tip off

Rundle: pen-pinching Klaus a prized Righter, not a freedom fighter

Freedom and competition are always good, which is why the two major Right organisations in Australia have brought out key European crackpots at the same time. The CIS has Thilo Sarrazin, amateur geneticist and campaigner against inter-racial s-x, at its Big Ideas gabfest, while the IPA has the wacky Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic and anti-global warming campaigner.

Klaus is prized by the Right, as a champion of freedom, promoting free-markets, etc, wherever he goes. He’s prized by the media too, for generating exciting vision. While in Chile, signing a declaration, he pocketed an expensive pen, the event captured on video, going viral on YouTube. In Australia he refused to go through parliamentary security, although that event appears to be mired in confusion.

What he’s best at though,and wheeled around for, is for labelling climate change as a fraud and Greens as the new communists. Klaus, an economist, is satisfied that any scientific arguments for climate change are “junk” and that no reputable scientist believes them, which will be news. In denouncing the Greens as the new communists, he uses the same negating rhetoric that is part of the cult of hate directed against democratic Left movements these days. Here he is quoted in a Miranda Devine story:

Twenty years ago we still felt threatened by the remnants of communism. This is really over,” Klaus said.

I feel threatened now, not by global warming — I don’t see any — (but) by the global warming doctrine, which I consider a new dangerous attempt to control and mastermind my life and our lives, in the name of controlling the climate or temperature …”

He said environmentalists had been arguing for decades that we should reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, using various farcical ploys from the exhaustion of natural resources to the threat of “imminent mass poverty and starvation for billions”.

Those same environmentalists shamelessly talk now about dangerous global warming.

“They don’t care about resources or poverty or pollution.

“They hate us, the humans. They consider us dangerous and sinful creatures who must be controlled by them.

“I used to live in a similar world called communism …”

Yes, indeed he did. And rather well. Klaus presents himself as a brave dissident against communism, but he made his accommodations with it and then some. He played no role in the Prague Spring — sufficient to attract the attention of authorities — and while others were going to labour camps, was permitted to go the US, to do postgraduate study at Cornell, the sure sign of a trusty.

When he returned in the early 1970s, there was a moment of apparent dissent to which Klaus will often point to — he was labelled an “anti-socialist malcontent” and barred from various academic bodies. Other dissidents similarly excluded, were consigned to factory jobs in the backblocks. Klaus wasn’t one of them — instead he went to work for the Czech state bank, eventually rising to a senior position.

Thus, for two decades, this lonely voice against the “new communism” prospered well under the old communism, serving the economic needs of a Marxist-Leninist state, and travelling abroad frequently, the privilege accorded to a loyal apparatchik. The ’70s progressed. Just as many dissidents were being allowed to return to mainstream life, charter 77 came along — the protest against the lack of democracy and free speech, sparked by the repression of a rock band. Thousands faced the agonising choice of again going up against a monolithic state. Most did it, facing a new round of prison and internal exile.

Klaus didn’t — indeed for many Czechs he’s become a positive symbol of those who didn’t dissent. As a Czech commentator explained to Radio Free Europe in 2007, on the 30th anniversary:

Frantisek Sulc, an editor for the daily Lidove noviny, says most Czechs probably don’t feel guilty for not having signed Charter 77. Instead, he says, they probably just don’t like it that a small group of dissidents — only about 2000 signed Charter 77 — seem to get all the credit for helping to bring down communism.

Also worth nothing, Sulc says, is that with Havel out of office, very few if any current political leaders signed Charter 77, including President Vaclav Klaus.

[Klaus] really mirrors the feeling of, I would say, most Czechs,” Sulc says. “That is, ‘We didn’t do anything bad, we didn’t hurt anybody, we just tried to survive and tried to live’. And now, there’s a group of the few people, a small group, who is now taking all the benefits and the heroism for putting down the communist regime.

Could Klaus have chosen not to work so directly with a communist state? Others did. Here’s Jefim Fistein, the only non-Czech signatory of the charter:

While in Prague, Jefim worked as an independent translator, despite his training in journalism. Says Jefim, “Although I was trained in journalism, I didn’t want to work in Czechoslovakia because I didn’t want to serve the regime in any way.”

Klaus, by contrast, devoted his talents to ensuring its continued viability. Having faced a genuinely totalitarian enemy, with the capacity to harm, he largely ducked the fight; facing green parties and activists using democratic and peaceful means he won’t debate them — he simply denounces them. Purporting to be a foe of communism, he instead brings all the techniques required for getting ahead in a torpid Brezhnevite state to an open society. Simple criticism doesn’t work — your opponent must be labelled an enemy of the people, a wrecker, an anti-human, in order to be defeated.

Poetic really, that the Czechs should present us with two examples of humanity, under the name Vaclav — one, Havel, who would serve several prison terms, and suffer two decades of harassment, only to emerge into post-communist Europe as a social democrat and an early proponent of Green politics, a man renowned for his generosity, politeness, breadth of thought, and humour; and Klaus, the notoriously rude state bank loyalist who wouldn’t stick his neck out, who denounces democrats as Stalinists, but made his peace with the latter; who vowed to oppose the EU, but signed the anti-democratic Lisbon treaty without a squeak; who purported to stand for the freedom of small nations, yet supported the Russian invasion of Georgia to the hilt.

And how inevitable that the IPA would choose the latter over the former. For who can doubt that the think tank’s bright boys and girls are, above all, conformists, who, in other circumstances would slide easily into the same sort of accommodations as Klaus, the grey roosts of apparatchik culture, and do Marxian calculations of the falling rate of profit to eight decimal places as eagerly as they read Hayek and Von Mises. After all, it’s easy to pretend you believe in freedom if you arrange it so that you never meet anyone who really stood up for it.

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  • 1
    granorlewis
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    It seems clear that Rundle has neither read nor listened to Klaus, but simply chooses a couple of quotes from certain newspapers that he would normally dismiss as tripe.

    Such disparaging diatribe is not normally written by this scribe, but he has let himself down badly with his spin on this occasion.

    The opinions expressed in economic terms by Klaus - an eminent economist - are at least as credible as are those of Flannery, Stern, Garnaut etc. And it is beyond doubt that those three are as wrapped up in political, and politically-motivated spin as they could possibly be.

  • 2
    linda
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Surely the most bizarre and amusing plaint of the denialists & “I know better than all the scientists” types is this strange fear of socialism/communism. Its 2011, not 1911! To accuse the modern ALP of being socialists is good for a belly laugh, but NASA?!! Klaus & his ilk are either lying charlatans protecting their vested interests or complete Loony Tunes

  • 3
    mattsui
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    @GRANORLEWIS.
    If there are errors in fact, or obvious counterpoints to, Rundle’s article. Could you please elaborate as to what they are?
    In this case I’m sure there is more than one side to the Vaclav Klaus story. But you can’t just call bullshit and walk away. Give us your version.

  • 4
    Guy Rundle
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Klaus isnt making an economic argument Granor - he’s making a scientific and then a political one. He’s suggesting that he has sufficient expertise to judge the science of climate change - which he doesn’t — and then to assess the Greens, democratic and peaceful political groupings, as conspiratorial Communists. You know, the ones he worked for for two decades.

  • 5
    Tim Macknay
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I have often wondered whether Vaclav Klaus’s appeal as a speaker outside Czech actually stems from people confusing him with Vaclav Havel.

  • 6
    Mark M
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I doubt Klaus is even judging the science, which implies that he has looked carefully at the fact that C02 is climate forcing and found the proof wanting.

    I think dismiss is a better word.

  • 7
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Granorlewis: let’s look at comments like “[Environmentalists] hate us, the humans. They consider us dangerous and sinful creatures who must be controlled by them.” That’s not even a strawman argument, which generally takes a negative aspect and blows it up beyond all proportion. It’s more like complete bullshit. Ergo: Vaclav Klaus is a bullshit artist.

    In my experience, a lot of the Greenies are good fun to be with, especially the younger ones. They’re more into the tribal drumming than the mass denunciations - something which Vaclav seems to be very familiar with. I’ve know folks who’ve done forest sit-ins. I’ve gone to the odd Confest, and more regularly at Woodford. I live in West End. As Hunter S. Thompson would say, I know these people in my goddamn blood. Confusing environmentalists with Calvinists is just bloody stupid.

    Tim: you’re probably on the money. Havel was the man who invited Frank Zappa to be Cultural Attache of Czechoslovakia.

  • 8
    LisaCrago
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    But does working to discredit this person’s past living under the USSR actually discredit the Klaus argument?

    He is talking about governments telling people just how they should live their life. Now someone who lived in the USSR DOES know exactly what central control is all about. If we are not careful in this country we will soon be afraid to live as we wish too and are already being told what is good for us and what is not, what we should drive, eat, smoke, drink, the list is bloody endless and about to get worse.

    to pick up on one point
    Calling The Greens the new Communists is an insult; to those who are still members of the Communist Party, and it is alive and well.

  • 9
    davidk
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Guy, I didn’t know any of that. I did wonder at the time how he came to be gainfully employed doing computer modelling under a totalitarian regime. Has the IPA taken over the national press club or has it always been in control?

  • 10
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    If we are not careful in this country we will soon be afraid to live as we wish too…”

    At this point, I can imagine a First Dog On The Moon cartoon with a Slippery-Slope-A-Meter going “Woop! Woop! Arooga! Arooga!” and other various sound effects.

    Lisacrago: Czechoslovakia went Communist not because of some stealthy, sneaky political correctness crawling into everywhere like Lantanas in a national park. They went Communist because the democrats were killed, expelled or imprisoned in a fairly short time scale.

  • 11
    michael r james
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    @LISACRAGO Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Amazing how you just hear what you want. What about the other Vaclav? He also lived under the USSR yoke so you don’t think his actions have as much validity as Klaus? And as Guy has so thoroughly elucidated while Klaus was growing into a fat cat in the State bank (! how Kafkaesque is this? probably responsible for dismissing loans to dissenters and democratic rabble on a secret police blacklist) Havel was fighting for the very freedoms Klaus is abusing today. At first one may think Klaus learnt well the black art of negating any evidence contrary to his cherished beliefs, but no, it is so cackhanded it could only appeal to the deluded who queue at the feet of Lord Monckton or Ian Plimer, or the ideologues like the IPA with their hands held out for cash. With the two Vaclavs, as with the likes of the IPA/CIS etc, it comes down to working in the national interest or working for self interest. For the latter to succeed in a democracy they rely upon the completely clueless like Lisacrago who if she actually lived in a police state like Czechoslovakia would probably have been an informant dobbing in the likes of Havel.

  • 12
    nicolino
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    So the very people who saved the Franklin are an insult to the communists!!

  • 13
    Harvey Tarvydas
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    Great stuff Guy.

    ………..I feel threatened now, not by global warming — I don’t see any — (but) by the global warming doctrine, which I consider a new dangerous attempt to control and mastermind my life and our lives,…………”

    I don’t see any”, I, I, me, me, my life, my life – all this means –fuck your grand children we are talking about my life and he’s right, he won’t see any all the way to his little ‘forever lie down in a hole time’ but fuck the lives of those that survive passed him. Definition of a psychopath (in hiding).
    His brain has the classical physical construction of the genetic psychopath (known to be seductive, impressive and charismatic) on his brain scan you will see it – can’t change your brain scan even with plastic surgery.

    @MICHAEL R JAMES — Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    Great post, top questions, the danger of being conned by his type just isn’t in the experience nor knowledge base for most who can’t attribute real value to real logic.

  • 14
    LisaCrago
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    But does working to discredit this person’s past living under the USSR actually discredit the Klaus argument?

  • 15
    michael r james
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    @LISACRAGO Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    But does working to discredit this person’s past living under the USSR actually discredit the Klaus argument?

    First, what argument? He simply wants to choose his facts. This approach is right out of the Stalinist guidebook: choose a few disreputable Lysencko-like “scientists” (Monckton, Plimer, Carter) to say the science is on their side blah blah. He insults and dismisses the hard work of thousands and thousands of specialist climate scientists with a wave of his hand.

    Second, yes, for someone who rants that “the Greens are the new Communists” and beats his chest about standing up for freedom while actually when he had the opportunity of his life to stand up against undisputed Communist oppression, he, by contrast with Havel, “devoted his talents to ensuring its continued viability”. Indeed he then prospered even more on the back of the work of true patriots and true freedom fighters, and he didn’t even participate in the early years post-liberation.

    He has lost any credibility or right to preach to us or anyone. He has had a comfortable life under the communists and an even more prosperous time under a free Czech Republic neither of which he earned. If he went quietly into the sunset of his life no one would be saying anything about his past or really begrudge him his good fortune. But if he wants to play this disreputable role in spreading ideological garbage (& no doubt earning good fees) then he cannot hide from a candid examination of his past.

    But what is the point? Your mind is closed. You have convinced yourself of the exact opposite of the reality.

  • 16
    AR
    Posted Friday, 29 July 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Hannah Arendt picked the type, not monsters but grovelling Jobsworth, the types who ensured that the death trains ran to schedule, who kept their heads down except when twitching their curtains.
    As GR muses - what does an economist who knows how many potatoes make three do working for a communist government, apart from learn the jargon about enemies of the people, now spouted at the service of his new masters, the rabid Right.

  • 17
    James Hastings
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    Rundle - you attack Klaus for making a scientific argument for which he is not qualified. He isn’t, but he’s not arguing that he knows more about climate science than climate scientists, he’s simply challenging the assertion by climate change believers that 90-95% of all scientists agree with the view that climate change is happening, is primarily man-made, and is going to rain death and destruction down on humanity. I’ve heard that bandied about a lot by those who are believers and I’d love to know where that statistic comes from, because it sounds suspiciously like the advertising refrain 9 out of 10 experts say that Colgate toothpaste is the best… message brought to you by Colgate. Somebody point out to me an independent survey of scientists done that verifies this.

    But lets assume that you and every other climate change believer is right - 9 out of 10 scientists agree with the assertion that that climate change is happening, is primarily man-made, and is going to rain death and destruction down on humanity. So what? Science is not, and has never been, about consensus, its about evidence. That’s what separates Science from Politics. Politics is about forming consensus, Science is about the individual challenging the prevailing view and proving it wrong with evidence. Can the majority of eminent professors and climate scientists be stone cold wrong? Yes they can. A quick flashback through the history of Science shows that those scientific theories often accepted as truth by 90-95% experts for centuries ended up being wrong. Miasma theory, flat earth theory, the infinite universe theory, to name just a few, were all supported by the majority of experts at the time, and all were proven wrong.

    Its interesting to me that supporters of global warming always talk about the numbers of scientists that support the cause rather than the actual evidence involved. No one uses the same logic with evolution. Evolution is real because the vast majority of evidence supports it, not because most scientists do.

    I don’t care that Lord Monckton is a bug eyed pommy git, and Vaclav Klaus a former communist stooge. Those are all personal, political attacks, which may or may not be true. Whether or not they are doesn’t have any bearing on the scientific answers to the questions that we have about human influence on the environment.

  • 18
    Michael Hughes
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    I accidentally bought a copy of the Australian Spectator. About two pages in I felt like that time I went into a bookshop about military stuff, only to discover it had a wall of Nazi tat lovingly displayed in a prominent position. In that it purported to be objective but then seemed to be filled with full page ads of ‘roll up, roll up, the climate change denialists are coming to town. See them twist and turn. See them use certainty and passion in their belief even when it’s not in their field and that their suppositions when exposed to peer review roundly mocked.

    Also does anyone else find Minchin’s recent castigation of Malcolm Turnbull for speaking outside portfolio hilariously hypocritical considering the black anting of Turnbull on the environment when Turnbull was leader and thus Minchen effectively turfed Turney as a result.

    PS ‘the sure sign of a trusty’ = gold.

  • 19
    Mark M
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    @James

    But lets assume that you and every other climate change believer is right - 9 out of 10 scientists agree with the assertion that that climate change is happening, is primarily man-made, and is going to rain death and destruction down on humanity. So what? Science is not, and has never been, about consensus, its about evidence.

    1. That’s not an assumption. That is fact.
    2. The 9 out of 10 scientists have NOT reached a consensus in the way you are thinking. They have reached the conclusion that AGW is real independently based on the EVIDENCE. Their findings and theories have been peer-reviewd and published.

    And…yes… “They” do talk about the evidence. You’re not listening

    AND. There is a scientific consensus on evolution too, BASED ON THE EVIDENCE

    Are you getting it yet?

  • 20
    LisaCrago
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Obviously my comments in Cricky have gained some attention.
    I come here to comment on the articles.
    I am well entitled to do so and certainly entitled to voice my opinion on what is written.

    I do not make comments on the pieces written in Cricky to incite nasty rants from those without the ability to add to the argument or debate.

    The ‘US’ and ‘Them’ arrogance of many enviromental fundamentalists who are 110% convinced that they are right, we are all doomed, really does nothing for me. AGW is a scientific theory, not realised nor yet proven and debate on this issue is very important and should not be closed down by the ‘Believers’.

    There are A LOT of people sitting inbettween the ‘believers’ and ‘deniers’ thinking they are all going mad.

    I refuse to believe that Cricky has turned into a total lefty whinge rag; that is not how it began. I almost long for the poison pen of Hillary Bray.
    Where has the balance gone.

    Oh and michael r james; to say that someone you disagree with does not have an argument, just chosen facts, really that did give me smile and saved me having to read your comment. Thanks, I needed a good laugh this morning.

  • 21
    Mark M
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    @lisacrago

    You seem to think that a scientific theory is established by group of people sitting down and discussing the issues, perhaps reaching some consensus. You couldn’t be further from the truth.

    This NOT the case. You cannot change a fact through debate. Evolution does not cease to exist as a scientific theory because a group of individuals decide they don’t believe it anymore.

    I do not believe in AGW like I believe that Collingwood will win the flag this year. I believe in AGW like i KNOW that Collingwood won the flag last year. Do you see the difference there?

    Actually it doesn’t matter what I believe when it comes to science. You simply have to follow the evidence and there is overwhelming evidence in AGW.

    By the way, scientific theories and not ideological, not left or right wing, etc. It is just the truth, the facts, the evidence.

    I strongly urge you to take the time to try and understand the science and stop wasting your time with ideological and political debate on this issue.

  • 22
    LisaCrago
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your interesting beliefanalogy Mark
    However
    This piece by Guy Rundle (who I enjoy reading even when I often disagree with what he writes) is all about The Right, The Left and the politics of someone who is vocal in the debate. It is not an article on the science of weather.

    It is currently a moot point to say that this debate on AGW/Climate Change/CArbon Tax/ ETS is not political or that people are wasting time writinnng talking and getting involved in said debate. Money is involved, so it is naturally very political, involves governments and goes way beyond scientific modeling into the realmm of policy.

    btw never assume what people you do not know on the internet know. I understand the science may have even studied this exact issue at university and I am well aware there is a lot of scientific evidence against as well as for AGW.

  • 23
    Mark M
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    @Lisa

    AGW is a scientific theory, not realised nor yet proven

    No, It is both realised and proven

    Sorry

  • 24
    James Hastings
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    @ Mark M

    Really, its a fact that 90%+ of climate scientists think Global Warming is real and is dangerous to humanity? Please direct me to an independent survey that shows this. I’ve been looking for one, but I can’t find anything. Since you know this is a fact I’m sure you can help.

    You write…

    You cannot change a fact through debate. Evolution does not cease to exist as a scientific theory because a group of individuals decide they don’t believe it anymore”

    So you agree with my statement in a previous post that consensus doesn’t matter in science. Great. Lets proceed then to a discussion of the scientific evidence.

    The evidence that I’ve heard for the proposition “Global Warming is man made and a serious threat” goes like this. Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas, people are making lots of carbon dioxide through industrial processes, therefore we must be causing catastrophic global warming. This would be convincing if climate had never changed through out the history of the world. And yet it has changed often and dramatically, from ice ages that caused the Bering strait to become a land bridge, to warm periods that allowed agriculture to be successful on Greenland. Given all of this happened before we humans started pumping out any serious quantities of Carbon Dioxide means there was some other process at work causing these huge fluctuations in Climate. What is the evidence that “9 out of 10” scientists have that shows this mechanism is not responsible for the warming we are currently experiencing. I’ve been looking for it, but maybe I’m not looking hard enough. Please enlighten me.

  • 25
    Mark M
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    @James Hastings

    Are you really serious about the evidence? In that case, I suggest you read the IPCC reports. They are freely available and written by the best scientists in the field.

  • 26
    Harvey Tarvydas
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    @JAMES HASTINGS — Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Where do you get off saying “…………. This would be convincing if climate had never changed through out the history of the world…………..”
    Do you realize what a huge statement this is.
    If you think you do then explain
    1. Why would it be convincing if the worlds climate had never changed in all the world’s history?
    OR (now remember its your ‘if’ word that brings the trouble)
    2. Even if its true that the world’s climate history is a changing picture would a new factor or danger just not be worth thinking about because in the history of the world the climate has changed dramatically so stuff any new risks, it’s all too hard?

    The planets first climate was a slightly warmer molten state. We know because Science has watched some of the remaining molten pop out through naughty volcanoes and burn people and everything up but hey they still live right on them.
    Dinosaurs pissed of through an unexpected climate change, we know because science says so, your ancestors didn’t leave any notes, Humans, not only climate, has changed in the history of the world.
    You want to be like your ancestors who never worried about carbon induced climate change.
    But others like me want to worry even though I know it won’t affect my life, because we know things and there are future other lives (the species).
    Science actually knows what the climates have been in history and why (even though your ancestors didn’t leave notes).
    Simply,
    Because I know we (man, that’ll do, I won’t tell you I think I am a new species) are making lots more CO2 than in the history of world and to do that we do a lot of other naughty things to the environment (which includes climate) I want us/we/man to cut that down as much as possible because it will be good for the environment and I don’t want to find out what nature thinks of our CO2 manufacturing especially if it turns on some unbelievable horrible consequence just to teach us a lesson especially since we are smart enough now to do it and still have very prosperous economies possibly even better and healthier ones.

    I could have made this very brief by saying ‘who could possible argue against a little RISK MANagement’.

    This idiocy only occurs when greedy men can’t stop thinking about the dollar.
    Don’t tell me it’s not the dollar but you think it will be better for your children to ignore the warnings about our emissions behaviour.

  • 27
    James Hastings
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    @Mark M

    You still haven’t pointed out an independent survey of scientists that show 90%+ of them agree that “global warming in primarily man-made and serious threat to humanity”. But that doesn’t matter, because you agree science is about evidence and not consensus.

    I have a few problems with IPCC reports, here are a couple of examples of what I mean. This if from the Fourth IPCC report, FAQ 6.2 Is the Current Climate Change Unusual Compared to Earlier Changes in Earth’s History?

    Quote - first paragraph.
    “If warming continues unabated, the resulting climate change within this century would be extremely unusual in geological terms.”

    Right, so at the moment its not extremely unusual. What is it at the moment then? Extremely usual? Mildly unusual?

    The sentence above the one I just quoted reads
    “Current global temperatures are warmer than they have ever been during at least the past five centuries, probably even for more than a millennium”

    Further down in paragraph number 5
    “all published reconstructions find that temperatures were warm during medieval times, cooled to low values in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and warmed rapidly after that. The medieval level of warmth is uncertain, but may have been reached again in the mid-20th century, only to have likely been exceeded since then. These conclusions are supported by climate modelling as well”

    We have not exceeded temperatures in the medieval warm period. During the MWP the Vikings were able to support a population of 5,000 with farms and livestock. By 1350 their settlements were eliminated due to the receding of that farm land caused by global cooling. This has been proven due to achaelogical research of those Viking settlements. Reports from Greenland in 2006 suggest that agriculture is starting to become more viable for them as things get warmer. But this http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,434356-2,00.html article states that at the time of the original Viking settlements Eric the Red owned stables that housed up to 100 cattle each. But at the moment they have only 19 total cattle on the entire island.

    The IPCC report is saying that their modelling says that the Earth is warmer now than it was in medieval warm period and we’d all better be really scared. It’s not warmer. Their modelling is wrong. Because their modelling wrong on this verifiable information I don’t care that that same modelling is reporting we’re all going to die by the end of the century.

  • 28
    LisaCrago
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    No, it has NOT been proven Mark.
    And no intelligent advocate from the AGW ‘camp’ would say so unless they were believers in the science as promoted by Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown.

    If in fact AGW and all the forcasted horror that goes with it had in fact been proven to be true (rather than imagined to possibly be true) then my wonderful beachside home would right now be underwater. Yet it is not.

    So, again, No, AGW has NOT been proven.
    The debate is not over.

    Now Mark, while you appear to thinkk that consensess of a grouping of scientists is good enough evidence, those trained in the use of evidnece habve a preference for the ole beyond reasonable doubt.

  • 29
    Mark M
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    @Lisa

    AAAHHHHH it is not a debate. Scientists DO NOT debate the evidence.

    And no intelligent advocate from the AGW ‘camp’ would say so

    I give you David Karoly, James Hansen. NASA, US Department of Defence, The Royal Society, CSIRO, BOM….etc…etc…etc.. These are all scientific institutions. Find me one national academy of science that disputes the mainstream science.

    These intelligent people know that this is mainstream science. And furthermore, they know that it is not a debate. This is NOT a court of law, there is no reasonable doubt. Just evidence.

    The fact that you think No, AGW has NOT been proven only demonstrates the fact that you are not up to date with the research in this scientific field. I suspect you are not a scientists… Am I mistaken. This science is 150 years old FFS.

    I don’t think you have grasped the scale of the problem. Please take the time to read the IPCC reports.

  • 30
    LisaCrago
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Yes it is very much a debate dear and you do very little to advance your AGW cause by yelling SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE to close it down.
    But then you deny that even politics is involved.
    Gee it must be hard work reading the thousands of pages of IPCC reports, no wonder you appear to suffer from tunnel vision.

    interesting piece in the Oz today from those who do what science is supposed to do in regards to public policy, ask lots of questions.

    We wouldn’t let a company issue a prospectus without being audited. But we’ll transform the national economy based on a report issued by a foreign committee that no one has been paid to criticise. There are no audits on the science from institutions like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA or the CSIRO. No due diligence study has been done. Hallowed peer review amounts to unpaid anonymous reviewers, often picked from a pool of people who agree.”

  • 31
    Mark M
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    @Lisa

    Please don’t stoop to patronisation. I am scientist. I know and understand science. The science is very clear, as is the evidence. Politics may be involved, but it does not affect thermodynamics, the laws of physics. It does not affect the temperature, or the melting of the ice caps. I am not yelling.

    There is no debate about the science, only what to do about the results it reveals.

    Don’t get confused here. I am not debating the approach we need to take to alleviate AGW is politicised and ideological.

    Science does not do anything WRT public policy. It presents the evidence, then politicians and the public debate over what to do about it.

    Yes. I have read the IPCC. Illuminating. I suggest you do the same.

    I take it you have never submitted work for peer-review. Very humbling process. God forbid you make a mistake.

  • 32
    granorlewis
    Posted Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Mark M lets himself down seriously by reverting constantly to the long-discredited publications of the IPCC. And his command of the English language is not too flash either, So one has to ask about his credibility as he protests that “I am scientist.” Repeating constantly that “the science is clear” does not make it so, and never will.

    And as for accusing Lisa of patronisation - well…..!

    In terms of moderating the quality of the debate, James and Lisa win hands down.

  • 33
    Mark M
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    @Gran

    One has to seriously question a debate when a debater reverts to ad hominem attacks to make a point. The logic of as hominem attacks goes “If there is a grammatical error in a comment, anything that the commenter says is wrong”.

    When do we get to Godwin’s law eh Gran? Ask Monckton I guess.

    I actually don’t even have to state that the science is clear for the science to be clear Gran do I? You haven’t answered my question about ideology have you.

  • 34
    Mark M
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    @Lisa. AGW is not my cause, or even a cause at all. It is a scientific theory proven by multiple lines of evidence. How is that a cause?

  • 35
    Mark M
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    @James Hansen

    We have not exceeded temperatures in the medieval warm period

    Yes we have. MWP was confined Europe only, globally the planet was cooler. That argument is discredited - we are way beyond that now James surely.

  • 36
    LisaCrago
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Here Here granorlewis :)

    So it seems clear that Mark has very little political nous combined with being “a scientist” It seems most scientists are only interested in politics when they have their hands out for the big fashionable funding grab.

    I wonder if Mark is defending his own fleecing of the public purse? If a real “Scientist” I wonder if he also cashed in as all these other accademics have.

    http://sciencespeak.com/ClimateFunding.pdf

  • 37
    granorlewis
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    James is still winning the debate.

    It’s not about ideology Mark M - it’s about listening, reading and learning, and I learn little from your writings.

  • 38
    James Hastings
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    @Harvey Tarvydas

    It is a huge thing to assert that the current warming going on is due to human causes when there is another mechanism(s) that has caused the same thing to occur before modern industrialisation.

    Lets use an analogy of the tide which, like climate-change, is also a cyclical process that occurs all the time due to natural cause. If someone or some group of people turn around and say that the next time the tide comes in, its going to keep coming in further and further until all the land in the world is covered and its all because of something that we humans are doing , then those people better have some damn convincing evidence to back that up. Likewise for AGW.

    You are quiet correct in saying that sudden and extreme changes in climate can cause widespread havoc on life on earth. However, in the case of the dinosaurs, we know what wiped them out - it was and Asteroid. Its also suspected that an even bigger Asteroid caused the even worse Permian-Triassic extinction period. So may I suggest that we spend money on looking for Asteroids, and solutions on how to get rid of one on a collision course with us, instead of wasting it on trying to stop a normal variation in Earth’s climate.

    Just one other thing, you said in your post
    “I think I am a new species”

    Now that is a HUGE thing to say.

  • 39
    James Hastings
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    @ Mark M

    Neither you or anyone else for that matter has been able to point to an independent survey of scientists that shows that 90%+ support the statement ‘Global Warming is primarily man made, and its a serious threat to our way of life’. Given that you and everyone else has had 2 days to respond with something, I feel safe in saying there is no independent survey of scientists that shows 90%+ scientists support that conclusion.

    But, again, it doesn’t matter because you agreed with me… science is not about consensus its about evidence. I’ll emphasize this point… it doesn’t matter how many scientists think something is the case what matters is the evidence. The IPCC reports which you rely upon as “evidence” contain statements as vague as

    The medieval level of warmth is uncertain, but may have been reached again in the mid-20th century, only to have likely been exceeded since then”

    The evidence they’re using can’t be that great if the best they can say is that we may have exceeded medieval warming period. And besides that there are scientists out there who disagree with many of the assumptions and processes used by the IPCC reports.

  • 40
    James Hastings
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I know that many of you feel strongly about Global Warming and the potential you believe it has to threaten our survival as a species. I appreciate that it no doubt stems for a desire to do good. But a desire to do good is not enough.

    I’ve been listening to the debate for a while and I can’t help but notice a common theme in arguments of those who think AGW is real. You guys talk about how the evidence is overwhelming, but you don’t talk about the evidence in your arguments, instead you just make personal attacks on people who are contrary to that opinion (some of it justified… most of it not) branding them idiots, or corrupt. Yet as soon as one takes a look at the ‘evidence’ being sited all of a sudden it looks a lot more vague and nebulous.

    Science is about evidence, not personalities. Smoking still causes cancer despite Hitler thinking that was so. So talk about the evidence and not the personalities.

    Remember, you guys are asking a lot from the world. You want us to stop using fossil fuels very quickly. For 1st world countries that’s going to mean taking abig hit to our living standards because renewable energy is still far more expensive than fossil fuels. For 3rd world countries like India and China it means hundreds of millions people staying in abject poverty. I’m sure if you were in place of a slum dweller in India or the peasant in China you’d want us to be damn sure that we’re right about this end of the world scenario that’s been conjured up, before we throw the economic prosperity of the world down the toliet.

  • 41
    Mark M
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    @James

    You guys talk about how the evidence is overwhelming It is. Sorry.

    You seem like a reasonable chap but you are not going to find the evidence in the comments section of crikey. I suggest you read “Merchants of doubt” or “Storms of my Grandchildren”. Take a look at skepticalscience.com

    It’s all there for you.

    Your question about the 90+ consensus is not relevant. Find a single peer-reviewed article that disproves AGW. Loot at Nature magazine, Scientific American, etc. You won’t find one.

    Oh - and I have been waiting for Hitler to make an entrance. Bingo.

  • 42
    Mark M
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    @Gran.

    I didn’t make the point about ideology… you did.

  • 43
    Malcolm Street
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Lisacrago:

    interesting piece in the Oz today from those who do what science is supposed to do in regards to public policy, ask lots of questions.

    “We wouldn’t let a company issue a prospectus without being audited. But we’ll transform the national economy based on a report issued by a foreign committee that no one has been paid to criticise. There are no audits on the science from institutions like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA or the CSIRO. No due diligence study has been done. Hallowed peer review amounts to unpaid anonymous reviewers, often picked from a pool of people who agree.”

    So who is qualified to do the auditing? Surely that’s already been done at the peer review study. Are they seriously saying we can’t even trust the CSIRO to provide scientific advice? Or do they mean “due diligence” by the likes of Pilmer, Carter and Alan Jones?

    Shows how off the planet the Oz has become.

  • 44
    LisaCrago
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Malcolm Street if you genuinlywishto know more may I recommend that you read the entire article then if you wish to understand it.
    I won’t post a link to a newspaper in Crikey but it is in the Climate section of National Affairs in the Oz and written by Joanne Nova titled ‘Climate change suspect must be given a fair trial ‘. You might not “like” her position but if we only read work of people we like and agree with we would not learn very much.

    James Hastings I sincerely like the way you argue points. I agree that advocates of AGW really are mostly motivated by wanting to do the right thing. However it is becoming clearer as the international debate progresses that they are being misdirected.
    What is quite disingenuous is the slanderous way anyone who questions the supposed consensus science is treated by these apparently well meaning people.

    It should not matter what country they grew up in or their personal situation but the arguments, questions and facts that are raised. Shooting the messenger, as I believe Guy has done in this piece, does not silence the message.

  • 45
    AR
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    The OO’s Sheridan never disappoints (those who expect grovelling obeisance to rightist ratbaggery) and his paean to Klaus as “a hero in the struggle against Communism” in the opening sentence is another winner/loser in the irrational mendacity contest, were there such an bathetic contest, beyond Mudorc’s minions that is.
    Perhaps, like the Caterwauling Catamite, he has confused his Vaclav’s, as Jones did in his intro. last week on 2GB, even using some of the events from Havel’s life until someone (in his headphones) had the balls to correct HMV. Brave lad.

  • 46
    mattsui
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    And so we come back at last to Mr. Rundle’s article.
    @Lisa; Claims that the peer reviewed and published work of any scientist is wrong, without providing any evidence to support those claims, is a personal attack. Not only on the scientists directlt involved with the reasearch deniers so scornfully dismiss. But also by association, all those involved with the review process and the respected journals that publish their work.
    Claims that environmentalists are involved in some sort of communist conspiracy are a personal attack on anybody who has ever been associated with a Green political movement. Worse in this case because the man who accuses us was himself apparently a member of a communist conspiracy.
    Rundle dosen’t so much shoot this messenger as point out the obvious conflict between his current message and his personal history.
    Personal attacks come and go, no-one has even attempted to refute Rundle’s claims about V. Klaus.

  • 47
    Harvey Tarvydas
    Posted Monday, 1 August 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    @JAMES HASTINGS - Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 1:56 pm
    Thank you for your response but your analogy doesn’t go anywhere for me, except it might go straight to Lisa.
    You are raising a new scenario, that Asteroids fell on dinosaurs heads and killed them and that human’s should stop producing so many Asteroids so unthinkingly so that others (us) don’t get killed.

    Before I get serious again you have to be able to tell humour from edict, however I am fabulously huge where it counts as you say.

    You are right this is exactly what we are trying to avoid ………” You are quiet correct in saying that sudden and extreme changes in climate can cause widespread havoc on life on earth…….”
    The biggest ever, massive Asteroid coming is called CO2.

  • 48
    Harvey Tarvydas
    Posted Monday, 1 August 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    @JAMES HASTINGS - Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 1:56 pm
    I might be a horse, my nickname at school was ‘Horsey’.

  • 49
    Mark M
    Posted Monday, 1 August 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    @Lisa

    So it seems clear that Mark has very little political nous combined with being “a scientist” It seems most scientists are only interested in politics when they have their hands out for the big fashionable funding grab.

    Oh dear. Whatever happened to the “No personal attacks in arguments”?

    I wonder if Mark is defending his own fleecing of the public purse? If a real “Scientist” I wonder if he also cashed in as all these other accademics have.

    Actually I am a “real” scientist and I work in private enterprise. I am not an academic. There you go again with the personal attacks. I do what I do because I actually care about finding answers and finding the truth.

    I have not discussed politics, nor ideology, only science Lisa. When one studies science, one is not taught that theories only apply in the correct ideological environment. It is not the case that AGW only applies under a socialist government (hello the UK…) Nor is it the case that evolution only works during business hours, or if there is appropriate funding.

    I first learned about AGW in the 80s at University, when learning about external forcings, in particular, radiative forcings. It may come as a huge surprise to you that we did not include variables for “socialist agenda” and “funding”. This was simply data, combined with mathematics, evidence, etc All very impersonal I’m afraid. Actually, AGW is very easy to prove. It does seem, however, very hard to convince people that we should discontinue the deforestation and burning of fossil fields which is… well.. a shame. It will be a bumpy ride, particularly when the feedback effects take hold.

    I wonder though lisa. Do you ever worry about your own level of consumption? Do you just leave your rubbish out on the street for someone else to clean up. If so, would you expect private enterprise to be held to the same standards?

  • 50
    LisaCrago
    Posted Monday, 1 August 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    mattsui
    Posted Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    fyi it was others questions and dishonest claims about my comments that has caused me to waste almost one hour of my time in answer to AGW fanatics here.

    I have done no such thing what so ever. I have simply asked questions. You are being dishonest!

    herein lies the sad and sorry issue of those like mattsui/mark in that they are unable to be objective and question so really are True Believers.
    Public policy based on the lobby work of True Believers is dangerous ground to tread.

    No have if suggested “environmentalists are involved in some sort of communist conspiracy ” I have a deep personal knowledge of both movements and see the CPA in a very different light to The Greens. At least the CPA know what they stand for. I have worked with both parties on a prof level not a plem hack member. It is a fact that ex CPA and SP memebers have flocked to join The Greens so not such a long bow to draw for those who believe in conspiracy, I am not big on kooky claims myself.

    I would not bother to refute something that I see as totally unimportant to the broader debate.

    And Mark pointing out your lack of political nouse is pointing out the bleeding obvious and is NOT a personal attack, it is a direct observation from your comments. You are on a comments page for a story that is very centred on someones politics;The Left and The Right. If you dont want to be drawn into any form of political debate then stick to the science pages.

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