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« Simon Singh's integrity problem | Main | The new hiatus »

More strong stomachs required

Josh points us to this video of Christiana Figueres speaking at St Paul's Cathedral. I haven't had the chance to look at it yet, but Josh says it is pretty appalling.

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Reader Comments (86)

Not entirely on or off topic - should really have gone on the solar thread last week...

The efficiency of solar photovoltaics
Solar Scotland
Solar PV – an irresistible disruptive technology?

Any discussion of "levelised costs of solar" needs to incorporate actual load factors. It isn't rocket science to understand that solar works better in sunny climates than cloudy ones in the same way that hydro works better in Norway than Holland. In the UK average load for solar is of the order 9% in Scotland where the sun seldom shines its closer to 7%. At these levels solar panels never repay the energy used to create them. What does happen is that the CO2 from embedded energy is in the atmosphere today awaiting energy to be produced in 10, 20 and 30 years time - solar accelerates emissions. It is little wonder that efforts to combat emissions are failing so miserably.

In sunny climates load factors get up to 20% but if it gets too sunny the panels get too hot and that degrades performance.

May 11, 2014 at 10:12 AM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

Meanwhile..Letters at the D.Telegraph

Energy efficiency:

I think they spotted part of the CC trough being chopped slightly.....those happen to be most of the business that are on my sh*tlist.

And to counter the Glacier panic was the BH piece - The new hiatus

Put a price on carbon...we need the maaany!

May 11, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

St Paul was a small businessman - a tentmaker - throughout his missionary career and one suspects that he, like Josh, would be less than impressed by the dogmas of Big Climate and its effects both on free enterprise and the poor.

May 11, 2014 at 10:31 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Managed to watch just 5 minutes of this sheer unadulterated bollocks before coming to the inescapable conclusion that religion, in any form, behaves like a brain virus that destroys the mind.

May 11, 2014 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Dawkins

Wikipedia says "Figueres was born in San José, Costa Rica, into a family dedicated to public service.".

Yes, I guess I'm over-sensitive but I find it difficult to avoid reading this as having a subtext :-

'She wasn't born into a family of profit-obsessed entrepreneurs engaged in the grubby business of exploiting vulnerable consumers'.

On the other hand, it's nice (not to slur those who do work in the public services) to remember who finances those public activities. Being of a family thus 'dedicated' might be noble under some circumstances (perhaps it is in Costa Rica and a retraction is due!) but that isn't necessarily so.

May 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered Commenteralleagra

Well, it starts with a basic flaw: a man of the cloth stating that the most important thing for us to do is to take material action to save the world. And then to hear the clergy insisting that “climate change” is the fault of humans – but, then, politicians have been pilloried for stating that bad weather was God’s punishment, obviously an idea totally at odds with men of, erm, God.

May 11, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Euan Mearns
Do you have a link/reference for the temperature v Performance for solar panels?

May 11, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

There is increasing evidence that the greatest threat to Christianity in this country is the Church itself, when you have this utter rubbish, which lays all the problems in this world at the feet of humans, and archbishops stating that Jesus held the material wealth of people above their spiritual health.

I had to give up a few minutes after that woman started to talk… I had the most unpleasant sensation of churning stomach and soaring blood-pressure.

May 11, 2014 at 11:27 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

alleagra, did you mean that the subtext was that she was probably born into a privileged wealthy family and so has never needed to worry about money, food, warmth, shelter, water, transport or affordable energy?

May 11, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

There's a question from the floor at about 1 hr 01': “Surveys show increasing popular uncertainty has been generated lately due to the challenges of so-called climate sceptics, particularly about the alleged static surface temperature for the last seventeen years. What easily digested ripostes can we provide to such selective data?”

The chairman bishop hands this one to defence expert Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti who says: “If 97 doctors say there's something wrong with you, it's probably better to listen to the 97 rather than the odd one who says you're OK.”

I'm wondering whether to waste another ten hours of my life transcribing this. I can't be bothered passively listening for an hour and a half, but I'll happily transcribe it if I thought someone could turn it into a work of art – a comic opera perhaps, or a Swiftian satire.

You have to remember these people are running the world, and nothing we have done so far has made them budge an inch.

May 11, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

There are several people here (probably even a majority) who would take issue with my religious beliefs but since those beliefs are — in theory at least — the same as those of Christian clergy, I am at a loss to understand the stance on climate that we see depicted here.
If we accept, for the sake of this argument, that there is an omnipotent Being who created the universe and that Man is the apex of his creation then is it even remotely likely that he would have created a planet that having been occupied by Man for around for several million years has suddenly become so unstable that it cannot cope with a couple of degrees variation in temperature?
Because that is what they are saying in effect.
Even without the benefit of a God there seems to be more than enough evidence that, climatologically speaking, the earth is more then capable of coping with pretty much everything that nature has thrown at in the last few millennia. To suggest that human beings can suddenly change that seems to me the height of arrogance.
And that's before we even start to dissect the "science"!

May 11, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


"Just to add a little here to the understanding of solar PV.

A panel’s rated capacity is based on output with irradiance at 1000 watts/square metre, and with panel surface temperature at 25 degrees C.

1000 w/sqm is bright sunshine, so under those conditions the panel surface, in most areas, will heat up rather quickly. PV panels have a temperature coefficient, which measures the decrease or increase in output at 1000 w/sqm for very degree C above or below 25C for the panel surface. Temperature coefficients vary per panel and manufacturer, in a broad range from 0.30 (market leading) to 0.50 (poor performance, but usually cheaper panels).

A reasonable industry average is 0.42, which means that for every degree difference in panel surface temperature from 25C, the output will decrease or increase by 0.42% (at 1000 w/sqm irradiance).

Wind can be quite an important factor in solar output, since a breeze moving across the panel surface will help to cool it down thereby increasing output. This probably explains why output in Portugal (with prevailing westerlies off the Atlantic ocean) is better than Mauritania (where much of the wind is easterlies from the Sahara). Panel surface temperatures (under the same irradiance) are likely to be higher in Mauritania than Portugal, thereby reducing output. I’d guess it’s windier more of the time in Portugal than Mauritania.

From observations of my own PV array, I typically get the best instantaneous output on cold clear days from March to April. A cold, breezy sunny day in March, with temperatures in low single digits celsius and the sun only available 12 hours and still relatively low in the shy (basically equinox) will yield nearly as much output as a sunny, calm day in June at the solstice, despite higher irradiance and longer days. This is because the panels may be as much as 35C hotter in June than in March, leading to a 10% drop in output efficiency (I have Panasonic HIT panels which have quite a low [ie good] temperature coefficent).

This is all a bit “layman knowledge” but I hope it adds a little to the thread…."

May 11, 2014 at 12:03 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

A naturally-driven temperature shift of less than one single degree over the past 160-odd years is the 'most daunting challenge of the 21st century'?

Pathetic if it wasn't such transparent bullshit that it verges on fraud.

And her speech? Religious climate bingo writ large.

UK floods.
Superstorm Sandy
Superstorm Haiyan
Asda's fresh produce 'at risk'!
US drought, storms, rain, weather everywhere!
Everest avalanches!
Increases in temperatures of 3, 4 or even 6 degrees C.
Too much bullshit to take in in one sitting.

And she is the leader of the UN's climate change zealots. Quite astonishing.

May 11, 2014 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

Mike Jackson (11:54 AM):

…the height of arrogance.
Which is something I have been trying to put across on many sites, as well as this one. Such arrogance is on magnificent display in the video above; that it should be displayed by the clergy states to me that they have utterly lost the message of Jesus, and should be removed before they totally poison the chalice of Christ. Christianity is the only faith I know of that holds promises without threat; that gives freedom to the individual, and offers its message in such simple terms: “Follow me, and believe.”

To put things into perspective, more energy falls on this planet in one hour than humanity will ever use; yet, we still have “learned” people claiming that we can change the world. The message of Canute is lost on them; do not expect them to listen to the more complicated message of Christ.

May 11, 2014 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Perhaps they consider the new religion more credible than the old one?

May 11, 2014 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

I guess that's like the 99,999 doctors who said ulcers were caused by stress and in serious cases surgery would be required.
Then there's the work of Dr Ioannidis

Got it.

May 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

monotheistic believers packaging warmism beliefs: One suspects thing get lots or counted twice along the way.
This has the same reek as warmist radiation budgets. Consider eg the HDH venus GHE theory, which is handwaived away with drivel about albedo. The convolution of concepts causes and effects in one unpalatable fudge is distinctly in the realm of old religionists. Exposed commies, peedo greenies and ridiculed monotheists all under one roof redefining themselves.

May 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

at least the church has a long experience in conning the lowinformed, for the benefit of their leech.
If we look at it as a skill or an art, the warmish / occupy whatever crowd/ career politicians with an urge to fix something for us at high cost etc, can all learn a lot of them.

For example our contemorary new moulded parasites like in credibility.
You can waffle about pee review and doing science, but you don't do any
You can waffle about reducing carbon footprints but you are not giving the example of it , quite to the contrary

Look at a vatican concilly: they always start with a prayer.
At least they give the impression it is important as they do some of it themselves.
Maybe a few of them are even honest about it and not just playing theatre.

So I would start every warmish conference with solving together a scientific riddle or something?
or this: brothers and sisters let us all convene for a short cold shower n the spirit of a saved gaia

May 11, 2014 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

May 11, 2014 at 11:13 AM | Jack Dawkins
"Managed to watch just 5 minutes of this sheer unadulterated bollocks before coming to the inescapable conclusion that religion, in any form, behaves like a brain virus that destroys the mind."

Religions behave as memeplexes; so does CAGW (along with other secular cultural entities). This explains the similarities in their characerteristics and developmental trajectories, though this does not mean, say, Christianity will be identical to CAGW, because they are different subsets. We've probably co-evolved with memeplexes since the emergence of Homo-Sapiens-Sapiens, and possible before. They are maintained for (past, huge) net advantage, and may still have significant net advanatge now. They don't destroy minds, they 'align' them, and there is reasonable speculation that this was the enabler for civilisation to arise. However, there is a nasty downside within the net advantage, namely that socities can align not only to boll0ks onoccasion, but highly damaging boll0ks too. A way to think of this is as a (non-agential, non-sentient) cultural parasite leveraging via memetics the mechanisms of altruism to fuel its survivial. Memeplexes frequently form cross-coalitions, but I'd say that Christianity and CAGW are still at the 'shall-we-shan't-we dance' stage, with embrace in som sub-camps and rejection in others.

May 11, 2014 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Euan Mearns,
Thanks for that link. It makes sense as solar panels are semi-conductor devices and an increasing temperature reduces the band gap of a semiconductor, which changes performance. Many years ago when I was a test engineer we used to test components at 70'C ambient for that reason. In that respect it's unfortunate that PV panels are black.

This site gives some data for domestic PV Panels A field experiment in the United Kingdom revealed a drop of 1.1% of peak output for every increase in degrees Celsius of a home photovoltaic solar panel once the panel reached 42 degrees Celsius and The temperatures of the solar panels tested were, on average, about 20 degrees Celsius higher than the ambient air temperature I assume that it means 1.1% for every 1'C above 42'C panel temperature. In the UK high 20s are not exceptional in summer so 5% or even 10% reductions in Scotland could be expected during hot anti-cyclonic conditions due to heat issues. In winter a low sun causes reduced output in summer high panel temperatures causes reduced output, lose lose.

May 11, 2014 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

CF is a causehead - with an MA in anthropology from LSE, first degree from the Leftist-missionizing Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

What the Believer's believe goes unrevized by recent science findings: CF still believes that Himalyan glaciers are melting, that we've only recently had the several hottest years ever on record, etc. Thus, it's still 2007 to 2009 for these people. Not need to re-think things like, oh, maybe evidence - nor the the alarums, neither the solutions and evils of their enemies (eg, oil companies remarked as "energy companies). Same old song.

If you see through the same old song and dance, you're gonna be put to sleep. The only NEW THING is the beginning: FC cites James Cameron blockbuster that nobody in the US saw - The Years of Living Dangerously - as evidence to support her rallying cry.

IT's all quite sad, really.

May 11, 2014 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterOrson

I watched all one hour ,twenty-six minutes and twenty-two seconds of it. I think I deserve a stiff drink. I will pass over Christiana Figuras's unctuousness and Neil Morisetti's talent for conjuring up terrible spectres of future threats without bothering his audience with any concrete evidence.

What I did find interesting was the rather defensive presentation by Tony Juniper. He reminded the audience that this debate had been going on for over twenty-five years. He suggested that ground was being lost because it had now become a " party political issue".I presume this was a reference to the growing number of political parties and governments-Australia,Canada,Japan, which are turning away from an uncritical acceptance of the alarmist message . He was not persuaded,unlike other panel members, that the oil companies were becoming "greener" and urged other multinationals ,such as those in the water and food industry, to "take on" the oil industry. He was particularly alarmed by the "volte face"in the British Press which was now publishing stories which were not helpful to the cause. He cited a recent article in the Daily Mail attacking the wind farm industry. All in all he sounded like a general keeping a nervous eye on the ranks behind him wondering how many more might drift away from the battle.

May 11, 2014 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Petch

Amazing how concerned the priest is with life here and now. I thought his job was the afterlife.

May 11, 2014 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith L

At what point will these earnest christians discover that making energy expensive kills more people?

May 11, 2014 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

JamesG: perhaps because they are not actually Christians? A cow born in a stable is still a cow; putting a saddle on it still does not make it a horse.

May 11, 2014 at 3:11 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent: THANK YOU, for making the distinction. A number of skeptics, let alone the vast majority of AGW True Believers, seem to think that Christians *don't* think... and this Christian Skeptic is dismayed by such thinking.

May 11, 2014 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

Thanks David Petch for the useful overview. Juniper is closer to the battlefield than the Admiral and the Padres, and he obviously realises that the idea of environmentalism as a popular mass movement is dead. They're left with the sword and the crucifix, the admiral and the bishop, and the woman from the third world country who is doubly untouchable.

I still maintain that we have lost the battle, even in those countries where there are political parties ready to entertain scepticism, as long as we have no intellectual backing in the media or academia.

Those like our host who can hope one day to be treated like rational human beings worthy of participating in the debate have to watch their language. Most of us don't have such hopes, so we can speak our minds. These people – bishops, admirals, over-government-paid heads of phantom protest movements – are bonkers, nuts, off the wall doolally mental defectives.

Many of us have compared Warmism to a religion or an ideology, but never would I describe a Christian, a Buddhist, or a Trotskyist as mentally defective. There are belief systems which are deserving of respect, which come from somewhere and have left their mark. This isn't that. It's a mediaeval cult, a dance craze, mass hysteria for stiff-upper-lipped tight-arsed obsessives worried about the gasses leaking from the nether regions.

It has to be countered, but how? I'm coming round to the Foxgoose view that nothing but ridicule will kill them.

May 11, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

For those interested in the efficiency of solar, this link provides a great resource for calculating output and efficiency in Europe and Africa. Plug in your location, panel orientation and get output over 12 months.

May 11, 2014 at 3:54 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

Ms Figueres is the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As such, her main task is to oversee the delivery of an agreement at the next “make or break” UN climate conference in Paris in December 2015 (COP 21) that must, in her words (LINK) be “the basis for a global transformation the likes of which the world has never seen.” Yet the conference in Warsaw last year (COP 19) and the talks in Bonn a few weeks ago failed to make any progress and did so for exactly the same reason that the last “make or break” conference in Copenhagen in 2009 (COP 15) failed – namely that the “developing economies” (responsible for over 67% of global GHG emissions) insist that the exemption from environmental constraint given to them under said UNFCCC cannot and must not be changed. See this for very recent evidence of their inflexibility.

In other words, her primary (arguably only) focus should be on persuading those economies (which include such tough nuts as China, India, South Korea, Brazil, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Iran) to change their minds. No easy task - and there’s hardly any time left. Moreover her argument has to be a lot more persuasive than the emotional and superficial nonsense that I’ve just heard expressed in St Paul's. So why is she wasting time preaching to the converted? – Especially to such a cuddly bunch of the converted as is seen here?

Geoff asks how this cult is to be countered; he sounds pessimistic. But I don’t think that’s justified: there are only 20 months left to that Paris conference and I’m sure those months will demonstrate (surely once and for all?) that Ms Figueres's arguments will not prevail: the world is not going to agree to substantial cuts in GHG emissions. Then, I suggest, the new sense of reality (about for example the primary role of adaptation) that I sense is emerging will become far more strongly established.

May 11, 2014 at 4:10 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Solar cells.
Hard technical data is as ever difficult to find and especially data without sales spin.

Yes there is a temperature characteristic, keep cold. Not that dire given the myriad of other demerits.

Here is a name for extensive digging but note my warning: stick to .jp hosts. Ignore future, research, projected.
You can find the minimal data available for actual production silicon. Read with the engineer's jaundiced eye.
Name in this case is Sharp Electronics and as I said, find the Japanese servers (plenty in English).
There are also technical manuals for overseas usage.

If you want fun try shading part of a series connected panel, don't like that at all.

May 11, 2014 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Channon

geoffchambers and Robin Guenier: What an excellent disagreement. I wish we could have more of those in church! Which reminds me of a line from CS Lewis, who once commented that for some people it was rejection of God - the bogus, often hateful God they had been presented with - that was their first step towards reality. Please reject away.

May 11, 2014 at 5:18 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Those who cannot bring themselves to listen to the Figueres pronouncement in St Paul's can find the gist of it here.

May 11, 2014 at 5:30 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

May 11, 2014 at 3:20 PM | geoffchambers
"Many of us have compared Warmism to a religion or an ideology, but never would I describe a Christian, a Buddhist, or a Trotskyist as mentally defective. There are belief systems which are deserving of respect, which come from somewhere and have left their mark. This isn't that. It's a mediaeval cult, a dance craze, mass hysteria for stiff-upper-lipped tight-arsed obsessives worried about the gasses leaking from the nether regions."

None of the religious, or the followers of extreme politics, or of other secular entities like Eugenics or CAGW, are mentally defective. They are all 'influenced', and often heavily so. The underlying mechanisms that support all these phenomena are common (which is what spawns the many comparisons you cite above, folks sense this) but the 'recipe' of cultural ingredients varies within each. For instance CAGW cannot offer direct salvation like religions, so has to offer (a range of) 'salvation substitutes' instead, a stronger one being 'save your grandkids', which appeals to our genetically instilled instinct to do just that. Respectfully, it is better to understand how things work if one want to combat them, rather than clouding the issue with vague speculation about obsesseives (okay I know this in part was a handy joke :) and worse, imply folks are mentally defective. I know the extreme level of frustration makes this very hard.

You have part of the answer in your comment, where you mention cults and dance crazes - all widely ranging recipes based on the same mechanics. Cultural entities that take a long time to rise and deeply establish themselves in minds plus cultural literature, tend also to last a long time too, e.g. the traditional religions. They tend to be benign too (*net*, they can have bad off-generations!), because they evolve over a long time to our overall needs. Crazes that appear in a swift blaze do not engage deeply in minds, and hence tend to die quickly too, whether benign or destructive. Some cults are intermediate to these end-points. A marker for the demise of CAGW should be it's rate of rise. Arguably, it's seriously challenged and years past its peak already, and my guess is also that a cultural entity tied so intimately to science will fall faster too. I guess that could still mean a couple of decades at worst, a few years at best, and it will leave around evolved daughters too. But I'd say that 'pure' CAGW will never make it to the long game (like say Christianity), even if, say, a highish lukewarmer style scenario is eventually revealed by (real) science (though in truth *whatever* is revealed short of the advertised apocalypse, e.g. a 14-17 year pause, still has surpisingly little impact on the currently strong cultural entity).

"It has to be countered, but how? I'm coming round to the Foxgoose view that nothing but ridicule will kill them."

Ridicule is a very useful weapon against dominant cultural entities that stray far from reality, and oft used. A better weapon, as advocated by 'pointman' in some of his essays is a counter narrative. A wolfhound to attack the wolf. Snag with that is, later on the wolfhound can go wild. Against a religious entity, science and reason has strong limits, in the end nothing is provable, but against a secular entity that trumpets science like CAGW, it is a very powerful tool indeed. While social inertia means the results are only just starting to trickle through, reasoned scepticism has done immense damage, and continues to do so. The lack of amplification of the sceptic message is the main limitation. Hence Anthony Watt's sugestion of a promotional organisation would be a critical step forward. This is a narrative war, after all. There is danger of an *inadvertant* counter-narrative here that becomes disconnected in its turn from true science, but no path is without risk and no solution is cleanly black or white.

May 11, 2014 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Robin (5:30 PM): Thank you for that too. There appears to be a major push to 'convert' Christian leaders to CAGW. Until I see what Pope Francis and co come out with under their own steam for a month or two I'll suspend judgment. But it's interesting alarmism feels the need, with Paris as you say a key milestone 20 months hence.

Andy West: I'll let Geoff respond, if he wishes, but I appreciate what seems to be a generous take on worldview, though I'm not a great user of 'meme' and its offshoots. I'm mindful I didn't say that to you before!

May 11, 2014 at 5:50 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


It's more like this. You have a condition that no doctor has ever seen before, has never treated, and has no body of statistical outcomes on which to base an opinion. Not one. That's the status of what's going on here. So 97 "doctors" who have never treated a patient or even seen a case example of this particular "disease" are asked their opinion. Sure, they have one. But that's all it is - opinion. In that situation, if I thought the other three doctors argument was more compelling, I'd go with their opinion. Because they're all guessing!

May 11, 2014 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterkcom

Geoff (and Andy): as I've said many times elsewhere, the practical objective must be, not to "counter" the cult (or craze or whatever) but to stop (or at least greatly weaken) the absurd, dangerous and pointless policies that are its consequence. And to do so as soon as possible. There isn't time to wait for the craze (if that's what it is) to die out and attempts to counter the cult (if that's what it is) have been shown time and time again to be hopeless. Andy claims that "reasoned scepticism has done immense damage". But has it? There was little sign of that in St Paul's - nor, for example, in current UK policy.

But, taking a global view, the scepticism that has done the most damage to the warmist cause (terminal in my view) is the scepticism expressed by China's climate negotiators - who don't even bother to support it with much in the way of "reason". Here, for example, is Xie Zhenhua, head of China's negotiating team at last year's Warsaw conference:

There are disputes in the scientific community. We have to have an open attitude to the scientific research. There's an alternative view that climate change is caused by cyclical trends in nature itself. We have to keep an open attitude. It is already a solid fact that climate is warming. The major reasons for this climate change is the unconstrained emissions produced by the developed countries in the process of industrialisation. That's the mainstream view [but] there are other views. Our attitude is an open attitude.
It's views such as these, expressed in the context of an adamant refusal to change the UNFCCC structure and the resulting refusal to comply with Ms Figueres' wishes, that must eventually (quite soon in my view) cause Western politicians to question and hopefully change their policies. Two things can hasten this: (1) external events such as the crisis in the Ukraine and (2) our continually drawing attention to the reality of what's happening in the real world.

May 11, 2014 at 6:46 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Thanks Robin Guenier and Andy West for your kind attempts to lead me back to sanity. Intelligent political analysis and intelligent socio-psychological analysis in the same thread is a rare combination.

Like Robin, I have great hopes for Paris 2015. The US, France and Britain will all be in pre-election mode. It would be sensible for sceptics to do everything possible to get their voices heard in the lead up December 2015. Could the GWPF's new spin-off body help?

Andy West:
I'm not sure how you measure the curve of the rise or fall of CAGW, given that its popular support, measured in militants on the ground or votes for the Greens, is close to zero, while its hold on opinion-formers and the establishment is nearer 100%, at least in the UK. This is something new in politics, and I'm not sure that memes will help us understand it.

I think I will transcribe it, in the hope of furthering my own understanding. And I'll try to be more polite in future.

May 11, 2014 at 8:27 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

May 11, 2014 at 6:46 PM | Robin Guenier

Countering absurb policies in parallel is no bad thing. But ulltimately if the root cause is not also countered, it will likely be worse than painting the Forh bridge. By the time you think you are near the end, you'll look over your shoulder and realise that similar policies or even dafter ones still have sprouted all over your earlier work. I think the potentially disasterous path to geo-engineering is tentatively firming up via this effect.

Re reason in the Chinese negotiators' statement, I think this:
There's an alternative view that climate change is caused by cyclical trends in nature itself. We have to keep an open attitude.
is eminently reasonable, and in line for instance with Curry's (and many others) view about the underestimation of natural effects. This is despite that other parts of the quote nod more to what those negotiators know is deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of the great majority of representatives. When reason swims upstream against prevailing unreason, pragmatism dictates starting with a cocktail of both. And yes this helps tremendously, not only with policy but with forcing the reality of scientific uncertainty into the minds of politicians who would otherwise be reluctant to even acknowledge that there is any.

The intrusion of reality is useful too. The events in Ukraine, while unfortunate and an increasing tragedy to many, will I agree help regarding energy policy. But too big a slice of reality before infra-structure and the culture that theoretically keeps it supported is cured of CAGW, will I guess cause the lights to go out or many more folks to starve etc.

"Continually drawing attention to reality", is I submit, an act of sustained reason ;)

May 11, 2014 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Richard D - I don't think we're expecting a document from Pope Francis until the Autumn, and given that he's full of surprises there are few clues around about what he's likely to say. There are some interesting theories though, try


There is also hopefully the influence of Cardinal Pell, one of the 'C8' group of top advisors. BH readers may remember Pell's talk for the GWPF a while back.

Less reassuring is the cosying up of the IPCC crowd, incuding our own dear Rajenda Pachauri, to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:

Whatever he comes out with, it'll be interesting reading!

May 11, 2014 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

May 11, 2014 at 8:27 PM | geoffchambers
"This is something new in politics, and I'm not sure that memes will help us understand it."

There's a great deal of evidence that the observed social characteristics of CAGW and it's developmental trajectory, are not in the slightest bit new, but how all extremist politics, cults, and the early phases of religions (if CAGW did self-latch into society for the much longer-term, I would say 'all phases') have always worked througout history, and probably all pre-history too. Memetics is one window on trying to understand how and why these effects occur and why indeed they appear to be so entangled with our long-term evolutionary history. There are other overlaping windows within cultural evolution, cognitive psychology, neuro-science and various other disciplines, although some of the folks working in these fields have become very influenced by CAGW. Knowledge of an effect seems to provide very little protection against it (especially as it is known that the effects are domain limited, you can be entirely reasonably in one domain and heavily influenced into unreason in another).

Just a few years (I think 4 from memory) before Hitler became chancellor, his party had less than 5% of the national vote and was considered a joke by many. But he had much stronger support from the conservative elite of whom some held positions of power and influence. So, no support on the ground, much bigger support in establishment. The latter came about by pie-crust promises about returned dominance, itself based upon the highly inflationary memetic cocktail of anti-semitism, eugenics, and national socialist ideals. External events conspired to help him, but once there was an opening for that virulent cocktail to escape (essentially increased credibility from authority, plus fear of communism, and both on the backdrop of an unstable ecomony) it rapidly conquered the country, despite a probable silent majority still though it was mainly boll0cks. Once inflationary emotive memes spread, they are extremely hard to counter because of the personal risk that comes with doing so. This effect has worked well for CAGW in both scientific circles and the wider public, who think a 'moral' issue is at stake.

I don't think support on the ground for CAGW is 'near zero', but I think the silent majority has started not to be silent, which is a very good thing indeed.

Re ramp-up, from first marker in public consciousness (Hansen's speech?) to wielding major power and influence over the same public (in this instance, the Western populace I suppose) in terms of real policy and effects (i.e. not just speeches). Fifteen years? (not sure of an iconic marker for the real effects, wasn't interested in CAGW until 2007).

May 11, 2014 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

From my comments above it will be clear that I share Geoff’s “great hopes” that next year’s Paris conference will focus Western politicians’ minds on the absurdity of their climate policies. And between now and then there’ll be various other opportunities to draw attention to reality – not least the Ban Ki-moon climate summit this September and this year’s UN climate conference (COP 20) in Lima in December.

But it would be foolish to expect the alarmist Establishment to fold their tents and tiptoe away. Indeed, the more perceptive of them are already looking for ways of keeping the gravy train on track. For example, here’s Richard Kinley – “deputy UNFCCC chief” (i.e. deputy to Ms Figueres):

In the signals we get from governments I really do feel we want to have an agreement in Paris in 2015 … they really want to make a go of this one.”
But he sees success in rather odd terms:
… what’s called a ‘bottom up’ approach, where countries determine what they are going to do, mixed with a set of legal requirements imposed by the UN as a potential match-winner. “My sense is that we will end up with a system that is fundamentally based on the foundation of bottom up but is complemented by some kind of top down periodic assessment review, stock taking, however it is characterized.
Hmm … that mumbo jumbo sounds like a non-deal – but with meaningless complex arrangements designed to ensure he keeps his job. In any case, the rest of the article points to a mess of complication – all it does is confirm my view that a GHG reduction deal isn't going to happen.

OK – keep going on the root cause if you must. But I’m sure our priority must be to draw attention to nonsense such as that referred to above. And to keep on doing so until people cannot avoid listening.

And, yes Andy, geo-engineering may be another example of a possible warmist rearguard strategy. But, as you say, it’s potentially disastrous and I suggest too many knowledgeable people are understandably nervous about it for it to become part of the cult/craze. In any case, I don’t see China, India etc. giving it their support – without which it’s most unlikely to happen. Nonetheless something to watch and, if necessary, to comment upon – our turn for a little scaremongering perhaps.

May 11, 2014 at 10:18 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Here's one for Robin. The ex-Bishop of Liverpool, the reverend Jim Jones (no, not that Rev. Jim Jones) says about 4 minutes in:

...I was asked to address the question as to why there had not been sufficient action, sufficient resolve to deal with climate change. I rather provocatively suggested that if the city of London and the Palace of Westminster had been flooded as many times as the Thames Barrier has gone up in the last ten years, there would indeed be more action taken in London.
And what action would have been taken in that hypothetical situation, Bish? Perhaps to, er, build a barrier? Or try and persuade the Chinese to stop using coal in order to reduce the possible sea level rise by a centimetre or two in the year 2100?

There was a palpable silence at the end of his anecdote, so maybe the message is getting through.

May 11, 2014 at 10:45 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Radical Rodent.
"The message of Canute is lost on them; do not expect them to listen to the more complicated message of Christ."
Good point, but I think the Canute (Knut) story is worth explaining more fully as it does relate to the message of Christ:
Knut started his reign as a pagan but was converted to Christ. He had a court full of pagan sycophants (things don't change much!) whom he would have liked to dispose of, but felt the old viking 'traditional methods' would not be consistent with his new found faith. His opportunity to dismiss them without bloodshed came when they tried to flatter him about him being able to stop the tide. Down to the shore they went and everyone got their feet wet and Knut was able to sack the lot of them!

May 11, 2014 at 10:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

A gunboat up the Yangtse, Geoff - now. The barrier can wait.

May 12, 2014 at 7:29 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin Guenier
We learnt our lesson with gunboats and the Yangtse with HMS Amethyst, or should've done.

May 12, 2014 at 7:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Yes, SandyS, but we're not quitters: Britain can punch above its weight. Just ask the people in, er, Basra. Or Helmand Province ...

Further to my post at 10:18 PM yesterday, I see that excitement is building about that Ban Ki-moon summit: LINK:

... this is an opportunity for heads of states to come together – for the first time since the disastrous UN conference in Copenhagen in 2009 – alongside leaders from business, finance and civil society, and make individual pledges on how their countries intend to put a stop to climate change ... Expectations for the Summit are high.
But what are leaders from business, finance and especially "civil society" (i.e. activists) doing there? And then note this:
According to ... UN Assistant Secretary-General Robert Orr, leaders should “provide vision of national effort and international goals” and “make announcements of future ambition and action through national action” ... Pledges at the Ban Ki-moon summit are likely to be made on a more flexible, ‘bottom-up’ approach, based upon individual sectors – and are almost certain to involve no numbers.
Yes, folks, it's that "bottom-up" approach again (see my post yesterday). Ghastly thought: all those leaders approaching Ban Ki-moon bottom up. And "no numbers", just "vision" and "ambition" - hmm that'll be useful.

Then there's this:

Elina Bardram, who is head of international relations at the EU Climate Commission, told RTCC that Ban Ki-moon is looking for examples of inspiring existing action and future commitments. And selfies. “He wants to have family photos of leaders who are committing in different action areas,” she said.

May 12, 2014 at 8:26 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

..."civil society" (i.e. activists)...
Odd connection. Oxymoronic, I would have thought. I am sure that many "activists" will happily admit that they are far from civil.
...intend to put a stop to climate change...
Is there truly no end to the arrogance of these people? Ants have a better chance of toppling an elephant that humans have of stopping climate change. Also, what if the change is for the better, which is what it certainly appears to be, on present observations?

May 12, 2014 at 9:36 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Robin Guenier:

Ghastly thought: all those leaders approaching Ban Ki-moon bottom up
Yes, it's called “banki-mooning”..
It's interesting that elected leaders are defined as the bottom, while the top is presumably Banki and Figueres.

I was taken to see the “Yangste Incident” as a kid. Bad war films in black and white probably had a lot to do with turning a normal adolescent into a raving lefty...

It raises an interesting question related to Andy West's point about how meme-based movements can get deflected from their purpose in unpredictable ways. How long before China's growth and Europe's stagnation set us on the path of armed conflict? The attempt to raise climate change to the status of an enemy we can unite against has clearly failed. We need an enemy with a face. Will the Greens be the new Colonel Blimps? Will Chinese CO2 emissions be interpreted as dangerous atmospheric expansionism?

May 12, 2014 at 9:50 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Where can I look up information on estimates of the GNP consumed by the Church in England in the middle ages?

May 12, 2014 at 9:56 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I can give you a precise and accurate figure for that Martin, no need for estimates. It was precisely zero. The CofE did not come into being until after the middle ages.

May 12, 2014 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

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