Thursday, December 28, 2006

Top Ten Websites for Informed Skeptics

Everyone likes a good top 10 list to reflect on the past year: here, courtesy of the excellent junkscience website, are the "Top 10 Junk Science Moments for 2006".

Steven Milloy runs the junkscience website and people either appreciate what he does or seriously dislike him: it all depends on their ideology. What I like about the site is that it stays current, has links that allow you to read original source material for yourself, he adds some interpretive commentary and he scans information from a wide range of locations.

For this reason, junkscience tops the inaugural ecomyths list of "Top Ten Websites for Informed Skeptics".

The Top Ten are:
  1. Junkscience: as described above, daily updates, comments, extensive coverage and an excellent index.
  2. Climate Audit: precise focus but very instrumental in the dismantling of the hockey stick and its role in the promotion of global warming; good list of frequent posters, some pointed debates and, above all, an emphasis on good science.
  3. Tech Central: good commentary, extensive coverage, well indexed and with excellent writing; all posts refer you to original source materials and extended reading; well researched.
  4. Spiked: topical, provocative and timely with an excellent slew of regular contributors. Well written.
  5. Prometheus: the best science policy blog out there; good site for policy debates and to drop in on invective between contrasting posters from different perspective. Why doesn't science always make for good policy? This blog gives a glimpse of the complexities faced in transferring what we know (and don't know) into what we think (and don't think) that we want.
  6. Ferraris for All: Daniel Ben-Ami's blog that focuses on the economics of environmentalism
  7. The Commons Blog: extensive listing of dynamist websites, extensive index and recent articles; very comprehensive.
  8. Cafe Hayek: site that views contemporary issues from a free market perspective in the tradition of Hayek
  9. EnviroSpin Watch: excellent writing and framing of environmental issues from the perspective of political ecology; posts a less frequent than they used to be but Phillip Stott is always worth reading and quoting.
  10. Reason: the online version of the magazine for free minds and free markets which seeks to avoid simplistic left and right political polarization by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity, including many issues that incorporate ecomyths.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas

Thank you to everyone who has visited my site this year: I wish you and your family the very best wishes for a wonderful Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

what models tell us: and what they don't

Sorry to disappoint but this post is about climate modelling and not an expose of Tyra Banks' latest exposition.

One of the problems with the politicisation of science is that projections, forecasts and guestimates produced by climate models are seized upon and exploited to suit whatever political policy directive its advocates cherish. This leads to a mis-construction of the science and a perpetuation of ecomyth fears: thus the claims that climate change will cause, and/or exacerbate, (insert flavour of the month fear here).

These statements make for great media copy, are easily reduced to simple headlines and a generally quite useful to those wishing to use scare tactics as a component of a wider political strategy to "save" the planet.

In general, climate models are limited by two things: the quality of the data, causal relationships and feedbacks built into the model (i.e. the model itself), and; the application of the model. It is this second point where the models reflect the ideology of those using them in that models are applied to today's problems and issues without regard to systemic changes outside of the modelled variables.
As this succinct discussion points out:
  1. climate change will likely prove unimportant to many of the phenomena identified by modellers as being impacted by climate change, and
  2. a global model of climate impacts has little chance of telling us what the biggest impacts will be.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

'Tis the Season in Darfur

Depression, anger, frustration: take your pick of emotional reactions to this latest update on the genocide in Dafur. Before Dafur was Rwanda, and before Rwanda, were the killing fields of Cambodia.

For all those intellectuals with a distaste for armed conflict and for all those critics of US involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, my question is:what is your solution for Dafur?

The UN has proved itself to be both gutless and militarily incapable of any meaningful intervention. Whenever the West (well not the whole West, mostly just the US, Britain and Australia) step in with troops, they are roundly criticized as having ulterior motives (imperialism, globalization, Americanism, capitalism, oil) -- but I don't see any other faction stepping into the breach. Where is the coalition of peace-seeking Muslim nations bringing Sudan's rogue regime to heed? When will Africa police itself? Or is Dafur and its 2 million odd people "expendable"? And for what? What principle guides the central government of Sudan that so legitimizes its adoption of genocide as a tactic? What lesson for the improvement of humanity is it sending the rest of the world to inspire and guide our progress?

Now I have not read the Koran but I feel fairly confident that as it is a book about God's love that what is being practiced in Dafur is not what that good book says. Yet, I am unaware of any backlash amongst sound-thinking Islamists that has been vehement enough to suppress and/or curtail the genocide in Dafur. A genocide that has not unfolded rapidly in a few days, but slowly, inexorably over the better part of a decade.

No, no the world can not say "we didn't know" on this one. They can only say "we didn't care enough" and certainly not enough to intervene.

The true reason we as a species are not sustainable has nothing to do with climate nor technological impacts: it is deeply fixed in our inability to grasp and sanctify our own humanity.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Perspectives on debt

Two articles from spiked that have some profound points on debt from at quite different scales.

The first looks at personal debt and consumerism in the developed world, pre-Christmas and in preparation for the annual guilt trip foisted on people about the commercialization of Christmas. It concludes that what critics dislike is not really debt at all but the whole idea of mass popular consumption itself.

I must confess I am bemused by this and by the fixation some intellectuals have with "over-consumption". I still have not seen an effective definition for what constitutes over-consumption, other than it reflects purchases beyond the level the commentator can afford and thus must be excessive. The problem is of course, that all moralists want equality but they want it with those who have more than them and not those who have less.

The second article looks at debt at an international level and ponders the impact of China stepping in to fill the void created by western adherence to moral clauses in its contemporary aid programs to Africa. No simple answers but a very thoughtful discussion that calls into question how we balance geo-politics, human development and our own sense of principle: all of which can be (and often are) in conflict with one another, if not in direct contradiction of each other. Should the West abandon its adherence to democratic principle and the "fight" against corruption? Not necessarily. But one does hope that the fight is genuine and not mere rhetoric and political expediency fueled by media moments and celebrity endorsements.

Problems such as international debt and poverty are tremendously nuanced and context specific. They are vexing political problems and, as such, subject to the vagaries of political expediency and prevarication. Moreover, while these characteristics often are the key aspects in their perpetuation, they also are the only available means of resolution. It is a conundrum that our increasing scientific knowledge and improved technology does not equip us to resolve. What is needed is wisdom and leadership: two commodities for which there has never been a surplus.

for those who want scientific evidence

A report here on new research from Antarctica which indicates that:
  1. temperatures have been a lot warmer previously than now
  2. the ice shelves did not collapse during the warmer Holocene
  3. the "fragile" ecosystem survived quite intact
Facts that have a significant bearing on our contemporary examination of climate trands and their likely import.

Sometimes we have to recognize that "the more we know the more we realize how much more there is to know", get some perspective, some humility and remain open minded, rather than prescribing to close-minded dogma and politically correct consensus.

global convergence

One of the enduring myths of globalization is that it is exacerbating the gap between rich and poor, the global have's and the have-not's. For many critics the defining weakness of globalization and its inherent constituent (capitalism) is that it is primarily a mechanism for the rich to get richer and the poor, poorer.

The latest is a series of reports to debunk this myth comes courtesy of a World Bank report issued today. In his summary of the report, Peron points out that the World Bank's projections are condsidered to be "fairly impervious to all but the most severe and sustained shocks". At the same time the report indicates that "the possibility exists that the world will be even better than envisioned... thanks possibly to unanticipated technological improvements, more innovation in business processes that allow for an acceleration of globalization and widespread adoptions of good policies within countries."

Yes these are projections but they are based on the empirical data from the past 25 years: the period in which advances in information technology have created the present era of globalization. Clearly, globalization is leading to global convergence in income and an all-round increase in wealth. I'm not sure I see the problem (moral or practical) with that.

Another instance where those pesky empirical data refute the myths critics want to use to frame discussion and direct public policy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rethinking storm vulnerability

An excellent discussion that sadly (predictably?) went unpublished by the mainstream media. Not only does it dispel some of the hype around global warming, its non-publication reveals much about the media's propensity for only focussing on bad news. At the same time, the authors seek to put the emphasis within storm preparedness on real issues: socio-economic vulnerability and poor land use planning.

Monday, December 11, 2006

climate change update

Today's post highlights four articles on various aspects of climate change. Collectively they offer some hope and optimism that common sense may yet resist the overwhelming indoctrination of global warming dogma.

Solomon presents the send in his series of profiles of climate skeptics with the case of Christopher Landsea who resigned as lead author of the IPCC section on climate change and hurricanes after the IPCC pre-empted his report with a staged media event intended to capitalise on public sentiment in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Not only did the IPCC lose the services of a world-renowned expert, they compromised the integrity of the science they claimed to be using and they revealed much about their strategy relative to making a case for global warming irrespective of the facts. IN the IPCC world, the end does justify the means.

The second article is an update from Senator Inhofe that summarise the expected reduction in predicted climate changes contained within the upcoming fourth IPCC report due this Spring. For Inhofe, this is vindication of his stance on climate change and is presented, I suspect, as a media ploy to offset the expected shift within the Senate environment committee now that the Democrats will both control and direct its focus for the next couple of years. Its politics and highlights how the game is played in Washington but also has several good links.

The third article I want to point out today comes from a web-exclusive comment in Canada's Globe and Mail, which is a newspaper renowned for its promotion of the standard global warming dogma. Surprisingly, then the post is a general public primer on how carbon dioxide is not a pollutant and that those with environmental sensitivities could better expend their energies opposing real issues. Quite refreshing but still not enough to get me to subscribe.

And last, but not least, is the latest update on the World Climate Report website, which underscores the previous existence of extended warm periods prior to the present global warming scare. Present temperatures are neither unprecedented nor alarming when viewed in historical context. That's science. Everything else is ideology.

The biggest problem is convincing advocates of global warming that their perceptions are coloured by their ideology when they view themselves either as planetary saviours (and thus with the "correct" ideology) or as dispassionate scientists without any ideology ( but they do have views on the certitude of science, the infallibility of scientific method,religion, politics, cultural diversity, gender roles and a myriad of other constructs that form their ideology despite their lack of willingness to confront or acknowledge it).

Friday, December 08, 2006

unlocking frozen capital

One of the distressing aspects of environmental development is how much effort academics and others expend on criticism compared to the creative aspects of providing workable alternatives. Perhaps it is a product of the predominant research model -- get external funds, study problem, highlight need for ongoing funds to continue studies -- and perhaps it is a by-product of academic elitism, but censure and "constructive criticism" are endemic within both the journal literature and blogsphere related to environment and development. So it is refreshing to read an article that seeks some creativity at how pervasive poverty can be alleviated through direct empowerment of the poor themselves.

Micro-markets: not a place for big government nor big agencies nor celebrity endorsement and photo opportunities, but a potentially definitive blueprint for the real fight on poverty.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sorting out the science

Here is a common sense article that focuses on nutrition but is applicable to many issues where science is used to sway public opinion, such as environmental issues. It concludes with this advice:

  • What can we do about making food decisions? How can a reasonable person make a judgment about what to do?
  1. Do not expect perfection. This is an often neglected phenomenon of science. Absolute clarity on any issue is rare. Tolerate some ambiguity.
  2. Some things, particularly about food and nutrition, are still unknown. We've accomplished a lot, but a great deal needs still to be learned. Time often resolves the issues. What seems confusing now may be very clear in 10 years.
  3. Use your good judgment. Radical food changes are rarely necessary but sometimes changes in food behaviour seem reasonable and can be justified. My grandmother was a wise woman and so was my mother, but they were not always right. I don't think I could survive a regular diet of what was standard in my grandmother's home.
  4. Be skeptical. Wisdom is uncommon. Absolute wisdom is rare.
  5. Don't overuse any single food or food group. Exercise. And don't believe everything you read.
I especially endorse the sentiments on wisdom and not believing everything you read/hear. The problem with common sense is that its not that common. Subsequently, we have a culture that celebrates the cult of the expert. The problem being, that many claim expertise but few really have it. The imposition of authority often is an admission that the expertise that is claimed does not have enough robustness to withstand scrutiny.

Can British Wine Grapes Resolve A Global Warming Question?

When asked to speak about my views on global warming, I often commence by speaking about vineyards in England and the fact that they are recorded in the Doomsday book of 1075, disappear after 1315 and then see a resurgence in the 1970s.

Climate is warmer today but not any warmer than it had been 1000 years ago when there were no cars, no big cities and no anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Climate change: yes, and it is science. Global warming: no, and its all politics. The most elementary evidence being the existence and otherwise of a wine industry in England.

Here is a nice commentary that summarizes the information and even cites the uber-AGW blog, realclimate, which is suitable irony (and possibly the one and only time that site can mentioned in this blog).

Scientifically, the existence of the medieval warm period indicates that climate varies on a cyclical basis. Add to this the fact that mean temperatures over the past 100 years have risen by only 0.6C +/- 0.2C. Where is Armageddon in that? Are we modifying the climate? Yes, but the degree of change and the rate of that change do not equate with any doomsday scenario and there is every reason to believe that increases in temperatures in the coming "warm period" will be as advantageous to humanity as in the last such occurrence.

Oh, I know that marks me as an optimist. But as George Bernanos stated 'Hope is a risk that must be run'.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Garbage: the burning question

Waste is one of life's more problematic challenges. By definition, garbage comprises items that have no value. In truth, value can be found within all garbage within all societies and the wealthier the society the greater the chance that some residual value can be found by sifting through the detritus of daily life. However, all the reduction, re-use and recycling in the world can not alter the basic fact that garbage runs counter to the foundational principle of economics: supply and demand. With garbage, they will always be an excess of supply and too little demand. It is garbage precisely because it has little to no value.

What does this mean for waste management? It means that wealthy societies with available land have disposed of their garbage using sanitary landfills. Lately, however, pressures for alternate land uses and the desire to dispose of garbage within (or at least close to) the community generating the waste is leading to a reconsideration of waste management options, particularly incineration.

Ontario finds itself in this position. The Metro Toronto area has run out of its own landfilling capacity, has been denied by provincial legislation (don't ask!) the option to bury waste in an abandoned mine near Kirkland Lake, has seen its export of garbage to willing hosts in Michigan curtailed by State fiat and has now purchased an existing landfill in a rural county with enough capacity for the next 10 to 20 years. In short, Toronto is living on borrowed time and successive provincial and municipal governments have sought to avoid tackling the long-term resolution to the issue (well other than the enforced adoption of a province-wide reduce, re-use and recylce program that successfully sorts the garbage using bright blue boxes but still sees over 80% of that blue box material eventually find itself being landfilled because the market is not there for recycled materials and/or the capacity to recycle material does not exist).

At long last, public attention is being drawn to Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan where incineration is successfully used to resolve the garbage question. Proponents of incineration in the Canadian context face challenges from environmental precautionists who worry about air emissions (despite the successfully technology and accompanying environmental standards in those other jurisdictions) and from the ideologues who cling to the notion that somehow a yet more aggressive waste reduction program could yet result in a zero waste society (well if it takes zero consumption to do that, that just the price we should pay).

Incineration works. But it also transfers waste from garbage into fuel: a huge shift in dominant construct. Is Ontario ready?

Statistics, science and sociology

The first in a series of articles by Lawrence Solomon, this article offers a few well-written gems that reveal much about the sociology of the global warming debate. Juxtaposing "science is settled" proponents with skeptics, Solomon offers a quick synopsis of why global warming advocates lose support in the wider context of the scientific community.
The fact that incorrect data were analyzed using incorrect statistical methods is thought to be irrelevant by promoters of global warming because the "right answer" resulted. Science does not progress this way. Statistics are not about accuracy, they are a measure of precision. That climate data are imprecise is the point. Failing this test, their accuracy can be assumed and no vociferous assertion otherwise can make them so. And that is the inconvenient truth.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Four big, fat myths

The latest in a series of articles by John Luik on the obesity myth, this one in the Daily Telegraph is written with Patrick Basham and it outlines that the obesity epidemic is a myth with four key propositions:
  • that we and our children are fat
  • that being fat is a certain recipe for early death
  • that our fatness stems from the manufacturing and marketing practices of the food industry, and
  • that we will lengthen our lives if only we eat less and lose weight.
However, as Basham and Luik explain 'there is no scientific evidence to support these myths'.

What is interesting is to argue these points as they are taken as axiomatic gospel by so many. The knee-jerk response is to suggest that if you disagree with any of the four key propositions you are, in effect, arguing for obesity, heart attacks and general lack of fitness. The difficulty is to point out that being fit, longevity of life and positive body image are not being promoted by the obesity myth and, in particular, by its incessant social engineering of children.

But if there is no scientific evidence to support the myth, why are so many agencies and people out there promoting it? Look to see who gains from adherence to the myth and its embedded constructs: then you see why it is perpetuated. As Luik has written elsewhere, it is far easier for health officials to rail against imaginary risks than it is to grapple with finding cures to systemic problems and the global reality of wealth translating into better health. Once you have a wealthy society, what is left for government agencies to manage?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gore gored

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Al Gore recently took his global warming crusade to the Daily Telegraph when he wrote a response to Chistopher Monckton's two article on the political and scientific dimensions of climate change. Restating many of the claims he made in his film, Gore also mixed in a healthy dose of personal attacks on Viscount Monkton's credibility and on any and all other skeptics -- defined as those who don't agree with Al Gore's rather dramatic view of global warming.

Well Viscount Monckton has replied to Mr. Gore. His commentary is available here and it is a much more comprehensive, substantiated and carefully nuanced response than Monckton was able to provide within the space confines of his newspaper articles.

Too many people still uncritically accept the global warming myth. Monckton's reply to Gore provides an excellent point by point deconstruction of the myth and the basis for both scientific and ideological skepticism of its claims to veracity.

Apparently not all skeptics are hired oil company lackeys: many are thoughtful sensible people who can actually read for themselves and distinguish truth from hype, fact from fiction and the abuse/misuse of science from real scholarship.

Science often becomes politicized. The trick is to be able to recognize what is science from that which is politics.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Every silver lining has a cloud

However, the environmentalist case against engineering fixes for global warming does not rest on the underlying science. It has more to do with a view of science as the cause of the world’s problems, and not something that might provide a solution.
This quote comes from a provocative discussion on environmentalism and its reaction to potential technical solutions to climate change.

The article reviews some suggestions for cloud seeding to augment the feedback properties of clouds and other possibilities low-risk, cheap technical strategies for temperature stabilisation. Each of the techniques has funded, peer-reviewed research to support its claims. Would they work? We don't know. But that is not necessarily the point. What is instructive is the reaction of environmental groups to the possibility of such methods being used. Disinterest is an under-statement. In a reaction that reveals the true agenda of many groups, such technical suggestions are given short-shrift as they do not fit the prescribed anti-technology, anti-growth and anti-capitalist ideology such groups see as the paramount potential in their campaign on global warming.

So quick review: climate changes, always has, always will. Only now its not just changing, it is warming due to human interference that can only be suppressed by a non-carbon using society with no advertising (except for approved propaganda), no marketing (except prescribed social reform education), minimal consumption (except for important people who need to get to meetings), zero ecological footprint, and planning that is regulated, centralised and prescribed to conform to perfect equality, respect for all living things and harmonic balance.

We should all see this vision and accept its unquestioned correctness. Any science that counters this perspective is to be ignored and discounted as corrupt. No technical answers are to be considered as technology is the source of all the planet's clearly established ills that the suppression of global warming will eradicate.

I exaggerate (but not by much). Luckily, I remember enough of Orwell's 1984 to recognize doublespeak when it surfaces and hypocrisy when it manifests itself in the public arena.

Maybe the Emperor doesn't have new clothes?

A useful discussion on Prometheus on the reluctance of "experts" to speak up and correct misrepresentation of science, especially in the media and by vested political interests. This article was particularly timely as it appears the day after the CBC in Canada aired a segment on its Fifth Estate program that "exposed" climate skeptics and the supposedly large amounts of money paid them by the oil industry. The implication being, of course, that one could only be skeptical of global warming if one's viewpoint had been bought and paid for by industry.

It occurs to me that if the much vaunted "consensus" on global warming existed, there would be no hysteria nor inquisition to expose those still not obeying the various missives to conform. Moreover, to impune the motives of independent thinkers and suggest anyone who speaks against global warming has had their opinion prostituted is ridiculous. Lastly, global warming is now funded to the tune of over $5 billion per year but I guess experts bellying up to that trough are still intellectually pure as these are "official" funds and subject to "peer-review".

This view of intellectualism by which the morality of the research is adjudicated by its conformity with prescribed outcomes is the truly offensive aspect of this whole debate.

The ends never justify the means. And usually those who seek to claim otherwise are merely seeking to justify their own power, status or prescription for reform. Authoritarianism is a sure sign of fear: why is it, exactly, that skeptics scare proponents of global warming so profoundly?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rethinking climate change

Finally it appears the tide may be turning: the media are no longer falling off the global warming cliff like trained lemmings. Instead, journalists are beginning to exercise some personal integrity, check the numbers and ask awkward questions, no longer accepting the propaganda fed them by advocates of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

In a wonderfully reasonable, accessible and accurate summary in the Sunday Telegraph Christopher Monkton describes the extent to which the science of climate change has been compromised in the efforts to project a "consensus" on AGW. In an affirmation of the truth will out, his summary reveals that those promoting AGW have stepped a long way out on a limb that can no longer support the hot air they are trying to foist on the public.

Yes, the metaphors are mixed and the language is full of jargon, but the topic is global warming and I am trying to fit in. Not.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Aid: more about aiding the West than 'the rest'?

Two controversial new books are profiled in this article by Chandler. Both focus on the failure of Western aid to successfully address poverty in Africa, arguably the most important public policy issue in the world today. Both books are authored by former World Bank representatives and both draw on extensive personal experience: these then are not academic theorists but experienced and well-informed officials well able to offer an enlightened and informed perspective.

Both books reflect the frustration well-intentioned people feel when they commit themselves to change a situation, give of themselves their best effort and find that not only was it not enough, there's little sign they made a positive dent in the situation.

The first book by Robert Calderisi suggests that 'the World Bank and IMF were made the fall guys because politically correct Western campaigners and political activists couldn'’t allow that African governments themselves were largely responsible for the mismanagement of their own economies', and argues for a more extensive and overtly political intervention by the World Bank in the future as its solution.

The second book is authored by William Easterly and, in direct contrast, it suggests the problem rests with a profound lack of responsibility in the West for any of its development plans for Africa: programs are announced with great fanfare and propaganda but their goals are largely a rhetorical statement of intent. The ‘grand plans’ developed to ‘save Africa’ are more a reflection of a 'narcissistic and simplistic fantasy view of Africa rather than to Africa as a complex political reality'. Thus, 'while markets and democracy are potentially useful in addressing poverty and aiding development, they cannot be imposed from outside through aid conditionality'.

So one recently retired expert says the problem is not enough overt political intervention. The other says, don't bother, you can't get there from here with that approach.

What they do agree upon is that aid as currently practised is not about Africa for Africans. Africa is a great media backdrop for celebrities, pressure groups, experts without borders of all professions and the professional aid circus. It is also a source of funds for every despot and tyrant on the continent. Simply put, international aid provision today reflects neither genuine interest nor concern for Africa. And not much is going to change until we embrace a genuine political will to assist Africans to empower themselves without our direction, guidance nor values as the sub-text to our "aid". That is, we need to offer aid that benefits Africans but generates little or no political or social celebrity status for its authors. And lest anyone consider this a complete pipedream, I will characterize this as the Albert Schweitzer model for African aid.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Micro Banks and Development

One of the problems with different perspectives on problems and proposing new solutions to long-term issues is that there is no experience to indicate if they will work and tremendous resistance to change that alters existing approaches (even when those approaches are not working). Moreover, when an idea or solution is counter-intuitive to axiomatic constructs, the barriers to their adoption can be huge. It is gratifying then when new solutions are put into place despite "official" scepticism and even more gratifying when those approaches become the new standard for implementation.
One such example is discussed by Llosa, who looks at the success of the Grameen Bank, which has shown a radically different and successful way to move people from the very bottom of the poverty ladder, up a few rungs on their way to development and prosperity.
Contrast this with the fraud perpetrated by the co-opting of the Lonelygirl15 character to hype the stasist perspective on development, poverty reduction and the continued need for bureaucratic intervention in the development process. The good sign is that the power of the internet is such that this type of media exploitation is exposed rapidly and that the majority of web-based information consumers are savvy enough to see through such attempts at manipulation.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Global warming: the chilling effect on free speech

An excellent commentary by Brendan O'Neill on the continued efforts to suppress dialogue and examination of global warming. He notes that 'there is increasingly a pernicious moralism and authoritarianism in the attempts to silence certain individuals and groups.' For some agencies and individuals, those who continue to question the dogma of global warming are themselves a danger to humanity. Consequently, 'there is a knowing authoritarianism in green activism', wherein '‘the task of climate change agencies is not to persuade by rational argument but in effect to develop and nurture a new "“common sense"...[working] in a more shrewd and contemporary way, using subtle techniques of engagement. The "facts"” need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken.'

In effect, for those subscribing to this ideology, global warming is the central axiomatic construct of contemporary environmentalism, and any that dare to question this orthodoxy should be dismissed, derided and/or denied their democratic freedom of expression. As O'Neill concludes 'campaigners and officials are using scientific facts -- over which there is still disagreement --– to shut down what ought to be a political debate about what humans need and want'.

That there is still disagreement over the science was made even more evident this week, with release of new research relating to the role of cosmic rays and water vapour in climate change. As Stott suggests, this latest research provides the basis for a profound paradigm shift in the science of climate change and reinforce those who argue in favour of alternate hypotheses for climate which diminish the role of carbon dioxide as the driver of alterations in climate.

Lastly, there are the beginnings of a backlash to those who adopt the 'pernicious moralism and authoritarianism' noted by O'Neill. If one is to preach restraint and conservation, one should be a little more Ghandian in lifestyle, a frugality not many of today's leading exponents of idenvironmentalismnmnetalism are embracing in today's age of globalized communication and travel.

Quote: It is impossible to withhold education from the receptive mind, as it is impossible to force it upon the unreasoning. Agnes Repplier

Thursday, September 28, 2006

From Far Left to Libertarian

Here is one writer's take on the journey from stasist to dynamist.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and to expect different results. This is especially true in the case of our prevailing ideology: the lens through which we see the world and filter information about it -- both incoming and outgoing.

Why do people adopt different ideologies? Largely because the ideology they prescribe to best reflects their own personal experience of the world. We augment our personal experiences with those of others that we experience indirectly through their words and actions that we access through books, films, plays and other forms of media. But to change and grow, we must first be open to exposing ourselves to different ideological perspectives, to challenge what we believe and examine the nuances of our experience against the premises of our prejudices. In short, we must be open to stretching our belief window at least to the point of self-reflection.

Many are visual learners and the power of film to portray, characterize and otherwise give expression to perspectives is huge. But it is only through the written word that we truly process, reflect and absorb new ideas that stretch our understanding and cause us to modify our prevailing ideology. Leaders are readers.

Charlie "Tremendous" Jones would always say: We are today exactly who we are going to be five years from now, except for the company we keep, what we listen to and the words we read.

To take the individual journey of ideological growth, to determine what ideology truly reflects our best sense of self and to be all we can be, we must:
  • first determine that we want to change
  • learn to enjoy the change process, our journey to self-discovery
  • start to read more, and
  • start to read different material than in the past

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Top Gear, not fear

One of my favourite TV shows is the British program Top Gear, which is best summarized as men acting like boys with way too many toys -- in short its terrific and a source of vicarious amusement for all those of us who don't own an Aston Martin or a Ferrari but would love to drive one, just once. Recently, one of the co-hosts was in an accident while attempting to replicate a world land speed record. His accident sparked a mini-furor in Britain, with much political correctness, piety and a few too many commentators willing to say "I told you so". Why the reaction? Here is Steve Bremner's thoughtful discussion, which also posits To Gear in a larger context:
Why did a TV show get the blame for everything from speeding drivers to failing to help control the ‘crisis of masculinity’ to global warming? For many commentators, Top Gear provokes an automatic expression of loathing as it celebrates many of the things that they detest about modern society: conspicuous consumption, technology, individual choice, risk taking, and an unwillingness to bow to the health and safety culture. Not only that, but as a TV programme it is imbued with an almost mystical power in the eyes of these cultural commentators. The show’s biggest crime is that it is very popular, apparently undermining all the ‘correct’ messages the public are getting elsewhere

Iraq: the world's first Suicide State

In an excellent commentary on the situation in Iraq, Brendan O'Neill notes that the absence of any discernable political ideology guiding the suicide bombers and their predilection for attacking their own citizenry means that their actions are beyond the expected, understood and "usual" parameters. Arguing that Iraq requires new thinking and analysis, he nonetheless cautions that
the insurgency more mainstream than some would like to admit. Across the West, and in many other parts of the world, the media have filled the gap left by the decline of politics and public debate. Today, politicians and various ‘new social movements’ seem more interested in executing media stunts, in an attempt to get their message across or improve their image, rather than in winning real mass support for their agenda.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Red and Blue America: Meet the Health Belt

The conclusion of the last Federal election in the United States culminated with a flurry of maps, most of them divided into red and blue, illustrating which states voted for whom. Accompanying the maps was usually some form of commentary labelling the red and blue something pithy, if not witty, and speculative whining mostly complaining because the "wrong" guy had won (again). For may academics and liberals, Bush's victory was akin to the second coming of Brigham Young: the only problem being that middle America didn't pigeon-hole quite so easily into the various red neck, Holy Roller stereo types many tried to apply to the "red" areas of the US map.

Now Business Week has added a new dimension to the US electoral divisions with an emphasis upon health care and health care spending. As this article by David Tufte on tcsdaily explains the map shows a marked reflection of ...Congressional earmarks, federalism that directs healthcare spending down to one-party states, and state level decisions on the generosity of Medicare and Medicaid rules make the health belt this decade's big experiment with Keynesian policies, indirect vote buying, or both.

That is to say, those states that voted democrat did so because that's where Democratic government has spent the lion's share of government spending on health care and where the proportionally highest percentage of unionised, government health workers reside.

I watched Jimmy Stewart the other day in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington deliver a wonderful filibuster all about "graft and dams at Willard Creek": seems Washington, DC could use a latter day Frank Capra shot of reality. But who would play the part of Jean Arthur?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Global Warnings from the Ivory Tower

Three good postings on the furor caused by the UK Royal Society writing to Exxon-Mobil suggesting it cease supporting any efforts to extend debate over global warming, here, here, and here. About the only good thing one can say of the letter and the censorship of scientific debate it promotes, is that appears to be about the only thing thus far to have unified the various factions in the climate debate.

But what does it say about the state of contemporary intellectual discourse that the Royal Society would even countenance shutting down debate, discussion and/or dissention? To even the most hardened of global warming advocates, this must appear as the worst kind of bias and dogma yet. The sources listed above are all equally astounded and aghast at the actions of the Royal Society. Should you read anyone who is not, you will have found yourself someone who is both close-minded and not worth reading.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Good news on DDT

Finally, the WHO has rescinded its ban on the use of DDT in the fight against malaria. As it states in the news release: Views about the use of insecticides for indoor protection from malaria have been changing in recent years. Wow, talk about understatement. A complete reversal of position. The science never did support the banning of DDT and it is good to see this fact finally being acknowledged. Now there are good prospects that malaria can finally be eliminated from African nations as it has been elsewhere.

However, lest we think that all environmental lunacy has ceased, this report describes the development of a new generation of lead-free "environmentally responsible" bullets. Of course the bullets are still designed to kill you, just not poison your blood system.

We the Sheeple?

Why do conspiracy theories persist despite their patently tenuous relationship with reality? This informative and well-written piece by Feser uses this question as its starting point for an examination of the philosophical basis for contemporary "enlightenment" -- which turns out to be rather less about enlightenment and the attainment of wisdom, and rather more about an ego-driven desire to hear one's own viewpoints expressed and the elitism of many contemporary intellectuals.

The absurd idea that to be intelligent, scientific, and intellectually honest requires a distrust for all authority per se and a contempt for the opinions of the average person, has so deeply permeated the modern Western consciousness that conspiratorial thinking has for many people come to seem the rational default position.

As John Ralston Saul noted in Voltaire's Bastards, the western world has consistently placed the well-being of democracy in the hands of elites that neither trust nor care much about "commoners", and it is unsurprising, therefore, that Feser concludes that conspiracy theorists reflect a disdain for common sense and an over-inflated opinion of the merits of their own beliefs. Despite being highly revisionist in content, Feser points out that 'the standard Enlightenment narrative has had a powerful influence on the way modern people understand the relationship between authority, tradition, and common sense on the one hand, and science and rationality on the other'. Enlightenment has become synonymous with a faith in the infallibility of science, that if it is not scientifically determined it can't be so. The corollary has been the ascension to assumptive authority within society of education and those who affect an educated perspective: the "smart" people who think correctly and the rest of us who are just stupid if we don't get it, or deign to disagree and think differently.

What's ironic, is that many environmentalists perceive themselves to be the radicals, fighting authority and continuing in the enlightenment tradition. What they fail to realize, is that in the contemporary politics of the ecomyth (the realm of global warming, recycling, the precautionary principle, limits to growth, carrying capacity and biodiversity) environmentalism is the new authority of elitism. The radicals today are those who dare raise a skeptical voice and ask just where is the science in support of all the dogma?

Enlightenment was supposed to rescue civilization from dogma. In 300 years, all we have succeeded in doing is inventing a new religion and a new royalty to replace those that democracy and freedom sought to displace.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Perspective on climate

The discussion in the "don't panic" portion of spiked today entitled "'global warning' added some much needed perspective into the debate on climate change. It concludes:

  • Instead of a level-headed discussion about the future, we are given increasingly frantic headlines about the damage that humans are doing to the planet. This is an on-going morality tale that urges us to rein-in development and production rather than a serious attempt to improve the lot of humanity in the face of the numerous problems we will encounter, of which climate change is just one.
As with most ecomyths, it is not really a question of science as much as it is a question of moral choice and who it is within our society who gets to make those choices: all of us, or just those who claim that it is "in the public interest' that they get to decide these things for us. Personally, I've never much appreciated anyone trying to make my decisions for me. I have even less appreciation for those who seek to dictate what I should think, why and with what moral import.

The Saturday posting above was superceded by this discussion on spiked of the Al Gore "documentary" An inconvenient Truth, which highlights some of the basic problems with environmental advocacy of global warming: not only are proponents such as Gore inclined to be strident in making their claims, they also tend to be very closed-minded and reject the validity of any claims counter to their own. In this manner they pass from legitimate advocacy and stray into bias and prejudice -- which to me is always the hallmark of those with something to hide: fearful that their position may be revealed for the dogma that it is.

In Act 3, scene 2 of Hamlet, it is suggested that "The lady doth protest too much, methinks". Queen Gertrude never recognized herself in those remarks either.

Indebted to Debt Relief

An interesting and provocative discussion of the reaction within Africa to the much publicised Debt Relief program implemented by the G8 countries. Applauded by many celebrities in the west, debt relief embraces many components of politically correct development that are thought of as axiomatic constructs such as "pro-poor" development, poverty reduction and sustainability.
The problem is not necessarily with these concepts. It rests in the manner with which these concepts are defined:
  • as static end products, rather than as dynamic processes for change; and,
  • as politically correct directives within centralised bureaucratic planning, rather than as market-driven incentives.
Sustainability is not an ecological construct: it is the integration of environment, economy and society. Without a productive economy, there can be no caring and compassionate society. Without a just society, there is no environmental responsibility. Translating the theory of sustainability into practice requires leadership, entrepreneurship and capacity building. Media pronouncements and publicity are a poor substitute for real initiatives and the awareness of local context necessary for successful implementation of sustainability principles. Empowerment entails people taking power over their lives. Debt Relief removes them from that possibility. Worse it gives them additional bureaucratic drag and additional taxes.
Sustainability need not be antithetical to the processes of globalization. Indeed, I would argue the only way to successfully implement any sustainability initiative, is to utilise the very processes that continue to drive globalisation, namely: the democratization of technology, information and commerce. Claiming to be "pro-poor" in the name of poverty reduction, while foisting layers of bureaucratic oversight on developing countries, is to curtail the very economics of growth necessary for sustainable development to occur.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Economic well-being and how to avoid poverty

Another excellent article by David Henderson, this one on economic well-being and the implications of the 2005 income data from the US Census Bureau.

In many countries the official definition of poverty is set as the bottom 20% of society -- the lowest of the five defined quintiles within the census data. The "value" at which poverty exists is, in turn, established by the level at which the lowest quintile is defined. In this manner, "poverty" always encompasses the lowest 20% of the population and while the income level at the top of that quintile may rise, official poverty is set by definition at 20%.

By definition, the lowest income will always be zero and as such it is a myth to suggest that the poor are "getting poorer": zero remains zero. However, the level of the uppermost quintile has no limit. Thus, in a prosperous society it is to be expected, and desirable, that the level at which the top quintile is defined should increase. But since the base remains at zero, any growth in an economy can be expected to increase the "gap" between rich and poor.

Because of these probabilities, Henderson points out that what is of greater interest is what the census data themselves reveal about the various quintiles and the composition of the households they represent. What the census numbers show is that the highest quintile has the highest percentage of married, dual-income households in direct contrast to the unemployed, unmarried households prevalent in the lowest quintile.

The numbers are clear:

'that staying out of, or getting out of, the lowest quintile is not rocket science...if you want to have an extremely high probability of avoiding the lowest quintile, get a job, ideally a full-time job, and live with someone who has a job'.

This is not an area where we need to keep defining the problem. As Henderson states, we do need to read the data fully and properly. And we do need to focus on defining solutions to further facilitate the passage out of poverty for those who seek to leave. Employment opportunities, stable family environments and a sense of community. Politically, the divisions arise in the approach to these solutions. Sadly, too many within politics care too little about the people for whom policies are designed and rather too much about their own stature as the designers, controllers, planners and/or managers of those policies.

Goethe: what is the best government? That which teaches us to govern ourselves.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Radicals for austerity

The latest example of zealots wanting to turn back the clock. In this case, Perks discusses the efforts of environmentalists seeking to close one of Britain's largest coal-fired electricity plants. As he points out, in these situations 'the eco-lobby has become the militant arm of the government's own attack on energy consumption'. In the name of "eco-friendly" thinking, protestors have been lobbying for generating capacity to be closed in order to supposedly lower carbon dioxide emissions and thus mitigate the effects of global warming. All this at a time when doubts about the "certainty" of global warming are increasing, estimates of likely future temperature changes have been scaled back significantly and there is growing recognition that any actions taken to minimize greenhouse emissions are at best a futile fop to eco-sensibilities.

The Kyoto Accord may be long gone, but it's residue will linger within political correctness for some time yet.

The bigger question is: once an eco-myth has been disproven scientifically, how long does it take for widespread rejection of the myth to take root within society? To quote one of the moderators from the Climate Audit website, 'people will continue to believe in the ...myth, despite its lack of empirical foundation, because psychologically its difficult to disabuse oneself of a belief once accepted as true'.

In the words of Les Brown: a person convinced against their will, is of the same conviction still.

Another expert climate skeptic

A review of the new book Global Warming: Myth or Reality? by the French climatologist Marcel Leroux. I haven't read it yet personally, but I post the review as an example of another eminent climatologist who is uncomfortable with the attempts to assert a scientific consensus regarding climate change. Disciplinary expertise shuld not be the only criterion for commentary on public policy issues. Indeed, many intellectuals are book smart but sadly lacking in common sense. But for those who struggle with changing their belief system without the sheen of authoritative information, Leroux's book can be added to the testimony of other skeptical experts such as Richard Lindzen, Roger Piehlke Sr. and Tim Ball.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Countdown to Genocide in Dafur

Krauss and Pharn offer this update on the situation in Dafur. Sadly, they can only offer pessimism and a message to all those who still cling to the belief that the UN offers a viable option for securing any meaningful peace when intervening in situations of great oppression:
Even in Sudan the UN appears helpless before a relatively weak, lawless country whose Islamist leadership seems intent on massacring hundreds of thousands of its citizens. Do we sense a pattern here?
Churchill's take on appeasement was: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last'. I keep getting a visualization for a Far Side style cartoon expressing my view of the UN, which would involve a bunch of fat cats laying around a single tree on the savannah, trying to decide whose turn it is to get up and feed the crocodile today.

UPDATE: It seems Dafur has again been discovered by well-meaning do-gooders in the west, which O'Neill suggests is not necessarily a good thing.

JunkScience and climate

The first post for September 6, 2006 over at junkscience is Steve Milloy's latest attempt to summarize the global warming debate. He concludes:

The populist concept of carbon dioxide-driven catastrophic "global warming" does not exist in the real world and constitutes no risk (unless you happen to exist in a model-generated virtual world).

How can he say this? Well he cites the "consensus" data which puts contemporary warming for the last 120 years at 0.6C +/- 0.2C. Not exactly alarming. Moreover, the question arises as to how much of that warming is a function of solar activity, how much is due to urbanization and what proportion might then be due to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels?

Facts, not models. Facts, not ideologically driven, speculative and politicized science.

Health Care

I was reading the other day about Cuba's much-vaunted health care system, which is great unless you need medication and then its more problematic as medications generally are not available. So you get to see a doctor but they just can't treat you.

I was reflecting on this following my latest exposure to Canada's health system. My wife had the mis-fortune to beak her leg, quite badly and in three places. Our local hospital responded well in the provision of emergency treatment but needed to refer her to London because of the severity of the break. O.K. so far so good. Especially as London is one of Canada's leading medical centres. Except they can see her the next day but tell us to go into their emergency the day after. We get there, only to find out no one knows about it, X-rays have not been sent through, there is no-one from Orthopaedics answering their pager and the triage nurse is refusing to admit the patient with the triple break. Five hours later we go home, no available operating room that day, and no beds to admit her. Still in lots of pain but this is Canada, so drugs for pain are available except our insurance company won't cover the cost on the second prescription because its within 72 hours of the previous one and they view that as a"duplicate". (This is how they made over $700 million last year in profits I begin to realise: take in premiums and then fight tooth and nail against honouring programs).

Go back next day, there is now a scheduled operating time but the leg is now too swollen to operate and we go home again -- still no available beds. Come back in two days, through the out-patient clinic and "hopefully" there will be an operating room available and "hopefully" an available bed.

And people wonder why the Canadian public are in favour of a two-tier health system. My wife's problem apparently is that she doesn't play professional sport or she would have has her leg operated on and stabilized a week ahead of when she will as taxpayer. She would also have had access to professional nursing, not a husband angry at the inability of the health case system to actually open and staff the beds it has in its newly renovated hospital. Why do we insist on building institutions and not providing the staff to actually operate them?

With one exception, all the medical staff we have dealt with over the past week were wonderful and did a good job. However, all were suffering from a surfeit of poor morale: good people, trying to do their best, frustrated by poor planning and allocation of resources.

Welcome to Canadian health care: lots of toys, not so many beds or nurses. One system for all and no two-tier system (except for athletes, politicians and the other animals not in the barn yard with the rest of us).

Monday, August 28, 2006

Evolving science

File this under the heading of "the science is still evolving". The metric most understood by the public -- surface temperature -- is being recognized as a poor metric for the understanding of climate change.

Every topic has its own timelife, after which public attention is focussed on other, more salient issues. So with this particular ecomyth, at what point does the general public turn away from global warming stories and at what point are they no longer newsworthy enough for the media to carry them?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Forget the World Bank, Try Wal-Mart

Agents of change. Stasist thinkers will have you believe that no change can be achieved unless directed, controlled and/or initiated by government action. And there can be no government action without an accompanying bureaucracy. Thus, we get legions of articles and books on "management" and the inherent role of governance in the economy. In contrast, dynamists will suggest that if change is desired, get government (and especially bureaucracy) out of the way and let entrepreneurship create that change.

In empirical rather than theoretical terms, Strong suggests we should just 'forget the World Bank' and recognize what Wal-Mart has done to alleviate world poverty. This will be difficult for many to acknowledge as they are predisposed against seeing any benefits from large corporations.

Acknowledging the benefits of Wal-Mart's activities also requires that we recognize that another axiomatic construct is well past its due date: the necessity for world change to be managed by bureaucracies and controlled by governments.

The power of the internet

The world is indeed getting much smaller, at least in terms of information and communication. As this letter by AFM illustrates, all those environmental groups in the West who claim to be speaking on behalf of the developing world had better ensure that they are in accordance with what their presumed constituency actually believes.

The internet brings accountability much closer for all, interest groups as well as corporations, and the chief beneficiaries are those who can harness the power of the net to consistently flex that power of accountability.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Preference for Ignorance

A lot of people see environmental issues as something that either can be, or should be, easily resolved if only more attention was paid to the facts -- particularly those facts established by science. Indeed, environmentalism as an ideology is predicated on the veracity of its science: we know this is happening, we know because the science tells us this, and, thus, we must act in this prescribed way to "fix" it.

However, the problem arises as to what it is we really know, how and what the "science" is, and is not, able to tell us. As this discussion by Kling illustrates, in many areas of policy concern our presumed "facts" are not incontrovertible as they stem from observational studies that 'often result in incorrect attributions of causal relationships'.

Most often observed data are found to have a statistically significant correlation with another variable. The inference that there is, therefore, some causal relationship between those variables is then subject to the ideological premises of the researcher(s) which may, or may not, have any basis in scientific "fact".

Most often, because of the nature of scientific inquiry, relationships are based on theories, conjecture and/or guess work, each adjective being a less desirable descriptor of "acceptable" scientific procedure. One person's "theory" is another guestimate, one person's hunch another's hypothesis for verification. And that is the point. In laboratory science, hypotheses can be tested and refuted by experimentation. In the real world of public policy, experimentation with live bodies is rarely as simple -- hence our use of observational studies in the first place.

The solution? To examine observational studies not only for their study protocols but also for their assumptions and ideological premises. But it also is incumbent on more researchers to become aware of, and to state clearly, what their ideology is and what are the resultant premises under which their research findings should be viewed.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Liberal, Radical and Progressive Manifesto

An excellent review by Tim Worstall of the new book by Deepak Lal, Revising the Invisible Hand. Clearly Lal's book struck a resonant tone with Worstall because it shows that "just about every goal held dear by those who call themselves radicals and progressives is best reached by exactly the opposite policy prescriptions that they put forward".

Lal looks at the reality of today's globalisation and effectively dispenses with many of the popular myths that surround contemporary world trade and development. What will be interesting, will be to see who amongst the "liberal" writers, thinkers, commentators and voices (a) bother to read Lal's book and (b) do so with an open mind.

It is perplexing contradiction that many who espouse to be liberal in their thought are in fact the most closed minded to alternative perspectives that might cause them to re-assess their beliefs and ideas.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

advocacy or bias?

This article was brought to my attention by a colleague. (Edit: here is a subsequent response by Terence Corcoran).

Notwithstanding the substantive discussion on climate and the motivation behind the article, it is interesting as it represents a good example of political correctness in environmentalism. In particular, it represents a good illustration of the failure to distinguish advocacy from bias.

Advocacy is the representational activity of vested interests within a democracy. It is the promotion of a particular set of policy choices with an intended outcome. Those choices reflect the varying beliefs, ideologies and values of the promoters. Advocacy is best characterized by an explicit disclosure of assumptions, beliefs and sources of support.

Bias is a systematic distortion of information and/or the wilful manipulation of data in an attempt to prejudice a result toward a preconceived outcome. It is often implicit and imbedded within the inherent, unstated, assumptions of a study and/or on behalf of its audience. (For example, the fact that the defining links I have used here are from Wikipedia is sufficient for some people to be dismissive of the whole post).

The fallacy in political correctness is to assign attributes of advocacy to those who are correct (government funding, refereed journals, consensus science, the Globe and Mail, media that agrees) and to accuse those who disagree as being biased (private-sector funding, blogs, skeptics, the National Post, media that presents a counter argument). Issues of clarity, accuracy, precision and ideology are subsumed within this characterization and instead those that are politically correct are praised and automatically exempt from accountability, whilst those who deviate from that norm are subject to personal scrutiny, vilification and innuendo.

The reality in environmentalism is, of course, that there is substantial advocacy of a myriad of political opinions. Moreover, bias does not respect nor observe prescribed political labels: it is common throughout all policy issues. And, as most glaringly illustrated by the recent examination of climate science in the NAS and Wegman reports (see my previous posts), bias has been a rampant characteristic of the government-funded, IPCC inhabited, refereed journal world of consensus climate science in the past 10-15 years.

Such nuances are seldom found within the mainstream media. Sadly, those who prescribe to political correctness don't really want their world to be confused by such subtleties.