t Democrats versus Republicans, but the American political class versus the American people. The American political class – all the Bushes and Clintons and Romneys and Pelosis – is about to take back control.

Donald Trump is calling it a coup, because that’s what it actually is. He hasn’t committed an impeachable offence, but that doesn’t matter: all that matters is that 20 Republican senators wrongly find him guilty of one.

I fear that what we are about to witness over the next few days and weeks will simply be a protracted show trial that will end with Donald Trump being removed from office.

What will happen then, I do not know.

Will the American political class be able to re-exert the control they lost four years ago? Will George W Bush and Barack Obama and other past political luminaries step forward to “unite the country”? Will Hillary Clinton announce that she’s running for the presidency in November? Or will the American people explode with anger in response to a transparent, slow motion political coup?

We have the same problem in Britain. The British political class lost control of Britain four years ago, and have been trying to regain control ever since. It’s not clear at present whether Boris Johnson is any less a member of the British political class than his predecessor Theresa May was. We’re supposed to leave the EU in 10 days time, but we will be leaving for the third time. Are we really going to leave this time?

There’s the same problem in France. And in Italy. And in Spain. There’s the same problem everywhere.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the Republican Senate remain loyal to their Republican President. But I fear that many of the Senators have loyalties that lie elsewhere.

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