It’s the Culture, Stupid

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It’s a sign of how much time I’ve had to blog that I’m just now getting to this post from Ace of Spades regarding comments made by Rush Limbaugh. The content that Ace quotes is crucial to understanding the problems that we truly face. Here’s Rush:

As you know, I’m a big technophile, and I read every tech blog there is, particularly those related to Apple. And all of these people contributing and writing and posting these blogs are under 30. And they live in a different world than I do and they live in a different world than I grew up in. The things that they just assume are true, like there is no doubt whatsoever that we are destroying the planet with global warming, no doubt. They can’t even conceive of what you and I both know to be the truth, and that is, the whole global warming thing is a hoax. They do not even think it’s a political issue. They do not realize that everything they believe in has been totally corrupted by politics. What they think is science is nothing more than corruption by the left, but they don’t know any better. It’s what they’ve been exposed to from as early on in their lives as their brains were capable of learning anything. And that happens to be the kind of thinking that populates the entertainment culture and so forth. I really think that the solution to our problems are not really political. I think conservatives are seen by young people and the left and the pop culture the way they are not because of what these people have been taught about conservatism. It’s purely cultural. They don’t know ideology. They don’t know liberal versus conservative. They’ve not been told, for example, that Romney is a skunk or whatever because he is a conservative. It goes far deeper than that.

So the battle that we face is not really an ideological one. I must confess, I think the solution will be found in ideology, but I must confess, I think I’ve been a little wrong. I have waxed eloquent here on this program. I have longed for the day where people understand what liberalism is ideologically. I have begged the Republican Party to campaign on ideology and to explain to people what liberalism is by pointing liberals out. You want to see liberalism, look at Detroit. You want to see liberalism, look at California. You want to see liberalism, look at Cuba. You want to see liberalism, look at Venezuela. The Republicans haven’t done it. I don’t know why, don’t care right now. But the young people do look at Cuba, and they lionize Che Guevara. They wear his T-shirts. They look at Cuba, they don’t see any big problem there. They don’t know. My only point here is I’m just scratching the surface on this, by the way, so I’m speaking off the top my head here, but I really think that the way this is going to have to be attacked and dealt with is not to set politics aside. I’m not saying that none of this is political, but it’s a cultural problem we face. The reason conservatives have been so maligned and are so maligned, the reason people who don’t know us think of us the way they do is not because they understand politics. It’s a cultural thing.

A lot of the post-election analysis missed this point. Well, maybe it would be more accurate that most of the people offering post-election analysis simply didn’t care about this point. In the narrow world of electoral politics, shifts in party popularity occur with great frequency. Those predicting doomsday for the Republican party are completely wide of the mark. And yet the chicken littles miss the much more troublesome gap – the cultural gap that slowly destroying this country. We’ve seen the stories about apartment complexes telling their residents to take down Christmas trees in common areas, and schools being prohibited from doing productions of Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. But of course there’s so much more than that. Young people are indoctrinated in schools and from television and movies. Conservatives have abdicated – both by our own choice and through design from the secularist left – any role in these cultural institutions. As Rush describes, these young skulls full of mush start out with a set of assumptions about traditional morality and other cultural issues that are foreign to most of us running around Catholic and conservative blog circles. This is not something that is magically going to be fixed by legislation or more tax credits for middle class families.

Unwittingly, I think Josh Trevino gets to the heart of this in a single tweet:

Now I don’t think Josh is making a larger cultural point a la Rush, but the technocratic mindset helps widen this cultural deficit. Right-leaning technocrats offer technocratic solutions to problems that are cultural and not easily addressed via legislation. It’s not that their technocratic ideas are wrong,  it’s just that ultimately they will fall flat without addressing these larger cultural concerns.

Current events highlight the blindness of the technocratic right. Today it was announced that Jim DeMint is resigning from the Senate and will be taking over as head of the Heritage Foundation. I’ve already seen comments from conservatives lamenting that DeMint is quitting the fight and essentially abandoning the conservative cause. Only people solely concerned with elective politics can make such a claim with any amount of seriousness. Instead of being a single Senator (who will undoubtedly be replaced by someone as conservative as he), he gets to mold the most important think tank in Washington. He has the opportunity to shape the policy orientation of an institution whose reach extends far beyond just Congress. Now it can be argued that the Heritage Foundation itself is an Inside the Beltway institution, but it helps promote conservative ideas beyond the Beltway. It’s hard to see how this is a diminishment in DeMint’s influence in conservative circles.

The more important issue revolves around the “fiscal cliff” debate. Conservatives have long preached about the follies of raising tax rates. They have done a fairly good job of explaining why raising taxes will not do nearly enough to reduce the deficit. But the talk around tax revenue and government spending – while important – overshadows the greater issue. All this talk about strict dollars and cents doesn’t address the simple fact that the federal government does too much, has grown far too big, and has its hands in far too many areas and is doing an insufficient job in those areas precisely because it is too big. Now some people are making this point, but I think more can be said about first principles. In focusing so much on tax rates and deficits and debt, conservatives neglect to engage the American public in a more meaningful way to emphasize that the federal government is simply just too big.

Of course there’s room for purely political discussion. Government itself influences the culture, and winning elections and making solid arguments about proper tax rates aren’t exactly unimportant. Yet a too technocratic approach is both wrongheaded and ultimately self-defeating. In Trevino’s tweet above he later added:

From Hayek: the “fatal conceit” is the idea that planners are able to know all relevant information, and thereby exercise control.

Conservative planners are perhaps less noxious than leftist planners, but the mindset is the same. They believe that if they tweak enough then they will make things better – both for the country and for their party. Without a cultural sea change all the middle class tax credits in the world will not be able to save this republic.

Of course it’s easy to just spout about the lack of focus without suggesting some ideas for how we can all affect change. A part of me has considered a Galt-esque approach. Instead of withdrawing from all economic activity we could all simply tune out of the wider culture. No more television. No more movies. Pure homeschooling. Bring the Hollywood moguls to their knees and make the news media even more irrelevant.

Unfortunately such an approach is both impracticable and probably counter-productive. One of the problems, as I said above, is our withdrawal from the battlefield. You know, like earning doctorates and then refusing to enter academia precisely because of its leftist slant (ahem). Maybe the issue is that we are consumers and not producers. This doesn’t mean that we all have to become writers or movie producers or teachers, although it wouldn’t hurt if we did. It means that in actuality we can’t withdraw further, but rather we must figure out ways to engage even more and place our stamp on the wider culture. This isn’t something that can be accompl

More to explorer

Eating Their Own

  News that I missed, courtesy of The Babylon Bee:   WASHINGTON, D.C.—Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is busy celebrating her victory over the


  1. I think that Rush kind of undercuts his point here when he leads off by saying that global warming is a hoax. It’s not a hoax. Honestly, it’s not. The proposed liberal solutions are garbage, but the underlying problem is real, and by denying the reality of the situation we forfeit the argument on solutions and end up looking out of touch and foolish. It’s precisely the opposite of what Paul (rightly) says that we need to be doing if we want to win back the culture.

  2. I think it would an interesting blog post to write on why conservatives don’t really understand how and why we have lost the culture. Until we understand this and are prepared to make the cultural transformative political decisions nothing will change. Its no longer about petty issues like tax rates or which party is in power. Its about transforming the culture in a way that will have an impact for generations to come.

  3. It’s not as if Rush is the first to note the problem is culture and not politics. There have been many out there fighting the culture wars who have said, either explicitly or implicitly, that “politics is downstream of culture.” Chuck Colson and Jim Daly to name just two.
    Really, it is a hoax. It’s adherents follow it with a devotion I wished most professed Christians possessed for their own faith.
    Any other scientific theory that was this bad at making predictions would have been abandoned decades ago.
    I don’t have the title for a good primer for the issue at my finger tips, but I recommend this blog:
    I also recommend you read some of the actual “climategate” emails. If you know anything about statistics, when you understand what Mann did when he performed his “hide the decline” trick, you will be appalled.
    Speaking of which, I present the following for your enjoyment from the good folks at Minnesotans for Global Warming:

  4. Yeah, I saw in a comment elsewhere that we are going to run out of phosphate in 370 years, so we need to cut down on everything, raise prices, tax the rich, . . .

    Why would anyone, except the guys making billions on it, want step into that (global warming) quagmire of spucatum tauri?

    Tangential to technocrats: in 1971, Nixon took the US off (Isaac Newton invented it) the gold standard, then the US monetary regime abandoned the market (we the people) and turned it all over to the PhD standard. Since, we have had nothing but currency manipulation, inflation, asset bubbles, booms, recessions, etc.

    PS: the value of gold/silver is just about what it was in 1913. The value of the dollar has gone to one penny.

    And, when they fail and we fall, they will change the propaganda to: “We stood on principle!”

    Eat the rich!

  5. I apologize! “Eat the rich!” is harsh.

    One can summarize the president’s (and all his PhD’s) fiscal propaganda in three words. “Plunder the Prosperous!”

    The monetary regime, succinctly, is “Hit Control-P!!!”

  6. We conservatives make the essential error of confusing the leftists of today with the liberals of yesteryear. A Hubert Humphrey was wrong on almost all of the salient issues of his day other than Civil Rights, but he was a good and decent man dedicated to the democratic process. His type is getting scare on the ground among our adversaries. The leftists of today have more in common with the hard left of the thirties and early forties in their ideology and their tactics. We see this most clearly on college campuses where speech codes are implemented

    and leftist mobs constantly seek to howl down conservative speakers. We assume that we are in a political struggle while an increasing number of our adversaries believe they are in a war, and they eagerly embrace the maxim that all is fair in love and war. I hope that conservatism can keep to the high road since I think the type of tactics used by the left are ultimately self destructive. However, after 2012 I have my doubts if that will occur. Defeat teaches more than victory, and in defeat many conservatives are looking hard at the left and how they won, and emulation of their tactics may seem preferable to defeat at their hands.

  7. I believe the (real) science is still out on whether temperatures are rising or not. Even if they are it may very well be due to the limits of records (records go to the end of the mini-Ice Age at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution) or a naturally occuring event.

    Here’s a money quote:

    “While substantial concern has been expressed that [greenhouse gas] emissions may cause significant climate change, measured or reconstructed temperature records indicate that 20th[and] 21st century changes are neither exceptional or persistent, and the historical and geological records show many periods warmer than today.”

    Full link here:

  8. Jay and Tony,

    We have known about the greenhouse effect since the 19th Century. It’s not a hoax; it’s not a crock.

    You don’t have to take my word for it on this. You can do simple experiments in your garage to establish that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Or, if that is too much trouble, you can take the word of Dr. Richard Lindzen, who is probably the climate scientists cited most often by skeptics in support of their views. Here is a bit of a presentation Dr. Lindzen gave earlier this year in the UK:

    Carbon Dioxide has been increasing.

    There is a greenhouse effect.

    There has very probably been about 0.8 C warming in the past 150 years.

    Increasing CO2 alone should cause some warming (about 1C for each doubling).

    There has been a doubling of equivalent CO2 over the past 150 years

    Nothing [above] is controversial among serious climate scientists.

    Nothing [above] implies alarm. Indeed the actual warming is consistent with less than 1C warming for a doubling.

    Unfortunately, denial of the facts [above], has made the public presentation of the science by those promoting alarm much easier. They merely have to defend the trivially true points [above]; declare that it is only a matter of well known physics; and relegate the real basis for alarm to a peripheral footnote –even as they slyly acknowledge that this basis is subject to great uncertainty.

    Note: Dr. Lindzen’s presentation was given several years *after* the release of the Climategate emails (and I’m pretty sure he knows something about statistics).

  9. I think it would an interesting blog post to write on why conservatives don’t really understand how and why we have lost the culture.

    Conservatives ceded control of the institutions of culture (film, television, print, academia, government) to left in fear of being labelled bigoted, racist, sexist, backward, heartless, and any number of retrograde things the left cold think of. And rather than call their bluff (partly because in some cases, they may have been guilty of some of these things), they politely conceded.

    Humans are social animals, and it is the extremely rare bird that can stand athwart peer pressure and do the right thing. In particular when you are young and most impressionable, it is hard to stand against the crowd. Thus conditioned, changing is very difficult.

    I hope that conservatism can keep to the high road

    I am sure the British thought they were keeping to the high road by wearing bright red coats and shooting in formation against those cowardly colonists hiding behind trees. Look where it got them.

  10. Great points, CM.

    Never read it, and its been years since I even have thought of it but I think its high time to look at Bork’s work: Slouching Towards Gomorrah.

  11. Woe unto those who “take the high road” whilst everybody about them sayest “evil is good and good is evil.”

  12. Blackadder,

    We need to define our terms.

    “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” as used commonly is the proposition that the following are true:
    1. We are experiencing a time of unprecedented warming that started in the last half of the 20th century.
    2. This warming is caused by mankind’s burning of fossil fuels.
    3. If drastic actions are not taken to reduce CO2 emissions, global catastrophe will ensue from disrupted climate conditions.

    The first point is demonstrably false. This is why the “hockey stick” was conjured up. It’s why Mann had to “hide the decline” of his tree ring proxy data. The warming experienced in the last part of the 20th century is no greater in rate or extent that experienced many times over the last few millennia.

    The next two points depend on the verity of the first point. The second point may be true only to the extent that some warming due to CO2 increase may be taking place. If it is, it certainly is not provable. Inconveniently, the past correlation of CO2 increases and temperature rises places the temperature rises before the CO2 increases.

    I stand by the fact that Global Warming is a hoax. Many who conjectured the conspiratorial nature of this deception were proven correct when the Climategate emails were released. From Statistical Methods-Gone-Wild, to corruption of the peer review process, to hiding information from FOI requests, it’s all laid out for the world to see.

    You wrote:
    “We have known about the greenhouse effect since the 19th Century. It’s not a hoax; it’s not a crock.”

    Of course the greenhouse effect is true. Of course CO2 is a greenhouse gas. It’s a straw-man argument to claim that global warming skeptics have an issue with either fact.

    The PDF you linked to does an excellent job of presenting the case against global warming. I recommend reading all of it. My only quibble with it is that he makes the claim, which you repeat, that there is denial going on of proven facts about the greenhouse effect. While there may be some global warming skeptics who deny these facts, I have not run across any in my reading on the subject. I have found lots of global warming advocates who make this accusation though. I believe Lindzen has fallen victim to the very problem he warns about in his talk: If you make an accusation often enough, people start to believe it.

    By the way, I was amused by the squishy qualifiers Lindzen added to the last two facts on page 4, to actually make them facts: “very probably” and emphasis on “alone”.

  13. Dr. Lindzen is a critic of the global warming fraternity manifested by Hansen, Jones, Mann, Thompson, et al, and has been for the better part of a generation. Generally, critics like Dr. Lindzen are subject to ad hominem attacks by the popular science press.

    What Blackadder neglects is that someone Rush Limbaugh’s age (or Donald McClarey’s age, or my age) has lived through several cycles of eschatology including three cycles of the environmental variety. What is unusual about this one is that its propagators got hold of masses of government grant money and adhering to it came to be a class and subcultural marker. There are careers riding on this. That might have happened with Paul Ehrlich’s stock and trade but he overplayed his hand. Yeah, we’re marks.

  14. Tony,

    Your definition of global warming is inaccurate. For example, on this very thread Jay Anderson said: Global warming may or may not be a crock, but the notion that it is caused by human activity certainly is.

    That statement makes no sense if the definition of the term “global warming” includes the fact that warming is caused by human activity, along with a bunch of other stuff.

    Nor is this just a matter of semantics. As this thread demonstrates, there are people who claim that the earth hasn’t gotten warmer or that any warming we have seen is not the result of human activity. In fact, public opinion polling suggests that a significant proportion of the population believes one or both of these claims.

  15. Dr. Lindzen is a critic of the global warming fraternity manifested by Hansen, Jones, Mann, Thompson, et al, and has been for the better part of a generation. Generally, critics like Dr. Lindzen are subject to ad hominem attacks by the popular science press.

    Exactly. And yet, even Dr. Lindzen acknowledges that the earth has gotten warmer and that human activity has played a role. So clearly the idea that this is happening is not a hoax, or a crock, or any other such thing.

  16. Donald,

    There are some emissions (e.g. carbon dioxide) that tend to trap heat, which has a warming effect, and some (e.g. sulfate aerosols) that tend to reflect it, and have a cooling effect. During the 1970s there were some scientists (not a majority) who thought that human emissions of aerosols would overwhelm emissions of greenhouse gases, and we would end up with global cooling. Subsequently developed nations cut their emissions of aerosols, and so this is no longer a serious concern.

    To my way of thinking, the fact that aerosols have this cooling effect provides a possible solution to the problem of global warming through what is known as geoengineering. By injecting reflective particles into the upper atmosphere, we can offset the warming due to greenhouse gases and thus avoid most (though not all) of the ill effects. This solution does, however, require recognizing that man-made global warming is real.

  17. Blackadder, the characters pushing ‘global warming’ are making use of the observed temperature increase (registered over more than a century) as an excuse for political economic mobilization. A definition of ‘global warming’ that incorporates that understanding most certainly is ‘accurate’, or, more precisely, explanatory. Dr. Lindzen’s position is very distant from James Hansen’s and cannot be used to push any set of policies.

    And it makes no sense to refer to the ‘majority’ of ‘scientists’. Climatologists are a small minority of those employed in the natural sciences.

  18. We’re in between ice ages. Of course the climate is warmer now than at some point in the distant past. Consider the alternative.

    I read The Cooling – the book insisting a new ice age was already on its way back in the 1970s when it came out. How soon people forget. When the warming globaloney appeared in the 1980s, I would mention the predictions of icy doom from just a decade ago. Some would remember. Most young people responded, “Huh?” They were generally unaware. By the end of the ’80s, I picked up a copy of the book at a local library’s discard sale. It was great for plomping down on the table and ending arguments because the authors of the book were among the principle global warming alarmists. Of later use was the fact that the UN conference of “climate scientists” that so impressed Al Gore with their declaration that the “scientific consensus” showed anthropogenic global warming was a fact (aside: When has science worked by “consensus”?) was overwhelming made up of people other than meterologists and atmospheric scientists. People whose scientific credentials that were irrelevant to the issue, such as cultural anthropologists, dominated the “consensus”. Many were not even scientists at all but UN and NGO bureaucrats.

    Oh yes, the greenhouse effect. In my grade-school textbooks it was blamed for the high surface temperature of Venus. By the 1990s this had been debunked (yet the falsified claim was again reproduced in my child’s school texts). I’m sure a lot of kids got a gloss of greenhouse effect scientism from their bad textbooks. And a little more stuff “everybody knows” that just ain’t so was crammed into their heads. Anyway, so there’s a greenhouse effect. And it can involve CO2. So what? Water vapor is also a greenhouse gas and a more effective one than CO2. Perhaps water vapor is ignored because there’s not much of it in the Venusian atmosphere but there’s a lot of CO2 – a legacy of all those bad elementary school science textbooks?

    CO2 dissolves in water and on a planet with 3/4ths of its surface covered with water what happens? Uh huh, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere stays roughly in homeostasis despite CO2 being belched out by volcanoes and, ok, a little bit by human activity. And CO2 promotes plant growth which takes more of it out of the atmosphere, also contributing to CO2 levels remaining stable over time.

    Now we’re beginning to learn the Sun is most likely the dominant-by-far determinant of Earth’s climate. (“Surprise, surprise,” he said, feigning a Gomer Pyle accent.) The scientific evidence for that is piling up as debunked hockey sticks are consigned to the flames. Too bad so few of the globaloney warming alarmists lack the intellectual courage of an Emily Litella. The cowards are leaving us with a legacy of miseducated youth and interest groups on a governmental gravy train worth billions they’ll fight hard against giving up.

  19. About 20 years ago, Rush Limbaugh opined over the air that a lot of hearts and minds would have to change before politics could reverse the legalization of abortion.

    Events haven’t proved him wrong about that.

  20. Blackadder,

    On the contrary, I was very accurate in defining Global Warming. The problem comes when the definition of Global Warming shifts from the three point definition I gave to the literal definition of “the globe getting warmer”.

    You will have to ask Jay to define his terms, but I’m assuming he was defining it literally.

    In regards to what Lindzen said, you really need to read the entire link you posted. Please pay close attention to the qualifiers that Lindzen uses. Note that Lindzen does not use qualifiers when he talks about the first three facts on page four. These facts have been proven through the use of old fashion science; through repeated measurement and experimentation. The last two statements are true, but only because Lindzen added qualifiers to them.

    Lindzen did not simply state that there has been a global temperature increase of .8C. He had to hedge that statement because there really is room to doubt that number. If you read through his talk you will understand why. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, check out slides 10 and 13. Reasonable people, Lindzen and Jay included, have good reasons not to accept the +.8C figure with absolute certainty.

    “As this thread demonstrates, there are people who claim that the earth hasn’t gotten warmer or that any warming we have seen is not the result of human activity.”

    Both claims are reasonable. The first for reasons I’ve just gone over. The second is as well.

    No one questions the fact that we are dumping lots of CO2 into the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels. The question is what effect does this have on global temperatures. Again, Lindzen qualified his statement when he said that a doubling of CO2 levels, alone, should raise global temps 1C. Lindzen explains in his talk why he qualified that statement. There are feedback mechanisms, little quantified, that make that statement meaningless in a practical sense. No one knows what the actual correlation is. The truth may be that due to feedback mechanisms, the carbon forcing factor is so small as to be statistically negligible.

    Add to this the fact that CO2 levels are not the only forcing mechanism out there. You pointed out the effect of other pollutants can have a negative forcing factor. Solar variations also come into play. Significant temperature changes have occurred in the past, and it’s obvious that mankind can’t be blamed for those. For anyone to say, with certainty, that mankind is causing significant changes now is not being honest with either the data or history.

  21. Has anyone noticed that all those left wing people who preach the gospel of global warming from the pollution of fossil fuel energy sources are the very ones who oppose the ONLY long-term, high-capacity factor solution – safe, clean, low-cost nuclear energy? We have enough uranium and thorium in Earth’s crust to fuel to fuel human civilization for tens of thousands of years all without despoiling the landscape with useless 30 % capacity factor wind mills and solar cells, and without the pollution of fossil fuel. And by the way, for all my critics, the Deep Water Horizon oil well blow out in 2010 killed more than four times the people that Fukushima did. Next week I am teaching a training class at my place of employment on this very issue.

  22. PWP:

    That is ironic. Because 20 years-or-so ago, the British nuke lobby started all this pomp and circumstances by commissioning “scientific proof” that their competition – coal and oil – will destroy humanity.

    I deal (I suppose for my sins) with complicated/large dollar real estate appraisals (fair/market value estimations), and many are same same as this dishonest global warming science – “made as instructed.”

    They use statistics the way drunks use lampposts – for support not enlightenment.

  23. The fact that we are discussing the optimal ratio of carbon dioxide to sulfate aerosols as an explanation for why Global Cooling never materialized just goes to show that human mind has an infinite capacity for rationalization.

  24. Steve McIntyre, the moderator of Climate Audit had many years in the mining business. He got involved in this debate years ago because some of the data presentation he had seen reminded him of bogus mineral prospecting surveys. He is of the opinion that the characters at the University of East Anglia, Penn State, &c. are not frauds, but that they are taking great pains to conceal from outsiders how they process and archive data, because their methods are sloppy and unprofessional. He is a particular critic of Lonnie Thompson for not offering data for re-analysis by other researchers (given that Thompson’s data and that of many others was collected with the aid of public grants).

  25. Reasonable people, Lindzen and Jay included, have good reasons not to accept the +.8C figure with absolute certainty.

    It’s true that depending on how you calculate it, the amount of warming might be more or less than .8C. Denying that there has been any warming, however, is not reasonable.

    (BTW, you suggested that I check out slide 10 in the Lindzen presentation I linked to; ironically, that slide gives the following definition of global warming: ‘Global Warming’ refers to an obscure statistical quantity, globally averaged temperature anomaly, the small residue of far larger and mostly uncorrelated local anomalies. Perhaps you should write to Lindzen, and tell him that he doesn’t understand the definition of the term global warming.

    No one questions the fact that we are dumping lots of CO2 into the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels. The question is what effect does this have on global temperatures. Again, Lindzen qualified his statement when he said that a doubling of CO2 levels, alone, should raise global temps 1C.

    Suppose I give my enemy a poison that induces heart attacks. They have a heart attack and die. Did I cause their death? Well, it’s possible that the person secretly had an immunity to that type of poison and just happened to have a heart attack from natural causes at that moment. That’s possible. But we wouldn’t call the idea that the poison was responsible a “hoax” or the guy who thinks it was all natural causes a “skeptic.”

    Similarly, we know that a doubling of CO2 alone should raise global temperature about 1C; we know that there has been a doubling of CO2; and we know that global temperatures have risen about .8C (so actually a little less than we would expect just from the CO2). It’s possible that there is some feedback or forcing which canceled out the the warming effect of the CO2 while simultaneously a different set of natural forcings made the earth get warmer by approximately the same amount. But is it plausible? To me, it seems like a bit of a reach, particularly when the vast majority of folks who have studied the issue don’t buy it.

  26. BTW, I would agree that the anti-nuke and anti-fracking segments of the environmental movement are just as irrational and anti-scientific as the folks who deny the basic science behind climate change. In fact, I would say that the enviro position has been more damaging (ironically, carbon emissions are decreasing in the US thanks to more drilling from fracking and increasing in Europe thanks to the anti-nuke movement).

  27. I have a date to go on shortly, but for those discussing risks, please see:

    Bernard L. Cohen, Sc.D.
    Professor at the University of Pittsburgh

    Deaths per Terawatt Hour by Energy Source

    Comparing Nuclear Accident Risks from Those of Other Energy Sources

    There’s lots more at the IAEA, NEI, NEA, WANO, etc. I just don’t have time to distill two days of training into a sound bite for non-engineers. 🙁

  28. First, “global warming” is a fraud. Second, “climate change” has occurred numerous times throughout the history of the world and will continue to do so.

    Conservatives did no really cede control of Hollywood, et al, to the Left. the Left took it because their politics are their Islam. The massive shift in the view on homosexuality can be credited to pop culture, mostly television shows.

    I think we may be past the point of changing anything politically. It may come to the point where a military coup occurs and the civilian leaders of the federal government are put under house arrest or imprisoned. Unconstitutional or not, it no longer matters. The federal government can do whatever it wants unless someone stops it.

  29. Their goal is to make billions on green boondoggles (graft money conduits) and federal (repaying graft money) hand-outs and to destroy the evil, unjust private sector with $10 – $20 a gallon gasoline/home heating oil; and skyrocketing food prices.

    Case in point, Spain’s – 25% unemployment and rising – national economic death. Spain went all in on windmills and other green boondoggles that hugely raised energy prices. Spain is now bankrupt and being propped up by eurozone central bank fiat confetti – “Control-P”, impossible sovereign debt guaranties, and 10,000 lies.

    I agree with Penguins Fan. The fact that an amount of CO2 increase results in a 0.8 degree change in C is CORRELATION. Other facts may have caused the 0.8 degree change. The lying sacs of excrement need to prove solely CO2 causes the C rise, i.e., CAUSATION. Then, they can proceed to destroy (their actual goal) the evil, unjust private sector.

    B.A., if you and the lying sacs of feces can claim it is solely CO2, I can use my “lamppost” for Spain’s national death spiral. “They use scientific data the way drunks use lampposts – for support not illumination.”

  30. Here is what people need to understand, anthropogenic global warming notwithstanding. Lack of electricity results in higher mortality over electricity from coal. Electricity from coal in turn results in higher mortality over electricity from natural gas. Electricity from natural gas results in higher mortality over electricity from nuclear. Renewable energy such as wind and solar doesn’t provide useful base load electricity because when there is no wind, there is no energy, and when there is no sun, there is no energy. So renewable energy is WORSE than coal, and may as well be the same as no electricity. If wind power were so darn great, then why don’t we ship merchandise across the oceans using sailing ships? If solar energy were so great, then why don’t we still use sun-dried bricks for buildings? Green power – black death.

    No I don’t know if pollution from fossil fueled power plants is resulting in global warming or not. But coal is better than no electricity – that I do know, and wind and solar are no electricity 70% of the time (because renewables have capacity factors not exceeding 30%). But dumping refuse willy-nilly into the atmosphere is an untried experiment with unknown results. If coal fired power plants were held to the same radioactive emission limits as nuclear power plants, not a single one would be operating. Why? Coal has uranium, thorium and uranium in it, and those all get dumped into the environment as coal is burned. It makes more sense to extract the uranium and thorium and use them in reactors. That said, I still prefer coal over the no electricity of Obama’s green energy – black death program. And I don’t give one flying hoot about global warming whose proponents oppose the only solution to the problem they propose: safe, clean, cheap nuclear energy.

    BTW, nuclear has the lowest kilowatt hour costs of any form of electrical generation. Why? Because 1 pencil eraser size uranium fuel pellet equals just under one ton of coal. That’s why. But our culture can’t understand basic science which it says it reveres. Horse crap!

  31. Blackadder,

    I concede the point that other people define Global Warming differently than I have. Some define the term literally. In that particular quote from Lindzen, he is using the term in its literal meaning; how much the globe has warmed.

    Again, please read all of what he says. Lindzen points out that defining global warming is a problem on slide 6. He consistently uses the term in its literal meaning. When he refers to the hyped phenomena that I defined, he uses the phrase “global warming mania” and “global warming alarm”. These phrases are more descriptive. But when you hear Al Gore say things like “Obama needs to address global warming” he and others like him are not using the literal definition. They are using the definition that I explained earlier.

    “…just as irrational and anti-scientific as the folks who deny the basic science behind climate change.”

    Once again, the basic science is not questioned. What is questioned is the manipulation of temperature data sets.

    If Michael Mann was unbiased in his approach to science, he would have shown the tree-ring proxy data through to the present time, including the decrease in temperatures that it showed after 1960. But his research was not driven by the search for truth, it was driven by an agenda. That’s why he switched the last decades from tree ring proxies to surface temp data. The switch was buried in the body of his paper while summaries of it ran with the infamous “hockey stick” graph. Guess which part of the paper was waved in front of the media and politicians with exhortations to do something about “Global Warming”.

    In 1997 NASA was showing satellite temperature data that showed an overall cooling trend in the 80’s and 90’s.

    Magically, now NASA says the same temp data shows a heating trend.

    Even though NASA fully stood by the data in 1997 and was claiming full correlation with balloon readings and other sources.

    Repeatedly, surface temp data stats are manipulated to lower older readings and raise newer ones.

    For a prime example of this, follow the saga of the Darwin Austrailia station.

    “It’s true that depending on how you calculate it, the amount of warming might be more or less than .8C.”

    I accept the above statement as true, as long as the “more or less” value is quantified to plus or minus 2C (which is about what the “noise” level is in the average global temp graphs).

    “To me, it seems like a bit of a reach, particularly when the vast majority of folks who have studied the issue don’t buy it.”

    Truth is never a consensus thing. The majority of biologists think human beings are the product of matter plus chance plus time, with no need of a Creator.

  32. Tony,

    It seems like we agree that people often use the term “global warming” in what you call the literal sense. Which raises the question: how do you know that Rush wasn’t using the term in the literal sense when he said global warming was a hoax? At the very least, this sort of phrasing has the potential to be highly misleading. If you say that global warming is a hoax, a lot of people are going to come away thinking that you are denying that the earth has gotten warmer and may even come to think that there hasn’t been any warming, even if you personally didn’t mean anything so sweeping.

    On the subject of consensus: truth is not determined by consensus, but if you want to know the truth, you are usually better off going with the consensus view. There is, for example, a scholarly consensus that Jesus existed. If someone were to show up here saying that Jesus never existed, citing this consensus would be a valid rejoinder.

    I don’t say that one should always defer to a consensus. A scholarly consensus is not infallible, but then you and I aren’t infallible either. The question is, who is more likely to be wrong: the vast majority of people who have studied the matter in depth, or the small number of contrarians, who in many cases have formed their opinions based on reading a couple of blogs and pop science books?

    In the case of climate change, there is the added problem that the position of the so-called skeptics is, on its face, not very plausible. The amount of warming we’ve seen is close to what we’d expect just based on the basic physics calculations of the warming effect of CO2. As in the case of the poison induced heart attack, claims that the warming effect is actually close to zero but that coincidentally we’ve had the same warming from natural factors really ought to raise some red flags. If the proponents of this theory have not been able to convince more than a handful of actual climate scientists (including many of the skeptical scientists they cite in support of their views) then the simplest explanation is that the theory doesn’t hold water.

    You mention evolution. There is a scholarly consensus in favor of evolution, and in my view that’s a pretty good reason to think that evolution happened. On the other hand, there is no scholarly consensus in favor of atheistic evolution (for example, according to a recent survey only 41% of biologists are atheists, and even many of those who are atheists would agree, if perhaps grudgingly, that evolution is compatible with the existence of God).

  33. Blackadder,

    You bring up some good points.

    Regarding Rush’s definition of “global warming”, you’re right, I can’t know exactly what he meant without his defining the term for us, but from the context I think it’s clear he means global warming alarmism.

    Regarding consensus, you’re right, we can’t be experts in everything. And just for practical purposes, you have to trust the experts at some point. You have to be careful though, when money and ideology are on the line.

    I am not a climatologist. The analysis of weather and climate is certainly a difficult subject. The interactions of CO2 and other components that determine our weather and climate are complex and not understood completely by even the experts. If they were, then their models would give correct predictions.

    You don’t have to be a climatologist to understand what’s wrong with climate change. And again, no one questions that the greenhouse effect exists or that CO2 is a greenhouse gas (yes, they do question how effective a greenhouse gas it is).

    The problem that climate change skeptics have is twofold. The first is how historic data have been handled. The second problem is how some climate scientists and other alarmists have made concluding statements about the cause and repercussions of recent warming trends; statements whose certainty does not match the uncertainty of the science.

    I am a skeptic because I’m old enough to remember the “coming ice age” scare of the 70’s. I first read of the concern about CO2 levels and a possible effect on global temperatures back in the late 80’s. At the time, the articles were alarmist only in the sense that they stated we might be affected by this sometime in the future. They weren’t worried about it being a current problem (current being the 80’s) because at the time, there was no warming trend. When I read them, I agreed: sometime in the future we will probably have to worry about this.

    Then the 90’s came. No longer was the CO2 induced greenhouse effect a concern for the far off future, it’s a problem right now, because temperatures are dramatically shooting upward.

    Bear in mind, CO2 levels are rising about 10 ppm a decade, and have been since the start of the 20th century. By the start of the 90’s, they had already risen 25% that century and were rising at the rate of about 3% a decade.

    So, in the course of a decade, while CO2 increased the same amount it had been doing all along that century, we suddenly flipped from “coming ice age” to “coming heatagedden”. Some of the same climatologists predicting a coming ice age due to the temperature trends were now predicting the exact opposite due the temperature trends. This didn’t pass the smell test.

    At the same time that climatologists were claiming that temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s were climbing at alarming rates, others were saying wait a minute, the satellite data shows a cooling trend. Eventually they revised their data to show a warming trend.

    Climatologist used to say that the globe was much warming during the middle ages. Now that data has been revised downward so that nothing can compete with the present warming period.

    This has been the theme of global warming alarmism. There has been a constant revision of the temperature data sets, whether surface temps, satellite measurements or proxies, to show a positive (or more positive) trend for the warming curve. I linked earlier to some of this data.

    This is an example of confirmation bias. Unlike the well-known example of Milliken’s oil drop experiment, where science gradually removed the bias, we are witnessing the injection of bias into the data.

    The alarmists have the job of Smith in Orwell’s “1984”. Oceania was at war with Eurasia; therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.

    If I can’t dispel you of your trust in the expert consensus when it comes to climate change, just wait around. Unless the world industrial capacity collapses, we will continue to spew lots of CO2 into the atmosphere. There hasn’t been any warming trend in the surface temperature data since ’98 (even Phil Jones had to admit that). If this goes on…

    Regarding evolution:
    Evolution proponents who criticize evolution skeptics commit the same equivocation fallacy that some critics of global warming alarmism commit. They switch definitions in mid argument. In the earlier comment I said global warming was a hoax. You countered that the greenhouse effect is not a hoax; it’s been around for a while and is experimentally provable. I am not accusing you of anything malicious, we just have different definitions what global warming is. That is why I defined my term.

    So, to define evolution as commonly used today: (by the way, I did not make these up; they come from an excellent evolution text book whose title right now escapes me)

    Evolution can mean any of the following or some combination of the following three terms-
    1. Changes in living things over time.
    2. The common decent of all living things.
    3. The creative power of random mutation and natural selection to produce new species.

    Even the most ardent creationist has no problem with the first definition. Wolves have become poodles, right?

    It’s term 2 and 3 that I and other evolution skeptics take issue with. While there is certainly room for metaphor in the Genesis creation account, there are themes there that conflict with those last two definitions. Themes like being made in the Divine image, death entering the world with the fall, and God’s good created order contrasting with any process that has the word “random” in it or that requires death to function.

    It’s over the first definition that evolution proponents commit their equivocation error. They will rightly point out instances of “micro-evolution” like the infamous finches beaks, and claim proof for the whole enchilada. They ignore the fact that skeptics agree that there is proof for micro-evolution and label us all as science heretics.

    I don’t know where you stand with the three definitions, but I encourage you to think carefully about them and whether they are compatible with your faith. Remember, science, by definition, will change; its inductive logic is forever uncertain. But the Word of God will never change and is forever true.

  34. Tony,

    Thank you for your reply.

    Let me begin by emphasizing a point of agreement. There is such a thing as climate alarmism (i.e. exaggerating the likely dangers of climate change, etc.) In fact, I would say that this sort of alarmism is quite common among some segments among the left and environmentalists.

    But just as climate alarmists exist, so do people who deny basic climate science. I know that these people exist because I’ve met them, talked to them, argued with them, etc. When you deny that there are such people, it really only makes you lose credibility in my eyes.

    We also agree that there is good reason to defer to the scientific consensus often but not always. The question is whether there is a good reason not to do so in the case of global warming. You’re reply suggests a couple of possible reasons.

    First, there is the possibility that the views of the majority might be corrupted by “money and ideology.” That’s possible, of course. But then folks who accept the scientific consensus on climate change dismiss the few dissenters in precisely the same way. I’m not a big fan of this type of argument in either case, but if I had to choose it’s easier to explain how a small number of scientists are blinded by bias than to explain how the vast majority are.

    Not only that, but among the majority are people whose ideological or monetary motivations run contrary to their accepting the consensus. For example, you have Reagan conservatives like Kerry Emanuel who accept the consensus view. Or consider the Richard Muller’s Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which reaffirmed previous findings on the existence and degree of warming. Muller’s research was partially funded by the Koch brothers. Nothing wrong with that, but that clearly wasn’t a bias in favor of affirming the reality of global warming.

    Not only that, but even if you look at the minority of dissenting or skeptical scientists, many of them accept large parts of the consensus view. Dr. Lindzen, for example, believes that recent warming is partially the result of human activity, but thinks that a doubling of CO2 will only result in .5C of warming rather than 1C once you account for the effect of clouds, etc. What I’ve noticed is that if you look at climate skeptics, the farther they get from being a practicing climate scientist the farther their views get from the consensus view. Someone like Lindzen will accept that human activity is responsible for a significant chunk of recent warming. A pundit who writes on the topic but has little scientific background will say that the earth has gotten warmer but that it’s all natural. The guy on the street will deny that there has been any warming at all. This does not bode well.

    You also suggest that the example of global cooling undermines today’s concern about global warming. This is a popular example, but I’ve noticed that people who mention it always cite the same 3-4 articles from the 1970s to prove that there was a consensus. A Newsweek cover story does not a scientific consensus make. When it comes to the level, intensity, or duration of support among scientists, global cooling just doesn’t compare to global warming.

    Finally, you cite some examples of climate scientists revising their data. I’m not quite sure what is wrong with doing that, but I would note that if you look at the long term predictions of the 1990 IPCC, they have turned out to be pretty accurate.

    This comment is already way too long, so I won’t respond to your comments about evolution except to say that a big difference between the two cases is that most people who reject the consensus on evolution believe there are good religious reasons for doing so. That may or may not be a good reason for rejecting a scientific consensus, but it isn’t applicable to the case of global warming, as the idea that CO2 emissions are responsible for recent warming does not conflict with the religious teachings of any Christian denomination (or any religious group at all, so far as I know).

  35. “the example of global cooling undermines today’s concern about global warming.”

    Personally, I suspect the main reason people remember the “new ice age” scare of the 1970s is that in the United States at least, there was a string of very long, cold and snowy winters, combined with skyrocketing energy/heating oil prices, in the mid to late 1970s. If you lived in the Midwest or Northeast in the years 1976-79, you probably remember epic blizzards (Chicago had one in January of ’79), record amounts of snow, and lots of snow days (if you were of school age). It wasn’t too hard to believe in global cooling back then!

    Today it’s just the opposite: back to back years with record high temperatures, prolonged periods without snow (Chicago just broke a record for consecutive days WITHOUT snow) and epic drought (now threatening to halt barge traffic on the Mississippi River) make global warming seem much more plausible, at least to U.S. residents. However, this overlooks the fact that weather conditions elsewhere are much different — the UK had a record cold and rainy summer, for instance. While “weather is not climate,” if the weather you are seeing outside your window consists of 60- and 70-degree days in December and multiple years without the White Christmases you remember from your youth, it’s going to be hard NOT to believe in global warming.

  36. Blackadder,
    I am disappointed I’ve lost credibility with you.

    If you take “the basic science” to mean the factualness of the greenhouse effect, CO2 being a greenhouse gas and CO2 concentration increasing, then truly, I know of no one who questions the basic science: not in my circle of friends/acquaintances, or in books or blogs I’ve read on the subject. I don’t doubt that there are people out there who question these things; you can find just about any type of crackpot out there. I don’t doubt that you’ve run into them. I simply haven’t. Nor have I denied that such people exist. In fact I said:

    “While there may be some global warming skeptics who deny these facts, I have not run across any in my reading on the subject.”

    Among the books and blogs I’ve read, they put forth arguments very similar to Lindzen’s you linked to earlier. They acknowledge the science; admit that there is probably some warming happening, even that human emitted CO2 may be contributing to it. What they are skeptical of are the claims that this warming is unprecedented, that the CO2 forcing factor is as large as the alarmists claim, and that rising temperatures will produce the impending doom scenarios the alarmists have put forth.

    I can only think of a dozen or so people that I have ever discussed this topic with. Only two have done any reading on the subject and they are both skeptics. The rest pretty much divide up by political affiliation/media source. They’ll parrot whatever talk radio or NPR tells them. You are the first person I’ve discussed this with who is not a skeptic who has gone beyond the parrot phase.

    Regarding BEST and Richard Muller.

    While Muller will certainly not be getting any more of the Koch brother’s money, he has more than made up for that with media attention and fame. While the MSM played this as a climate change skeptic having a road to Damascus moment, the truth is a little different. Muller, by his own admission prior to the BEST report releases, had never been a skeptic. Many in the alarmist community, although happy that he saw things their way, are not happy about how he went about it. It’s pretty bad when Michael Mann thinks you’re a hack scientist.

    Regarding the predictions of the 1990 IPCC:

    I found this amusing and an excellent example of all that’s wrong when it comes to the alarmists use of graphs and data.

    First, on the Fig 1 graph, note that the “actual temperature” trend (pink) has to be corrected to give an upward trend (red) for the later part of the time line. This actual trend line can be negative after 1997 depending on which data set you use (obviously they used the one that was stable, but still no warming trend). The adjustments are upward, ever upward. Don’t you think just once, I mean just once, an adjustment would make a trend go down? One gets the feeling that glaciers could be sliding south across the American Midwest and these people would have a warming trend printed on the graph with an “Ice Age Anomaly” correction factor.

    Second, note that even though the statement is about the accuracy of the 1990 report, the graph is depicting the predictions of the 3rd and 4th reports. The author would have been truer if he had put the uncertainty bands of the first report up. Here they are in written form:

    From page 52 of the 1990 IPCC Overview:
    “An average rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century of about 0.3°C per decade (with an uncertainty range of 0.2—0.5°C per decade) assuming the IPCC Scenario A (Business-as-Usual) emissions of greenhouse gases; this is a more rapid increase than seen over the past 10,000 years. This will result in a likely increase in the global mean temperature of about 1°C above the present value by 2025 (about 2°C above that in the pre-industrial period), and 3°C above today’s value before the end of the next century (about 4°C above pre-industrial). The rise will not be steady because of other factors.”

    Predicting an increase of .3C per decade with an uncertainty of up to .5C a decade would have fully accommodated the stable/cooling trend that has actually been seen so far this century. And with that kind of predictive power, the globe could cool 2C this century and the 1990 IPCC would still be within its professed accuracy.

    And more predictive awesomeness concerning sea level rise:

    The article you linked to said this:
    “The first paper (open access) is a look back at how the IPCC early 90?s projections have panned out. All in all, not bad but they underestimated the sea level rise (knowing they would do so since they could not estimate how much melting ice would contribute, and only factored in the expansion of warmer ocean water). The next IPCC report will have a much better estimate on sea level rise, and the overwhelming opinion the climate science community seems to be that it will be considerably higher.”

    This is what the 1990 IPCC predicted:

    From page 52/53 of the 1990 IPCC Overview:

    “Under the IPCC Scenario A (Business-as-Usual) emissions, an average rate of global mean sea-level rise of about 6 cm per decade over the next century (with an uncertainty range of 3—10 cm per decade).mainly due to themial expansion of the oceans and the melting of some land ice. The predicted rise is about 20 cm in global mean sea level by 2030, and 65 cm by the end of the next century. There will be significant regional variations.”

    And this is what happened between then and now.

    Actual sea level rise has been about 3 cm per decade.

    I don’t understand how one “underestimates” by predicting twice the actual value. But again, if you use the full power of the uncertainty factor, sea levels could fall 40 cm by the end of the century and the 1990 IPCC would still be “accurate.”

  37. Oops, my bad. Now that I’ve hit the post comment button I see my mistake concerning the uncertainty factors. What I took as plus/minus uncertainty factors are actually bands. It makes my snide comments about predicting falling temps and sea levels wrong. I blame the late hour. It does not change the basic inaccuracies of the report concerning these temperatures and sea levels, however.

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