As I’ve frequently remarked, the smoking debate has many parallels with the climate debate – if nothing else because in both cases “the debate is over.”
Over the past couple of years I’ve slightly lost interest in the climate debate, because I’ve thought that the climate alarmists started losing the debate with the Climategate furore, and their attempt at “hiding the decline.” But this year, when (to my astonishment) I came up with my own idea about climate change, I’ve been taking a bit more interest in it.
And so yesterday I was watching Roger Pielke Jr giving a talk about how the debate had become so conflicted, and so polarised. And very early in the talk he showed a list of some of the things that characterised the debate. I reproduce it below:
And well, of course, it’s just the same with smoking. The antismokers see smoking as a tremendous evil, and the tobacco companies as “merchants of death”, and smokers as addicts and poisoners.
And they also believe that the end – ridding the world of tobacco – justifies the means. And the means is incessant propaganda, smoking bans, and the exclusion from every arena of society of smokers of any sort of tobacco, using any method of consumption, even if it just looks like smoking.
And they never debate with smokers. They employ megaphone diplomacy to shout at them. Smokers have to get the message. And if they don’t get the message, it’ll just have to be shouted even louder.
And they employ millenarian rhetoric, as they increasingly speak of the “endgame” in which tobacco will have been banished from the world, and the last tobacco plant dug up and burned.
And it’s just like that with climate science too. Anyone who can’t see the dangers of CO2-generated global warming is beneath contempt. They need to be re-educated. The dangers of global warming are so great that any means is justified to achieve the end of preventing global warming from happening. And so if the element Carbon has to be banished from the face of the Earth, that’s just what will have to be done.
“The other side is not worth engaging with.” (11:45)
So in this very interesting talk, Roger Pielke Jr is really just talking about the climate debate, and how people talk past each other, or over each other’s heads, and send messages they don’t really mean to send – e.g. The routine assertion by climate alarmists that “97% of climate scientists are agreed about climate change” gets interpreted by climate sceptics as “Fuck you.”
So I thought he had something interesting to say, even though, as far as I could see, he’s actually something of a climate alarmist rather than sceptic, and doesn’t have a high opinion of Donald Trump (he was pointing out that Democrats are twice as likely to be worried about climate change as Republicans).
He was also saying that the two sides tend to ignore each other, and talk only to their own side.
And this prompted the thought in me that the CO2 alarmists have been been promoting the influence of CO2 in the atmosphere precisely because it was being ignored. They think it matters, and the sceptics think it doesn’t matter much, and can be ignored. The alarmists play up CO2, and the sceptics play it down.
And it prompted the further thought that in my contribution to the debate (which is bound to be completely ignored) I was also drawing attention to something that was being ignored: the influence of the Earth itself on the climate on the surface of the Earth.
For we have all seen the sorts of diagrams of radiative heat exchanges in the atmosphere shown below:
There are lots of these complicated flow charts (quite often disagreeing with each other), but one thing none of them ever include is the contribution of heat from the Earth itself. It’s completely ignored. And the reason it’s ignored is because the contribution of the Earth is tiny. Because if there are, in the flow chart above, 350 Watts/m² of surface radiation upwards from the surface of the Earth, there are only 67 milliWatts/m² of heat being contributed to the surface by the Earth.
It’s peanuts. You can ignore it. And so they do ignore it.
But I don’t think it can be ignored. If the heat flow is so low, it’s because the Earth’s surface rocks are at pretty much the same temperature as the atmosphere. But the centre of the Earth is believed to be at a temperature of about 6000K. It’s very, very hot. And in my model of the Earth, the surface rocks can become very hot too (up to 600K), and the heat flow from the Earth can rise dramatically. So my model looks like this, with the blue sine wave as the conductive heat flow from within the Earth to its surface:
But the climate scientists who ignore each other will of course ignore me. And they’ll have no trouble ignoring me, because they’re very, very good at ignoring each other. I’m a spokesman for the Ignored Earth, and they’re going to carry on ignoring it.
I tend to think of ignorance of something as being not knowing anything about it. But ignorance isn’t quite exactly that. Ignorance means ignoring something, something you know about, but dismiss as unimportant.
Anyway, here’s Pielke’s talk:
P.S. Walt draws attention to the FDA’s cockamamie scheme of reducing nicotine in tobacco, on which comments can be made here.
P.P.S. BuckotheMoose will be joining me and Peter when we visit Nisakiman next week. And there’s a chance that Brigitte might come too.