The TV series Star Trek: Voyager is being repeated on the Freeview Horror channel. Well, they have to put something on before the watershed, and I guess Goosebumps was not considered a good match by the channel executives. The series is more or less contemporaneous with Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but it seems not to have been as good a ratings performer. In an obvious attempt to boost viewership, a new character was added: Seven of Nine.
The origins of the character are not of concern. She was a rather pneumatic woman clad in a skin-tight bodysuit who had a portion of her brain replaced by a computer to become a kind of surrogate Mr Spock. The TV show having a multi-character format, it seemed clear to me that Seven of Nine had a more prominent role in episodes than other, longer-established, characters. Either that, or I am merely a red-blooded heterosexual male in full touch with my feelings.
There is one Seven of Nine-heavy episode that sticks in my mind. She had decided to download a chunk of starship navigational data into her computerised mind. Her analysis of the data led her to devise numerous conspiracy theories which caused divisions in the crew when she related them. In the end her paranoia was seen as just that. She had jumped to the wrong conclusions based on a misinterpretation of the data.
Seven of Nine’s predicament seems reasonably applicable to the whole secular belief system of ‘climate change’, as I will explain below.
Climate science is a relatively young discipline compared with physics. For millennia it was based on predicting the weather and the progress of the seasons, and that was that. In ancient times the predictors of seasons and weather were regarded as high priests. Weather forecasters were more important in modern times. The D-Day Normandy landings took place on June 6, 1944, because weather reports showed a long enough gap in the bad weather lashing the English Channel to allow the Armada of the English-speaking world to commence its crusade in Europe and restore peace and democracy to those hapless Europeans who had gone and lost it yet again.
So, apart from predicting weather a few days in advance, climate science was a bit of a Cinderella discipline. The physicists had the seat at top table and enjoyed access to the ears of government. It was physicists who provided the theories behind the technologies of the atomic bomb, the computer and the liquid-fuelled rocket. Physics was seen at the time as more important than climate science. It is therefore ironic that the use of these physics-derived technologies has resulted in a reversal of this position.
So what is it that drove climate science from the unfashionable parts of the campus to hosting summits attended by senior representatives of all nations, while physicists are now rather niche? It has to be the suggested threat of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). This is the theory that atmospheric and ocean temperatures are getting hotter, and that it’s all our fault. Apparently we have been rather too busy burning coal, methane, and oil. The products of this combustion have been too much for the forces of nature to absorb and neutralise. In addition our livestock generate more methane, causing more problems, so we must all become vegetarians, ironically generating more methane ourselves. Oh, and stop having so many children, or any. These mantras have been repeated ad infinitum to the point where it has become a belief system in the West. In essence, a sizeable portion of our populations believe we have offended the Earth Goddess and that all storms, floods, ice melts, cold snaps, heatwaves and other ‘weather events’ or disasters are the Goddess’s punishment for mankind’s folly in trying to harness nature and recklessly reproduce ourselves. It has moved from debatable science into popular superstition, reinforced by every natural disaster broadcast on our screens.
For the former communists, this has been a godsend, sorry, goddess-send, as their policies of economic dictatorship can be foisted on the politically unengaged not just by simplistic Marxist slogans, but also by pointing at pictures of melting ice fields collapsing into the sea and all the rest.
But what has really changed? Climate scientists will tell you quite a lot. Actually the change is that advances in computer science and satellite technology mean that an awful lot more data has been collected. This has been modelled using computers and one model has been promoted over the others, one that blames industrial capitalism (never, ever, industrial socialism) for dooming the planet. This has become compelling to the vast portion of the public and politicised such that politicians have to make policy based on popular superstition. Simply everything is blamed on climate change. It is also used to sell cars.
Another change is that advances in video technology (thanks again, Professor Physicist) mean that news bulletins can now show vivid pictures of natural disasters where previously all we saw was the odd photograph with a phoned-in report. Satellite technology (another bow for the physicists) means that every weather disaster can be predicted and coverage arranged. We are being quite overloaded with extreme weather events and thus believe that these are relatively recent phenomena.
The climate scientists themselves admit that their theory of global warming has, by their own standards, a 90 per cent chance of being correct. It might not been a good analogy, but would anyone ever buy a used car whose current owner stated it was 90 per cent safe?
It is now the physicists who seem to be the Cinderellas. Having developed the A-Bomb and the H-Bomb, there seem to be no new military devices, force-fields, or death-rays practicable enough to catch the imagination of governments to the same extent. However, by the standards of physicists, climate scientists seem stuck in the 15th century. The Higgs Boson, the ‘God particle’, was determined to exist using data derived from smashing particles in the Large Hadron Collider with a statistical reliability of 99.9999997143 per cent. I’d buy a used car from a physicist over a climate scientist any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
It gets worse. James Delingpole, writing for Breitbart, advised that there are now 400 peer-reviewed papers in this year alone debunking AGW. Some also state that a growth in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial. Global warming may be happening, but the main driver might be sunspot activity, not anything we capitalists have done. In fact, the physicists may provide the solutions to the Solar Global Warming by working with engineers to develop a sun-shield. This would make more sense than shutting down global industrial activity or diverting investment to solar panels and windmills that are at the mercy of weather.
AGW seems to be more of a faith than a fact. Remember the warning of melting polar ice caps? A ship sent out to study this was stopped when the summer ice in the portion of the Arctic it was investigating turned out to be far thicker than was faithfully predicted by the scientists. The experiments on the rate of ice melting had to be cancelled when it was discovered that the ice had stubbornly refused to melt. The scientists continued to blame climate change in a fashion that resembles how the USSR initially denied the explosion of Chernobyl nuclear power station. This is actually the third expedition exploring ice melts which has had to be abandoned because the ice was thicker than the scientists had predicted. The physicists will be shaking their heads. It may be that climate science is not a real science after all, but a load of dressed-up dodgy statistics.
There have also been scandals over rigged data, which we have been ‘assured’ had no impact on this new faith. Yeah, right.
It’s like Seven of Nine. The climate scientists have been able to capture data in quantity only for the last 50 years or so. They have put the information into the computers developed by the physicists and engineers, and they have come up with the wrong, but politically advantageous, answers for those who seek more state funding. And all this without any work that leads to an invention, unlike the physicists. Instead these new high priests advocate a form of economic puritanism not dissimilar from Marxism.
An environmentalist, Bjorn Lomberg, analysed the predictions of his fellow environmentalists, and found that their work was over-pessimistic. He was especially critical of the predictions of AGW, which he found to be implausible. For his work, he was officially denounced, primarily by social scientists, as a heretic in a way not dissimilar to the way the ideas of Copernicus were derided by some authorities for centuries. However this denunciation was eventually over-ruled and was described as a misuse of authority. Lomberg believes that there are more pressing environmental issues such as the spread of AIDS and malaria, as well as malnutrition, all of which can be solved by positive activity instead of quasi-religious self-denial. These are bigger global threats, not least in the Third World. Capitalism has the answers. Boutique socialism does not. Socialist states were and are proportionally the worst polluters of the planet.
AGW seems a First-World conceit, a secular faith that rises as organised religion in the West declines. It is more political than scientific, being advanced by former communists who have found a new home for their ideas of dictatorship in collusion with environmentalists who want more taxpayer cash. It is decidedly anti-physics, the discipline of science directly responsible for human advancement over the last three centuries. It has created in the popular mind a vengeful Earth Goddess that feeds into a romantic popular superstition of celestial punishment that has not entirely vanished in the West despite the best endeavours of physicists to explain the universe in cold mathematical detail.
Physics and engineering will solve global problems. Communistic climate ‘science’ will not. It is time our politicians got a grip and stopped chasing the votes using superstition.