(December 26, 2013) I would love to have a New Zealand equivalent of Lawrence Solomon, ‘a world renowned environmentalist, author and activist’ at the forefront of movements to stop nuclear power expansion and to save the world’s rainforests. Solomon did a series of columns on ‘denier’ scientists for the Toronto National Post. Those columns led to a book called The Deniers (2008) — the world-renowned scientists who stood up against the global warming hysteria, political persecution and fraud. I recommend it to anyone wanting a real grip on the science and why it is far from understood, let alone settled. — Leighton Smith, an Australian-born talkback radio host based in Auckland, New Zealand, named Best Talkback Host of 2013 at the New Zealand Radio Awards.
Global warming has nothing to do with how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced or what we do here on earth. For millions of years, solar activity has been controlling temperatures on earth and, even now, the sun controls how high the mercury goes. CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another. Soon it will cool down anyhow, once again, regardless of what we do. Every scientist knows this but it doesn’t pay to say so.
— Professor Kunihiko Takeda PhD, Vice Chancellor, Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University, Japan
The science of climate change is far less developed than alarmists want us to know. In spite of massive amounts, tens of billions of dollars, spent around the globe on research, conferences and propaganda, the scientific establishment is a long way from understanding how it all works. Theories abound, but that’s all they are. Anyone who claims the science is settled on global warming is a liar or a danger to themselves.
The great global warming debate (or scam) has taught me a lot about human nature, reason, critical thinking and the bandwagon effect. I have also learned much about ‘appeal to authority’ and that the path to truth can be easy or difficult depending on how it’s approached. Many, if not most, of us accept as ‘gospel’ what we are told by those who (we presume) know more than us. Science is baffling to the untrained and we want simple but definitive answers to problems that confront us. But I learned through the prostate experience that it doesn’t always work like that. No doctor would tell me what to do. Presented with a series of options and possible outcomes, it was my prerogative to weigh those up myself. It taught me that statistics can be misinterpreted and results manipulated.
Predictions are not facts and you need to do your own homework.
So if you are a believer that global warming/climate change is man-made, why do you believe that? Chances are because the vast majority of scientists say so (97 per cent) because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says so and because you see facts, opinions and propaganda in the media on a regular basis — think pictures of cuddly polar bears on an ice cube (a fraudulent depiction, by the way). And then there are all the spooky predictions, the movies and the bandwagon celebrities. And those very few sceptical scientists are in the pay of the big oil companies. As it happens, most of this is rubbish.
There is no consensus on consensus. The 97 per cent or vast majority is a manufactured myth. The IPCC is not a scientific body but a United Nations subjugate established on the basis that global warming is man-made. Views critical of that are unwelcome, no matter their validity. The mainstream media discredited itself long ago with regard to objective, analytical and investigative reporting on this subject. The New Zealand media has become professional at betraying their purpose. Predictions become facts and headlines rule.
One of the science world’s leading brains, Freeman Dyson, in his book A Many-Colored Glass says this: “So it happens that the (scientific) experts who talk publicly about politically contentious questions tend to speak more clearly than they think. They make confident predictions about the future and end up believing their own predictions. Their predictions become dogmas which they do not question. The public is led to believe that the fashionable scientific dogmas are true and it may sometimes happen that they are wrong.”
That is why heretics who question the dogmas are needed. When I make predictions I am not speaking as a scientist but as a storyteller …
There is another way of putting all this: it is ‘behaviour control’. In the late 1980s I referred to something called ‘political correctness’. When callers responded they seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. Then I would get from callers, ‘That’s in America; it’ll never happen here.’ But happen it did and far more effectively than most people realise. Political correctness has stymied our humour, restricted commentary and shackled free speech. Terms like racist and sexist can destroy reputations and careers, no matter their validity. Now it’s not so much the intent of the speaker or writer but the sensitivity of the hearer or reader. Multiculturalism is PC’s sibling and global warming is from the same incestuous family.
In the early days when I followed the advance of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), it was easy to see why its advocates latched onto it. I recall a conversation on the programme with a listener. She was asking why it was being promoted if, as I was saying, it was bogus. I replied, ‘Power and money.’ Power and control for those regulators from local council, through national governments all the way to the United Nations. And money through both taxation and trading in carbon credits — money out of thin air. Enron, that corrupt and now bankrupt company, was the first to have the idea of carbon trading and they would control it.
CO2 is related to almost everything we do, beginning with breathing. Control of CO2 output would be the ultimate political power. The UN would like an international CO2 tax (carbon tax if you like) that it would administer and benefit from. Al Gore talks of international governance, and he is not alone. So too does Helen Clark.
Surrender to that and New Zealand, along with other countries, is in danger of losing its sovereignty and with that its democracy, such as it is. If it’s examples you want, just look to Britain and its relationship with the European Union. Even in the home of the brave and the land of the free, the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Obama has increased its power dramatically. A director has more power than a cabinet secretary, circumventing Congress and the Constitution. It really is extraordinary.
While conspiracy theories run rampant, I’m not a subscriber. Well, certainly not the extreme conspiracies. Of course, what’s extreme depends on your starting point. My view is most compatible with that expressed by Dr David Evans, mathematician and engineer, in his article “Climate Coup — The Politics” (2012):
“The theory of man-made global warming is not a conspiracy. It is a confluence of vested interests in increased political regulation of the economy and reflecting market forces: bureaucrats, academics, government scientists, utilities, renewable manufacturers, bankers, most politicians — all these have a shared financial interest in imposing their solutions to manmade global warming.”
The bandwagon effect
I have been intrigued to watch in New Zealand the bandwagon effect over the last few years: companies, both public and private, professionals of all kinds and individuals, jumping on the wagon. No one wants to be left behind. Most simply accept unquestioningly the ‘authority’ approach. So we have groups for this and committees for that and every business involved gets a ‘green’ sticker.
I have friends, very good friends, who have a thriving business dealing locally and internationally. After Al Gore was here in 2007, pressure forced them to adopt ‘green’ regulations — sustainability, green miles, etc, etc. They willingly contracted a green consultant who made presentations to staff and gave business advice. ‘No, no,’ they said to my advice, ‘we want to.’ It wasn’t long before things changed. ‘This is ridiculous,’ they said. ‘It’s costing so much money — for nothing.’ And so they terminated the ‘advisor’ and, guess what, the sky didn’t fall and business carried on as normal.
It became obvious to me that scientists are not above the fray (particularly climate scientists). They are just as much as any other grouping capable of self-deception, if not cheating, lying, fraud and corruption in order to protect their patch. Not for a moment do I mean to implicate all, but there are examples of leading climate scientists guilty of the above. Why? Refer to the earlier comments of physicist Freeman Dyson. As another said, ‘Scientists are no longer in the image of Einstein or Pasteur. Most are journeymen of no exceptional ability.’
What changed then? Money, and truckloads of it. In the 20-year period from 1989 to 2009, the United States devoted $79 billion to climate-change research. To find out how it came to that we need to go back to 1975. Anthropologist Margaret Mead became known for her 1928 book on the sex lives of Samoans (although claims of fraud developed after her death in 1978). In 1975 she organised a conference where, it is suggested, the present climate debate began, ignoring the fact that discovery of the ‘greenhouse effect’ goes back to the 1820s.
What is relevant is that also attending the conference were Stephen Schneider, Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren. All three are prominent in the present battle over climate change. John Holdren serves as President Obama’s science czar; Ehrlich was author of an influential book in 1968, The Population Bomb, which has been criticised for inaccurate predictions, but he still continues to have major believability and influence today. And Schneider was promoting an ice age at the time but became a leading alarmist for warming. He died in 2010.
The 1975 conference, it could be said, was the beginning of the fraud. It is when the politicisation of climate warming began. Also attending was Dr James Lovelock, who in the 1970s invented the Gaia theory. Lovelock produced all sorts of alarmist predictions along the lines of, ‘Before the century is over, billions of us will die, and the few breeding pairs of people who survive will be in the Arctic, where the climate remains tolerable.’ Exactly the sort of headline the mainstream media loves to exploit, along with appropriate dramatic pictures. But guess what? Lovelock more recently recanted. He noted how the science of global warming is in its infancy and, ‘we haven’t got the physics worked out yet.’
In 2007 filmmaker Martin Durkin released his documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. It was designed to be the silver bullet to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Swindle was not perfect, but neither was Inconvenient. In fact, I believe Swindle was the greater truth. The version of Swindle shown in New Zealand had some mistakes removed by Durkin.
Billed as New Zealand’s best-known sceptic by Prime Television, I took part in a post-Swindle debate — two climate scientists, Professor Martin Manning and Dr David Wratt, along with Greenpeace activist Cindy Baxter; on the ‘climate realist’ side were Professor Willem de Lange and me. It was loaded from the outset three to two; however, Willem and I accounted for the sceptics rather well, or so I’m told.
I doubt if anyone watching changed their pre-set mind, but if they did it would have been a victory for the sceptics. As it happened, I had the last word in which I emphasised that there was no consensus and, importantly, carbon dioxide was essential for life and was not a pollutant. The debate was filmed and I was overseas when it went to air, so I’ve never seen the finished product. The Swindle documentary was shown on Sky TV New Zealand (as well as the BBC and ABC Australia) and attracted complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Authority but they were not upheld. Vote one for free speech.
But such is the influence of political correctness that the above is a rarity; which leads to the role of media and journalism. Much, if not most, of what is called mainstream media is guilty of dereliction of duty. In some cases pure dishonesty seems to be editorial policy. In others, utter ignorance; but many media outlets have been captured by activists. And it’s probably no surprise that the AGW debate breaks down along political lines — those who want to expand the role and power of government versus those who don’t (with some exceptions).
Failures in journalism
Journalism in general falls short. It is quite usual to see a television interview of a climate scientist by a reporter not long out of media school. Patsy questions, no challenges and there you are: the world is about to reach Armageddon. It is hardly the reporter’s fault; their knowledge of the subject is basically restricted to the brainwashing they’ve been schooled in.
And there’s the ‘authoritarian’ acceptance. Whenever I read a ‘science is settled’ authoritarian comment, I wait for an explanation from a worthwhile sceptic (and there’re plenty of them). If you accept the ‘settled’ attitude, journalism will become redundant — at least the analytical kind will.
Television news continues to be consistently guilty of misrepresentation, as do newspapers. Any climate story continues to be accompanied by misrepresentative pictures of chimney stacks ‘pouring out pollution’. It is actually steam — water vapour — and it is not pollution, but what the heck, it looks great. It is the same with your cuddly polar bears on ice cubes.
Newspapers are great at reprinting press releases, be they from NIWA, government departments, Greenpeace and particularly the Green Party. There is rarely any journalism involved. And some newspapers have been conned by the ‘authoritarians’ to exclude, almost, any sceptical opinion, because ‘the science is settled’. Question: if the science is settled, why the need to keep pouring billions of dollars into research?
Before I leave the media, radio is just as capable of regurgitating the party line. Editors and journalists alike could do worse than recognise the words of ‘Mr Gaia’, James Lovelock, who told MSNBC, ‘We don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to more alarmist books, mine included — because it looked clear cut — but it hasn’t happened.’
Then to the words of one of New Zealand’s most qualified climate scientists. ‘We don’t all subscribe to the alarmist theory. Some of us just prefer to keep our heads down. We appreciate the stand you have taken.’ He and I and one other science professor were having a conversation at a function in 2012. To be fair, I don’t think he was a total skeptic but certainly of the ‘science far from settled’ camp.
The climate-gate email scandal that broke in 2009 revealed much about the way players in this game work, including their methodology of shutting down those who question the cause. Just ask Auckland University Associate Professor Chris de Freitas. The treatment he received was appalling, but typical. NIWA’s Jim Salinger was involved in a subtle but ham-fisted attempt to discredit de Freitas at Auckland University. Correspondence between Salinger and the rest of the ‘clique’ caused a number of prominent and senior climate scientists, including the esteemed American climatologist Dr Judith Curry, to review their stance.
I would love to have a New Zealand equivalent of Lawrence Solomon, ‘a world renowned environmentalist, author and activist’ at the forefront of movements to stop nuclear power expansion and to save the world’s rainforests. Solomon did a series of columns on ‘denier’ scientists for the Toronto National Post. Those columns led to a book called The Deniers (2008) — the world-renowned scientists who stood up against the global warming hysteria, political persecution and fraud.
I recommend it to anyone wanting a real grip on the science and why it is far from understood, let alone settled.
I have 40 acres just outside Auckland. I have seven acres of grapevines and make some pretty good wine. I have planted over 3000 trees in addition to the five acres of native subtropical forest. I have fenced off the wetland parts to protect them from cattle. So by default, I guess, I’m an unofficial environmentalist. But I can see fraud when it’s about. In my opinion, Al Gore is the high priest of fraud.
In 2011 one of the most respected viticultural scientists published a seminal work — Wine, Terroir and Climate Change. This work by Dr John Gladstones was described by leading Australian winemaker Brian Croser thus: ‘John Gladstones’ intricately researched understanding of climate mechanisms and history, geology, soil and biology has created a welcome antidote to climate hysteria.’ I’m with Croser.
Being in the minority, as a climate change sceptic, isn’t the most popular position to hold and from a radio content point of view the subject may not have universal appeal. Yet, I know I broadcast to an intelligent audience who relish critical thinking. What’s more, the bandwagoners, authority believers and alarmists need a radio counterpoint and when it comes to the many falsities that emerge on this subject, someone needs to take them to task. It is fun doing it.
© Beyond the Microphone by Leighton Smith
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
This extract was published by the National Business Review, New Zealand.
To read more on global warming alarmism by Lawrence Solomon, see here.