‘Reach for the Stars’ now becomes ‘Retreat to the Past’

‘Reach for the Stars’ now becomes ‘Retreat to the Past’ (2012-08-27). So many dumb posts on Watts Up, but I couldn’t let this reflection the stupidity of Viv Forbes, from Australia’s denialist dumb-tank The Carbon Sense Coalition, sent in as a guest post pass unremarked.

Apparently the deaths of Steve Jobs and Neil Armstrong are evidence that good science (such as coal power) is under attack and that nasty environmentalists are making up excuses to force us all back into dark caves. I suspect both those men would be spinning in their graves if they knew the idiocy they were being connected to.

Already [the “Green Generation”] have re-discovered wind power, wood energy and electric cars that were tried and largely rejected a century ago; they now encourage the production of once-banned ethanol corn whiskey, but waste it on cars; they spurn the energy potential of nuclear, coal, oil and gas; and they would close our airports and lock up our resources whilst developing computerised spy-ware to record, regulate, ration and tax our usage of everything.

And one branch of NASA, the once-great risk-taking body that put Neil Armstrong on the moon, is now supporting an anti-carbon cult that advocates the closure of the whole coal industry from mine to power station.

Viv the philosopher seems to feel that every technological development up until he was born was good, but everything since then is bad. We tried windmills before, don’t try them again! Coal got us here, we must stick with it! Don’t try anything new!

Sorry Viv and Anthony, progress doesn’t follow a forced path. We aren’t required to reject displaced technologies even when reevaluation shows they have advantages again.

The one thing Viv’s guest post does accomplish is to show how Anthony Watts vets these guest posts:

  1. Anti-environmentalist? Check.
  2. Anti-government? Check.
  3. Think about it. 
  4. Paste!

The comments focus on taxation as theft and “Agenda 21″. Surprise!

36 thoughts on “‘Reach for the Stars’ now becomes ‘Retreat to the Past’

  1. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, September 2, 2012 – A Few Things Ill Considered

  2. You’re gonna love this one:

    “…The application is simple. It just asks for publications (I cite the blog posts I have written on my area of interest)…”

    Sign-up now open for expert review of AR5 (second order draft)

    [All you have to do is lie on the question " I declare that I have scientific expertise in one or more areas relevant to the WGI contribution to AR5 and am therefore qualified to serve as an Expert Reviewer"! For references Alec and his fellow numbskulls should use their mothers. - Ben]

    • Is this a failing on the part of the organizers of AR5, that they have such a low bar of entry for Expert status?

  3. I think it is time that we reminded ourselves of some of the WUWT site policies

    Trolls, flame-bait, personal attacks, thread-jacking, sockpuppetry, name-calling such as “denialist,” “denier,” and other detritus that add nothing to further the discussion may get deleted;

    Internet phantoms who have cryptic handles, no name, and no real email address get no respect here. If you think your opinion or idea is important, elevate your status by being open and honest. People that use their real name get more respect than phantoms with handles. I encourage open discussion.

    Now you may have noticed how the archetypal WUWT poster, the outspoken ‘Smokey’, despite having a ‘cryptic handle’ is often the beneficiary of extraordinarily sympathetic moderation, being given the last word, having opponents snipped, sometimes apparently responding to a post almost before it appears. You may also have noticed that WUWT moderator ‘dbs’ (d b stealey) seems more well-disposed than most to giving Smokey a helping hand in the debate.

    This becomes more explicable if you find one of the posts where Smokey’s name is a hyperlink and click through to his Gravatar profile, which has this address


    Could it be that dbs the moderator and Smokey the commentator are one and the same idealogue? Surely not, this would make Tony’s policies on sockpuppetry, anonymity, openness and honesty completely and utterly hypocritcal and worthless….

  4. Hello Ben! I’m new to your blog and am enjoying the snarky vibe all around. From the smug bio pic to the never-ending supply of ripostes, your blog has the makings of producing more fun than a bible-bashing convention!!! And nobody ever changes another’s mind! Ahhh…I love the writing of anecdotes in the morning. Keep up the good work!

    [I'm impressed with how impressed you are with yourself. - Ben]

  5. An alarmist is someone who thinks something has happened for the first time and by extension is catastrophic and requires no debate.

    [Looks like we have our first entry in the dunce's version of The Devil's Dictionary!

    Here's mine: a Denialist is someone who thinks "oops!" is a legitimate defense for sailing the Titanic full-steam into an iceberg. - Ben]

    • Last time I checked, AGW “alarmist” are “alarmist” exactly because what has happened in the past.

      • Obviously your version of the past differs from the geologic history of warmings and coolings.

        [I'm trained as a geologist, so your response to Marco here is hilarious. Please explain to me how modern transitions over decades are the same as natural ones over millennia. - Ben]

        • It’s ironic that because of your training, you of all people should know the duration of known instrumental empirical data goes back what, hundreds, a couple thousand years back, which is a mere blip in geologic time? Of course we will differ in that you’ll talk about rates and I’ll disagree with the amount of time that makes a trend. But your moderation is like gambling in Vegas – the house money always wins. It’s your gig, so I get it. But if any of your followers would like to get some extra reading in, I like to reference my favorite essay on global warming – Google Robert Lauglin [Laughlin] and What The Earth Knows. It’s explained in geologic terms and written by the 1998 Nobel Prize-winning physicist. I tend to be a realist and I think he does a good job in explaining the way things were and are and will be. It was published in The American Scholar journal which I think is apolitical; correct me if I’m wrong.

          But if you’re not interested in reading another viewpoint, then by all means, let the games continue…

          [Yawn. Laughlin's conclusion is classic example of the fatalistic school of denialism: "The geologic record suggests that climate ought not to concern us too much when we’re gazing into the energy future, not because it’s unimportant, but because it’s beyond our power to control." Might as well fiddle while Rome burns. The Earth will indeed continue to exist regardless of what we do, but we might not enjoy it quite so much. - Ben]

        • The past of warmings and coolings has shown us what has happened upon warming and upon cooling. Add the rate of changes, and anyone who *has* studied the past should be worried… if you care about human society.

          I guess it depends on how you read Laughlin’s opinion piece, but it can be easily read as a defeatist position: we *will* burn all the available fossil fuels, we *will* have a climate crisis that affects us humans, but the earth will survive that as it has done in the past. Something tells me that you don’t interpret his piece like that…

        • In response to Marco (I may be having trouble getting this in the right spot in the comments section), your response is in line with the angle you go in reading Laughlin’s piece. You say defeatist, I say realist…maybe we should call the whole thing off. But seriously, there are two questions to debate in relation to Laughlin’s essay: 1) Is CO2 the driving force for global warming?; and 2) Can man manipulate the climate? I would answer that the first question is debatable; it shouldn’t be talked about in terms of “denialism” just whether the alternative or null hypothesis is true. I believe the second question is more obvious, or at least to me. I don’t think man can manipulate climate because the forcings are more than just levels of CO2. Just because the models don’t account for El Nino, land use, cloud cover, sun spots, etc. doesn’t mean they don’t exist in the natural world. But by Marco’s extension, because I don’t believe man can do that, I’m a defeatist. I don’t believe in the status quo but I do believe somethings cannot be put back in the bottle. So yes, fossil fuels will be exhausted some day, maybe not by us but by somebody – the Chinese or some other developing nation. You say there will be a climate crisis; I say there absolutely will be climate as long as the world exists and so how will we adapt to those changes? What Laughlin is saying is that the world will change no matter what scientists try to do to keep the status quo (i.e., maintain current “normal” temperatures, the current biodiversity). He never throws his hands up in defeat; it goes unsaid that man will need to adapt to these changes – Laughlin’s a scientist after all. But I think he’s being a realist and I tend to be in the same camp. I can’t recall if it was you Marco or someone else but it seems to be easy here to lump conservative with “do-nothings”. Forget the politics and let’s stick with the science. I’ve said that on a couple WUWT boards. I hate labels but they seem to be rampant here so I’m not starting anything new. Do they exist on the other side? Yes, they do. So who’s gonna step up?

          [You seriously don't think man can manipulate climate? We've been doing it since year dot and the numbers are pretty plain. "So who's going to step up?" Strangely no denialists have done so, they simply carp ignorantly about what "models don't account for". So please direct your question to them. "Realist" is just code for obstructionist in this circumstance. We can't have done it, it'll happen anyway, climate's always changing, we've been OK so far (fingers crossed), we'll just "adapt" (probably), I won't pay for it! - Ben]

        • Gotta love somebody bringing up land-use changes as a forcing and then essentially deny that humans have an influence on climate…

          It is indeed defeatist to just accept our addiction to fossil fuel. It’s the alcoholic who says “but I can’t change! Just help me with all the diseases I am likely to get from being an alcoholic”. Also, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy: we can’t do anything about our fossil fuel addiction, therefore we will burn all fossil fuels, and when we then do so, we will cry out “I *told* you we couldn’t do anything!”

          Final comment on this part: You won’t hear anyone here say that CO2 is the only forcing. Plenty of other forcings, too. But with the projections of fossil fuel use, by far the largest change over the short- to mid-term range is the forcing from CO2, unless we’re so unlucky to get a supervolcano eruption.

    • Okay, I’ll bite and try again…

      A Denialist won’t admit to an iceberg being hit by the Titanic.
      An Alarmist will theorize that icebergs are the sole cause for all disasters at sea and because of their presence, ocean travel should be eliminated or at least heavily curtailed.
      A Skeptic questions the cause and effect of icebergs being hit at just the right angle by an ocean liner.

      The ironic part is that in a few years, young people then will read this blog and wonder “What’s an iceberg?” Right?

      [Now you're just trying to wriggle away with facile constructions. But you're still falling back to "oops". - Ben]

      • You bring up the example of hitting an iceberg and somehow equate “oops” to denialism, and I’m the one with the facile constructions?

        [Yeah, a real environmental hazard that is known to be life-threatening if not properly handled but in the case of the Titanic was rashly discounted (they denied the risk!!!) is a total red herring. - Ben]

        • Wow Ben, you lost me there. If I’m guilty of facile constructions while furthering one that you initiated, then you’re the king of the non-sequitur. “Ooops” and denialism and icebergs and environmental hazard and the Titanic? I’m trying to connect your dots but all I get is a Jackson Pollock!

          Okay, I get your stretch now but you’ve missed the point of your own construction. The engineer’s arrogance was based on modeling and computations, not real empirical evidence. Comparing projections based on modeling to watching water fill your cabin is comparable to…what?..a James Cameron script to what really happened. You do know that was all CGI, right?

          [Tell that to the passengers wondering why there were so few lifeboats. - Ben]

        • Okay Ben, I’m sorry. I guess sarcasm should be left to professionals like you. But we’re drifting here. Are we talking about assigning blame or the proper use of the scientific method? You insist on using the term denialist when a skeptic would have questioned the margin for error on the engineer’s part. You define, unwittingly or not, denialist as anyone who disagrees with you. In your world there is no room for skepticism, only sycophants. You should feel very comfortable here. You would fit in well with the IPCC. Skepticism is alive and well among those that question climatologists; you are skeptical of the skeptics so the process is working. But for you to continue to use the term denialist is dishonest, cheap, and on the level of a 5th grader.

          Skeptics question CO2 as the driving force; they don’t deny the existence of CO2. You are skeptical of the null hypothesis. If skeptics deny the alternative theory, then you deny the null. So who’s a denialist? But then again, what are you trying to achieve here? You can say it’s just words but if you care, words have meaning. It’s counter-productive when you continue to misuse a word as a perjorative. Until you stop using it, all you have here is WordsWithFriends but without the substance.

          [No, denialists intransigently question CO2 as the driving force. They also call it "plant food". The mechanism has been established for over a century, the climate record strongly shows that CO2 concentrations are linked to climate change. If you're truly a skeptic you'll have to either overturn those facts or find a new obsession. BTW, I think your brain is dividing by zero when you try to invoke "the null" - It is important to understand that the null hypothesis can never be proven. A set of data can only reject a null hypothesis or fail to reject it. - Ben]

        • Since I see one of my pet topics come up here, let’s see how long Fujita keeps up when I ask the simple question:
          What *is* the null hypothesis, and why is *that specific* hypothesis the null hypothesis?
          As a scientist, I am in particular interested to know why the null hypothesis apparently includes the rejection of long-established physics.

      • A typical denier’s misrepresentation _ either deliberate or out of ignorance. I don’t know much, but enough to know that no one in the “alarmist” camp has ever claimed that CO2 is the sole driver of warming.

        Back to your analogy: The “alarmists” would have noticed the rise in the number of icebergs correlating with a rise in the number of ships sinking. Despite the most thorough investigations, looking at the number of storms and their intensities and any other known causes, they arrive at the conclusion that the icebergs, which are known to be able to sink ships, are the most likely cause. Deniers, on the other hand, with very little knowledge or data to back themselves with, think that…well, take your pick: There is no evidence that icebergs can sink ships; whatever equipment /process used to count the number of ships/icebergs is faulty, but no proof is provided; ships have sunk in the past where there were no icebergs, therefore icebergs can’t be the cause; there’s a great conspiracy _ the governments and people monitoring ships and icebergs are making everything up so they can raises taxes and build ‘green’ sailing ships and inefficient paddle boats; they acknowledge the data but it can’t be the icebergs _ for them, a mysterious force or phenomenon (Bermuda triangle?) is much more probable.

        Delving into the maze that is denier-think, with it’s irrationality and inconsistencies, it can be very depressing to observe that so many loons allow their self-serving ideological mindsets to override reason and rational thinking. The fog of stupidity is pretty thick in denier-land. If someone like me, with only very basic education and average intelligence (on a good day), can see through the illogical drivel that serves as denialist arguments, I can only feel for the exasperation that climate scientists or other clear-thinking educated people must experience when wading through denier crap.

  6. There have been some classics on WUWT recently – eg all the conspiracy theories about a paper on conspiracy theories. And Watts appearing on PBS Newshour effectively saying he rejects climate science because he doesn’t want to pay to clean up pollution (while blogging loudly and at length objecting to said paper, which also finds extreme right wing ideology is a strong predictor of climate science denial).

    But this one today beats even that IMO. Tony has an Epic Fail with arithmetic in that he can’t conceive of a multiplier greater than 100%. (Or – maybe he isn’t aware that there are negative forcings. That would be even funnier!)


    [I've been watching with much amusement but haven't had time to post. So much frantic stupidity. - Ben]

  7. Ben, is CO2 essential for plant growth? Would plants grow faster, and stronger in cooler climates with lower CO2 concentrations? I didn’t realise that was a disputed issue. is it?

    [I love it when this tactic gets dragged out. Yep, CO2 is "essential". So is dirt, water and sunlight. Plants should grow best underwater! - Ben]

    • The claim made by your opponents is that higher CO2 concentrations, all other things being equal, would lead to higher crop yields. Your position is to reduce CO2 levels. They claim that would decrease crop yields.

      Firstly, is that a fair summary of theirs and your position on this issue? Secondly, do you agree that higher CO2 concentrations, all other things being equal, would lead to higher crop yields?

      As far as I am aware, you have not proposed to reduce the amount of dirt or water (but your friends have proposed reducing the amount of sunlight) and your opponents have not proposed to increase it either, so that is not the issue. We are discussing CO2.

      [No, we're talking about how denialists willfully ignore every factor, "all other things being equal", that doesn't suit their false argument. The planet is not a glass jar. - Ben]

      • “The planet is not a glass jar.” What does that mean? Are you saying that because crops do grow better in a glass jar with more CO2 and worse with less, all other things being equal (sunlight, temperature, nutrients, water etc…), then it does not follow that they will respond that way on the planet in response to changes in CO2, all other things being equal? Which extra processes which are not in the “glass jar” are you referring to which will cause the difference in growth?

        [I'm saying that your simplistic argument is irrelevant and deliberately misleading. Unless you're stupid enough to have fallen for it. - Ben]

        • In what way is the argument too simplistic or deliberately misleading?

          Marco: Could you comment on this? Do you agree with Ben that we cannot extend experiments in “glass jars” on crop growth under different CO2 conditions to say what might happen under increased CO2 (all other things being equal)? Seems reasonable to me. What is the physical mechanism which is missing?

          ["What is the physical mechanism which is missing?" How about all of them. Changing CO2 levels in the real world affects humidity, temperature, etc. This all affects climate conditions that suit particular plants. If your argument is taken to its logical conclusion, the planet should be carpeted by the single plant that grows best. "all other things being equal" remains precisely the dishonest falsehood behind your argument. Go educate yourself somewhere else. - Ben]

        • Chris, Ben already gave you a few pointers, but since you asked me specifically, you’ll get a reaction from me, too.

          First, we will be unlikely to see “all other things remaining equal”. The “glass jar” experiments in most cases are done under conditions with equal temperatures and sufficient water and other nutrients. When CO2 is the limiting factor, yes, we will see more growth with increasing CO2. But in many cases it isn’t.

          The next problem is that we likely will still see more growth even in cases where CO2 is not the limiting factor for growth. Sounds contradictory? It isn’t. The CO2 will be used to make plant material, but mostly plant material that we humans can’t use as food: cellulose. In essence we’d have to eat more to get the same amount of nutrients!

          Finally, there have been studies that show an increase in toxin production and/or toxin uptake under higher CO2 conditions.

          Here is a link to a paper that you should read, too: Rising CO2, Climate Change, and Public Health: Exploring the Links to Plant Biology. Increased plant growth? Not necessarily a good thing…

    • lol. Love your “plants should grow best underwater” reply to the “more CO2 is better for growth” argument.

      • Well, that’s disingenuous. The fact is that experiments do indicate that all other things being equal (not withstanding that keeping things equal on the planet under increased CO2 may be unrealistic) on the face of it plants do grow better with increased CO2. Nobody is suggesting that plants grow better when submerged in water with CO2, the suggestion is about CO2 in gaseous air.

        It is a valid question to ask, whether the increase in CO2 by itself may be helpful for crop yields.

        But if it tickles you to write “LOL”, then I too am tickled. I am tickled pink for you! Thanks for your comment.

        [Finally an admission that "keeping things equal on the planet under increased CO2 may be unrealistic". Which leaves your ginned-up argument where exactly? - Ben]

        • “Nobody is suggesting that plants grow better when submerged in water”.

          Thick as a brick.

          I know you didn’t suggest that. I thought Ben’s sarcastic response to you was funny _ even if the analogy doesn’t really work.

          Anyway, you’ve got to look at the big picture. Even if some plants will benefit, others wont _ and some will apparently become toxic. Trying to sell the positives of increased plant growth is pretty stupid in the predicted environment of increased floods and droughts. How many plants benefited from increased CO2 in the drought affected states of the US this year? And in Australia (where I am), when nearly half the country was flooded a few years back, included the city of Brisbane, most plants weren’t loving it either _ they drowned. However, it cost the country billions of dollars damages. Early in the decade we had heatwaves across Europe and Russia _ tens of thousands of people died; a couple of major floods in Pakistan _ tens of thousands more died and their crops destroyed.

          Yeah, it’s happened before, nothing to be alarmed about. Especially if you’re a denier who’s nicely sedated and doesn’t believe the data and the science because some idiot in some blog has told you not to trust the IPCC because it’s corrupt or whatever.

          Unfortunately, what the scientists predict is that things will get worse. They say that catastrophic weather events will increase in frequency and intensity, meaning we’ll have more crops either drowning or drying up and the resultant effects in terms of scarcity and food prices going up.

          Thinking its going to be great because some plants will grow better is pretty dumb. Talk about lacking a sense of proportion.

  8. Actually, the models *do* account El Nino, land use, cloud cover and sunspots. Typical denialist confusion of “CO2 is primary driver” with “CO2 is only driver”

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