It seems appropriate to think about freedom as one aspect of Science – perhaps the most important aspect. After all, the first scientific society, the Royal Society, has as its motto: ”Nullius in Verba.” It’s part of a longer quotation from the poet Horace, saying a person need not be bound by the opinion of his/her master. A member of the Royal Society was free to disagree with the King. The Royal who gave them that charter and his patronage is the under-appreciated Charles II.
Sad to see that the present Crown Prince is the terribly misinformed son of Elizabeth II, Charles, Duke of Wales, who persists in trying to convince the government of his delusions about man-made global warming. Like our own “Constitutional Scholar in the White House” (to quote his press flack), Charles doesn’t seem to understand Britain’s (unwritten) constitution. The Royal Family is a patriotic symbol, a unifying, apolitical embodiment of Britannia, of heritage, of patriotism, of duty. Charles, in a widely reported story in the British Press, has been trying to impose ever more renewable power generation on the population, already grumbling over the cost of electricity.
The so-far classic example of political interference with scientific freedom is the Soviet Union under Stalin and Khrushchev, from 1927 till 1962. Their favored “scientist” was Trofim Lysenko, a minimally educated agronomist whose denial of Mendelian genetics turned Russia and Ukraine from the Breadbasket of Europe to an importer of grain for decades. Millions of Russians went hungry and thousands died of starvation. In the process, several thousand trained biologists were fired, imprisoned, or executed. Nikolai Vavilov was disgracefully dismissed from the presidency of the Agriculture Academy in 1938 and died in prison in 1940. Before the Bolsheviks, in the early 1900’s, two Russian biologists had received Nobel prizes; Russia was not a scientific backwater during freedom.
Darwin had hypothesized that “… in the struggle for existence, …, favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The results of this would be the formation of a new species….” It’s important to realize that Darwin had no identified mechanism by which such a variation was transmitted to offspring; Gregor Mendel’s experiments with pea plants remained unknown for decades, and Darwin’s hypothesis was widely rejected. Genes, deduced from Mendel’s data, made Darwin’s evolution mechanism feasible. The American John Hunt Morgan (Nobel laureate) identified genes in 1933 as units of chromosomes.
Marxism-Leninism, however, rejected any ideal laws that exist independently of matter; genes, God and “absolute ideas” do not exist. The ideal Soviet Man could be formed to be whatever the state wanted; a human is a tabula rasa, to be written by society. Lysenko was clever enough to offer a biological version; under Lysenko’s theory of agriculture, Southern plants could be trained to grow in the North, cows could be trained to give fatter milk, rye could be transformed into wheat and wheat into barley, and hens could lay hybrid eggs after fertilization by several roosters. Mendelian theory was just Bourgeois corruption. This was music to Stalin’s ears and to the commisars that were installed at all levels of science. The damage to Russian science persists to this day; Amazon publishes a book on the subject, and Wikipedia has lots on Lysenko.
Today, in America, we have a similar situation. An arrogant ideologue in the White House, with no scientific training, claims that man-made climate change is the greatest crisis facing humanity (not a claim by the IPCC). Those who disagree are “members of the flat Earth Society.” Before I continue my rant, let’s remember a little perspective: there has been NO global warming for 17+ years, the 100+ climate forecast models of the IPCC have all been wrong in forecasting various degrees of heating, Antarctic Sea Ice is at record levels (2.3 million sq kilometers above average), severe Atlantic hurricanes are rare, tornadoes last Summer were at a record low….there’s more, but the scientific method – comparing hypothesis with experimental data – no longer matters to Obama, as it didn’t to Stalin. The cruel irony is that American “climate scientists” did this to themselves; Russian scientists at least tried to fight back against Stalin. Let’s hope no Americans freeze this Winter due to Obama’s restrictions on energy.
Peggy Noonan has an amusing weekend column, The Daydream and the Nightmare, accompanied by a sketch of Obama (the daydream) imagining his ugly head on Mt. Rushmore (the nightmare). Noonan marvels that any president, golfing and traveling constantly, could be so unconcerned about the complete failure of both his domestic and foreign policy endeavors; she draws the conclusion that Obama considers them successful:
“He thinks he is right about his essential policies. He is steering the world toward not relying on America. He is steering America toward greater dependence on and allegiance to government. He is creating a more Federally-controlled, Washington-centric nation that is run and organized by progressives. He thinks he’s done his work, set America on a leftward course, and though his poll numbers are down now, History will look back on him and see him as heroic… He is Lincoln, scorned in his time… He’s waiting for History to get its act together and see his true size…”
I give Ms. Noonan a B+ for her column; she missed a lot – the appointment of John Podesta, the recent Nat’l Climate Assessment, the “Risky Business” nonsense from his stooges. Obama’s not through yet; he’s not “running out the clock” as she puts it. The final item on his agenda is much on his mind, and he mentions it every week. He’s out to destroy American industry, to “make the cost of electricity skyrocket”, as he promised to his backers early in 2008 in San Francisco. That’s what the new EPA “carbon pollution” regs are all about. Only two and a half more years to get it done. Another aspect of American exceptionalism to kill.
A few things you may not have noticed (or didn’t hear from the Mainstream Media):
Canada has finally gotten tired of waiting and has voted to build a pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia where an ocean terminal will transfer “dirty oil sands” black gold to Asia. It will be burned there, much less cleanly than here. Goodbye, Keystone XL; goodbye, 22,000 American jobs; goodbye, energy independence.
Coal may have played an integral role in turning the U.S. into the world’s top economic superpower, but President Obama is actively pushing China, India and other emerging economies to ignore the fuel that powered the Industrial Revolution and instead embrace renewable sources favored by those on the political left.
As part of his passionate push on climate change, the president recently implored developing countries to “leapfrog” old energy sources, which are the primary drivers of carbon emissions. So far, however, there’s little evidence those countries intend to listen to Mr. Obama, with China’s coal consumption, for example, skyrocketing and projected to keep growing for the foreseeable future. The country now accounts for nearly 50 percent of all global coal consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Some energy analysts say that expecting the president’s sermon — in which he urges nations to now do as we say, not as we did for more than a century — to dramatically alter the worldwide energy landscape is a glaring example of the “dream world” that Mr. Obama and his backers in the environmental movement call home. [Honest, folks, I don’t make this stuff up. As I said, he is delusional. But his EPA will hurt America, which is the goal.]
Antarctic sea ice is at all-time record levels, 2.3 million sq kilometers above normal.
Wait, what?! It’s collapsing any day now; we all heard that last month.
“In 1992, it was thought that volcanic degassing released something like 100 million tons of CO2 each year. Around the turn of the millennium, this figure was getting closer to 200. The most recent estimate, released this February, comes from a team led by Mike Burton, of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology – and it’s just shy of 600 million tons. It caps a staggering trend: A six-fold increase in just two decades.”
Hmmmm. The US/NASA just launched a new satellite, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory -2 (OCO-2). It will be very interesting to see where the major sources of carbon dioxide are. Mount Fuji? Kilauea? Will Obama order somebody to shut them down?
Numerous solar physicists, Russian and American, have pointed out that solar activity, measured by sunspots and by geomagnetic field strength measurements, is decreasing, both long term, over several solar cycles and over the declining current cycle. Several have claimed that terrestrial temperature must soon go down, i.e., Earth cooling lies ahead in the near future. Arm waving as far as I’ve been concerned.
But an Aussie scientist, David Evans, claims to have a statistical model, based on past records of solar activity and Earth temperature. It should be released, as an Excel spreadsheet, in a few weeks. Science is based on the ability to DISPROVE a hypothesis. Evans may turn out to be wrong – like the quacks who claim CO2 controls the climate – but it’s a starting point. BTW, climate history shows that the decline into a glacial age is usually slow, over several hundred years. I’ll let you know if anything seems to verify.