Economics, Climate Change Issues and Global Salvationism

Benny Peiser sent in this link to a speech delivered by David Henderson, formerly head of the department of Economics and Statistics at the OECD. What it’s really about is the rise of an illiberal, collectivist and anti-market economic consensus in important political insitutions and western societies in general. But it also touches upon issues of the politics of climate change and the IPCC.

First, what do I mean by global salvationism? The salvationist doctrine has
two main strands, which originally were separate but have long since come
together to form an influential world-wide consensus. The first strand is
developmental salvationism, and relates to the economic fortunes of poor
countries. The second strand is environmental salvationism. In both strands,
two elements are combined. One is a relentlessly dark – not to say alarmist -
picture of recent trends, the present state of the world (or ‘the planet’),
and prospects for the future unless prompt and far-reaching changes are made
in official policies. The second is a conviction that known effective remedies
exist for the various ills and threats thus identified, remedies which require
action on the part of governments and ‘the international community’. ‘Solutions’
are at hand, given wise collective resolves and actions. Global salvationism
thus combines alarmist visions and diagnoses with confidently radical collectivist
prescriptions for the world.

Click here to read the article

30 Comments

  1. Louis Hissink
    Posted May 12, 2005 at 9:40 PM | Permalink

    Mises and Hayek wrote of this eventuality many years ago, and it is now that it is being discovered that the chickens have come home to roost.

    Expect an even shriller reaction from the climate changers

  2. Chas
    Posted May 13, 2005 at 2:30 AM | Permalink

    What sort of sceptic are you?
    Do you fall into one of Sir David Kings three categories?
    see:

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-6-129-2488.jsp

  3. Paul Gosling
    Posted May 13, 2005 at 3:57 AM | Permalink

    The planned economies of China, South Korea etc. don’t seem to be doing that badly. All economies are planned to some degree. Surely the question is whether it is a good plan or not

  4. John A
    Posted May 13, 2005 at 6:34 AM | Permalink

    Re: #3

    None of the above. David King’s categories are false trichotomies.

  5. Paul
    Posted May 13, 2005 at 8:07 AM | Permalink

    #4.
    The South Korean is not centrally planned by any reasonable definition.
    Rapid growth in China has and is emanating from those area of the economy in which central planners are keepng there hands off.

  6. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 13, 2005 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

    Re #2 crickey John, you’re serious, you *really do* see it as a big conspiracy! Indeed pretty close to ‘reds under the beds’ (or perhaps Facist?). I’m gobsmacked.

    I’m off back to the real world :)

  7. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 13, 2005 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

    Peter, Did Lysenko believe he was wrong? If he did know his science stunk from the first, then the analogy is unfair. If Lysenko thought he was right, at least in the early years, then John may have a point, though it’s always dangerous to compare people today with some groups or individuals from the past who are generally considered to be villians. But, let’s face it, this is done all the time. Think of the following and whether you’d like to be compared to them: Nazis, The Inquisition, ‘McCarthyism’, KKK. People on the right get these thrown at them all the time by people on the left (and sometimes throw the same smears back).

  8. John A
    Posted May 13, 2005 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

    Re: #8

    Dave,

    It never ceases to bore me when I make comments that I must believe in some sort of “conspiracy”. In the case of Lysenko, it wasn’t a conspiracy but more a confluence of pseudo-science and political expediency. Nevertheless it was Dr Illarianov who made the comparison especially after the extraordinary ill-mannered way he and the Russian Academy were treated by Sir David King when they invited him and the IPCC to Moscow.

    Conspiracy is not how I’d describe it – a confluence of bad science and bad political leadership together with a millenarian religious belief that the end of the world is nigh unless we repent of our evil ways. There are numerous examples throughout history, and when I am old and grey I predict two things: 1) No-one will seriously believe the behavior of some scientists to abuse the public trust and 2) Another scare will consume vast resources for no good reason.

  9. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 13, 2005 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    “What is happening at the moment, it seems to me, is an attempt at a political takeover of climate science.” sounds like a conspiracy to me. But if it isn’t, what is it? What am I, a supporter of it, up to?

  10. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 14, 2005 at 1:03 AM | Permalink

    Re #8 yes Dave You could well be right (to be clear, I *am* partly agreeing with you). Otoh, it was John A who initially made a comparison ‘revival of maoist ideology’. I may be a lot of things, but I tell you, when views like mine are compared to Maoism I *do* react – just like you imply you would. I’m not a frapping maoist, or a trappist monk…

    Remember, as I’ve said before, I respond in kind and in tone :). People want to discuss the science? OK, lets get the people running this place to set the right tone!

    Humm, now I see this in post #9 ‘together with a millenarian religious belief that the end of the world is nigh unless we repent of our evil ways.’. And on it goes :( . And who thinks like that? Me? Michael Mann, the ‘hockey stick team’, Enviros, greenies, the IPCC? Who? I can’t think of anyone…To describe those who think we need to address AGW in such a fashion is rediculous.

    When you litter posts with such bunkum, bunkum that’s clearly directed at people of a certain viewpoint, how on earth can a sensible and rational discussion result??? How often have I said anyone here is in the pay of oil interests? Tell me how often. How often have I accused people here of being irrational? Tell me how many times. How often have I acused people here of having an irrational relgious belief in Steve M’s views? Tell me how often. How often have I accused people here of being part of a vast scare designed to put people off doing something about AGW? Tell me how many times.

    I’ll be so bold as to say NEVER!

  11. Ed Snack
    Posted May 14, 2005 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

    “Remember, as I’ve said before, I respond in kind and in tone . People want to discuss the science? OK, lets get the people running this place to set the right tone!” ROTFALMHO !

    Oops peter, looks like Mr Dardinger has made the mistake (for you) of actually looking at the data, that is the comments on this site ! I too would be intrigued to see a comment where you “discuss the science”. Although (small compliment coming up), you comment in the W&A thread that you are keen to see their reconstruction without the BCPs. The spaghetti graph gives an example. with the comment that absent those records, the reconstruction lacks merit, presumably statistical merit. Care to comment on that (in that thread) and start a trend in discussing the science ? In that case you might find people prepared to treat you rather differently.

  12. Louis Hissink
    Posted May 14, 2005 at 11:01 PM | Permalink

    The term “useful idiot” was first used by Lenin in describing the efforts of Sydney and Beatrice Webb.

    Mises and Hayek essentially concluded that as a society started legislating to mitigate certain problems, by introducing regulations etc, then that process will generate further regulation to fix the previous unfixed problems that the previous legislation missed. This process continues until we suddenly discover that we cannot do anything until we get bureaucratic permission. By accident did we then arrive at the police state.

    John’s observation that the political left have hijacked climate science is probably quite correct – they have already control of the universities and interestingly the feed stock for climate studies was not the physical sciences but the humanities.

    I gain the impression from comments made on this and other blogs that most of the AGW supporters just do not understand the physics and complexity of climate.

    Conspiracy? No, accusing us of believing in a conspiracy is a stock argument by the left to deflect criticism by ridiculing it.

    And to a more geological tack, how many of the GCM’s factor in the earth’s mass as a factor in atmospheric temperature. In very rounded off figures, the ratio of the earth’s atmosphere to the earth’s physical mass is by 10^-7, so an inperceptible increase in the earth’s temperature would have a significant effect on the earth’s atmosphere, everything being equal.

    But I hope it doesn’t take 30 years of effort to demolish the current bout of climate lysenkoism.

  13. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 15, 2005 at 7:40 AM | Permalink

    re #14

    Well, I don’t think geothermal activity can be much of the reason for higher temperatures. After all, boreholes are one of the proxies used in most of the temperature reconstructions. I’ve also seen calculations of the actual heatflow from inside the earth to outside and it’s pretty small compared to the numbers we’re talking about.

    Could you expand a bit on the statement ‘the feed stock for climate studies was not the physical sciences but the humanities?’ Who are you referring to?

  14. brent
    Posted May 15, 2005 at 2:01 PM | Permalink

    Wildlife groups axe Bellamy as global warming “heretic’

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1612958,00.html

  15. Roger Bell
    Posted May 16, 2005 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

    The Daily Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk) has an article in its opinion section today that people here might ‘enjoy’ reading. It’s by Neil Collins and it concerns the following letter sent by Sir David Wallace, treasurer and vice president of the Royal Society: “We are appealing to all parts of the UK media to be vigilant against attempts to present a distorted view of the scientific evidence about climate change and its potential effects on people and their environments around the world. I hope we can count on your support.” Sir David ges on to warn ” There are some individuals on the fringes, sometimes with support from the oil industry, who have been attempting to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on climate change.” This last sentence makes me wonder how Sir David ever managed to get elected to the Royal Society himself and the whole thing made me think of John A.s remarks about Trofim Lysenko.
    The whole thing rests, of course, on Oreskes paper in Science and Collins wonders how she didn’t manage to find even one paper that cast “doubt on the scientific consensus” when he (Collins) knows of such papers.

  16. John A
    Posted May 16, 2005 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

    I fear we face dark times ahead in science, where people are afraid for their livelihoods ever to question a scientific consensus. Unless people break with the consensus, how will science ever progress? It cannot. Scientific progress is dependent
    on questioning that which people think is settled.

    With David Bellamy being sacked from his job for even questioning this “consensus” what hope is there? Lysenkoism has clearly been resurrected in the Royal Society with a vengeance.

    I cannot imagine circumstances in recent past where people have been sacked from their jobs for having unpopular opinions in science.

  17. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 16, 2005 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

    John,

    David Bellamy was shown to be wrong – http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5190068-103677,00.html . Put your prejudices aside and just read it!

  18. John A
    Posted May 16, 2005 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    Peter,

    Is being wrong about numbers of growing glaciers a hanging offence? Is disbelieving in unfalsifiable climate models and untestable hypotheses reason for others to cut off your livelihood?

    Tell us how what Bellamy believes deserves such an incredible response.

  19. brent
    Posted May 16, 2005 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    Here’s the link to the telegraph article
    thanks Roger

    Global warming generates hot air
    By Neil Collins
    (Filed: 16/05/2005)
    I’ve had a letter from Sir David Wallace, CBE, FRS. In his capacity as treasurer and vice-president of the Royal Society, he writes: “We are appealing to all parts of the UK media to be vigilant against attempts to present a distorted view of the scientific evidence about climate change and its potential effects on people and their environments around the world. I hope that we can count on your support.”
    Gosh! The V-P of the Royal Society! How could anyone not support such an eminent body, especially as Sir David warns: “There are some individuals on the fringes, sometimes with financial support from the oil industry, who have been attempting to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on climate change.”

    http://tinyurl.com/azrb6

  20. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 17, 2005 at 2:01 AM | Permalink

    Re #20, of course it isn’t a hanging offence – who’s being hanged? But it was a article by a respected scientist, and Dr David Bellamy had my respect, which was widely reported but was *plain wrong*. Dr Bellamy hasn’t, afaik, retracted it :O. That, presumably, to your mind, is good science? Never say your wrong even if it’s pikestaff plain you are? I simply don’t agree.

    The organisations who, it seems, may break links with him are concerned with nature conservation ‘wildlife groups’. They’re not the Royal Society and they are at liberty (at least at present) to appoint to a job (a figurehead job I think) who they see fit. What is wrong with that? Must they keep Dr Bellamy on *whatever his views*? Of course not.

  21. Spence_UK
    Posted May 17, 2005 at 7:06 AM | Permalink

    The article Peter quotes in #19 is an interesting one. It claims JunkScience.com repeated David Bellamy’s claims. Oops! Apparently they never did, this is a complete fabrication on the part of George Monbiot. Interesting also how he chooses not to link JunkScience whilst smearing them – interesting primarily because JunkScience regularly tears George’s articles to tiny little shreds before spitting them out into the gutter where they belong…

    So David Bellamy made an error, George Monbiot made an error… but everyone makes the occasional mistake (hey, even Professor Mann!), the debate should be far wider than that. And people shouldn’t lose their job because they hold a certain opinion or make a small error – if that was the case there would be no journalists left at any paper, let alone the Grauniad.

    It is open discussion, analysis of the detail, replication etc. which helps to clarify strengths and weaknesses of the different arguments. So why are the pro-AGW crowd so anxious to shut down debate? IMHO it is primarily because their claims are so weakly supported by any real data – and so easy to shoot down.

  22. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 17, 2005 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

    Re #23. Spence, it seems you too are letting your prejudices get the better of you.

    The article DOES NOT CLAIM that ‘junkscience’ published Bellamy’s claims, rather, that it too published the data Bellamy later used, it say’s (my emphasis): “…and the edition [of 21st Century Science and Technology Bellamy quoted] Bellamy cites contains an article beginning: “We in LaRouche’s Youth Movement find ourselves in combat with an old enemy that destroys human beings … it is empiricism.”

    Oh well, at least there is a source for Bellamy’s figures. But where did 21st Century Science and Technology get them from? It doesn’t say. But I think we can make an informed guess, for the same data can be found all over the internet. They were first published online by Professor Fred Singer, one of the very few climate change deniers who has a vaguely relevant qualification (he is, or was, an environmental scientist). He posted them on his website, http://www.sepp.org, and they were then reproduced by the appropriately named junkscience.com,…”

    So, tell me what the source data was, (‘cos I’m not going to trawl through all of ’21st century…’ since it has no search facility…or is it sepp?) and I’ll check junkscience for it ;). Until then I’ll go with GM.

  23. Spence_UK
    Posted May 17, 2005 at 5:58 PM | Permalink

    So, Peter, if you can’t find the evidence (which I found in a fairly trivial search) you are just going to “go with GM”? Much like, if you can’t find any evidence (not that you’ve looked) you’re just going to “go with the hockey stick”?

    And who exactly is letting prejudices get in the way?

  24. Spence_UK
    Posted May 17, 2005 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

    While on the topic, JunkScience.com does not quote the 1989 paper referred to by GM, but instead links to the following 2002 paper:

    “Glacier mass balance: the first 50 years of international monitoring”, R.J. Braithwaite, Progress in Physical Geography March 2002 vol. 26 pp76-95

    The conclusions from this paper includes “There is no sign of any recent global trend towards increased glacier melting, and the data mainly reflect variations within and between regions”

    Of course, I wouldn’t particularly expect George to report on that, it doesn’t “fit” his story.

  25. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 18, 2005 at 1:40 AM | Permalink

    Re #25 and #26. Spence, well, you’ll just have to take my word for it that I spent as much time as I could looking (though you clearly don’t). So, to help me, can you give me the web links to the various editions and articles you found?

  26. Spence_UK
    Posted May 18, 2005 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

    Re #27, Peter, I accept that you probably did try quite hard to find the articles but hey, we can’t all be internet whizzes ;)

    Original SEPP article by Fred Singer: note that the article does not contain the “555 of 625″ claim, but does refer to the 1989 Science article. This is the article that GM is attempting to smear by association with the typographical error that David Bellamy made. It does include the (correct) 55% figure. It does not link to a free on-line version of the Science article (perhaps because there isn’t one). This article covers years 1926 to 1960.

    This is the abstract for the Braithwaite paper that JunkScience references that claims that there is no significant melting trend for the period 1946-1995. Again, no online version, but if you pay you can see the paper.

    Steve Milloy’s rebuttal of GMs paper.

    Towards the end of GM’s article, he goes into this rant:

    The 555 figure is now being cited as definitive evidence that global warming is a “fraud”, a “scam”, a “lie”. […] It is hard to convey just how selective you have to be to dismiss the evidence for climate change.

    So, we have a perfectly valid (but old) study that has been smeared by association by GM, a perfectly valid (and more recent) study which confirms the original study that GM doesn’t acknowledge. GM thinks this is being “selective” and that because David Bellamy mis-quoted it, that therefore it is somehow invalid? This isn’t sound reasoning by any standards. Both the original and later study stand, and falsify the hypothesis that worldwide glacier retreat is accelerating due to global warming.

  27. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 19, 2005 at 5:50 AM | Permalink

    Here’s the GM article with links added: http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2005/05/10/junk-science/#more-930 . I does seems Junkscience did publish the data DB used.

  28. T.Vanicek
    Posted May 24, 2005 at 7:23 AM | Permalink

    Well Prof. Lindzen said and wrote already relating to this issue :

    “It is , so far , impossible to convincingly relate observed climate change to anthropogenic emissions because we do not fully understand the natural variability .
    Claims to the contrary are based on crude curve fitting and naive assumptions about success of models in dealing with the natural variability .”

    As far credentials go , he may be considered as knowing what he is talking about :)
    It follows that if there are no (convincing) scientific reasons to believe in the GW humbug , then those reasons have non scientific roots .
    The roots of Kyoto are indeed political , the reasons of many scientist are more material because it’s easier to earn a living and to get a research budget if one is swimming with the political mainstream regardless of the scientific content .
    I do not believe that there is some conspiracy – there is only the old fashioned usual mix of stupidity and intimidation that has been existing since mankind exists .
    Insofar what is strange is not that the GW believers triumph , it is that there are still people with enough courage to dare to oppose it .
    The conforting thought is that in science the truth always prevails and it is only a matter of time .
    In the case that interests us here , it will come latest in the second half of the 21th century when it will become obvious that none of the predictions believed like a God’s word today come true .
    Unfortunately most of us won’t be here to see that :)

  29. Peter O'Neill
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    Just over two months ago I used George Monbiot’s contact page at http://www.monbiot.com to send the message below and clear up the mystery of these glacier figures, which he claimed (http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2005/05/10/junk-science/#more-930) had “been working a hole in my mind”. It turns out that the figures quoted do in fact come from a legitimate paper, based on data from, although not authored by, the World Glacier Monitoring Service, and published in 1988 in Arctic and Alpine Research, not 1989 in Science.

    I’ve come across your posting of May 10, 2005, titled “Junk Science”. While not impressed by the care taken by either Bellamy or Singer in citing these figures, I think I can in fact clear up their origin, and I feel that even at this late stage both now deserve at least an acknowledgement in your column that these are not fraudulent figures based on a non-existent data set.

    The source would appear to be: Wood, F.B. Global Alpine Glacier Trends, 1960s to 1980s. Arctic and Alpine Research 20, 404-413(1988) rather than Science.

    Abstract: Analysis of data compiled by the Permanent Service on the Fluctuations of Glaciers (now known as the World Glacier Monitoring Service) suggests that the alpine glaciers of the world as a group shifted during the 1960 to 1980 period from a regime strongly dominated by shrinking and receding glaciers to a mixed regime. Between 1960 and 1980, on the basis of data for about 400 to 450 glaciers observed each year, advancing glaciers are shown to have increased from about 6% of observed glaciers to 55%. During the 1960 to 1980 period, on the basis of data for about 50 glaciers observed each year, annual mass balance is shown to be, on the average, positive for about 57% of observed glaciers in the European Alps and for 40% of observed glaciers in the other monitored areas of the world. Preliminary data for 1981 to 1985 suggest that the mixed glacial regime is continuing. However, regularly monitored glaciers account for only a small percentage (probably less than 1 %) of the total number of glaciers worldwide. More extensive research and monitoring are necessary to determine the pervasiveness and permanence of this shift, and to assess its climatic implications.

    There are still some comments which may be made regarding the accuracy of the figures – the figure of 625 glaciers mentioned includes “glaciers for which no data were available in a given year or for which the glacier front was covered with snow, thus making measurement impossible”, 446 glaciers being observed in 1979/80, and the 55% figure refers to 1980, rather than “since 1980”. Nevertheless, in view of the legitimacy of the source of these figures, even if carelessly cited, a correction in your column would be appropriate.

    To date I have not even received an acknowledgement, much less seen any correction. And rather than finding, in Monbiot’s words, “The 555 figure is now being cited as definitive evidence that global warming is a “fraud”, a “scam”, a “lie”.”, a Google search such as that for “555 625 glaciers” suggested at http://timlambert.org/2005/05/bellamy/ will turn up many references to Monbiot’s article. It is for this reason that I suggested that a correction in his column would be appropriate.

    One of these search results (http://blog.case.edu/singham/2006/08/22/how_science_reporters_should_do_their_job, “How science reporters should do their job” in Mano Singham’s Web Journal) in particular prompts me to try another route to get a response on this from George Monbiot – I cannot agree that this is “how science reporters should do their job”. While I kept my message to him short, some other questions did also occur to me:

    George Monbiot “went through every edition of Science published in 1989, both manually and electronically”. He did telephone the World Glacier Monitoring Service, and he did email David Bellamy. But while he states that this figures “were first published online by Professor Fred Singer”, he does not appear to have taken the rather obvious step of contacting Professor Fred Singer to check the accuracy of Singer’s citation in what was a short comment he added to an Agence-France Presse item on growing Norwegian glaciers he included on his website in 1998, and not in a published paper. Why stop once you have traced the figures to a Lyndon Larouche vehicle citing Professor Singer and not ask Professor Singer himself?

    Why did he not try a Google Search? A search (1980 advance “55%” 625 “mountain glaciers”) using obvious keywords from Monbiot’s quoted text from iceagenow.com “Since 1980, there has been an advance of more than 55% of the 625 mountain glaciers under observation …” produced Wood’s paper in the first ten of 70 results (the first of four results using Google Scholar, but I do not think Google Scholar was available in 2005). In the interest of full disclosure: this is not how I located the mysterious paper – I had read it in another context, and recognised it when I recently came across George Monbiot’s 2005 column in another Google search and read it.

    George Monbiot’s references 3 and 4 (telephone call to WGMS and email reply), 17 (email from David Bellamy) and 18 (telephone call to New Scientist) are all dated 5th May 2005. I find this hard to reconcile with the chronology laid out in his article. Perhaps George Monbiot should show more understanding for Professor Singer’s carelessness with website references.

  30. Peter O'Neill
    Posted Jul 25, 2008 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

    #29,
    A footnote, in fairness to George Monbiot: although as mentioned in this thread he did not provide a link to junkscience.com, http://www.junkscience.com/news2/singer37.html (Rebutting the new glacier research) did contain:

    And indeed there is some evidence of that. The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, in a paper published in Science in 1989, noted that between 1926 and 1960 more than 70 percent of 625 mountain glaciers in the [mid-latitude] United States, Soviet Union, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy were retreating. After 1980, however, 55 percent of these same glaciers were advancing.

    This webpage is mentioned by Steve Milloy in Steve Milloy’s rebuttal of GMs paper referred to in #26 above, but Milloy had clearly missed the point that it was Singer’s data, not Bellamy’s repetition of it, which Monbiot had said was reproduced on junkscience.com.

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