Sunday, October 08, 2006

St Frank and the Rainforest

I have long suspected that Frank Field is a saint. Now I know he is. This is his simple and brilliant scheme to protect the rainforests. Sign up. I have. There's an email - - or go to this site.


  1. At the risk of having hundreds of the faithful dragging me out into the street and publicly burning me, I venture to say I don't believe in man-made global warming. The current obsession with it and the huge number of high profile recent converts makes me even more sceptical. The belief is, in my view, based broadly on two things and have their origins in hubris:

    The first is based on a terror of death, which induces a kind of collective hysteria, which permeates people's psyche in modern western countries; they can't believe that if they're going to die (which is hard enough for them to accept anyway) then the world will carry on without them.

    And the second is a primitive kind of millenarianism. A sort of wishing away their material good fortune - perhaps because deep down it doesn't mean anything much to most people to have traded their spiritual beliefs for material benefits. [I've perhaps compressed this too much for it to make full sense].

    Above all, assuming hypothetically, that global warming does exist, to believe that we (individually or collectively) can do something about it is deeply irrational and flows from the same hubris as the original doctrine.

    Another aspect of it that disquiets me is that the articles of faith depend on a high priesthood of men with superior and arcane knowledge and insight for their formulation and promulgation (scientists). We lesser mortals can see none of the indicators that they tell us are visible signs of truth. They tell us that sea levels are rising, but it hasn't happened where I live, nor is London flooding, as predicted. It's true that there have been earthquakes and tidal waves in recent years, but there have always been these things; the difference is that now, rather as Christians would interpret any act which seems to defy the laws of physics as a miracle, the global warmists seize on any unusually violent act of nature as proof of their faith.

    But the world is governed by laws of necessity - waves, no matter how big they get, never get so big that they overwhelm continents - everything is kept in check by the laws which govern the operation of the universe. If these laws cease to operate the universe will come to an end. And it's the astonishing hubris of modern man that leads him to believe that even though he didn't create the world and doesn't know how it was created (as opposed to theories) that he can have an effect on the way it works and above all that it's up to him to keep it working.

  2. I wouldn't dream of burning you, Philip, and, oddly enough, I share your views about the historical/cultural roots of such theories. This, however, does not mean they are not true. I happen to think the current evidence makes it profoundly irrational to think anthropogenic global warming is not happening. Strangely, your view that about our assumption that we can do anything about is hubristic is shared by super-green James Lovelock. He now thinkswe can't save the planet, we never could.

  3. What exactly is the current evidence for global warming you refer to, Bryan?
    And where can I see its effects?

    I read somewhere that a huge percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (85-90%) comes from the oceans and man-made emissions account for a tiny percentage of any increase.

    My point is that we lesser beings have no way of knowing whether the 'scientists' are right - because we're not scientists - and there is no empirical or visual evidence that we can rely on. That's one of the reasons I am so suspicious.

  4. Oh, and I should have said that it doesn't mean they are true either. Surely it's more likely that the theories are untrue if you can come up with a reason explaining why they are held to be true which doesn't depend on their truth for people to believe them. If you see what I mean.

  5. Philip,
    I am very sympathetic to the style of your thinking. Indeed, in 1992 I wrote a book on these lines, Understanding the Present. In the case of global warming - and I am no scientist but I have spoken to the best and the sanest in this area - over the past 600,000 years rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide have coincided precisely with interglacial periods - ie the warmest periods. There seems to have been a corrective mechanism whereby CO2 levels never rose above a certain level. As we started to burn fossil fuels on a large scale from the eighteenth century onwards, CO2 levels rose. This could have been assumed to be cyclical. But now CO2 levels have overshot by a substantial margin the highest levels we have ever been able to establish and they seem to be rising exponentially. This is close to being a 100 per cent consensus among scientists. There has been some dispute about whether it is caused by human activity, but that has largely faded as the evidence now seems to be overwhelming. The main dispute is how serious this is, not that it is happening. This too has changed recently to a widespread conviction that it is serious, very. Atmospheric science is very complex so it is hard to predict what will happen. Maybe just a few little things like the 2004 European heatwave that killed 30,000 or some big things like the breakdown of the ocean current system. That some big things will happen at some point, probably within the next 30 -100 years is not disputed. On a personal note, I am disgusted by the idea of human greed destroying something as wild and extraordinary as the rainforest.
    You can see its effects if you go to the rapidly vanishing Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica or the lower lying islands in the Pacific. Also the ferocity of Caribbean hurricanes is caused by warmer waters - some say no, bit I honestly cannot see why. Read James Lovelock. He may be overly pessimistic but he is an artist as well as a scientist and a friend whom I trust.

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  7. Bryan,
    I've got your book and have read it, although I can't lay my hand on it at present and I can't remember what you said in it.

    You don't answer the question I pose, namely what evidence can I see that proves the scientists are right. Up to now nothing appears to have changed in the natural world that I can observe in Europe - I can't speak for the rest of the world, because I don't have the opportunity to observe it as closely as I do Western Europe. The sea doesn't appear to come any higher and although we've had a hottish dryish summer - up to August anyway - the recent rain has balanced it out. I suggest that there is nothing we in England can see which would give us to believe there is such a thing as global warming, or if there is that is having any deleterious effect.

    It must follow threfore that we have to rely on the dogma of 'scientists' and our 'common sense' belief that we can't burn all these fossil fuels without there being adverse consequences. But there might be no such consequences. As I say, I certainly can't see any.

    I have the strong suspicion that the 'research' has followed the usual pattern of scientific research that someone comes up with a theory and the research is then directed towards proving it. How else can you do research? You can't fish around with no purpose and hope to stumble upon something interesting or significant. So, until I see with my own eyes, or hear from some disinterested source, something that proves that global warming is happening and it is having an effect, I do not accept what I'm told to believe.

    I am entirely with you in deploring human wickedness - greed in particular, which causes the destruction of rainforest or any other natural beauty - but to connect that particular aspect of human badness with global warming is not rational and, with great respect, tends to prove my point that whether or not you accept the dogma is a question of faith and is perhaps tied up with a puritanical view of human nature that recognises the inherent badness at the core of human beings, but takes a Pelagian view (it would do it's Anglo-Saxon) that we can and must save ourselves by our own efforts. The Protestant Reformation is being worked out in the new faith of Ecominism (forgive the weak joke).

    I'm willing to be converted, but you haven't given me any reason to accept that you're right. I think it's really based on an attitude to life which I just don't go along with; and between the globalwarmists and me there is a great gulf fixed which neither of us can cross.

    Please discuss.

  8. Have a look here, for a very cool presentation of various graphs and facts relevant to global warming:

  9. Thanks, Gordon, check it out, Philip.

  10. Does everyone know about
    I' a long-in-the-tooth science journal editor, I work for the best science journal in the world (bar none), nature -- and I recommend this blog/site for the unspun climate truth. (or you could read Nature ;-) )

  11. Watch my programme. It's great.