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Did They Murder Him?

“Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power.” – James Allen


Please watch the below video of Dr. Andreas Noack, a chemist and graphene expert unlike any under in the EU. He got attacked on a livestream months ago by special police for laughable reasons.

Now, just hours after publishing this work, the forces that be decided that he hit the mark so hard with uncovering their plans, that they decided to take him out.

Was this a hit by the elite to silence this good doctor for exposing their ugly truths? You decide.

Forbidden Knowledge in a column titled “German chemist Dr. Andreas Noack was arrested by and armed police unit during YouTube live stream” reported:

On November 18, 2020, well-known German chemist and a top graphene expert in the EU, Dr Andreas Noack was arrested by an armed police unit in the middle of his YouTube livestream.

Now, just hours after publishing his latest video a few days ago, he died suddenly and mysteriously.

Best News Here in an article titled “Murder? Just Hours After Publishing the Secret of the Vax the Doctor Is Dead (Must Video)” reported:

This video is of This is Dr. Noack, a chemist and graphene expert unlike any under in the EU. He got attacked on a livestream months ago by special police for laughable reasons.

Now, just hours after publishing this work, the forces that be decided that he hit the mark so hard with uncovering their plans, that they decided to take him out.

Was this a hit by the elite to silence this good doctor for exposing their ugly truths? You decide!

©Fred Brownbill. All rights reserved.

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In a Pandemic, Dogmatism is the Real Enemy

What we need is careful science, not scientism


Eight months into this pandemic, we sometimes seem to be no nearer to knowing what’s going on than we were at the beginning.

Lockdowns vs. no lockdowns; masks vs. no masks; hydroxychloroquine vs. remdesivir; opening schools vs. closing schools, etc., etc. Every day, top-level experts express significantly divergent viewpoints on each of these questions. One study published one day concludes one thing; another study published the next concludes the opposite, and critics attack both. One newspaper analyzes the latest data and claims that things are getting better; another newspaper, looking at the same data, laments they have never been worse. Meanwhile, fundamental and simple questions, such as how this virus is transmitted, or where it originated, are still the subject of ongoing research and intense debate.

All of which is to say, science is operating exactly as it always has.

Preaching Orthodoxies Prematurely

If the history of science proves anything, it’s that attaining certainty even on relatively narrow questions is an arduous process. It requires huge investments of time and is often preceded by false starts, dead ends, and premature claims of success. Science is often muddied by haste, ineptness, researcher bias, and conflicting personal, financial, political, and ideological interests.

Given the additional, staggering complexity of a global pandemic, the surprising thing about our present uncertainty is not the uncertainty itself, but how distraught or even scandalized many people are by it. An excessive desire for certainty is leading to counter-productive responses — and to a breakdown of communication and trust, precisely when we most need both.

Over the past eight months, people of every political stripe have prematurely seized on scientific claims and preached them as though they were orthodoxies, with a zeal out of proportion to our actual knowledge. Rather than explore and attempt diverse approaches, or carve out space for conversation, creativity, and experimentation, we too often assume “the other side” is malicious. We call even mild nonconformism or risk-taking a moral failing rather than a necessary prerequisite for advancing our knowledge. Often, the public “debate” has been little more productive than a pie fight

Not long ago, as Allan Bloom pointed out in The Closing of the American Mindsome form of skepticism or relativism was the default epistemological position of the overwhelming majority of people. Every day college freshmen repeated some version of the claim that “truth is relative” as though it were a platitude. But today we expect and demand absolute certainty on extraordinarily complex matters, at the snap of our fingers.

Scientism, Superstition, and Dogmatism

Most people seem to agree that the pandemic is a scientific problem that needs a scientific solution. This is true, but only partially. To view the plague as purely a scientific problem is reductive. As Andrew Sullivan noted in a recent essay, a plague is not just a medical event. It is also a “social and cultural and political” event. Plagues “insinuate themselves into every nook and cranny of our lives and psyches — from sex to shopping, from work to religion, from politics to journalism — and thereby alter them.”

After all, even if our scientific understanding of the virus were complete, we still wouldn’t all agree on the right response, and for good reason. Many medical experts presume that our goal should be to save as many lives as possible from the virus — but there are limits to that goal. Saving more lives in the short term at the expense of fundamental rights and freedoms, or of social order, or of the long-term viability of the economy, may be too high a price to pay. How to balance these concerns cannot be answered by science alone.

Talking heads on TV exhort the public to “trust the science” as if “the science” were some monolith, unaffected by human fallibility and constraints, that could answer all the political, ethical, and social questions that the pandemic raises. Many seem to believe that, if scientists just work harder, at some point “the science” will tell us what to do, down to the minutest detail.

This is scientism, and it is a form of superstition. Like all superstitions, it stems from a desire to escape the discomfort of uncertainty; the painful duties of investigation, debate, and decision-making; and the risk of being wrong.

Rather than stretch our minds to fit the problem, superstition reduces the problem to fit the limitations of our minds. It replaces reason with dogma, and thanks to the spread of scientism today, dogmatism is ubiquitous. Even those who criticize the dogmatism of others who demand fealty to “the science” often adhere to their own scientific dogmatism — only they find their dogmas in far-flung and seedy corners of science and the media. Moreover, both sides often insist that their favored scientist, or group of scientists, or publication, or journalist, is the only one who has “figured it out.” If we would just listen to them, everything would be all right.

The dogmatist is scandalized by the difficulty of how humans come to know — bit by bit, at the expenditure of enormous energy, and in many matters reaching only probable conclusions. He prefers to seize on a simplistic explanation and call it a solution. One can see why such people often become conspiracy theorists. Perplexed by a vast confusion of data points, the conspiracy theorist does not patiently investigate the data to discover their objective connection (which is hard). Rather, he presumes an explanation, investigates how to fit the various data points to it, and simply discards the data that will not fit (which is easy).

How to Debate About a Plague

But maybe there is no one correct solution to this pandemic — no one strategy that we know with certainty (based on irrefutable scientific data) will save more lives than the alternatives; or that won’t come with its own unacceptable, long-term costs. Or if there is any such answer, perhaps we cannot possibly know what it is until well after this pandemic is over, when there are no more decisions to make. There are simply too many factors at play and too many unknowns; and we have no idea how the coming days, months, and years will unfold.

Should we throw up our hands in despair? Are there no solutions that are clearly better, or supported by better evidence, than others? Is the science so hopelessly complex that we can’t possibly look to it for any guidance? Should we not advocate our favored solutions, based on the best available evidence, or not oppose the solutions we believe to be harmful or misguided?

Of course not. Doing nothing is not an option. We may not know everything we would like to know about this virus, but we do know much more than we did before, and certainly more than the human race has ever known when facing a similar crisis. We have to move, and in order to move, we must select a starting point. We must make decisions based on the limited information we have, and then execute those decisions with conviction, hoping that they turn out as planned.

On the other hand, we should be aware of the sorts of errors that may cloud our judgment.

Dogmatism closes questions that ought to remain open and blinds us to any truths that go against our own prejudices and political loyalties. It precludes fruitful conversation and compromise by treating as moral those questions that are merely practical and therefore debatable. We should be rigid only on moral absolutes and be flexible in everything else. We need to bear courageously the burden of uncertainty in matters that are uncertain. We ought not cast aspersions on the motives of others, when a plausible case can be made that they are simply reading the data differently.

Another common error is the “sunk cost” fallacy: when we continue down a path — even in the face of evidence that it is the wrong way — merely because we have already gone so far down it, or because we staked so much of our reputations on it. Then there is confirmation bias, the error by which we ask how new data support our preferred conclusion, rather than whether they do so in fact.

Wisdom lies not in having a great deal of knowledge, but in honestly identifying the limits of our knowledge. Socrates was the wisest man in Athens precisely because he believed himself to be ignorant. We ought to be suspicious of politicians, media talking heads, conspiracy theorists, and social media warriors who profess to be wise. Their alluring reductions and ideologies are leading us astray and tearing us apart.

Above all, let us have the humility to admit when we are wrong. If anything is certain in a global pandemic, it is that every one of us will be wrong some of the time.

This article has been republished with permission from The Public Discourse.

COLUMN BY

John Jalsevac

John Jalsevac is working on a PhD in medieval philosophy, with a dissertation examining Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy of memory. .

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Why Have So Many American Conservatives Embraced COVID-19 Pseudoscience?

With almost 150,000 COVID-19 deaths, the United States, putative leader of the free world, now is competing with Brazil and Russia for global supremacy in pandemic mismanagement. Not only does the United States lack any kind of coherent federal leadership on this issue, but even state and city leaders have fallen into bickering—and even lawsuits—over the correct response. While many Western nations have all but extinguished COVID-19 within their borders, the American pandemic is raging with a new ferocity. Yet some conservatives continue to protest even basic public-health measures, including masks. How could some of America’s best and brightest abet their country’s collapse into dysfunction in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic?

The most obvious answer lies with their president, Donald Trump, who has continued to hold large rallies even into July. He and his most fervent supporters boosted the patchwork of conspiracy theories, crank medical science, and plain apathy that informed much of the American response. At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) conference in Washington, D.C. back in February, the president’s then acting cabinet chief, Mick Mulvaney, assured everyone that no country is better equipped to deal with this kind of crisis, and that “the press was covering their hoax of the day because they thought it would bring down the president… That’s what this is all about.” This was in late February, a full five months ago, when the American death count was still in double digits. Yet now that it is well into six digits, we still get the same script. People die all the time, from all sorts of causes, they tell us. Take the flu. It kills tens of thousands every year, right?

As someone who has a wide network of conservative friends and ideological allies, cultivated over decades of writing on the Middle East conflict, anti-Semitism, terrorism, and related issues, I’ve watched in horror as writers I’ve long respected succumbed to this nonsense. On January 30th, well before many people had even heard of COVID-19, in fact, American Thinker writer Jeffrey Folks was already warning that this was merely a case of “Dems rooting for a global pandemic”:

Russiagate didn’t work. Ukraine didn’t work, the economy is growing at a healthy rate. Nothing works against this president—but maybe the coronavirus will do it! … Things would have to be a lot worse than [the SARS outbreak] in 2002–3, when there were 8,098 cases and 774 deaths worldwide.

Of course, plenty of leaders and pundits botched their response to COVID-19 in January and February. But even in March, by which time it had become obvious that COVID-19 wasn’t just another iteration of the seasonal flu, Trump continued to act as if the disease could be fought on the basis of hunches and pseudoscience. Confiding in Fox News host Sean Hannity, the president said that reports of a high mortality rate were false. Around the same time, an American Thinker writer blithely assured everyone on the basis that “the odds of recovering are far higher than the odds of dying” (which is also true of many kinds of cancer). In the conservative blogosphere, the idea of communist China waging germ warfare against the West was conflated with alleged Democratic efforts to profit from the political fallout—with Trump cast as the adult in the room resisting the call for panic. Or as one writer put it: “Thank God for the cool, calm, collected and seasoned business mogul, President Donald J. Trump, who is guiding us.”

In his weekly articles on the American Greatness site, New Criterion publisher Roger Kimball conferred legitimacy on the no-big-deal approach to the unfolding pandemic with highbrow literary references and Latin phrases. As the body count climbed, he began insisting on picayune distinctions between “dying from the virus [or] with the virus.” This pedantry continues to this day, as various conservatives spin the death numbers this way and that, in order to present the plague as an artifact of testing, natural mortality cycles, or media bias.

Meanwhile, the actual scientists trying to save lives, Anthony Fauci foremost among them, have been demonized. In May, Kimball proclaimed that “the country has been on a moral bender, intoxicated by fear and panic,” and then luridly demagogued the “Svengali-like Anthony Fauci” as some kind of Rasputin figure, noting that the doctor was accompanied by “his comely, Vanna White-like assistant Dr. Deborah Birx.” To this day, Trump himself insists that Fauci is an “alarmist.” Among the president’s supporters, Sweden’s failed effort to let the disease progress toward a state of herd immunity remains an object of admiration.

Even the usually sure-footed Heather Mac Donald wrote that:

Fear-mongering news stories should begin by admitting that there is [as of March 13th], a total of 41 deaths in the United States, half of them from a ‘poorly run nursing home outside of Seattle.’ The chances of dying from the disease in America are infinitesimal compared to the economic damage. In 2018–19, 34,200 people died from influenza. The annual death toll from automobile accidents is 38,800. Even if the current Covid-19 fatality rate were multiplied by a factor of one thousand, it would outnumber traffic deaths by a mere 2,200.

As of late July, in fact, the death toll already has spiked upward, compared to March 13th, by a factor of about three thousand—and no one knows how high it will go. As for the dead, Mac Donald nonchalantly noted that no children under the age of nine had died, while 89 percent of the Italian victims were over 70, “nearing the end of their lifespans. [They] might have… died from another illness.” Succumbing to Godwin’s Law, Dennis Prager argued that the economic effects of the lockdown would be worse than the disease itself, and, in the same breath, that “the Nazis came to power because of economics more than any other single reason.”

The demand that the medical community recognize the miraculous COVID-19-curing qualities of hydroxychloroquine formed another absurd subplot. In his in-depth report on Didier Raoult, the controversial French professor who championed the drug, journalist Scott Sayare explained that much of the misinformation began spreading in early March, when Gregory Rigano—who falsely presented himself as an advisor to Stanford Medical School—self-published a Google Docs report on the subject that he’d formatted so that it looked like a legitimate scientific paper. Fox News host Laura Ingraham picked up on his misinformation, and pronounced hydroxychloroquine to be a “game-changer.” Sean Hannity followed suit. Rigano appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show, where he claimed that Raoult’s study had shown a 100 percent cure rate. At a March 19th White House task force briefing, President Trump repeated the claim that the drug was a “game changer.”

In time, the debate over hydroxychloroquine became suffused with misinformation on both sides, as even the debunkers who opposed Trump’s claims ignored the usual scientific safeguards. In May, the Lancet published a report declaring that hydroxychloroquine wasn’t merely ineffective in regard to COVID-19, but dangerous, too. In June, that work was retracted. This was around the same time that progressive media and public-health groups were insisting that mass attendance at Black Lives Matter events was perfectly safe because the underlying political cause was important—an absurd contradiction of the same health protocols these same experts had properly defended since March. When it comes to COVID-19, Trump and his followers may have led the assault on the sanctity of science. But many of his opponents have made a bad situation worse, proving that political extremism can be a risk to human health no matter which direction it comes from.

What I have described here represents a crisis of ideology—an abstract, electronic-media-driven phenomenon by which conservatives prioritized partisanship and wishful thinking over saving lives. But the results played out all over real-world bricks-and-mortar America: Healthcare workers begging for PPE, governors bidding against federal emergency-management officials for desperately needed supplies, scenes of triage at hospitals, and chaotic protests outside state capitols. Meanwhile, the nation’s elderly remained holed up as prisoners in nursing homes (the decrepit state of which has been revealed as a scandal in and of itself). The whole world is now watching Trump’s America degenerate into the kind of dysfunction that we usually associate with failed states.

As with all important policy issues, the best approach to fighting COVID-19 is open to debate. Even scientists don’t fully understand the role of drugs, including hydroxychloroquine, or the medical side effects of lockdown. But what I’m describing here isn’t evidence-driven debate: It’s angry, ideologically driven luddite mysticism masquerading as hard-headed conservative skepticism.

Here in France, I’ve already lost two precious friends to COVID-19: Jewish community leader Claude Barouch and senior politician Claude Goasguen. Others who are close to me have suffered horribly from this illness. Ideologues didn’t create the virus that struck these people. But they did let themselves become trapped in a partisan rabbit hole at a time when they could have been lending their influential voices to productive, scientific, life-saving ends.

©All rights reserved.

I was wrong. We scared you unnecessarily, says environmentalist

Michael Schellenberger has been called an “environmental guru,” “climate guru,” “North America’s leading public intellectual on clean energy,” and “high priest” of the environmental movement for his writings and TED talks, which have been viewed over five million times. His latest book, Apocalypse Never, is creating a huge controversy. Below he showcases its main ideas.


On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.

I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30.

But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know:

  • Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”
  • The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
  • Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
  • Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003
  • The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
  • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
  • Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s
  • Netherlands became rich not poor while adapting to life below sea level
  • We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
  • Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
  • Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
  • Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism.

In reality, the above facts come from the best-available scientific studies, including those conducted by or accepted by the IPCC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other leading scientific bodies.

Some people will, when they read this imagine that I’m some right-wing anti-environmentalist. I’m not. At 17, I lived in Nicaragua to show solidarity with the Sandinista socialist revolution. At 23 I raised money for Guatemalan women’s cooperatives. In my early 20s I lived in the semi-Amazon doing research with small farmers fighting land invasions. At 26 I helped expose poor conditions at Nike factories in Asia.

I became an environmentalist at 16 when I threw a fundraiser for Rainforest Action Network. At 27 I helped save the last unprotected ancient redwoods in California. In my 30s I advocated renewables and successfully helped persuade the Obama administration to invest $90 billion into them. Over the last few years I helped save enough nuclear plants from being replaced by fossil fuels to prevent a sharp increase in emissions

But until last year, I mostly avoided speaking out against the climate scare. Partly that’s because I was embarrassed. After all, I am as guilty of alarmism as any other environmentalist. For years, I referred to climate change as an “existential” threat to human civilization, and called it a “crisis.”

But mostly I was scared. I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences. And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.

I even stood by as people in the White House and many in the news media tried to destroy the reputation and career of an outstanding scientist, good man, and friend of mine, Roger Pielke, Jr., a lifelong progressive Democrat and environmentalist who testified in favor of carbon regulations. Why did they do that? Because his research proves natural disasters aren’t getting worse.

But then, last year, things spiraled out of control.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “The world is going to end in twelve years if we don’t address climate change.” Britain’s most high-profile environmental group claimed “Climate Change Kills Children.”

The world’s most influential green journalist, Bill McKibben, called climate change the “greatest challenge humans have ever faced” and said it would “wipe out civilizations.”

Mainstream journalists reported, repeatedly, that the Amazon was “the lungs of the world,” and that deforestation was like a nuclear bomb going off.

As a result, half of the people surveyed around the world last year said they thought climate change would make humanity extinct. And in January, one out of five British children told pollsters they were having nightmares about climate change.

Whether or not you have children you must see how wrong this is. I admit I may be sensitive because I have a teenage daughter. After we talked about the science she was reassured. But her friends are deeply misinformed and thus, understandably, frightened.

I thus decided I had to speak out. I knew that writing a few articles wouldn’t be enough. I needed a book to properly lay out all of the evidence.

And so my formal apology for our fear-mongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

It is based on two decades of research and three decades of environmental activism. At 400 pages, with 100 of them endnotes, Apocalypse Never covers climate change, deforestation, plastic waste, species extinction, industrialization, meat, nuclear energy, and renewables.

Some highlights from the book:

  • Factories and modern farming are the keys to human liberation and environmental progress
  • The most important thing for saving the environment is producing more food, particularly meat, on less land
  • The most important thing for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions is moving from wood to coal to petroleum to natural gas to uranium
  • 100% renewables would require increasing the land used for energy from today’s 0.5% to 50%
  • We should want cities, farms, and power plants to have higher, not lower, power densities
  • Vegetarianism reduces one’s emissions by less than 4%
  • Greenpeace didn’t save the whales, switching from whale oil to petroleum and palm oil did
  • “Free-range” beef would require 20 times more land and produce 300% more emissions
  • Greenpeace dogmatism worsened forest fragmentation of the Amazon
  • The colonialist approach to gorilla conservation in the Congo produced a backlash that may have resulted in the killing of 250 elephants

Why were we all so misled?

In the final three chapters of Apocalypse Never I expose the financial, political, and ideological motivations. Environmental groups have accepted hundreds of millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests. Groups motivated by anti-humanist beliefs forced the World Bank to stop trying to end poverty and instead make poverty “sustainable.” And status anxiety, depression, and hostility to modern civilization are behind much of the alarmism

Once you realize just how badly misinformed we have been, often by people with plainly unsavory or unhealthy motivations, it is hard not to feel duped.

Will Apocalypse Never make any difference? There are certainly reasons to doubt it.

The news media have been making apocalyptic pronouncements about climate change since the late 1980s, and do not seem disposed to stop.

The ideology behind environmental alarmsim — Malthusianism — has been repeatedly debunked for 200 years and yet is more powerful than ever.

But there are also reasons to believe that environmental alarmism will, if not come to an end, have diminishing cultural power.

The coronavirus pandemic is an actual crisis that puts the climate “crisis” into perspective. Even if you think we have overreacted, Covid-19 has killed nearly 500,000 people and shattered economies around the globe.

Scientific institutions including WHO and IPCC have undermined their credibility through the repeated politicization of science. Their future existence and relevance depends on new leadership and serious reform.

Facts still matter, and social media is allowing for a wider range of new and independent voices to outcompete alarmist environmental journalists at legacy publications.

Nations are reverting openly to self-interest and away from Malthusianism and neoliberalism, which is good for nuclear and bad for renewables.

The evidence is overwhelming that our high-energy civilization is better for people and nature than the low-energy civilization that climate alarmists would return us to.

The invitations from IPCC and Congress are signs of a growing openness to new thinking about climate change and the environment. Another one has been to the response to my book from climate scientists, conservationists, and environmental scholars. “Apocalypse Never is an extremely important book,” writes Richard Rhodes, the Pulitzer-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb. “This may be the most important book on the environment ever written,” says one of the fathers of modern climate science Tom Wigley.

“We environmentalists condemn those with antithetical views of being ignorant of science and susceptible to confirmation bias,” wrote the former head of The Nature Conservancy, Steve McCormick. “But too often we are guilty of the same.  Shellenberger offers ‘tough love:’ a challenge to entrenched orthodoxies and rigid, self-defeating mindsets.  Apocalypse Never serves up occasionally stinging, but always well-crafted, evidence-based points of view that will help develop the ‘mental muscle’ we need to envision and design not only a hopeful, but an attainable, future.”

That is all I hoped for in writing it. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ll agree that it’s perhaps not as strange as it seems that a lifelong environmentalist, progressive, and climate activist felt the need to speak out against the alarmism.

I further hope that you’ll accept my apology.

This article has been republished with permission from the website of Environmental Progress, which was founded by Michael Schellenberger.

COLUMN BY

Michael Schellenberger

Michael Shellenberger is an American author, environmental policy writer, co-founder of Breakthrough Institute and founder of Environmental Progress.

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Science is Falsifiable. Take Climate Change As An Example.

The Clear Energy Alliance produced the below video on global warming stating:

In order to know if a theory could be true, there must be a way to prove it to be false. Unfortunately, many climate change scientists, the media and activists are ignoring this cornerstone of science. In this bizarre new world, all unwelcome climate events are caused by climate change. But as legendary scientific philosopher Karl Popper noted, “A theory that explains everything, explains nothing.” Guest host Marc Morano explains.

RELATED ARTICLE: Is Global Warming Theory Scientific?

EDITORS NOTE: This video by Clear Energy Alliance is republished from their YouTube channel. The featured image is from Pixabay.

A Scientific Consensus on What Now? by Robert P. Murphy

Authority versus Science in the Climate Change Debate.

When it comes to the climate change debate, many of the loudest voices are confidently making assertions that are not backed up by the actual evidence — and in this respect, they are behaving very unscientifically.

One obvious sign that many people in the climate change debate are appealing to emotions rather than facts is their reliance on pejorative terminology. For example, rather than make an informative statement that they support subsidies for wind and solar, and taxes on coal and oil, they may instead say they support “clean energy” while their opponents favor “dirty energy.”

The coup de grâce, of course, occurs when partisans in the debate refer to their opponents as “climate deniers.” This is a nonsensical slur that would have impressed Orwell. Obviously, nobody denies climate. Furthermore, nobody denies that the climate is changing. And, when it comes to the serious debate among published climate scientists, people on both sides agree that human activities are contributing to warmer temperatures; the dispute is simply overhow much. (Those who think the change is mild have embraced the label “lukewarmers.”)

To label critics of a carbon tax or EPA regulations on power plants as “climate deniers” is utterly destructive of rational inquiry and tries to link legitimate skepticism to Holocaust denial. Those who use this term without irony demonstrate that they have no interest in scientific discovery.

Related to this lack of nuance, and the appeal to an exaggerated consensus, is the oft-repeated claim that “97 percent of climate scientists agree” on the state of human-generated climate change. Physicist-turned-economist David Friedman (among others) has investigated the methods used to generate such claims, and finds that they are seriously lacking.

Using the very data (on abstracts from published papers) that forms the basis of these headline announcements, Friedman reckons that more like 1.6 percent of the surveyed papers explicitly endorse humans as the main cause of global warming since the 1800s. Friedman further argues that this confusion — where the actual findings of the paper ended up being misinterpreted by the media — appears to have been deliberately produced by the survey’s authors.

“Hottest Year on Record” and “the Pause”

A January 2016 New York Times article epitomizes the advocacy disguised as reporting in the climate change debate. The very title lets you know that a serious case of scientism is coming, for it announces, “2015 Was Hottest Year in Historical Record, Scientists Say.”

Now, we must inquire, what is the purpose of adding “Scientists Say” at the end? Does any reader think that the Times would be quoting plumbers or accountants on whether 2015 was the hottest year on record? The obvious purpose is to contrast what scientists say about global warming with what thosenonscientist deniers are saying. The article goes on to let us know exactly what “the scientists” think about global warming and manmade activities:

Scientists started predicting a global temperature record months ago, in part because an El Niño weather pattern, one of the largest in a century, is releasing an immense amount of heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere. But the bulk of the record-setting heat, they say, is a consequence of the long-term planetary warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

“The whole system is warming up, relentlessly,” said Gerald A. Meehl, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

It will take a few more years to know for certain, but the back-to-back records of 2014 and 2015 may have put the world back onto a trajectory of rapid global warming, after a period of relatively slow warming dating to the last powerful El Niño, in 1998.

Politicians attempting to claim that greenhouse gases are not a problem seized on that slow period to argue that “global warming stopped in 1998,” with these claims and similar statements reappearing recently on the Republican presidential campaign trail.

Statistical analysis suggested all along that the claims were false, and that the slowdown was, at most, a minor blip in an inexorable trend, perhaps caused by a temporary increase in the absorption of heat by the Pacific Ocean.

This excerpt is quite fascinating. We have something reported as undeniable fact when it actually relies on assumptions of what might happen in the future (“may have put the world back onto a trajectory of rapid global warming”) and offers conjectures to explain why the measured warming suddenly slowed down (“perhaps caused by a temporary increase in the absorption of heat”).

The “statistical analysis” did not establish that the critics’ claims were false. It is undeniably true that the official NASA GISS records showed, for example, that the average annual global temperature in 2008 was lower than the annual temperature in 1998, and that’s why people at the time were saying, “There has been no global warming in the last ten years.”

Here is a NASA-affiliated scientist arguing that such claims are misleading, and perhaps they were, but it is similarly misleading to turn around and claim that the pause didn’t exist.

If you asked a bunch of Americans whether they gained weight over the last 10 years, their natural interpretation of that question would be, “Do I weigh morenow than I weighed 10 years ago?” They wouldn’t think it involved construction of moving averages since birth. In that sense, the people referring to the pause were not acting dishonestly; they were pointing out to the public a fact about the temperature record that would definitely be news to them, in light of the rhetoric of runaway climate change.

However, the more substantive point here is that the popular climate models predicted much more warming than has in fact occurred. In other words, the question isn’t whether the 2000s were warmer than the 1990s. Rather, the issue is given how much concentrations of greenhouse gases have risen, is the actualtemperature trend consistent with the predicted temperature trend?

To answer this, consider a December 2015 Cato Institute working paper from two climate scientists, Pat Michaels and Paul Knappenberger: “Climate Models and Climate Reality: A Closer Look at a Luke warming World.” They avoid the accusation of cherry-picking by running through trend lengths of varying durations, and they compare 108 model runs with the various data sets on observed temperatures. They conclude, “During all periods from 10 years (2006–2015) to 65 (1951–2015) years in length, the observed temperature trend lies in the lower half of the collection of climate model simulations, and for several periods it lies very close (or even below) the 2.5th percentile of all the model runs.”

Thus we see that the critics arguing about the model projections aren’t simply picking the very warm 1998 as a starting point in order to game the results. The standard models produced warming projections well above what has happened in reality, and for some periods the observed warming was so low (relative to the prediction) that there is less than a 2.5 percent chance that this could be explained by natural volatility. This is the sense in which the current suite of climate models is on the verge of being “rejected” in the statistician’s sense.

To be sure, I am not a climate scientist, and others would no doubt dispute the interpretation of the data that Michaels and Knappenberger give. My point is to show how utterly misleading the New York Times piece is when it leads readers to believe that “scientists” were never troubled by lackluster warming and that only politicians were trying to confuse the public on the matter.

Climate Economists Don’t Believe Their Models?

Finally, consider a December 2015 Vox piece with the title, “Economists Agree: Economic Models Underestimate Climate Change.” Furthermore, the URL for this piece contains the phrase “economists-climate-consensus.” We see the same appeal to authority here as in the natural sciences when it comes to climate policy.

The Vox article refers to a survey of 365 economists who had published in the field of climate economics. Here is the takeaway: “Like scientists, economists agree that climate change is a serious threat and that immediate action is needed to address it” (emphasis added).

Yet, in several respects, the survey reveals facts at odds with the alarmist rhetoric the public hears on the issue. For example, one question asked, “During what time period do you believe the net effects of climate change will first have a negative impact on the global economy?” With President Obama and other important officials discussing the ravages of climate change (allegedly) before our very eyes, one might have expected the vast majority of the survey respondents to say that climate change is having a negative impact right now.

In fact, only 41 percent said that. Twenty-two percent thought the negative impact would be felt by 2025, while an additional 26 percent would only say climate change would have net negative economic effects by 2050. Would anyone have expected that result when reading Vox’s summary that immediate action is needed to address climate change?

To be clear, the Vox statement is not a lie; it can be justified by the responses on two of the other questions. Yet the actual views of these economists are much more nuanced than the pithy summary statements suggest.

Authority versus Science

On this particular survey, I personally encountered the height of absurdity in the context of scientism and appeal to authority. For years, in my capacity as an economist for the Institute for Energy Research, I have pointed out that the published results in the United Nations’ official “consensus” documents do not justify even a standard goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, let alone the over-the-top rhetoric of people like Paul Krugman.

In order to push back against my claim, economist Noah Smith pointed to the survey discussed earlier, proudly declaring, “Apparently most climate economists don’t believe their own models.” Thus we have reached the point where partisans on one side of a policy debate rely on surveys of what “the experts say,” in order to knock down the other side who rely on the published results of those very experts.

This is the epitome of elevating appeals to scientific authority over the underlying science itself.

In the climate change debate, legitimate disputes are transformed into a battle between Noble Seekers of Truth versus Unscientific Liars Who Hate Humanity. Time and again, references to “the consensus” are greatly exaggerated, while people pointing out enormous problems with the case for policy action are dismissed as “deniers.”

Robert P. MurphyRobert P. Murphy

Robert P. Murphy is research assistant professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University.

RELATED ARTICLE: College Professor Advocating Climate Change May Have Mismanaged Millions in Tax Dollars

Networks Topple Scientific Dogma by Max Borders

Science is undergoing a wrenching evolutionary change.

In fact, most of what we consider to be carried out in the name of science is dubious at best, flat wrong at worst. It appears we’re putting too much faith in science — particularly the kind of science that relies on reproducibility.

In a University of Virginia meta-study, half of 100 psychology study results could not be reproduced.

Experts making social science prognostications turned out to be mostly wrong, according to political science writer Philip Tetlock’s decades-long review of expert forecasts.

But there is perhaps no more egregious example of bad expert advice than in the area of health and nutrition. As I wrote last year for Voice & Exit:

For most of our lives, we’ve been taught some variation on the food pyramid. The advice? Eat mostly breads and cereals, then fruits and vegetables, and very little fat and protein. Do so and you’ll be thinner and healthier. Animal fat and butter were considered unhealthy. Certain carbohydrate-rich foods were good for you as long as they were whole grain. Most of us anchored our understanding about food to that idea.

“Measures used to lower the plasma lipids in patients with hyperlipidemia will lead to reductions in new events of coronary heart disease,” said the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1971. (“How Networks Bring Down Experts (The Paleo Example),” March 12, 2015)

The so-called “lipid theory” had the support of the US surgeon general. Doctors everywhere fell in line behind the advice. Saturated fats like butter and bacon became public enemy number one. People flocked to the supermarket to buy up “heart healthy” margarines. And yet, Americans were getting fatter.

But early in the 21st century something interesting happened: people began to go against the grain (no pun) and they started talking about their small experiments eating saturated fat. By 2010, the lipid hypothesis — not to mention the USDA food pyramid — was dead. Forty years of nutrition orthodoxy had been upended. Now the experts are joining the chorus from the rear.

The Problem Goes Deeper

But the problem doesn’t just affect the soft sciences, according to science writer Ron Bailey:

The Stanford statistician John Ioannidis sounded the alarm about our science crisis 10 years ago. “Most published research findings are false,” Ioannidis boldly declared in a seminal 2005 PLOS Medicine article. What’s worse, he found that in most fields of research, including biomedicine, genetics, and epidemiology, the research community has been terrible at weeding out the shoddy work largely due to perfunctory peer review and a paucity of attempts at experimental replication.

Richard Horton of the Lancet writes, “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.” And according Julia Belluz and Steven Hoffman, writing in Vox,

Another review found that researchers at Amgen were unable to reproduce 89 percent of landmark cancer research findings for potential drug targets. (The problem even inspired a satirical publication called the Journal of Irreproducible Results.)

Contrast the progress of science in these areas with that of applied sciences such as computer science and engineering, where more market feedback mechanisms are in place. It’s the difference between Moore’s Law and Murphy’s Law.

So what’s happening?

Science’s Evolution

Three major catalysts are responsible for the current upheaval in the sciences. First, a few intrepid experts have started looking around to see whether studies in their respective fields are holding up. Second, competition among scientists to grab headlines is becoming more intense. Third, informal networks of checkers — “amateurs” — have started questioning expert opinion and talking to each other. And the real action is in this third catalyst, creating as it does a kind of evolutionary fitness landscape for scientific claims.

In other words, for the first time, the cost of checking science is going down as the price of being wrong is going up.

Now, let’s be clear. Experts don’t like having their expertise checked and rechecked, because their dogmas get called into question. When dogmas are challenged, fame, funding, and cushy jobs are at stake. Most will fight tooth and nail to stay on the gravy train, which can translate into coming under the sway of certain biases. It could mean they’re more likely to cherry-pick their data, exaggerate their results, or ignore counterexamples. Far more rarely, it can mean they’re motivated to engage in outright fraud.

Method and Madness

Not all of the fault for scientific error lies with scientists, per se. Some of it lies with methodologies and assumptions most of us have taken for granted for years. Social and research scientists have far too much faith in data aggregation, a process that can drop the important circumstances of time and place. Many researchers make inappropriate inferences and predictions based on a narrow band of observed data points that are plucked from wider phenomena in a complex system. And, of course, scientists are notoriously good at getting statistics to paint a picture that looks like their pet theories.

Some sciences even have their own holy scriptures, like psychology’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. These guidelines, when married with government funding, lobbyist influence, or insurance payouts, can protect incomes but corrupt practice.

But perhaps the most significant methodological problem with science is over-reliance on the peer-review process. Peer review can perpetuate groupthink, the cartelization of knowledge, and the compounding of biases.

The Problem with Expert Opinion

The problem with expert opinion is that it is often cloistered and restrictive. When science starts to seem like a walled system built around a small group of elites (many of whom are only sharing ideas with each other) — hubris can take hold. No amount of training or smarts can keep up with an expansive network of people who have a bigger stake in finding the truth than in shoring up the walls of a guild or cartel.

It’s true that to some degree, we have to rely on experts and scientists. It’s a perfectly natural part of specialization and division of labor that some people will know more about some things than you, and that you are likely to need their help at some point. (I try to stay away from accounting, and I am probably not very good at brain surgery, either.) But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t question authority, even when the authority knows more about their field than we do.

The Power of Networks

But when you get an army of networked people — sometimes amateurs — thinking, talking, tinkering, and toying with ideas — you can hasten a proverbial paradigm shift. And this is exactly what we are seeing.

It’s becoming harder for experts to count on the vagaries and denseness of their disciplines to keep their power. But it’s in cross-disciplinary pollination of the network that so many different good ideas can sprout and be tested.

The best thing that can happen to science is that it opens itself up to everyone, even people who are not credentialed experts. Then, let the checkers start to talk to each other. Leaders, influencers, and force-multipliers will emerge. You might think of them as communications hubs or bigger nodes in a network. Some will be cranks and hacks. But the best will emerge, and the cranks will be worked out of the system in time.

The network might include a million amateurs willing to give a pair of eyes or a different perspective. Most in this army of experimenters get results and share their experiences with others in the network. What follows is a wisdom-of-crowds phenomenon. Millions of people not only share results, but challenge the orthodoxy.

How Networks Contribute to the Republic of Science

In his legendary 1962 essay, “The Republic of Science,” scientist and philosopher Michael Polanyi wrote the following passage. It beautifully illustrates the problems of science and of society, and it explains how they will be solved in the peer-to-peer age:

Imagine that we are given the pieces of a very large jigsaw puzzle, and suppose that for some reason it is important that our giant puzzle be put together in the shortest possible time. We would naturally try to speed this up by engaging a number of helpers; the question is in what manner these could be best employed.

Polanyi says you could progress through multiple parallel-but-individual processes. But the way to cooperate more effectively

is to let them work on putting the puzzle together in sight of the others so that every time a piece of it is fitted in by one helper, all the others will immediately watch out for the next step that becomes possible in consequence. Under this system, each helper will act on his own initiative, by responding to the latest achievements of the others, and the completion of their joint task will be greatly accelerated. We have here in a nutshell the way in which a series of independent initiatives are organized to a joint achievement by mutually adjusting themselves at every successive stage to the situation created by all the others who are acting likewise.

Just imagine if Polanyi had lived to see the Internet.

This is the Republic of Science. This is how smart people with different interests and skill sets can help put together life’s great puzzles.

In the Republic of Science, there is certainly room for experts. But they are hubs among nodes. And in this network, leadership is earned not by sitting atop an institutional hierarchy with the plumage of a postdoc, but by contributing, experimenting, communicating, and learning with the rest of a larger hive mind. This is science in the peer-to-peer age.

Max BordersMax Borders

Max Borders is Director of Idea Accounts and Creative Development for Emergent Order. He was previously the editor of the Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also co-founder of the event experience Voice & Exit.

Is the Scientific Process Broken? by Jenna Robinson

The scientific process is broken. The tenure process, “publish or perish” mentality, and the insufficient review process of academic journals mean that researchers spend less time solving important puzzles and more time pursuing publication. But that wasn’t always the case.

In 1962, chemist and social scientist Michael Polyani described scientific discovery as a spontaneous order, likening it to Adam Smith’s invisible hand. In “The Republic of Science: Its Political and Economic Theory,” originally printed in Minerva magazine, Polyani used an analogy of many people working together to solve a jigsaw puzzle to explain the progression of scientific discovery.

Polanyi begins: “Imagine that we are given the pieces of a very large jigsaw puzzle, and … it is important that our giant puzzle be put together in the shortest possible time. We would naturally try to speed this up by engaging a number of helpers; the question is in what manner these could be best employed.”

He concludes,

The only way the assistants can effectively co-operate, and surpass by far what any single one of them could do, is to let them work on putting the puzzle together in sight of the others so that every time a piece of it is fitted in by one helper, all the others will immediately watch out for the next step that becomes possible in consequence.

Under this system, each helper will act on his own initiative, by responding to the latest achievements of the others, and the completion of their joint task will be greatly accelerated. We have here in a nutshell the way in which a series of independent initiatives are organized to a joint achievement by mutually adjusting themselves at every successive stage to the situation created by all the others who are acting likewise.

Polyani’s faith in this process, decentralized to academics around the globe, was strong. He claimed, “The pursuit of science by independent self-co-ordinated initiatives assures the most efficient possible organization of scientific progress.”

But somewhere in the last 54 years, this decentralized, efficient system of scientific progress seems to have veered off course. The incentives created by universities and academic journals are largely to blame.

The National Academies of Science noted last year that there has been a tenfold increase since 1975 in scientific papers retracted because of fraud. A popular scientific blog, Retraction Watch, reports daily on retractions, corrections, and fraud from all corners of the scientific world.

Some argue that such findings aren’t evidence that science is broken — just very difficult. News “explainer” Vox recently defended the process, calling science “a long and grinding process carried out by fallible humans, involving false starts, dead ends, and, along the way, incorrect and unimportant studies that only grope at the truth, slowly and incrementally.”

Of course, finding and correcting errors is a normal and expected part of the scientific process. But there is more going on.

A recent article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences documented that the problem in biomedical and life sciences is more attributable to bad actors than human error. Its authors conducted a detailed review of all 2,047 retracted research articles in those fields, which revealed that only 21.3 percent of retractions were attributable to error. In contrast, 67.4 percent of retractions were attributable to misconduct, including fraud or suspected fraud (43.4 percent), duplicate publication (14.2 percent), and plagiarism (9.8 percent).

Even this article on FiveThirtyEight, which attempts to defend the current scientific community from its critics, admits, “bad incentives are blocking good science.”

Polanyi doesn’t take these bad incentives into account—and perhaps they weren’t as pronounced in 1960s England as they are in the modern United States. In his article, he assumes that professional standards are enough to ensure that contributions to the scientific discussion would be plausible, accurate, important, interesting, and original. He fails to mention the strong incentives, produced by the tenure process, to publish in journals of particular prestige and importance.

This “publish or perish” incentive means that researchers are rewarded more for frequent publication than for dogged progress towards solving scientific puzzles. It has also led to the proliferation of academic journals — many lacking the quality control we have come to expect in academic literature. This article by British pharmacologist David Colquhoun concludes, “Pressure on scientists to publish has led to a situation where any paper, however bad, can now be printed in a journal that claims to be peer-reviewed.”

Academic journals, with their own internal standards, exacerbate this problem.

Science recently reported that less than half of 100 studies published in 2008 in top psychology journals could be replicated successfully. The Reproducibility Project: Psychology, led by Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia, was responsible for the effort and included 270 scientists who re-ran other people’s studies.

The rate of reproducibility was likely low because journals give preference to “new” and exciting findings, damaging the scientific process. The Economist reported in 2013 that “‘Negative results’ now account for only 14% of published papers, down from 30% in 1990” and observed, “Yet knowing what is false is as important to science as knowing what is true.”

These problems, taken together, create an environment where scientists are no longer collaborating to solve the puzzle. They are instead pursuing tenure and career advancement.

But the news is not all bad. Recent efforts for science to police itself are beginning to change researchers’ incentives. The Reproducibility Project (mentioned above) is part of a larger effort called the Open Science Framework (OSF). The OSF is a “scholarly commons” that works to improve openness, integrity and reproducibility of research.

Similarly, the Center for Scientific Integrity was established in 2014 to promote transparency and integrity in science. Its major project, Retraction Watch, houses a database of retractions that is freely available to scientists and scholars who want to improve science.

A new project called Heterodox Academy will help to address some research problems in the social sciences. The project has been created to improve the diversity of viewpoints in the academy. Their work is of great importance; psychologists have demonstrated the importance of such diversity for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving.

These efforts will go a long way to restoring the professional standards that Polyani thought were essential to ensure that research remains plausible, accurate, important, interesting, and original. But ultimately, the tenure process and peer review must change in order to save scientific integrity.

This article first appeared at the Pope Center for Higher Education.

Jenna RobinsonJenna Robinson

Jenna Robinson is director of outreach at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Policy Science Kills: The Case of Eugenics by Jeffrey A. Tucker

The climate-change debate has many people wondering whether we should really turn over public policy — which deals with fundamental matters of human freedom — to a state-appointed scientific establishment. Must moral imperatives give way to the judgment of technical experts in the natural sciences? Should we trust their authority? Their power?

There is a real history here to consult. The integration of government policy and scientific establishments has reinforced bad science and yielded ghastly policies.

An entire generation of academics, politicians, and philanthropists used bad science to plot the extermination of undesirables.

There’s no better case study than the use of eugenics: the science, so called, of breeding a better race of human beings. It was popular in the Progressive Era and following, and it heavily informed US government policy. Back then, the scientific consensus was all in for public policy founded on high claims of perfect knowledge based on expert research. There was a cultural atmosphere of panic (“race suicide!”) and a clamor for the experts to put together a plan to deal with it. That plan included segregation, sterilization, and labor-market exclusion of the “unfit.”

Ironically, climatology had something to do with it. Harvard professor Robert DeCourcy Ward (1867–1931) is credited with holding the first chair of climatology in the United States. He was a consummate member of the academic establishment. He was editor of the American Meteorological Journal, president of the Association of American Geographers, and a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Meteorological Society of London.

He also had an avocation. He was a founder of the American Restriction League. It was one of the first organizations to advocate reversing the traditional American policy of free immigration and replacing it with a “scientific” approach rooted in Darwinian evolutionary theory and the policy of eugenics. Centered in Boston, the league eventually expanded to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Its science inspired a dramatic change in US policy over labor law, marriage policy, city planning, and, its greatest achievements, the 1921 Emergency Quota Act and the 1924 Immigration Act. These were the first-ever legislated limits on the number of immigrants who could come to the United States.

Nothing Left to Chance

“Darwin and his followers laid the foundation of the science of eugenics,” Ward alleged in his manifesto published in the North American Review in July 1910. “They have shown us the methods and possibilities of the product of new species of plants and animals…. In fact, artificial selection has been applied to almost every living thing with which man has close relations except man himself.”

“Why,” Ward demanded, “should the breeding of man, the most important animal of all, alone be left to chance?”

By “chance,” of course, he meant choice.

“Chance” is how the scientific establishment of the Progressive Era regarded the free society. Freedom was considered to be unplanned, anarchic, chaotic, and potentially deadly for the race. To the Progressives, freedom needed to be replaced by a planned society administered by experts in their fields. It would be another 100 years before climatologists themselves became part of the policy-planning apparatus of the state, so Professor Ward busied himself in racial science and the advocacy of immigration restrictions.

Ward explained that the United States had a “remarkably favorable opportunity for practising eugenic principles.” And there was a desperate need to do so, because “already we have no hundreds of thousands, but millions of Italians and Slavs and Jews whose blood is going into the new American race.” This trend could cause Anglo-Saxon America to “disappear.” Without eugenic policy, the “new American race” will not be a “better, stronger, more intelligent race” but rather a “weak and possibly degenerate mongrel.”

Citing a report from the New York Immigration Commission, Ward was particularly worried about mixing American Anglo-Saxon blood with “long-headed Sicilians and those of the round-headed east European Hebrews.”

Keep Them Out

“We certainly ought to begin at once to segregate, far more than we now do, all our native and foreign-born population which is unfit for parenthood,” Ward wrote. “They must be prevented from breeding.”

But even more effective, Ward wrote, would be strict quotas on immigration. While “our surgeons are doing a wonderful work,” he wrote, they can’t keep up in filtering out people with physical and mental disabilities pouring into the country and diluting the racial stock of Americans, turning us into “degenerate mongrels.”

Such were the policies dictated by eugenic science, which, far from being seen as quackery from the fringe, was in the mainstream of academic opinion. President Woodrow Wilson, America’s first professorial president, embraced eugenic policy. So did Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who, in upholding Virginia’s sterilization law, wrote, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Looking through the literature of the era, I am struck by the near absence of dissenting voices on the topic. Popular books advocating eugenics and white supremacy, such as The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant, became immediate bestsellers. The opinions in these books — which are not for the faint of heart — were expressed long before the Nazis discredited such policies. They reflect the thinking of an entire generation, and are much more frank than one would expect to read now.

It’s crucial to understand that all these opinions were not just about pushing racism as an aesthetic or personal preference. Eugenics was about politics: using the state to plan the population. It should not be surprising, then, that the entire anti-immigration movement was steeped in eugenics ideology. Indeed, the more I look into this history, the less I am able to separate the anti-immigrant movement of the Progressive Era from white supremacy in its rawest form.

Shortly after Ward’s article appeared, the climatologist called on his friends to influence legislation. Restriction League president Prescott Hall and Charles Davenport of the Eugenics Record Office began the effort to pass a new law with specific eugenic intent. It sought to limit the immigration of southern Italians and Jews in particular. And immigration from Eastern Europe, Italy, and Asia did indeed plummet.

The Politics of Eugenics

Immigration wasn’t the only policy affected by eugenic ideology. Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race(2003, 2012) documents how eugenics was central to Progressive Era politics. An entire generation of academics, politicians, and philanthropists used bad science to plot the extermination of undesirables. Laws requiring sterilization claimed 60,000 victims. Given the attitudes of the time, it’s surprising that the carnage in the United States was so low. Europe, however, was not as fortunate.

Freedom was considered to be unplanned, anarchic, chaotic, and potentially deadly for the race. 

Eugenics became part of the standard curriculum in biology, with William Castle’s 1916 Genetics and Eugenicscommonly used for over 15 years, with four iterative editions.

Literature and the arts were not immune. John Carey’s The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880–1939 (2005) shows how the eugenics mania affected the entire modernist literary movement of the United Kingdom, with such famed minds as T.S. Eliot and D.H. Lawrence getting wrapped up in it.

Economics Gets In on the Act

Remarkably, even economists fell under the sway of eugenic pseudoscience. Thomas Leonard’s explosively brilliant Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era (2016) documents in excruciating detail how eugenic ideology corrupted the entire economics profession in the first two decades of the 20th century. Across the board, in the books and articles of the profession, you find all the usual concerns about race suicide, the poisoning of the national bloodstream by inferiors, and the desperate need for state planning to breed people the way ranchers breed animals. Here we find the template for the first-ever large-scale implementation of scientific social and economic policy.

Students of the history of economic thought will recognize the names of these advocates: Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, Irving Fisher, Henry Rogers Seager, Arthur N. Holcombe, Simon Patten, John Bates Clark, Edwin R.A. Seligman, and Frank Taussig. They were the leading members of the professional associations, the editors of journals, and the high-prestige faculty members of the top universities. It was a given among these men that classical political economy had to be rejected. There was a strong element of self-interest at work. As Leonard puts it, “laissez-faire was inimical to economic expertise and thus an impediment to the vocational imperatives of American economics.”

Irving Fisher, whom Joseph Schumpeter described as “the greatest economist the United States has ever produced” (an assessment later repeated by Milton Friedman), urged Americans to “make of eugenics a religion.”

Speaking at the Race Betterment Conference in 1915, Fisher said eugenics was “the foremost plan of human redemption.” The American Economic Association (which is still today the most prestigious trade association of economists) published openly racist tracts such as the chilling Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro by Frederick Hoffman. It was a blueprint for the segregation, exclusion, dehumanization, and eventual extermination of the black race.

Hoffman’s book called American blacks “lazy, thriftless, and unreliable,” and well on their way to a condition of “total depravity and utter worthlessness.” Hoffman contrasted them with the “Aryan race,” which is “possessed of all the essential characteristics that make for success in the struggle for the higher life.”

Even as Jim Crow restrictions were tightening against blacks, and the full weight of state power was being deployed to wreck their economic prospects, the American Economic Association’s tract said that the white race “will not hesitate to make war upon those races who prove themselves useless factors in the progress of mankind.”

Richard T. Ely, a founder of the American Economic Association, advocated segregation of nonwhites (he seemed to have a special loathing of the Chinese) and state measures to prohibit their propagation. He took issue with the very “existence of these feeble persons.” He also supported state-mandated sterilization, segregation, and labor-market exclusion.

That such views were not considered shocking tells us so much about the intellectual climate of the time.

If your main concern is who is bearing whose children, and how many, it makes sense to focus on labor and income. Only the fit should be admitted to the workplace, the eugenicists argued. The unfit should be excluded so as to discourage their immigration and, once here, their propagation. This was the origin of the minimum wage, a policy designed to erect a high wall to the “unemployables.”

Women, Too

Another implication follows from eugenic policy: government must control women.

It must control their comings and goings. It must control their work hours — or whether they work at all. As Leonard documents, here we find the origin of the maximum-hour workweek and many other interventions against the free market. Women had been pouring into the workforce for the last quarter of the 19th century, gaining the economic power to make their own choices. Minimum wages, maximum hours, safety regulations, and so on passed in state after state during the first two decades of the 20th century and were carefully targeted to exclude women from the workforce. The purpose was to control contact, manage breeding, and reserve the use of women’s bodies for the production of the master race.

Leonard explains:

American labor reformers found eugenic dangers nearly everywhere women worked, from urban piers to home kitchens, from the tenement block to the respectable lodging house, and from factory floors to leafy college campuses. The privileged alumna, the middle-class boarder, and the factory girl were all accused of threatening Americans’ racial health.

Paternalists pointed to women’s health. Social purity moralists worried about women’s sexual virtue. Family-wage proponents wanted to protect men from the economic competition of women. Maternalists warned that employment was incompatible with motherhood. Eugenicists feared for the health of the race.

“Motley and contradictory as they were,” Leonard adds, “all these progressive justifications for regulating the employment of women shared two things in common. They were directed at women only. And they were designed to remove at least some women from employment.”

The Lesson We Haven’t Learned

Today we find eugenic aspirations to be appalling. We rightly value the freedom of association. We understand that permitting people free choice over reproductive decisions does not threaten racial suicide but rather points to the strength of a social and economic system. We don’t want scientists using the state to cobble together a master race at the expense of freedom. For the most part, we trust the “invisible hand” to govern demographic trajectories, and we recoil at those who don’t.

But back then, eugenic ideology was conventional scientific wisdom, and hardly ever questioned except by a handful of old-fashioned advocates of laissez-faire. The eugenicists’ books sold in the millions, and their concerns became primary in the public mind. Dissenting scientists — and there were some — were excluded by the profession and dismissed as cranks attached to a bygone era.

Eugenic views had a monstrous influence over government policy, and they ended free association in labor, marriage, and migration. Indeed, the more you look at this history, the more it becomes clear that white supremacy, misogyny, and eugenic pseudoscience were the intellectual foundations of modern statecraft.

Today we find eugenic aspirations to be appalling, but back then, eugenic ideology was conventional scientific wisdom.

Why is there so little public knowledge of this period and the motivations behind its progress? Why has it taken so long for scholars to blow the lid off this history of racism, misogyny, and the state?

The partisans of the state regulation of society have no reason to talk about it, and today’s successors of the Progressive Movement and its eugenic views want to distance themselves from the past as much as possible. The result has been a conspiracy of silence.

There are, however, lessons to be learned. When you hear of some impending crisis that can only be solved by scientists working with public officials to force people into a new pattern that is contrary to their free will, there is reason to raise an eyebrow. Science is a process of discovery, not an end state, and its consensus of the moment should not be enshrined in the law and imposed at gunpoint.

We’ve been there and done that, and the world is rightly repulsed by the results.

Jeffrey A. TuckerJeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook.

Zika Virus Shows It’s Time to Bring Back DDT by Diana Furchtgott-Roth

The Zika virus is spreading by mosquitoes northward through Latin America, possibly correlated with birth defects such as microcephaly in infants. Stories and photos of their abnormally small skulls are making headlines. The World Health Organization reports that four million people could be infected by the end of 2016.

On Monday, the WHO is meeting to decide how to address the crisis. The international body should recommend that the ban on DDT should be reversed, in order to kill the mosquitoes that carry Zika and malaria, a protistan parasite that has no cure.

Zika is in the news, but it is dwarfed by malaria. About 300 million to 600 million people suffer each year from malaria, and it kills about 1 million annually, 90 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. We have the means to reduce Zika and malaria — and we are not using it.

Under the Global Malaria Eradication Program, which started in 1955, DDT was used to kill the mosquitoes that carried the parasite, and malaria was practically eliminated. Some countries such as Sri Lanka, which started using DDT in the late 1940s, saw profound improvements. Reported cases fell from nearly 3 million a year to just 17 cases in 1963. In Venezuela, cases fell from over 8 million in 1943 to 800 in 1958. India saw a dramatic drop from 75 million cases a year to 75,000 in 1961.

This changed with the publication of Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, Silent Spring, which claimed that DDT was hazardous. After lengthy hearings between August 1971 and March 1972, Judge Edmund Sweeney, the EPA hearing examiner, decided that there was insufficient evidence to ban DDT and that its benefits outweighed any adverse effects. Yet, two months afterwards, then-EPA Administrator William D. Ruckelshaus overruled him and banned DDT, effective December 31, 1972.

Other countries followed, and DDT was banned in 2001 for agriculture by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. This was a big win for the mosquitoes, but a big loss for people who lived in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Carson claimed that DDT, because it is fat soluble, accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals and humans as the compound moved through the food chain, causing cancer and other genetic damage. Carson’s concerns and the EPA action halted the program in its tracks, and malaria deaths started to rise again, reaching 600,000 in 1970, 900,000 in 1990 and over 1,000,000 in 1997 — back to pre-DDT levels.

Some continue to say that DDT is harmful, but others say that DDT was banned in vain. There remains no compelling evidence that the chemical has produced any ill public health effects. According to an article in the British medical journal the Lancet by Professor A.G. Smith of Leicester University,

The early toxicological information on DDT was reassuring; it seemed that acute risks to health were small. If the huge amounts of DDT used are taken into account, the safety record for human beings is extremely good. In the 1940s many people were deliberately exposed to high concentrations of DDT thorough dusting programmes or impregnation of clothes, without any apparent ill effect… In summary, DDT can cause toxicological effects but the effects on human beings at likely exposure are very slight.

Even though nothing is as cheap and effective as DDT, it is not a cure-all for malaria. But a study by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences concluded that spraying huts in Africa with DDT reduces the number of mosquitoes by 97 percent compared with huts sprayed with an alternative pesticide. Those mosquitoes that do enter the huts are less likely to bite.

By forbidding DDT and relying on more expensive, less effective methods of prevention, we are causing immense hardship. Small environmental losses are inferior to saving thousands of human lives and potentially increasing economic growth in developing nations.

We do not yet have data on the economic effects of the Zika virus, but we know that countries with a high incidence of malaria can suffer a 1.3 percent annual loss of economic growth. According to a Harvard/WHO study, sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP could be $100 billion greater if malaria had been eliminated 35 years ago.

Rachel Carson died in 1964, but the legacy of Silent Spring and its recommended ban on DDT live with us today. Millions are suffering from malaria and countless others are contracting the Zika virus as a result of the DDT ban. They were never given the choice of living with DDT or dying without it. The World Health Organization should recognize that DDT has benefits, and encourage its use in combating today’s diseases.

This article first appeared at E21, a project of the Manhattan Institute.

Diana Furchtgott-RothDiana Furchtgott-Roth

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, is director of Economics21 and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

France’s Leading Meteorologist Denies Reality of Climate Change [+Video]

Philippe Verdier

Philippe Verdier

France’s top meteorologist Mr  Philippe Verdier has been fired claims in his new book Climat Investigation (Climate Investigation) that leading climatologists and political leaders have “taken the world hostage” with misleading data.

“Every night I address five million French people to talk to you about the wind, the clouds and the sun. And yet there is something important, very important that I haven’t been able to tell you, because it’s neither the time nor the place to do so,” he said in a promotional video.

He added: “We are hostage to a planetary scandal over climate change – a war machine whose aim is to keep us in fear.”

The outspoken views led France 2 to take him off the air this past Monday. “I received a letter telling me not to come. I’m in shock,” he told RTL radio reporters. “This is a direct extension of what I say in my book, namely that any contrary views must be eliminated.”

RELATED VIDEO:

ABOUT GENE KAPROWSKI

Gene Koprowski is the director of marketing at The Heartland Institute. Koprowski is the author of two books, co-author of another two books, and has been a journalist covering science and health policy since the 1980s. He has been a regular, contributing writer to The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, and Entrepreneur magazine, a staff writer for Forbes ASAP, and a columnist for United Press International (UPI). He earned an Emmy Award nomination for his work for Foxnews.com in 2008 from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Chicago) and an investigative reporting award from the Associated Press Editors in 1988. Overall, he has published under his byline nearly 4,000 reports, op/eds, and features during his extensive journalism career. He served as a health policy adviser to the governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell, from 2010-2014. He’s pictured here with his daughter, Katherine, outside the governor’s mansion in Richmond, Virginia. He is a former U.S. Naval Reserve officer and served in the Supreme Allied Command/Atlantic Headquarters and NATO. He holds degrees from The University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, and completed fellowships at the University of London, King’s College, Institute of Psychiatry, and at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He earned a professional degree in medicine with honors. Koprowski also completed a fellowship at the Institute of Psychoanalysis.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Somewhat Reasonable.

Obama’s Mountain Sized Climate Denial

mountain of climate evidence obamaPresident Obama seems to have missed the three absolutes about the climate: 1) the climate changes; 2) the changes are cyclical; and 3) there is nothing mankind can do to change these natural cycles.

President Obama issued dire warnings of the climate changes such as famine, migration, melting ice, sea level changes, natural disasters and flooding. These all are the effects of the climate changing. The cause is the natural cycles of the climate changing.

The only thing mankind can do about climate change is prepare for the changes.

Paul Driessen, TownHall, in a column titled “Climate issues we do need to address” writes:

We need to fix the climate of fraud, corruption, and policies that kill jobs, hope and people.

[ … ]

Battered economies continue to struggle. Investment banks are pulling out of developing countries. An already exploding and imploding Middle East now confronts a nuclear arms race and human exodus.

Complying just with federal regulations already costs American businesses and families $1.9 trillion per year, the Competitive Enterprise Institute calculates. That’s more than all 2014 personal and corporate income tax receipts combined – and Obama bureaucrats issued 3,554 new rules and regulations last year.

EPA’s 2,691-page Clean Power Plan is designed to eliminate coal mining and coal-fired power plants – and minimize natural gas substitutes. The CPP requires that gas use can increase by only 22% above 2012 levels by 2022, and just 5% per year thereafter. On top of that, new natural gas-fueled generating units that replace coal-fired power plants absurdly do not count toward state CO2 reduction mandates.

The Daily Signal reports:

Katie Tubb wrote earlier this week on President Obama’s trip to Alaska:

President Obama gave a doom and gloom speech yesterday at the Global Leadership in the Arctic (GLACIER) conference in Alaska to build momentum for the U.N. climate deal in Paris this December.

So far less than one third of countries have submitted plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by the Wall Street Journal’s count.

According to Obama, “Climate change is happening faster than we’re acting” and the world is facing a future of more fires, more melting, more warming, more suffering.

But there are at least two major problems with his focus on global warming as he’s presented it in Alaska.

  1. Ignoring Evidence On Climate Change

Obama continues to ignore science that doesn’t fit his narrative and has ignored sound evidence from people who disagree with him. Many of the environmental trends Obama has warned of do not appear to fit current realities.

In his speech he warned that,

“If [current] trend lines continue the way they are, there’s not going to be a nation on this earth that’s not going to be impacted negatively…More drought, more floods, rising sea levels, greater migration, more refugees, more scarcity, more conflict.”

global-warming-lies-heartland-institute

Click on the image for the full Heartland Institute report.

However, Judith Curry, professor at Georgia Institute for Technology and participant in the International Panel on Climate Change and National Academy of Sciences, writes that when politicians talk about an undeniable climate “consensus” they are brushing over “very substantial disagreement about climate change that arises from:

  • Insufficient observational evidence
  • Disagreement about the value of different classes of evidence (e.g. models)
  • Disagreement about the appropriate logical framework for linking and assessing the evidence
  • Assessments of areas of ambiguity and ignorance
  • Belief polarization as a result of politicization of the science

All this leaves multiple ways to interpret and reason about the available evidence.”

Read more.

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Mt. Baker glaciers disappearing? A response to the Seattle Times

Report: The Top 10 Global Warming Lies of the Left

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of President Barack Obama, right, accompanied by Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaking at the Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER) Conference at Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Research Findings a Blow to Anti-gun Academics

For decades, anti-gun academics have attacked firearms and firearm owners by conducting “research” that purportedly offers insight into the psyche of gun owners. The dubious findings of these psychology studies typically portray gun owners in a negative light, and are frequently published in uncritical academic journals, and then touted by gun control activists and the mainstream media as legitimate science. However, as a study published this week in the journal Science reveals, the entire field of psychology research warrants severe skepticism; and consequently the field’s frivolous attacks on gun ownership.

Perhaps the most famous item on this topic that has long been heralded by gun control activists is Leonard Berkowitz and Anthony LePage’s, already largely debunked, “Weapons as Aggression-Eliciting Stimuli,” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1967. This research popularized the notion of a “weapons effect,” where supposedly the mere presence of a firearm elicits aggression in an individual.

More recently, in 2012, researchers James R. Brockmole and Jessica K. Witt’s article “Action Alters Object Identification: Wielding a Gun Increases The Bias to See Guns,” was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. This paper contended that when individuals are armed with a gun, they are more likely to perceive others as being armed. Gun control advocates were quick to seize on the findings to promote the idea that gun owners are paranoid and prone to react with outsize responses to potential threats.

Some recent psychology studies have attacked gun owners more personally. A 2013 item published in PLS One titled, “Racism, Gun Ownership and Gun Control: Biased Attitudes in US Whites May Influence Policy Decisions,” tried to link gun ownership to racism. The researchers concluded “Symbolic racism was related to having a gun in the home and opposition to gun control policies in US whites.” Anti-gun publications, such as the New York Daily News, Huffington Post, and Salon.com were all-too-willing to parrot the findings.

The study recently published in Science is the result of a four-year effort to improve the accuracy of psychological science. A team of 270 scientists led by University of Virginia Professor Brian Nosek attempted to replicate 98 studies published in some of psychology’s most prestigious journals by conducting 100 attempts at replication. In the end, according to a Science article accompanying the study, “only 39% [of the studies] could be replicated unambiguously.”

In the same article, University of Missouri Psychologist and Editor at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (which published the Berkowitz and LePage study) Lynne Cooper, was quoted as saying of the findings, “Their data are sobering and present a clear challenge to the field.” She went on to note that the journal is working on reforms that will push “authors, editors, and reviewers… to reexamine and recalibrate basic notions about what constitutes good scholarship.”

The scale of the problem could be even greater than the recent study reveals. In an article on the team’s findings, the journal Nature noted, “John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Stanford University in California, says that the true replication-failure rate could exceed 80%, even higher than Nosek’s study suggests.

Further, psychology isn’t the only field to suffer these problems. In reporting on this matter, the New York Times noted, “The report appears at a time when the number of retractions of published papers is rising sharply in a wide variety of disciplines. Scientists have pointed to a hypercompetitive culture across science that favors novel, sexy results and provides little incentive for researchers to replicate the findings of others, or for journals to publish studies that fail to find a splashy result.” For better, or worse, results involving guns might accurately be described as “sexy,” and the editors of the nation’s major newspapers appear willing to splash any gun control supporting findings all over their publications.

These findings and the accompanying comments by those in scientific research community encourage a healthy dose of skepticism when examining studies; regardless of how prestigious the journal, or the schools the authors hail from. The problems outlined in this study, along with pre-existing knowledge of the political bias in some portions of academia, should embolden gun rights supporters to further confront the findings of anti-gun studies, while hopefully also causing those who report on these topics to question research findings more critically.

Fossil Fuels and Mankind by Euan Mearns

It has become popular to demonise fossil fuels (FF). Pop stars, press, politicians and now Pontiffs speak with a single voice:

We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions. But the international community has still not reached adequate agreements about the responsibility for paying the costs of this energy transition.

Page 122 paragraph 165 of ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME

In this post I want to take a brief look at what FF have done for humanity and the environment. I will argue that in the 19th Century, FF first of all saved the whales from extinction and then through averting whole sale deforestation of the planet’s surface FF saved multiple ecosystems from destruction and as a consequence averted the extinction of thousands of species.

Figure 1.

Figure 1 Population growth (blue line), right hand scale. Fossil fuel consumption (million tonnes oil equivalent) left hand scale. The exponential growth in population would not have been possible without FF. We all therefore owe the fabric of our society and our very existence to the use of FF over the past century or more. 

Energy and Man

Every human being on Earth requires energy to survive (see list on Figure 1). Be it a handful of rice for the poorest Bangladeshi or the excesses of suburban life in the West, everything we do requires energy and in 2014 86% of that energy came from FF and 11% from legacy hydro and nuclear plant. Only 3% came from alternative sources. Worryingly, in a step back towards 19th century squalor, much of that 3% came from felling and burning forests.

Figure 2.

Figure 2 This chart shows per capita productivity (a proxy for income) on the Y-axis and per capita energy consumption on the X-axis. The data for each country represent a time series starting in 1970 and normally progressing with time towards greater income and energy consumption. It is plain to see that there is great disparity in the per capita income and per capita energy consumption between countries. As a general rule, developing countries are striving to become wealthy like the OECD and hence show year on year growth in income AND energy consumption. See for example China, Turkey, Brazil and Belarus. To become more wealthy and more prosperous, in the common sense, requires us to use more energy.

It is simple and simplistic to make the argument that there should be a more equitable distribution of wealth and energy consumption. It is certainly rational to propose the reduction of waste and improved energy efficiency in the west. But competition and survival of the fittest is in our genes and makes us who we are. And there are certain benefits that flow from the wealthy to the poor, inoculation against deadly infectious diseases to name but one.

I am not arguing here in favour of greater polarisation of wealth but merely making the observation that it is a natural consequence of the socio economic models that appear to have served us well. I would warn against the growing politics of envy.

To become wealthy, the poor need access to clean drinking water, sanitation, food, and housing. All this requires energy and natural resources.  The simplest and most economic way to provide this is through coal or gas fired power stations and the construction of electricity grids. To deny the poor access to FF is to condemn them to poverty for ever. It is fantasy to believe that the poor can be made wealthy (in the sense that the OECD is wealthy) by deployment of expensive and intermittent renewable energy. Like us, they may become wealthy only from using cheap, reliable and predictable energy supplies. This is not to say that there is no place for niche deployment of renewable energy in some developing countries.

Saving the Whales

During the 19th Century, global population doubled from approximately 0.8 to 1.6 billion (Figure 1). Throughout Europe and N America this coincided with a process of industrialisation, urbanisation and war. Resource consumption was on the rise and as we shall see in the following section forest timber was a key source of building material and fuel. But neither timber nor coal (at that time) could provide the light required in the cities that were being built and it is this niche that was filled by whale oil.

The production of whale oil grew exponentially from 1815 to 1845 and thereafter declined  following a classic “Hubbert curve” (Figure 3). At the same time we know that whales were almost hunted to extinction and this is often held up as an example of over exploitation of a finite resource. Post-peak whale oil production saw prices rise and become volatile suggesting a continued demand for whale oil that could not be met by supply. But the market situation is made more complex by the fact that just in the nick of time for whales, rock oil was discovered in Pennsylvania in the 1850s. It was found that rock oil could be distilled into a number of fractions and that one of those, kerosene, was ideal as lamp oil.

Figure 3.

Figure 3 The production of whale oil in the 19th Century follows a classic Hubbert curve with production dwindling as the stock of whales in the oceans was depleted. Chart source Ugo Bardi.

This represents one of the great energy substitutions of human society. It was to be short-lived since electric lighting would soon take over from kerosene where the electricity was provided by combusting coal. Note that I use the term substitution and not transition since there was a direct substitution of one energy source for the other and whales ceased to be a part of Man’s energy supply mix. Without the discovery and use of rock oil it seems likely that whales would have become extinct in the 19th Century.

Saving The Forests

Prior to the mid nineteenth Century the main fuel source used by Man was forest wood (Figure 4). Wood (biomass) continues to be an important fuel today throughout the developing world.

Figure 4.

Figure 4 The development of Man’s energy supplies has seen the sequential addition of coal, oil, gas, hydro and nuclear to the energy mix. In discussing energy transition, it is wrong to assume that a new energy source replaces what went before. The main pattern is one of addition, not substitution or replacement. Data from Vaclav Smil and BP as compiled by Rembrandt Koppelaar.

Population growth and progressive industrialisation throughout Europe led to wholesale deforestation of the Continent (Figure 5). And then in the mid-nineteenth Century we learned how to burn and mine coal on a grand scale powering the industrial revolution. We can but speculate what might have occurred had this not happened. It seems likely that Europeans would have spread themselves around the globe plundering resources on an even grander scale than took place at that time.

Figure 5.

Figure 5 Data on deforestation is hard to find. This slide from a surprisingly interesting presentation by Sir Mark Walport shows the impact of 2500 years of felling trees in Europe. It was to a large extent the quest for natural resources that sent Europeans around the World in the centuries that followed and that sent Adolf Hitler East in 1941. Our current system of international trade and financial deficits may be imperfect but it seems preferable to the system of plunder that it replaced.

What did happen is that we learned to use coal, then oil and natural gas and ultimately nuclear power. Harnessing the power of fossil fuels provided Man with energy slaves to do work on our behalf. It led directly to the progressive development of the highly sophisticated society we live in today where, life expectancy, health and comfort far exceed levels of 100 years ago for billions of souls. It allowed us to achieve this whilst largely abolishing slavery and ending our dependency on forest wood as a fuel.

When FF runs scarce in a country this can cause great harm to the environment as we saw in Indonesia in 2003. Indonesia was once a member of OPEC and exported oil. But owing to population growth, increased prosperity and then a down turn in oil production, Indonesia found itself facing oil imports. Donning a Green cloak, Indonesia turned to biofuels in the form of palm nut oil, and set about burning virgin rain forest and orang-utans to make way for the plantations.

Those who fail to see the staggering benefits brought to Man through using FF are blinded by dogma. Those who argue that FF should be phased out are making an argument to end prosperity for all.

The Population Paradox

Whilst I argue here, and many others have argued before me, that FF has enabled the human race to flourish, we have been so successful in doing so that over 7 billion souls on planet Earth is now viewed by many as the greatest threat to our continued existence. It is certainly true that there are a multitude of problems that are not evenly distributed about the Earth. These include water shortages, food shortages and malnutrition, air and water pollution, deforestation, social and civil unrest, spreading conflict, displaced persons, infectious diseases and their spread. These are all problems caused by too many people combined with inadequate social, political and economic structures to deal with a rapidly changing world. While certain aspects of air pollution in China and plastics pollution of ocean gyres may be attributed directly to FF, by and large FF are the solution to these problems, not their cause, for example creating clean water supplies and sanitation requires energy as does food production. It is a lack of energy and other resources that lies at the heart of many of the major issues that cause real hardship around the world. It is therefore a mark of extraordinary ignorance and stupidity to believe that withholding these resources may lead to solutions.

The problem of course is that we have become too successful at resolving these issues for many and that inevitably leads to more, not less people and a compounding of the very problems that we are attempting to resolve. Population controls are a subject ducked by virtually all OECD political leaders and organisations. Over population and poverty lies at the heart of many of the major issues confronting humanity and yet no one is prepared to confront this issue. It is certainly an extremely difficult issue to confront and not easily solved.

My own view is that natural evolutionary forces will see global population peak this century followed by decline. That is what the UN central forecast shows. This may happen via the spread of prosperity in some parts and by the spread of deprivation, disease, hunger and war in others. But what is widely viewed as a population problem, will resolve itself in response to various pressures.  A falling global population will present a whole new set of problems for humanity that we will address when the time comes. There will be a growing acceptance that economic growth, welfare, free healthcare and pensions were all temporary aberrations made possible by abundant and cheap FF. As those resources run scarce this century humanity will struggle to maintain the living standards of the past. There is no need to artificially create a major trauma for humanity today by forced withdrawal from the FF era upon which virtually all of our prosperity is based.

An argument can be made for leaving some FF for future generations but that is not the argument being made by Green anti-capitalists.

Past Energy Transitions

Finally, a quick note about past energy transitions as illustrated in Figure 4. Let me repeat what Pope Francis had to say:

We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas needs to beprogressively replaced without delay.

The first key observation from Figure 4 is that energy transition is via addition not substitution. In 150 years we have not replaced any of our major sources of energy with another at the system level. At the smaller scale oil fired power generation may have been replaced by coal and then by natural gas, but that merely freed up some oil or coal for use elsewhere. The second key observation is that “energy transition” has normally followed thermodynamic and economic laws where the new offered advantages over the old. It is therefore in my opinion sheer folly to believe and to propose that FF based technolgies can be replaced en-mass by much inferior, environment wrecking, more expensive renewable energy flows.

Figure 6 Millions visit the gold-plated Vatican every year, arriving in jet aircraft from all over the world, consuming vast amounts of oil and according to Pope Francis creating risks to the stability of Earth’s atmosphere.

Disclaimer

Certain readers may read my bio and then seek to make scurrilous claims that I am somehow wedded to and supported by the FF industries. This is not true. I do however have holdings in certain oil companies and I do object to Green pressure groups trying to talk down the price of energy companies in general. My analysis and opinions are based upon my understanding of thermodynamics, economics and human society. Comments will be heavily moderated. I cannot lay claim to the truth. And so if anyone can demonstrate in a quantitative way how we can migrate away from FF to alternatives with anet benefit to society then please make your case.

I made my alternative energy plan some time ago:

Energy Matters’ 2050 pathway for the UK

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Energy Matters. The featured image is of Prometheus best known as the deity in Greek mythology who was the creator of mankind and its greatest benefactor, who gifted mankind with fire stolen from Mount Olympus.

Predicting Earthquakes. Not.

The president of the Space and Science Research Corporation, John Casey, is also the author of “Cold Sun: A Dangerous ‘Hibernation’ of the Sun Has Begun!” and has called attention to a meteorological cycle that until the global warming hoax occurred, was largely unknown to many people and, to a large degree still is.

Nature has not cooperated with the charlatans who made claims about a dramatic warming of the Earth. Since 1998 the planet along with the Sun has been in a solar cycle distinguished by very few, if any, sun spots—evidence of solar storms—and a cooling of the Earth that has some predicting a forthcoming new Little Ice Age.

As Wikipedia reports: “Solar Cycle 24 is the 24th solar cycle since 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began. It is the current solar cycle, and began on January 4, 2008, but there was minimal activity until early 2010. It is on track to be the Solar Cycle with the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750.” These cycles occur every eleven years.

I was surprised to receive a news release from the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) on Monday with the headline “Earthquake and Volcano Threat Increases” because, frankly, I could have put out the same release and, if such activity did increase, I could claim credit for predicting it and, if not, few if any would recall I had made such a claim. While earthquake activity has been studied for decades, even the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) makes no claim to being able to predicting when or where one will occur.

What the USGS can tell you is that their scientists (and others) “estimate earthquake probabilities in two ways: by studying the history of large earthquakes in a specific area and the rate at which strain accumulates in the rock.” A translation of this is that they have only the most minimal clues when and where one will occur. A recent International Business Times article reported that this may change as the introduction of “big data analytics” kicks in to provide “a leap of accuracy of quake predictions.”

The SSRC news release was about a letter that Casey had sent Craig Fugate, the Administrator of the Federal Management Agency which “disclosed that we are about to enter a potentially catastrophic period of record earthquakes and volcanic eruptions throughout the United States.”

Casey’s letter outlined “how the ongoing dramatic reduction in the Sun’s energy output will not only plunge the world into a decades-long cold epoch, but at the same time bring record geographic devastation in monster earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.”

Other scientists have come to similar conclusions, but after years of sorting through all the claims about global warming and “climate change”, one might want to tread lightly before embracing them.

I asked my colleague at The Heartland Institute, Science Director Jay Lehr, for his reaction and he was quite candid. “I have read it and am extremely skeptical. It sounds like the agency is looking for some press and, of course, when they turn out to be wrong no one will be upset. No harm. No foul. Being ready for earthquakes in known quake zones makes sense; creating unwarranted fear does not.”

Dr. Lehr summed up my own reaction. I would recommend his skepticism to everyone.

Will there be earthquakes here in the U.S.? Yes. The New Madrid earthquakes were the biggest in the nation’s history, occurring in the central Mississippi Valley and so large they were felt as far away as New York and Boston, Montreal and Washington, D.C. President James Madison and his wife Dolly felt them in the White House. They lasted from December 16, 1811 through March of 1812 and there were more than 2,000 quakes in the central Midwest, and between 6,000-10,000 in the boot-heel of Missouri where New Madrid is located near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

When will new earthquakes or volcanic eruptions occur? I doubt anyone knows the answer to that.

© Alan Caruba, 2015