I read today somewhere about Dr. Wolfgang Thüne, a retired German meteorologist, and what he had to say about climate science:
“The climate science by Schellnhuber & Co. is pure voodoo-magic spreading fear among the public and reaching big time into the pockets of taxpayers.
The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is senselessly wasting the money of taxpayers. ‘Climate protection’ is a scientific swindle because the weather is not something that can be protected.”
He sounded just like Romano Grieshaber, retired also. In similar vein, James Lovelock:
2) Lovelock blasted greens for treating global warming like a religion.
“It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion,” Lovelock observed. “I don’t think people have noticed that, but it’s got all the sort of terms that religions use … The greens use guilt. That just shows how religious greens are. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting (carbon dioxide) in the air.”
(3) Lovelock mocks the idea modern economies can be powered by wind turbines.
As he puts it, “so-called ‘sustainable development’ … is meaningless drivel … We rushed into renewable energy without any thought. The schemes are largely hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant. I personally can’t stand windmills at any price.”
(4) Finally, about claims “the science is settled” on global warming: “One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it.”
And Chris Snowdon:
All ancient history, but there is one new piece of sophistry added into the mix. The article concedes that “there is no evidence as yet that smokers have given up smoking in huge numbers because of the legislation”, but…
While overall levels of smoking among adults in Great Britain remained constant at 21% between 2007 and 2009, the north east of England saw a different trend.
There, the smokefree ban proved to be a trigger for some adults to quit with the largest drop in smoking in England – from 29% in 2005 to 27% in 2007 and down to 21% by 2011.
What’s this – the ‘Newcastle miracle’? By what magical process was the smoking ban a “trigger” to quit in that region of the country, but not elsewhere?
It was the choice of language that I noticed. “Voodoo magic”, “swindle”, “religion”, “meaningless drivel”, “sophistry”, “miracle”, “magical process”. There’s a profound loss of faith/belief in science taking place. What went wrong with science?
I was thinking today about my few years of university research in the late 1970s. I spent most of the time building a vast piece of electronic equipment to study heat flow in buildings. It was like building an enormous telescope, and adding lenses and eyepieces and an electric-powered equatorial mount and rotating dome over the top. But it hardly ever got used to actually study anything. After the telescope had been built, it was only actually used a couple of times to look at Mars. I had simply supposed that, when the research funds ran out, some more would materialise out of somewhere. But it never did. And it was perhaps the end of an era of easy money.
Since that time, researchers have had to keep half an eye (or maybe both eyes) out for the next research grant, and work hard to make sure they get it. You have to publish lots of papers, and you have to come up with results of sufficient importance to warrant further research, perhaps even further urgent research.
And maybe that’s where all the Impending Doom has come from, these last 30 years. If you were working in the backwater of climate science, you had to find some way to make it urgent and sexy. So first the dire threat of global cooling, and then the even more dire threat of global warming. And, bingo, the research funds started pouring in.
Same with Tobacco Control. That was a bit of a backwater as well until they invented the deadly menace of secondhand smoke, and the coffers started opening, and the Tobacco Control Industry took off.
Perhaps the same could have been done with the humble study of heat flow in buildings. Perhaps it could have been spiced up a bit, and made into something urgently needing funding, as a matter of life and death. And it might not have been too hard. Because keeping people warm actually is a matter of life and death. Too hot and their physiology can’t cope, too cold and it can’t cope either. Thermal comfort is a narrow ribbon of road with a forest fire on one side, and an arctic refrigerator on the other. Maybe all it needed was a slightly more dramatic presentation of the dangers – the threats – of underheating and overheating, and the need to stay on that narrow road between the two. Estimates of the numbers of casualties from a cold snap or a heat wave might have helped.
And I would have become Dr Frank Davis… No, make that Dr Frank Doom. Or, better still, Professor Frank Doom, with my urgent warnings about the extreme dangers posed by temperatures below 23°C and above 27°C. Perhaps I’d launch my own line of air-conditioned clothes that kept you exactly at 25°C whatever you were doing, and it was certain death if you ever took them off. And everyone would go round with thermometers, and wouldn’t go outside if it was too cold, or too hot, or too wet, or too windy. And the research funds would have poured in.
But if I had done something like that, I would no longer have been doing research. I’d be spending my whole time thinking up new ways of scaring people enough to open their wallets. I’d be running a theatrical business.
And maybe that’s all that ever happens in science now. You can’t just do research, and try and understand how things work. You have to be an entrepreneur and a showman and a psychologist. And so you never actually do any research, and you never find anything out, because you’re too worried about where the next tranche of research money is going to come from. You publish lots of stuff, of course, complete with graphs and tables and equations – but increasingly it’s devoid of any real content.
The rot maybe set in when being a ‘scientist’ or a ‘researcher’ became a profession, a means of gainful employment. And that really only started in 1950.
Nobody paid Isaac Newton to invent calculus, and study gravitation and planetary motion and optics. He wasn’t a professional scientist. He was just interested in those things, and he thought about them a lot. And as tenured professor at Trinity college, Cambridge, he had enough time and money to pursue those interests, sometimes forgetting to eat because he was so immersed in it all. Can you imagine Stanton Glantz going without lunch? Me neither.
I think real scientists are people who are just fascinated by the world they find themselves in, and try to understand it. Sometimes – like Newton – they manage to understand it a bit. But if they do, then nobody else has the first clue what they’re on about. It must have been very difficult for Newton to explain his calculus, or his laws of motion, to people who were instantly bored witless. It took the encouragement of friends to get him to write Principia Mathematica.
Now all we have are showmen and scaremongers. And we’d be better off without them.
If it was down to me, I think I’d close the universities down. But I’d keep an eye out for people with interestingly unfathomable ideas. I’d return science to its origins in ordinary people who are full of questions about everything, and who try to answer a few of those questions in their spare time. I’d maybe give them a little money to give them more time. And a few candles and pencils and sheets of paper. And maybe some tobacco. But nothing more.