Alan Carlin, “Environmentalism Gone Mad”. A must read

In case people missed this link in a recent Roundup, and the reference to Carlin’s book that went with it, I read most of the book on the train to Melbourne and it is a stunning contribution to the climate science debate. He retired a few years ago and this book is the first fruits of that time spent out of the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Think about getting the book from the publisher because it comes with some extra stuff on a data stick.

He has a bundle of credentials that make him very hard to sideline. He took on first rate academic training in physical science (Caltech) and training in economics to PhD (MIT) with publications in both economics and climate/energy science. As a lifelong environmentalist (and active camper, hiker and white water rafter) he was in the Sierra Club in the 1960s as an activist and Chapter Chairman. He always thought that there could be win/win outcomes for the environment and economic development if scientific and economic analysis and good will came together at the negotiating table. He applied those principles in 39 years as a manager and senior analyst at EPA.

After the turn of the century (and the millennium) he began serious investigation of the idea that the release of carbon dioxide by modern civilization will lead to catastrophic global warming. He brought to bear his scientific knowledge, his skills in economic analysis and his decades of experience in the bureaucratic procedures of the EPA. In recent times he observed how the EPA (loaded with environmental activists) took up President Obama’s agenda to decarbonize (and impoverish) the US with an impending tsunami of regulations on CO2, ozone and any other emissions that might be controlled to hamstring energy intensive industries.

This is his account of his personal journey of discovery that concluded that the claims are based on invalid science and are being pushed by a far left wing conspiracy that tolerates no skepticism, that their solution will result in disastrous price increases and reduced reliability for electricity in the US, as it already has in Western Europe, and reductions in economic growth and living standards around the world, particularly for the less affluent.

One of his most telling criticisms of the alarmists is the way they do not practice the scientific method of rigorous testing (attempted falsification) of their hypothesis. As Richard Feynman explained, channeling Karl Popper, science works by guessing at a law, then deducing what you should be able to observe, then checking to see whether the expected actually happens. And if it does not happen, the guess is problematic or suspect and you need to rethink, refine, revise and re-test. In contrast, the climate alarmists practice “confirmation bias”, taking account of anything that appears to support their position but refusing to take seriously evidence that points the other way. That is most apparent in the response to the 18 year halt to warming and the way that the dozens of models used to predict ongoing warming have been clearly falsified but are still used to frighten the horses and the politicians and the gullible mass media.

The book has many strengths: his clear commitment to protecting the environment (in reasonable ways), his combination of qualifications in hard science and economics, his experienced at the sharp end of analysis and his intimate exposure to the ever-increasing unreality of the warming fundamentalists. Plus his wide-ranging knowledge of the full range of possible explanations of climate change, notably solar activity and several other influences apart from CO2 which much more adequately account for the modest variations in global temperature of recent times.

As he looks at the way the climate debate has gone, driven by tens of billions of dollars of government funds, fed to “normal” (opportunistic but docile and uncritical) climate scientists and passed on to the public by scientifically illiterate journalists in the mass media, he wonders whether this should be seen as a false alarm, a hoax or an outright scam of epic dimensions. Maybe a bit of all three.

Parting thoughts.

What the world needs is not decreased fossil fuel use but increased use with careful control of conventional pollutants using conventional controls where needed and justified. Conventional controls are much less expensive and much more certain to be effective than attempting to reduce fossil fuel use in order to reduce conventional pollution.

The much maligned carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, as EPA and Obama claim, but rather a basic input to plant photosynthesis and growth, which is the basis of life on Earth. Decreasing atmospheric CO2 levels would decrease plant productivity and therefore the food supply for the rest of the ecosystem and humans, and vice versa. Further, attempts to reduce it will prove enormously expensive, futile, harmful to human welfare, and in the longer run, to environmental improvement. It is now increasingly evident that efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by governmental coercion will have important non-environmental adverse effects in terms of loss of freedom of scientific inquiry, economic growth and development, and the rule of law.

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7 Responses to Alan Carlin, “Environmentalism Gone Mad”. A must read

  1. Blogstrop

    That is most apparent in the response to the 18 year halt to warming and the way that the dozens of models used to predict ongoing warming have been clearly falsified but are still used to frighten the horses and the politicians and the gullible mass media.

    The mass media are not all simply gullible. They are often ego driven power freaks that have to be stopped.

  2. 132andBush

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.
    Yet in holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.[1]

    A quote from Eisenhowers’ farewell speech.

  3. Diogenes

    Over on the Register Tim Worstall is plugging his new book “The No Breakfast Fallacy” attacking the Greens & Club of Rome as well.

    Given the article and explanations he gives commenters it looks like it will be a cracking read. Its downloaded only awaiting the end of writing reports (20 more to go whoohoo) to be cracked open.

    Worstall @ the Weekend The scene is an early morning current affairs radio show. Very important people talk to the nation here.

    John Humphrys (for it is he): Mr. Worstall, why is it that your new report shows that soon all will be dead?

    Worstall: John, it’s 7am. Currently there is food in the fridges of the nation for breakfast. But in two hours time that will be eaten, gone, there will be no more. Therefore, everyone will die because NO BREAKFAST.

    Humphrys: Sorry, might I just rerecord that?

    Worstall: Mineral reserves are disappearing at an alarming rate. Official figures show that within 30 years most of them will be used up and there are no more reserves. Industrial civilisation will crash, billions die, because NO MINERALS

    In that first instance we would agree with the nutter Worstall: eating breakfast does mean no breakfast in the fridge. We’d also agree that we understand that there is a vast industry dedicated solely to replenishing that breakfast before 7am tomorrow.

    The second explanation of why we’re all going to die will get you a book contract, vast wealth and if you’re lucky, a Fellowship of the Royal Society. For no one really seems to understand what a mineral reserve is, nor what it is that a lot of the mining industry actually does. A mineral reserve is a lot closer to that fridge than it is to any other part of the preparation chain.

    I love one of the comments ,from an “Anonymous Coward” no less ….

    But this is perhaps a conflict of interests. Psuedo-environmentalists/economists like Stern tell use we’re running out of resources. So we have to act now and waste resources building low-density power systems like wind and solar. Which use those ‘rare’ earths we’re running out of. Which doesn’t seem to make much sense, but that’s the Greens for you.

  4. Rabz

    He has a bundle of credentials that make him very hard to sideline.

    Nonsense. He’s obviously an evil big oil shill who disputes the link between smoking and CANCER and no doubt thinks the moon landings were faked.

    All these denialists are the same – big denying deniers of the 97% settled science, I tells ya!

  5. Boambee John

    Two points:

    First, Carlin’s qualifications and experience at the EPA are now irrelevant, because he has embraced heresy and is now a DENIER!

    Second, it always was, and remains, about money and power. Look at the wealth of Gore, Suzuki, Flummery, Deben et al, all millionaires or more from their “environmental” work. Look at the petty Fascists of the Greens, who wish to control every element of the lives of others.

  6. Since temps, sea levels and Arctic ice have been up and down like Berlusconi’s trousers right through the Holocene – and everyone accepted this large fact not that long ago – I’m guessing we can live with some warming even if it gets to the levels of six thousand years back. We might even handle a sharp colding like 2200 BC, though Id’ rather not. (Before we go stabilising, someone please let us know if they find that decade or century when climate was “stable”.)

    As for running out of stuff, Bismarck made a crack about suiciding for fear of death. Even if things were “peaking” as claimed, there would be no reason to stop using them. However, we seem to be living in a world awash in gas and oil, with centuries of coal, at a time of crumbling cartels. Why not use these resources thriftily (upgrade/modernise Australian coal power gen, duh) and let the producers fight for share of a very mixed market?

    De Beers talked everyone into believing that their shiny rocks were precious. OPEC controlled energy supply and we let them, even rioting against nukes and hydro in the 1980s. Now Big Green wants to tell us that our centuries’ supply of premium coal is not only naughty but can’t be “renewed”. Hey, try renewing a wind farm once the enthusiasm and sympathy money dwindles.

    Why do we get caught up in these resource bun-rushes? Check out that Sydney-Gunnedah-Bowen Basin. Who wouldn’t want a back yard like ours? Yet our electricity costs are at industry-hostile levels. Huh?

  7. Pete of Freo

    “… the climate alarmists practice “confirmation bias”, taking account of anything that appears to support their position but refusing to take seriously evidence that points the other way.”
    Why would anyone be surprised by this, all of these “scientists” have been through high school science in which they are taught that Evolution, whose true believers have always practiced “confirmation bias”, taking account of anything that appears to support their position but refusing to take seriously evidence that points the other way.

    Remove the Divine and everything, including “science” (one of the jewels of Western Culture) becomes Relativistic.

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