The Week Ahead – Australia Facing 50+ degrees C

[From ABC News]

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Boom and Bust: The Bigger the Boom, the bigger the BOOM

I’ve been saying this for some time now. Australia, as well known, is a boom and bust cycle country. It isn’t alone with this cycle either.

As we venture further into an unmanaged Anthropocene (as I truly believe we will need to shift from the illusion of stewards to outright engineers) these cycles are likely to become more pronounced. That is, bigger wets and harder dries.

The wets however provide the biggest threats for our more dangerous periods.

We have just had two exceptionally wet years and not only has our primary food industry enjoyed it, so too has our native and invasive flora… and then the next dry period came alone. Like all well adapted species, this wild flora did what it could only do; cut its overheads and downsize, that is, die back. This leads to fuel.

I’m unconvinced that the future will be unliveable; we will acknowledge our role to date already as geo-engineers and will take corrective or at the very least “band-aid” measures to persist. A large part of this will be the need to recognise the full meaning of the “boom” period.

It spells fuel for the next dry period. It also spells mass carbon movement from locked biological banks to happy go lucky free agents out to blanket our atmosphere just that little bit more.

Carbon is plant food, as Lord Monckton and his fellows may say, but they ignored the other side of the story and right now, south eastern Australia is feeling it first hand.

ABC has a link to an up-to-date map of fires across NSW for anyone who may be interest or could make use of it.

The Road to Business as Usual! Are we Doomed to Watch?

In the recent article, CO2 emissions rises mean dangerous climate change now almost certain, the Guardian highlights the growing scientific concern that business as usual is being business as usual, leading us down that cliché nightmarish fork in the road; the higher estimates in the climate models, which will present future generations with a world as different from today as today is from the previous Ice Age.

To me, it points out nothing more than a turning point; where human physical capacity supersedes the natural range of the human mental capacity. That is to say, we can create more damage in space and time than we are able to comprehend. We can reasonably perceive the turn of events from smacking someone else in the face, but (as I know firsthand) we cannot perceive adequately the results of pouring PVC into the backyard of our operations, over-fertilising our agricultural land or, more close at hand, the long reaching impact from desiring a standard of living intimately entwined to greenhouse gas emissions.

There is some truth in the old saying, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” however, this is not a good analogy for the situation at hand, where one could say, “an fruit in hand is not worth five on the bush.”

It’s a concept that requires no deep powers of reasoning. It requires no philosophy. Even caterpillars and ants have worked it out.

Many caterpillar and ant species developed a mutualistic symbiosis where the caterpillar provides sugary syrup in exchange for ant security. The relationship is an ongoing one that provides new avenues for food access to the ants and reduced mortality for the caterpillar.

If the ants were like us, they would first attempt to farm the caterpillars to produce more syrup. Over time, the holding capacity for the caterpillars would have been reached and to continue this growth, the ant would need to turn to the protein provided by the caterpillars themselves, thereby reducing the overall return; degrading the wealth creator.

As always is the case, these additional resources went to increasing the population of ants; thus they are locked into such a high level of resource pressure – even as they watch it degrade.

However, it is absurd to think of ants in this way. Equally, it ought to be as absurd that our species would fashion wealth creating models on such methodologies. We tend to favour wealth we have at hand –the bird for instance – over wealth we have less security over – the birds in the bush, ready to fly away.

There is evolutionary justification for this bias, just as there is for many human behaviours nowadays deemed immoral (such as many base emotions).

Yet, where on Earth is a bird going to escape from our species? Even if it could escape to space, would it be free from us? The answer should be obvious; as long as the resource exists, it is either in our current capacity to obtain it or our reasoning to develop future methodologies to obtain it. Resource insecurity thus now only exists where resource degradation occurs.

Further, there is something in the first part of the hypothetical story I created for the ants. We are capable of cultivating the entire globe (yes, even the poles and harshest deserts). We can maximise productivity, just as long as we start and end with biophilia – that is, with resource exchange with ecosystems (current or engineered). Just as stated in the previous paragraph; our ingenuity removes resource insecurity where resource management is appropriate.

With high greenhouse gas emissions something that we are locked into for perhaps decades or more (even if we made aggressive measures to reduce them, which, it should be clear, we won’t), we must seriously contemplate harvesting atmospheric carbon instead. The most practical (and cheapest) option to achieve this is; let the plants do it. Photosynthesis stores carbon as energy. Without a doubt, this is the most logical method through which we can sink carbon and provide useful by-products. GM may even help us improve the rate of conversion if we are game enough to answer this pressing question of how we can realistically avoid 4 °C of warming.

However, the second problem of the hypothetical ant story is our reality; we are at a point where human activity has, firstly, encouraged us to secure more resources and secondly grow more numerous; so much so, we seem to be idly watching the slow decline of real wealth – the fruit on the bush.

This pressure of growing size and per capita consumption leaves us with my opening observation; our physical capacity is larger than our ability to comprehend it.

Whether it is climate change, as the Guardian article comments, biodiversity loss (and others), as noted by Rockström et al. (2009) or our inability to efficiently manage precious fresh water resources as I’ve mentioned previously, we demonstrate this fact with resounding monotony.

We are not capable of fair (or even realistic) judgement of risk on a scale that covers environmental governance. Economic discounting the future is philosophy of this principle.

For this reason, we cannot rely on our internal capacities, such as common sense. The human experience breaks down on such matters as it does geological time and in the realms of quantum physics. Global negotiations are inherently flawed and doomed to fail.

That does not mean that we must venture down this fork of business as usual. I have hinted throughout of the alternative; innovation. We must concisely outline universal objectives (such as a floor above which all members of a species must be maintained), how much resources are required for such objectives and methodologies to ensure such resources exist into the indefinite future.

To achieve the latter, I suspect we will need to change our minds and finally develop ethics that can incorporate geological and biological engineering. There should not be a problem with such techniques if they result in maximising prosperity of the flourishing of life – not simply our species. We would prefer an energetic thriving globe over a wasteland, but our current attitude to wealth paralyses us into disbelief as wealth slips away through our fingers.

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The Human Island has been revised!

In the lead up to the release of two more ebooks, I decided to revisit The Human Island as I was more or less happy with it, except that it did suffer from some grammatical errors and difficult wording. It helps also, because both new books will follow on from the basis I constructed within The Human Island.

For those new to New Anthro, The Human Island explores that very fact; islandisation of our species from ecological services so fundamental for the wealth of our species. Ecosystems trade material and energy. We exclude ecosystems and geological process only to do it at an increased expense. We would be immensely wealthier if we better integrated broader life to human activity. It’s that simple.

Some of it has been reworded, extended or reduced and I’m a lot happier with it now. With any luck I can convince my readers to get a free copy of it from Google Books to place on their readers or hold on their hard drives to read over at their leisure. It is formatted to suit readers. The following books will most likely also be available on the Google Books store and on Kobo, but more on that in the near future!

Why Weighing Hurricane Sandy Against Climate Change is a Waste of Time

While I’ve not looked into it, I doubt I’m one of the few commentators focused on our future, climate change and business as usual whom avoided talking about Hurricane Sandy in relation to climate change. The reason being that I’m sick of the argument.

Having discussed the wild fires across the globe, freak snow storms, flooding and Yasi in the past, it is painfully obvious that denial is so brazened that it will laugh in the face of disaster to avoid a sudden reflection on risk management. If such events are to become more common, more intense or both, one is naturally drawn to undertake a valid risk assessment and the need to adapt and/or mitigate.

Of course, that would also mean acknowledging climate change to be real and by sheer logical reasoning, all alternatives to a major anthropogenic driving forces would need to be eliminated… One simply must accept that a growth economy that is bound explicitly to greenhouse gas emissions is not only detrimental to our resource supply, it is quite frankly inhumane.

This flies in the face of the theocracy of neo-liberal “free” markets, which effectively makes gluttonous individualism virtuous by renaming it “freedom”. The Orwellian “some are more equal than others” designed to criticise communism has a kindred spirit within modern capitalism that runs along the lines of, “some freedom is more free than others”.

Freedom is necessarily limited. One is only as free as long as they do not infringe on the freedom of others, or so one of the founding mantra’s of the US reads. Disparity being what it is in the US, Australia, the UK and many other “democratic” countries demonstrates a clear infringement to realistic personal freedom, as well as personal health, safety and education (see Wilkinson and Pickett, 2010, The Spirit Level or The Equality Trust).

We seem unable to acknowledge a clear subversion that has developed over the past fifty years within many democratic societies in the name of mindless resource acquisition and accelerating wasting that has occurred within our own homes and working environments. So how on Earth can we expect the most devout to acknowledge more abstract ideas, such as the importance of a few degrees change in the global climate or changes to weather cycles or a step further; how unusually good the Holocene was to our species and the uncharted climates we are now blindly heading into?

In addressing the abstract, we miss the obvious. The obvious is that we still have tyrants exploiting the masses, but instead of being kings, dictators and priests demanding divine rights to excess, it is the quieter quarters within the corporate world where, for the most part, democracy plays little role (choice is left to a select, privileged few – again, refer to The Spirit Level) and the virtue they apply is “freedom”.

Until we can make headway on this insidious behaviour, talking about weather events will have little effect.

Is there a Reasonable Mind in the Debate?

Anyone who engages on the non-debate over such subjects as anthropogenic climate change, evolution and vaccination hears, from “both sides” (I hate the term – but it accurately portrays such events for what they are; sport for entertainment) the assertion “reasonable mind” or “rational mind”.

Everyone insists they have reached their conclusions by reasonably and rationally reviewing the available data. The obvious flaw here is that some sort of debate persists, so someone must have reached their conclusions less reasonably and less rationally.

So what is it to be reasonably minded?

The Jo Nova’s of the world would insist they are being reasonably minded because they ask questions. The Donna Laframboise’s would think so because they employ free speech on the subject of committed scepticism. Of course, asking questions is not enough, nor is receiving the answers, as I’ve written with Jo Nova’s obvious lack of understanding of science. Likewise one can dispel the free speech argument by simply referring the Westboro Baptist Church (having an opinion and voicing that opinion doesn’t make that opinion sound or, in many cases, even ethical), but I’ve done a lot more on that subject in this piece and the referenced links.

Perhaps, as I hear often, it’s about being open-minded. Maybe I’m close-minded to what might possibly be true…

This sounds appealing and indeed logical. Science after all proceeds by great minds thinking, “what if…” and testing outside of the box. Are we right to thus reject anything, because, for all we know, it might possibly be true.

This is a favourite of the religiously bent individual which allows for the god-of-gaps. It fails, again, to understand the science method. We need to make three simple assumptions; 1) we exist, 2) the universe is bound by certain rules/laws, and 3) we can learn about the universe by discovering these rules/laws.

With this in mind, no-one can seriously suggest that, perhaps the Earth is really flat or that gravity isn’t really a constant law of attraction (ie. changing unpredictably). It’s not close minded to reject such hypotheses without wasting time on investigating them in depth (and at great expense), but reasonably minded to accept that the body of work is largely done and dusted on these matters and, if anything, it’s in a stage of fine turning (eg. the Earth isn’t a perfect globe, but more pear shaped and there is still a lot of work in understanding the force of gravity).

We also know about the misadventures of Mr. Credulous.

The great appeal for others to be reasonably/rationally minded quickly becomes, with only a general review, a complex matter from this perspective.

However, I don’t really think such appeals are anything about a methodical and critical review process, as the ego of such people suggests it is, but rather one hooked on personal values which filter acceptable data.

Listening to such discussions, it’s clear that the “debate” is really one over where the individual deems the appropriate height for the bar of possibility. A creationist, to render their ideology plausible, requires the bar to be set low, for instance, appealing to the mentioned “all things are possible” mantra. A committed climate sceptic probably has the bar a little higher – sensible on most subjects but low enough so that if they cannot understand the science in its entirety and if there isn’t universal agreement on every little detail, well then the jury is out on the subject and we can get on with business as usual. Even higher still perhaps (but unlikely from my experience) could be the bar for the anti-vax individual; it needs to be low enough just so that hear-say and YouTube videos render their objections sensible.

If others refuse to set the bar at the required height, they must be closed minded, not (what is really the case) that the quality of the data isn’t of the quality required to make the bar.

A lot of what my writing these few years has been on addressing these short comings. The links provided above to posts on the likes of Jo Nova and Donna Laframboise are about me looking at their claims and the “ergo…” conclusions drawn and finding the original position either false or irrelevant, which strips away the foundations to their conclusions.

It’s an unpopular approach because it doesn’t engage – for the blood thirsty trolls – but only exposes genuine shortcomings. It also taps into personal values which is most easily ignored by characterising me as close minded.

So what is it, in my opinion, to be reasonably/rationally minded?

First and foremost, it requires one to understand critical review and investigation. One needs to understand the scientific method and review the actual study articles, perhaps some of their underpinning studies as well as relevant review papers. It’s not glamorous nor is it as easy as reading a post on WUWT or Jo Nova and parroting that off anywhere that will let you.

Secondly, one needs to remove emotional ties to desired conclusions. By doing so, one is often more easily able to take the next step and change one’s mind after critical review of the available data. Two personal examples I offer are my views regarding invasive species and religion (separate, below).

Many of the debates we encounter are nothing more than emotionally fuelled beliefs in how the world ought to be – or is perceived to be doing us harm. God loves us. Hidden bankers are out to take over the world. The “environmental movement” is nothing more than a thinly veiled socialism uprising. Governments are always trying to find ways to undermine rights of the individual. Reasonable parental love and care coerced  into illogical fears propagated by anger/upset individuals whom have latched on to anything rather than the truth (ie. “we’re just starting to understand autism, but it shows no relationship to vaccination”) message of science.

In each and every debate we encounter on such topics, we find such beliefs entwined intimately with them. For instance, no committed climate sceptic has discussed the validity of their conclusions without including conspiracies involving the government, secret agents or devious scientists (all without a shred of evidence). Why is that? It’s because their argument cannot be justified or explained without such conspiracies. There’s no point for it.

Remember this the next time you find yourself in such a debate. You cannot win, nor are you likely to alter the position of the other – you both are likely to have the bar set at a different height. Who is really reasonable and rational? That’s open to later reflection.

Just save yourself the effort, as you would on a troll insisting on a flat earth.

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In the case of the former, I chose my degree (and hoped-for career path) based around a deep love for the environment through which I hiked and explored. I have come to understand that it is not always feasible – indeed sometimes impossible – to remove invasive species and in a few cases, such species provide valuable services to the surrounding ecosystem. In the latter case, I was raised a Lutheran. In my teenage years, I began to question the validity of the stories I had grown up with. I started to discover how the fundamental points of the doctrine (most notably, the book of Genesis) just didn’t match the facts known about the world, thus muting the rest of the doctrine. I also discovered vast amounts of the good book, that had previously been overlooked in Sunday school etc, to be immoral. After researching a number of other faiths, I had to conclude that none represented any verifiable truth. I became a non-theist (not an Atheist, who I see to hold a religious stance, albeit negative; my position is more like zero – it’s a nonissue) which had many of its own hurdles to overcome (ie. rationalising death, morality, meaning etc).

 

 

 

Media Can be Held Accountable on Misinformation

Here’s a couple interesting events of late…

Australia’s channel 7 network has recently been found guilty of violating the broadcasting code for racist vilification. A little persistent and dedicated pressure lead to this corrective outcome.

On the other hand, little to zilch is done to correct what the Union of Concerned Scientists demonstrates to be a deliberate act of distorting public perception of what has grave potential to undermine the prosperity and well-being of future generations by News Corp. (see the report here). Finding that over 90% of the media for the first half of this this year from Fox News Channel which addresses climate change is misleading should set some alarm bells off. Instead we have business as usual, fuelling ignorance and political paralysis against sound risk management.

Media is supposed to be where sound bipartisan information is presented fairly to the mass audience. This is fundamental for democratic societies in which the lay audience depends almost exclusively on such media to inform their involvement in governance of their state (ie. through voting). Wilful undermining this process to misinform, confuse and warp public opinion to deliberately favour a political ideology (in lieu of compelling contrary evidence) should be seen as one of the greatest disgraces to “free” states.

This is not in contradiction to my previous post on free speech. Let the droning Bolts and old wind bag Jones’s speak on whatever topics such grumpy men wish to – just put it in context. It’s not informed. It’s often not sensible. But it’s opinion and that’s fine. Fair media would allow whoever to say whatever (within context of the various codes of conduct), but credit the authority of such on the empirical evidence that supplies the underlying reasoning.

Donna Laframboise: How to Avoid the Argument

It’s been a while, so I figured I’d see how the charming Donna Laframboise has been going of late. To my surprise, she had recently made it downunder to market her new book. She has a video up of her presentation to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), an organisation described by McKewon (2012) as a “neoliberal think tank and high-profile news source that rejects the evidence of anthropogenic climate change and opposes mitigation strategies such as an ETS”. In the same article, McKewon (2012) defines neoliberal think tanks as “keeping with the interests of the economic elites who fund them, neoliberal think tanks promote core values of the political Right – free market capitalism, anti-socialism, privatisation, small government and deregulation…”

You get the picture. With the wonderful work the IPA did for Plimer’s 2009 book, Heaven and Earth: global warming – the missing science (McKewon 2012), Laframboise rightly should have been appreciative of their interest in her book.

You must watch the presentation;

It seems the book took a different turn than what I had been expecting from her hype in the lead up. I was hoping for more of a religious zeal to be waxed over the IPCC and any individual who comes to the same conclusions. I was disappointed by the mundane summary provided.

To summarise what I took aware from the presentation above;

    1. Most professional bodies speak highly of the professionalism of the IPCC authorship
    2. Authors didn’t turn out to be the cream of the crop in the field of their chapter
    3. Indeed some authors seemed to have been selected for political grounds rather than due to science background
    4. Professional activists co-authored the IPCC reports (some of which are associated with rich green activist groups)
    5. The World Wild Fund for nature recruited many of these authors for its own panel on climate change
    6. The WWF “has an interest in affecting the very questions [the IPCC] were supposed to be examining”.
    7. Thus authors throughout the chapters were affiliated with the WWF.
    8. The IPCC has no consequences for disobeying governing regulations/rules; “It’s like putting up a speed limit. But if there’s no police officers enforcing that speed limit, what do you suppose is going to happen?”
    9. All of the above taken into account and that no scientist has public stated the above is contrary to what the IPCC has said about itself – what else has the public been misled about?
    10. Thus, the IPCC isn’t trustworthy or reliable and we need our heads examined if we are to trust its opinion on something as complicated as climate change.

Please point out if I’ve missed something.

Now, the questions that continued to repeat within me were as I watched the presentation were; what has this got to the material that was peer reviewed within the reports? What has this got to do with the peer reviewed literature more broadly that removes all doubt of the role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas and a vast amount of the uncertainty in what we can expect from doubling CO2 concentrations above pre-industrial limits?

I suspect, not a lot.

Maybe the internal configurations of the IPCC could learn a thing or two from Laframboise’s book, however this doesn’t change the fact that audits of the 4th report found that it was above board (albeit, with a few mistake – such as the heavily inflated “Glaciergate”).

I’m not sure as to why a committed sceptic would make much of her book. To think its status undermines the genuine science of climate change is to be fooled by the Heartland’s despicable billboard campaign. Someone un(der)qualified or undesirable believes climate change is real and due to our actions, thus the science is flawed!

No it isn’t.

Instead, the creator has presented nothing more than guilt by association. I don’t care who is telling me that gravity acts as a constant acceleration, the evidence is compelling. You could have a debate between a serial killer insisting that the human eye is an imperfect result of evolution and the love of my life insisting rather that it’s the perfect example of divine creation and I’m sorry, but as detestable the character is, I’d have to agree with the former on this single point, regardless of their other failings.

Evidence cannot be characterise into or out from a valid conclusion. It’s that simple.

Funny how she should take such a route when, on her own website, she has a page of Smart People Who Beg to Differ (one of which, Fred Singer, was brave and accurate in also begging to differ on the subject of smoking causing cancer and CFC’s role in the depletion of the Ozone layer… oh wait). Admittedly she mentions that these characters are not infallible, but urges us to consider their arguments before making up our minds… If this isn’t a direct contradiction to the book where she seems to avoid the argument completely and instead focus on the author’s value as an expert in the field of climatology, I don’t know what is!

Lastly it’s also noteworthy that Donna has a little chuckle about “consensus”. As McKewon (2012) states, “As neoliberal think tanks are not academic or scientific organisations, their strategy for neutralising the consensus in a number of scientific fields has often involved recruiting contrarian scientists (often not experts in the relevant field) who are willing to undermine the scientific consensus in interviews with the media; this creates the impression of a genuine “scientific debate” while legitimising attacks on authoritative scientific research…”

Of course, time and time again I quote Dr Nurse, “Consensus can be used like a dirty word. Consensus is actually the position of the experts at the time and if it’s working well – it doesn’t always work well – but if it’s working well, they evaluate the evidence. You make your reputation in science by actually overturning that, so there’s a lot of pressure to do it. But if over the years the consensus doesn’t move you have to wonder is the argument, is the evidence against the consensus good enough.”

Another day, the same old spin!

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For more on Donna, check out Donna Laframboise and cloud screaming and the links there in.

Elitism: the Ivory Tower and Mann on a Gold Plated Jet-ski

Musing further on my previous post, I’m drawn back again and again to the term (which I subjected to a footnote) “elitist”.

It’s a term we’re all too aware of; thrown like mud from the committed sceptical community. “Woe! How the elitist scientific community doth rent-seek at the expense of the common person and true scientific endeavour!”

We’ve all heard the claims about elitist scientists sitting loftily in ivory towers, too giddy with their privileged position to be aware of the terrible burden they place on the community that supports them. Of course, all this rhetoric is done without evidence or citation. We are simply expected to believe they pocket grant money and produce dodgy studies to perpetuate additional revenue.

It seems incredible that the global academic community is oblivious to such broadscale behaviour when falsehood of this nature should be fairly easy to detect. Why do we have no equivalent sites to Exxon Secrets to point out Michael Mann’s five sports cars and supersized home (oh, don’t forget that fur coat he’s always strutting in) or similar from the other “elitist” climate researcher?

That’s simple to answer: because it’s a myth.

Again, Tim Minchin’s works ring loud and clear, “Science adjusts its views based on what’s observed. Faith is the denial of observation, so that belief can be preserved.”

It requires a suspension of higher faculties to maintain such an illusion.

Moreover, what does the term,” Elitist”, set on a hair trigger, actually mean?

Here’s some of the terms I found online;

“considered superior by others or by themselves, as in intellect, talent, power, weather, or position in society: elitist country clubbers who have theirs and don’t care about anybody else.” (from Dictionary.com)

“the belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.” (from the freedictionary.com)

“the belief that a society or system should be led by an elite: local government in the nineteenth century was the very essence of elitism” (from the online Oxford Dictionaries)

“the belief or attitude that some individuals, who form an elite — a select group of people with a certain ancestry, intrinsic quality or worth, higher intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight; whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or whose extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom render them especially fit to govern.” (from Wikipedia)

Wikipedia go on to summarise it further with;

“The term elitism, or the title elitist, are sometimes used by people who are (or claim to be) not a member of an elite organization. In politics, the terms are often used to describe people as being out of touch with the Average Joe. The implication is that the alleged elitist person or group thinks they are better than everyone else; and, therefore, put themselves before others. It could be seen as a synonym for snob. An elitist is not always seen as truly elite, but only privileged.”

It’s noteworthy that Wikipedia also rightly place Egalitarianism as contrary to Elitism – which is yet another panicked cry from the committed sceptic. “They’re planning to siphon money from the rich west to poor countries…” Go figure.

Basically, elitism is the belief in being better than others and using this belief to justify a desire to govern others. At first, it’s a far cry from the lofty ivory towers, wealth, sports cars and trophy wives that come to mind when one hears in media the nauseating “elitist” lament, yet it does deserve discussion.

It isn’t, after all, a far leap (of faith?) to conclude the suggestive measures to reduce the potential impact of climate change can be taken as being told what to do. However, the facts don’t line up with the delusion.

Have evil climate scientists learnt a trick or two from Palpatine of Star War? Dun dun da!

For instance, there has been committed effort to inform the wider global community of the potential ramifications of modifying concentrations of greenhouse gases longer than I’ve been alive, but trends in CO2 emissions have only increased over this time. Also, I must have overlooked the likes of Michael Mann or James Hansen bid for the presidential seat or papers that conclude that supreme power should be overturned to them until the crisis is over (not unlike Palpatine)… Hardly rich, powerful men are they?

The only way such a scenario makes sense is in the same way various medical bodies suggest a healthy lifestyle (ie. smoke-free, lean diet and exercise) is beneficial to us, which in turn results in various governing bodies utilising such evidence laden suggestions to curb incidence of avoidable tobacco and obesity related illness and death.

Do we hear similar claims over “elitist” doctors and medical bodies telling us what we can and can’t eat, drink and smoke through a manipulation of government? You bet we do, but we rightly identify such people as crackpots. Why should committed climate sceptics deserve anything but similar notoriety?

The only definition for “elite” that I found fitting was; “The best or most skilled members of a group” (from freedictionary.com)

Billy Connolly said it best, “If you wanted to know how to build a ship, you wouldn’t ask a marshmallow maker.”

In a similar fashion, if I had a faulty heart, I’d consult a cardiologist, not my barber. In fact, I’d hope to consult a damn good cardiologist – one with years of experience and an excellent track record – and not just some recent graduate. Likewise I would consult a mechanic about my car over a carpenter or climatologist or a meteorologist about climate change over a geologist, journalist, weatherman or a classic’s major.

Specialisation is an important function of our complex societies. It’s impossible for anyone to be an expert on everything, thus we all formulate our own skills package that allow us to function within a society that benefits from this diversity of skills. Some of us become elite in a narrow field of expertise. That’s how we have rovers undertaking sophisticate surveys on other worlds, keyhole surgery, nanotechnology and whatever else you care to mention from the modern era.

Some scientists in a given field are elite, but not elitist. Some scientists are clearly elitist as well – I could suggest a few who pretend to be experts in fields outside their area of research or others who explicitly state their work is “a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.”

Relying on a hereditary peer title as authority on matters one has never really studied could also been seen as elitist in that it uses a “belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect [or] social status.”

In truth, the Ivory tower does exist as well as elitists. However, the term has been applied without evidence to individuals whose investigations of the natural world have led them to uncomfortable conclusions. The term has been used by individuals and think tanks who are clearly not sophisticated enough to present a valid case against the standing body of evidence. If anything, I suggest sideshows of this nature only expose the obvious fact that there is no valid case against anthropogenic climate change.

If there was, there are an abundance of committed sceptical outlets, online, in print and on screen as well as significant political paralysis allowing such information to become common knowledge. There is nothing to stop the “final nail in the coffin of anthropogenic climate change”. But for all the hype, slander and puppetry, a valid contrary case remains elusive. I’m fairly confident none will ever be forthcoming (however, I’d be grateful if it was).