Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When you are looking to the French and Germans to rescue you...

More Daniel Hannan on American TV.

As he says in this interview on MSNBC, he never thought he'd ever say that he's relying on the French and German governments to rescue them. "They're right, we have run out of money."

Closer to home, this bit made me think of our philosopher prince, K R Puff'n'Fluff - frenzied activity can create the illusion that you know what you are doing.

The original YouTube video of his remarks in the European Parliament has now had over 1,800,000 views.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Celebrate Human Achievement Hour instead


Okay, a bit late for Oz really, but a good thing to do anyway as a corrective to the absurd troglodytes who think switching off lights is a good thing.

It's supposedly about "raising awareness" of climate change (Jesus Christ, is there anyone anywhere in the world not friggen "aware" of effing climate change?), but really, what does this say about the state our civilisation has reached?

It's as if all of a sudden we've grown scared of the present and even more scared of the future.

Have we grown tired of living lives so much better than those who went before us? Who lived miserable lives in the dark and the cold, wracked by pain and disease?

Do we really want to go back to that? All on the basis of speculation about what may happen in the future driven by computer climate models that even the IPCC has to admit bare little or no relation to the actual observed climate?

Do we really think we can light, heat and cool our homes by bicycle power?

Don't laugh. Much was being made in Melbourne of a concert for Earth Hour being powered by bicycles. Welcome to your green future suckers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Why climate change proponents fear debating with sceptics

Simple answer is that they tend to do very badly and the weakness of their position gets highlighted, as this recent debate from St Andrews University shows.

Which explains why Al Gore has run from every invitation to debate the science of climate change ever offered to him.

Predictably there was the usual attempt to liken sceptics to the Nazis!

But even I hope that this is a mischaracterisation of one of the proponents arguments, because surely nobody could be so stupid that they'd actually put this forward - "He said people and governments must act to stop global warming ...because - according to him - if a person had an elevated temperature of 2 degrees then he would die so we cannot let the Earth get 2 degrees hotter in case that kills the Earth." No, no, please, somebody, tell me he didn't say that. Please. We know that the Earth has been 3, 4, 5 degrees or more warmer in the past and it didn't "die." Actually, neither did life itself.

Thursday, March 26, 2009
St. Andrews University: Global Warming Loses in Formal Debate

AGW supporters could not argue facts, had to insult instead -- as usual
By Richard Courtney

I write to report on a debate that defeated the motion "This House Believes Global Warming is a Global Crisis" during a meeting of the St Andrews University Debating Society. It is difficult to arrange a debate of anthropogenic (that is, man-made) global warming (AGW) because few proponents of AGW are willing to face such debate. They know from past experience that they always lose such debates because there is no evidence that AGW exists and much evidence that it does not.

However, on Wednesday 4 March 2009, the St Andrews University Debating Society held their debate of the motion, "This House Believes Global Warming is a Global Crisis" in the Old Parliament Building, St Andrews. The debate was organized and presided over with exemplary efficiency and professionalism by the Speaker of the Society, Ms Jessica Siegel. It was conducted with all the pomp and ceremony that could be expected of an ancient society of so ancient and prestigious a university.

And the debate was lively, informative and entertaining. It got emotional at times. Some of the contributions from the floor were of exceptionally high quality. But, it was somewhat spoiled by the weakness of the proponents of the motion. (I have good reason to suspect this weakness is because stronger speakers could not be obtained to propose the motion. If so, then it is yet another example of leading proponents of AGW fearing to face their critics in open debate).

The proponents of the motion were Ross Finnie MSP, former Scottish Government Minister for Environment and Rural Development; Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland; Gregory Norminton, Novelist `Serious Things', Environmental Activist, Founder of `Alliance against Urban 4x4s'

The motion was opposed by myself, and Nils-Axel Morner, Leader of the Maldives International Sea-Level Project who was awarded the `Golden Contrite of Merits' by Algarve University, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, Former advisor to then UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and now an Investigator of Scientific Frauds.

Each speaker was given a strict maximum of 7 minutes to speak. The speakers would alternate between proponents and opponents of the motion until all 6 had spoken. No speaker was allowed to speak more than once except to raise a point of information, order, or etc.

The proponents had clearly not prepared. They were not co-ordinated in their presentations, they each lacked any significant knowledge of the science of AGW, and they each assumed that AGW is a fact. None of them made a substantial presentation of arguments supporting the motion, and they all (including the politician!) lacked adequate skills at public speaking. The opponents of the motion were a sharp contrast to that. They each have significant expertise in their subject, and they had agreed the case they were to put and how they were to put it. Also, they are all very competent public speakers and their very different styles made their presentation much better than the sum of its parts.

Finnie spoke first. He argued that AGW is a fact because the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) that says the IPCC is "90% certain" that AGW exists. From this he claimed there is a "crisis" because governments are failing to give the matter sufficient importance. It is necessary for governments to decide a treaty that would follow-on from the Kyoto Ptotocol that intends to constrain emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) but ends in 2012. The decision needs to be made at a meeting later this year.

I replied by outlining the case for the opposition. My speech is copied here. It asserts that governments do need to have policies on climate change but empirical evidence denies the existence of AGW and so there is no need to constrain fossil fuel emissions. Indeed, the harm caused by the emission constraints would be greater than any harm that AGW could induce if it were to exist.

Robinson's response was very angry. He seemed to think attacking the opposition speakers would provide a victory for the motion. Almost his entire speech was attempted defamation of the opposition speakers. Within seconds of starting to speak he had accused them of being "like supporters of the Nazis in 1930s Germany" (my family lost everything in the blitz so I did not take kindly to that). The speakers on the opposition side "could not get anything published in peer-reviewed journals" (Morner and I each shouted out that we have and we do). And much of the same. He said people and governments must act to stop global warming (but he did not say how they should act) because - according to him - if a person had an elevated temperature of 2 degrees then he would die so we cannot let the Earth get 2 degrees hotter in case that kills the Earth.

Morner then gave a witty, entertaining and informative lecture on sea level change. The major potential threat from AGW is severe sea-level change. He interacted with the audience and selected one individual to jape with (his skill at this selection was later demonstrated when that individual stood and gave a speech that won the prize - of a Society neck-tie - for best speech from the floor). Morner presented data that showed sea level is not rising as a result of AGW at a detectable rate anywhere.

Norminton then spoke to conclude the case for the proponents of the motion. Like Finnie he seemed to be extremely nervous: both were shaking during their presentations. Norminton's hand was shaking so much he put it into his pocket. (I know others interpret this to be nervousness, but I think it was extreme anger: Norminton had not expected any opposition to the motion, and the assertion of clear evidence that AGW does not exist was - to him - an outrage too hard to accept.) Also, like Finnie, he did not address the motion. He said he was not a scientist so he had to accept the word of scientists about global warming and scientists agree that global warming is real and man-made. He said, the speakers on the opposition side were "not scientists". Lord Monckton interjected that "Courtney and Morner are". And Norminton replied, "So was Mengele." Monckton raised a Point of Order demanding withdrawal of the remark. Norminton lacked the wit to withdraw and move on, so he refused to withdraw. Monckton persisted pressing the Point of Order and Norminton continued to refuse to withdraw. Only moments before Morner had made himself the lecturer the students would most like to have, and support for Norminton drained away as he insisted that Morner was akin to a murderer operating in a Nazi concentration camp. Norminton continued by saying the threat of global warming was real, and it was killing polar bears, but it is not clear that anybody was listening to him.

Monckton then summated the case for the opposition. He had not prepared a speech but took notes of the proponents' speeches with a view to refuting arguments of the proponents that Morner and myself had not covered, and by defending the opposition case against rebuttals of its arguments. This was a deliberate use by our side of Monckton's debating skills. But he had a problem because the proponents of the motion had not made a case and they had not addressed any of our arguments. Instead, they had made personal attacks on the opposition speakers, and they had asserted - with no evidence or argument - that the IPCC is right. So, Monckton's summarizing speech consisted of evidence that the proponents of the motion had merely provided errors of logic and fact but they had not a case. He pointed out that polar bears had quadrupled their number in recent decades and this was not a sign that their species is threatened. And he cited and named each of the logical fallacies utilized by the proponents of the motion.

The debate then opened to the floor. Four persons each spoke well. One gave a balanced presentation and the other three spoke in favour of the motion. But by then the debate had been settled. Prior to the debate the opponents of the motion had expected to lose the vote because the students have been exposed to a lifetime (i.e. their short lifetime) of pro-AGW propaganda. We consoled ourselves with the certainty that we would win the arguments because opponents of AGW have all the facts on our side. But in the event we won both. The motion was defeated when put to the vote.


From http://antigreen.blogspot.com/

Euro MP becomes overnight internet sensation

These YouTube videos are essential viewing for anybody who has any doubt that it is complete and utter madness to think that the solution to a financial crisis caused by too much debt is to create vast amounts of more debt.

Daniel Hannan is an English member of the European Parliament who's short speech ridiculing Gordan Brown's failure as first chancellor of the exchequer (treasurer) of the UK and then prime minister was largely ignored by the mainstream media, but has since become an internet sensation.

This in a week when the United Kingdom for the first time in many years failed to find buyers for its bonds to finance its debt and the governor of the Bank of England admitted that the country had basically run out of money.

Brown's "solution" to this? Spend more money.

Hannan makes some telling points, points that you'd think would be accepted as simple economic common sense.

One, which our own prime minister should ponder the next time he tries to write philosophical treatises on so-called neo-liberalism, is that bankers are not "neo-liberal" free marketeers.

Like many in big business they are naturally inclined monopolists and corporatists who will never say no to the idea of governments handing large sacks of taxpayers' money to them and regulating the market in ways that suit them.

He tells an interesting story from New Zealand following the then government's decision to end agricultural subsidies.

As always, when the rare move is made to remove special interests from the government teat, the initial consequences were bad for those who had grown used to relying on the government to keep them in business.

Property prices fell and farmers found themselves in a situation of negative equity.

So the banks, who had outstanding loans to the farmers, ran to government and shouted loudly that there was a crisis and if the government didn't bail them out everything would collapse and there'd be a disaster.

Unusually, the then New Zealand government said no, it's your problem, you sort it out.

And guess what? They did. They all of a sudden found the wherewithal to extend flexible repayment regimes, offer interest only options and the like and, within three years, property prices had recovered and the farmers on a stable and more sustainable economic footing. And all without the large amounts of taxpayers' money that the banks wanted the government to give to them.

Which in my view just begs the question - why do we make the same mistakes over and over again?

Via the Instapundit

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lights off! Brains off!

I see the annual festival especially designed for innumerate idiots is almost upon us again.

Still, if these morons could count they'd realise that their token energy saving gestures often produce more carbon dioxide than they save.

When asked to extinguish electricity, people turn to candlelight. Candles seem natural, but are almost 100 times less efficient than incandescent light globes, and more than 300 times less efficient than fluorescent lights. If you use one candle for each extinguished globe, you’re essentially not cutting CO2 at all, and with two candles you’ll emit more CO2. Moreover, candles produce indoor air pollution 10 to 100 times the level of pollution caused by all cars, industry and electricity production.

But still, there will be that smug warm inner glow of the morally superior that they'll carry with them for months afterwards ;)

And guess
what happened when last year's Earth Hour did so briefly reduce demand for power in the eastern states?

The more expensive, but cleaner and greener, generators were wound down and the cheaper, but dirtier, brown coal generators in Victoria cranked up.

Gotta laugh I suppose.

The Civil Heretic: A Profile of Freeman Dyson

One of the greatest minds of the last hundred years and, as his friend Oliver Sacks says, he still possesses a mind that is "so open and flexible."

One thing I like about Dyson is that he punctures our contemporary obsession with "qualifications". A man universally failed as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th Century, "infinitely smart" in another person's description, not only does not possess a PhD, he hasn't even got a bachelor of science degree.

His only qualification is a bachelor of arts.

He's also an anthropogenic climate change sceptic and this has led to completely predictable personal abuse being hurled his way. Though I find it interesting that one of the academics making snide comments about him because of this isn't a climate scientist, but rather a law professor.

It shows how the fashionable topic of climate change has been colonised and infested with all manner of non-scientific and pseudo-academic hangers on, all trying to get a piece of the action. There's an Australian university which has a climate change law centre!

If our universities have money to waste on such pointless and useless endeavours, then I really don't think we are getting value for the huge amounts of public money currently poured into them.

Anyhoo, here is the profile of Dyson by
The New York Times Magazine.