One thing that’s remarkable about the current French insurrection is that it seems to be the first time that climate science has exploded into national politics.
It’s something that has been simmering for over 30 years, with alarmists on one side, sceptics on the other. But this seems to be the first time it has resulted in riots and roadblocks.
And Emmanuel Macron appears to be a fully-paid-up Global Warming alarmist, determined, in his capacity as French President, to stop the French people generating carbon dioxide with their cars and trucks. He’s France’s Al Gore.
And the French people seem to mostly be global Warming sceptics. They don’t believe what Macron believes. They’re not bothered about carbon dioxide. And they’ve been making their contempt for it very plain, by starting fires everywhere. Climate sceptics and climate alarmists are now fighting in the streets.
What makes some people into alarmists, and some into sceptics? Is Macron a climate scientist? No. Is he any sort of scientist at all? No. He’s a banker. So why does he fervently believe in the threat of global warming? And why are most French people disbelievers?
I suspect that this is another town-and-country divide. New fashions first catch on in towns and cities, and Paris is one of the most fashionable cities in the world. And in these cities, the social interactions between people proceed with high intensity. And so new ideas rapidly gain currency in cities. They take longer to percolate out into the country outside the city, where social interactions are far slower.
And climate alarmism is one of these fashionable new ideas that periodically sweep through society like infectious diseases. And it was one that first gained currency in cities, by word of mouth, and newspapers and TV. Within a few years, everybody was worrying about carbon dioxide. Everybody, that is, except the hicks who lived out in the sticks.
Macron is a fashionable thinker who thinks in the same way as his fashionable city friends. And he’s very concerned with keeping up appearances:
Since entering the Elysée Palace in May , the 39-year-old president has settled two bills from a personal makeup artist called Natacha M; one for €10,000 and another for €16,000.
Macron is a fashionable Parisian with fashionable Parisian clothes, fashionable Parisian hair, and fashionable Parisian beliefs. And most likely French farmers, far from Paris, have none of these fashionable accoutrements.
And all Macron’s fashionable beliefs will have been acquired, secondhand, from other people.
The one thing that Macron will not have done is to study matters himself. The same applies to Al Gore, and most other climate alarmists. They’ll simply be quoting James Hansen or Michael Mann, or other climate scientists who actually have studied these matters, and who have been elevated into global authorities on climate.
But over the past year, I’ve been slowly building my own computer climate simulation model. It’s taken me years to get one working, because previous attempts came to nothing. And it’s a very simple model. But I think it’s a highly instructive model. It even has a simple multi-layer atmosphere, with radiative heat exchanges between layers, such that if I increase the absorptivity of the air, its temperature goes up – just like the global warming alarmists say it does when absorptive greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are added to it. I can emulate global warming in my model.
I think that everybody ought to have their own climate simulation model, and use it to demonstrate to themselves and their friends what happens when you change the absorptivity of air, or the albedo of the planet, or the eccentricity of the orbit of the Earth. Because if they don’t have such models, they’re simply relying on the authoritative assertions by people who have such models: they’re relying on secondhand knowledge.
I’ve always been a model builder. And building model houses using wooden bricks, or model boats and planes using paper or cardboard will teach you a lot about how these things work. It’s only when you do things yourself that you start to learn anything. You only learn to cook when you do it yourself. If you don’t do it yourself, you’ll be forever reliant on other people’s cooking, and never have any idea how anything is made.
How can anyone discuss climate if they don’t have a climate model? Yet Emmanuel Macron almost certainly hasn’t got his own climate simulation model. And all those rioting Frenchman haven’t got any either. And so it’s the blind leading the blind. Or rather, it’s the blind fighting the blind. Neither side have any real idea what they’re talking about.
Furthermore, earlier this year I bought a (rather expensive) tome: Principles of Planetary Climate by Raymond Pierrehumbert. It’s chock full of the sort of equations that I need to construct my simulation model. But aside from the equations, and the easy conversational tone of the book, what’s most remarkable about the book is how many Big Questions in climate science remain unanswered. In fact the opening chapter of the book has the title: The Big Questions. And so if the book is highly informative about the things that climate scientists know, it’s also highly informative about the things they don’t know. And there’s a heck of a lot that they don’t know.
So if Macron knows next to nothing about climate science, and the French rioters are the same, then it would seem that climate scientists are themselves full of unanswered questions too. And so maybe our current climate alarmism is not so much the result of any progress in climate science, but instead an anxiety consequent upon its lack of progress in answering a very long list of Big Questions. We’re all terrified of what we don’t know.