Climate culture

by Andy West

A frequent topic at Climate Etc. is the ‘consensus.’ An argument is presented here that the climate consensus is as much about culture as it is about climate science.

For about 150 years we’ve been learning how cultures work and evolve. Great progress has been made on a wide range of topics such as the mapping of cultures, cultural coalitions, the categorization of underlying bias mechanisms, gene-culture co-evolution and others, even if much mystery remains, for instance at the fundamental level of what happens inside the mind regarding the social / individual interface, gnawed at from different directions by anthropology, memetics, psychology, neuroscience and other disciplines.

This accumulated knowledge on cultures is directly relevant to understanding the climate movement. So that we don’t have to relearn the 150 years experience again in the climate domain as though this is all something new, it is crucial to acknowledge the cultural nature of the consensus and bring this wealth of acquired knowledge to bear.

Climate culture

I’ve long since lost count of the many parallels drawn between the climate consensus and religion, from both notables and many blog commenters within the climate domain1. While these tend to be instinctive expressions and are mostly from skeptics, there are a few from the consensus side2 and still more describing climate change as a transformative culture. The former sometimes draw the worst possible connotations or even invalid consequences, yet nevertheless correctly discern the underlying truth that the climate consensus is a cultural phenomenon, while the latter fail to appreciate that cultures of this kind do not so much communicate the truth, as manufacture it.

I’ve prepared a 3 step basic social analysis that I hope will be straightforward to follow, conveniently available as the ‘Aux File’ below and also at my blog, showing the cultural nature of the climate consensus. The 3 steps are first executed for the creationism / evolution domain, and then in exactly the same manner for the climate change domain. The analysis takes the ‘robot from Mars’ view; it is possible to identify a culture with very little knowledge of domain details, and best to do so if possible in order to maximize objectivity. The steps are built on data from public surveys and Dan Kahan’s great data from Cultural Cognition.

Despite the large commentary about cultural characteristics that pervades the climate change domain, there does not appear to be recognition that the Consensus, with its narrative of imminent (decades) calamity, *is* a formal culture. All the disciplines involved in cultural understanding, such as anthropology, psychology, memetics, neuro-science and others, think climate change is merely a matter of science; why would they even attempt apply their knowledge in this domain? Unless perhaps to try and explain ‘deniers’, of course. So what might these disciplines think if they weren’t blinded by the science label?

A thought experiment

Imagine a professor of bio-cultural evolution who researches and favors the strong Darwinian end of the current range of cultural evolution theories, is returning from a field trip in the Pacific. He runs into trouble of some sort, and ends up stranded for over 30 years, like Robinson Crusoe, on an isolated island. Hence he receives no knowledge of the climate change phenomenon. Then sailors rescue him, and tell him that the whole world is hugely worried about climate change and is spending trillions to try and avert an imminent calamity. Before any other detail gets discussed, one sailor happens to add that he’d read a recent article showing that the climate change consensus (along with the wider movement it inspires) advocating urgent action to save the planet, was shown to be a formal culture.

The professor immediately has strong suspicions that:

  1. Whatever is happening in society now will be due mainly to cultural effects, and not due to what will emerge regarding the physical climate (whether that’s good, bad, or indifferent).
  2. There will be a socially enforced consensus serving a cultural narrative.
  3. The above will include statements that are presented as all-explaining and/or indisputable.
  4. The consensus will be actively policed via a range of mechanisms including status control and emotive pressure.
  5. There will be uncritical acceptance of an authority or authority figures, possibly even adoration.
  6. There will likely be some rights or privileges granted to only a few.
  7. There will likely be some vision of catastrophe, and yet also an expectation of salvation / rebirth / renewal that is conditional upon catastrophe avoidance.
  8. Anxieties, fears, guilt, hopes and inspiration will all be culturally steered via the above visions and consensus, causing immense bias within all areas of endeavor connected with the culture.
  9. There will be double standards concerning many matters within the cultural domain, the creation of a feeling of threat, a shifting moral landscape and likely large changes to the law (if the culture has been active long enough).
  10. The core narrative promoted by the cultural consensus will be spread into many areas of society as justification for all sorts of changes that benefit the culture, independent of their true usefulness to the human condition and in fact even if some are damaging.
  11. There will be organizations acting as aggressively advocate wings who are still more emotive and still more convinced. Orgs like this contribute to the policing of internal ranks in a culture, plus also get the job of missionaries and recruitment agents (think Jesuits).
  12. Many adherents especially in the advocate wings, will self-identify with the culture. This produces instinctive and emotional (rather than reasoned) support.
  13. While conspiracies can latch onto any sufficiently large human endeavor, the phenomenon is not driven by conspiracy as root cause. Cultures are emergent phenomena, driven as much or more from the convinced at all levels of society and grass roots passion, as from top down command.
  14. Dissenters will be demonized, and possibly persecuted if the culture has gained enough moral penetration.
  15. Notwithstanding above, unless the culture has achieved a clean sweep of elites already, the domain-knowledgeable will be highly polarized.
  16. The 30+ years since the professor was stranded is not enough to get the multi-generational penetration needed to overcome ‘innate skepticism’ in the wider population. Hence there will still be a large rump of the public, possibly a majority, who are unconvinced.
  17. The culture will attempt to form cross-coalitions with other cultures (religious, or political or other secular).
  18. If as the sailors say this is already a global phenomenon, then likely whole governments and various other authorities will have bought into it.
  19. Huge resources will be going into infra-structure that benefits / promotes the culture and its ideals, yet doesn’t necessarily help with the renewal / salvation advertised by the core narrative.
  20. Despite an avidly promoted certainty of an apparently static position, the core cultural narrative will in fact slowly evolve.
  21. There will be icons. The evolution in 20 means that some icons will be set aside for new ones, having lost their usefulness for some reason.
  22. Cultures are by no means all bad, and not only that, without the mechanisms on which cultural consensus are founded, human civilization wouldn’t have arisen in the first place. Though some cultures can be net very negative, there will likely be positive elements to this culture.

Well, not all relevant professors would suppose all of this, for instance there is still strong (even bitter) resistance in some social sciences to anything seen to be verging on reductionism. And some would be happy categorizing dead cultures this way, yet apprehensive about doing the same for living ones. Others would be perfectly happy categorizing living religions this way, for instance Blackmore, and I doubt Dawkins would have any problem here too, yet be horrified by applying the same system to the social aspects of climate change. However they’d all recognize the approach, and the point here is that these differences reflect more the different biases of the academics involved than they do the validity of the characteristics. And the Crusoe professor is, by his long absence, extracted from any bias regarding the climate domain at least. He would see it with new eyes.

The above list reflects much about the climate consensus, and at this point our Crusoe knows a great deal more than the sailors. Our Crusoe would also guess that the relevant science must be highly uncertain, because otherwise there would be too much constraint for the emotive memes that power the mainline cultures to have arisen and gotten such a grip. He doesn’t know about funding bias or what Climategate revealed about 4), or that the authorities in 5) include the IPCC or adoration of Gore and Hansen. Per 6) he doesn’t know about the reluctance of scientists to let data out of the privileged circle, or that the WWF and Greenpeace and others fulfill 11). He doesn’t know about particular skeptics who claim ‘hoax’ and ‘conspiracy’ per 13), or about the ‘denier’ term per 14), or the Democrat-climate coalition in the US per 17), or the bio-fuels debacle, or wind turbines that would disappear without trace without large subsidy, per 19). Or that per 21) the once prominent icon of the hockey stick had to be de-emphasized because of ‘the pause’. He just knows that these kind of things happen in strong cultures.

Regarding 8), this previous post at Climate Etc looks at emotional bias in the Consensus, and footnote 4 links to detail on more relevant bias mechanisms. There’s just room left in this post to briefly look a bit deeper at the important topics in 2) and 9).

Culture and consensus

Cultures do not arise via trivial processes, but via long co-evolutionary mechanisms in which anxiety, fear, guilt, inspiration, hope, and other emotive hot buttons in all of us are activated. One result is a culturally enforced consensus. Indeed many consider culture and social consensus to be synonymous. For instance, when anthropologists are seeking the nature and range of a culture that they are not too familiar with (and hence do not know the ‘correct’ cultural answers to whatever questions they form as tools), it is exactly the existence and strength of a consensus via which they map the boundaries and core values of the culture. In other words, it is assumed that the social consensus essentially equates to the culture. (Such investigations are performed via the statistical techniques in Cultural Consensus Theory: wiki, slide deck from one of the originators, do it yourself CCT Pack).

Throughout our evolution as Homo Sapiens (and possibly before), cultural consensus has been a net huge benefit, and continues to be so. The mechanisms via which it works allow common action to be achieved in the face of the unknown, an evolutionary advantage. It’s a big part of the ‘job description’ of culture to manufacture consensus. There are downsides though; a culture can become parasitical or net negative in some other way. And though instinctive ‘innate skepticism’ helps us to resist misinformation and culture overdosing, this defense can be overcome.

So, when we encounter a culture we expect to see an enforced consensus. The defensive manner in which the climate movement treats the topic of uncertainty, and the emotively imperative manner via which it promotes the certainty of imminent (decades) calamity, is how we expect a culturally enforced consensus to be operating.

Morals and the Law

Altruistic behavior emerges from group selection, specifically via ‘correlated interaction’4, and is deeply rooted in human nature. However when actually operating within a particular generation, innate altruism needs cues regarding who is in-group and who is out, what is correct behavior in this group and what is not. These cues are largely provided by culture, which therefore is not only bound up with our identity, but with our morals. And if a new culture comes along and muscles into the pack of existing cultures and cultural relationships, then it will shift the moral landscape. The wider the scope of the new culture and the deeper its social penetration, then the more the moral landscape will shift. Behaviors that were once ok may become offensive, and vice versa. Some folks may find themselves edged ‘out’ of the altruistic circle(s) they thought they were in; consequently they will not be well treated.

An important function of the law is the guardianship of morals. While cultural evolution requires the law to constantly evolve in order to accommodate resultant moral modifications, the law is also deliberately entrenched and made pretty hard to change (especially for core principles). This is so that short-term fads or cultural wrong turns or the whims of individual power-brokers do not constantly make it into law, as such would undermine the guardianship. However if a powerful new culture arises, and especially if the rise is swift (in generational terms), this will create moral pressures upon the (entrenched) law. This will happen for both net positive and net negative cultures, yet latter case is obviously more dangerous. The pressure will manifest in a raft of ways, including likely prospects such as:

a) A systemic blind eye to law bending or law breaking that aligns to the new moral compass.

b) Extreme clemency for those who are apprehended; maybe even a badge of honor / reward.

c) Calls for that which is both accepted and lawful yet not aligned to the new moral compass, to be outlawed.

d) Calls for orgs or individuals who question the new culture, to be silenced.

e) Calls for orgs or individuals whose interests are counter to the new culture, to be subject to a penalty of some fashion (by stretching existing law or calling for new law to achieve this).

f) In stronger cases, calls for the very system upon which the law rests to be changed or abandoned (e.g. a revolution, or calls to abandon democracy, or major schism within a religious based system / society).

g) All of the above repeated for codes of conduct (e.g. in corporate or academic orgs, financial conduct, conflict of interests etc) as well as the main law system.

If moral pressure is sustained for long enough, the law will realign to the new landscape. Once changes start to occur, the positive feedback boosts the culture. However if a swift cultural rise doesn’t occur, it could break like a wave upon the law and then recede. (Note: non-cultural drivers can cause some of these characteristics, especially for conduct codes and more peripheral laws, yet not across the board).

Those who resist a new culture may call upon the (current) law both to protect themselves and to return fire, so to speak. Yet many will be afraid to if rapidly shifting social norms get to a state whereby this will result in their demonization. We consider this price worthwhile for benign cultural change, but not for unsavory culture — the problem being that we only know the former from the latter with the perspective of history or distant geography. The net effect can be hard to assess, for example regarding benign religions that once tortured and suppressed. At any rate this all means that the courts will be one of the main battle-lines, and for a cultural versus evidential scenario this results in the rather ridiculous spectacle of the law attempting to settle a scientific matter, for instance regarding Evolution the Scopes monkey trial, or regarding Climate Change and the rule of Law, Professor Sands’ proposal at a UK legal conference: ‘One of the most important things an international court could do – in my view it’s probably the single most important thing – is to settle the scientific dispute.’ (Sands pdf).

Climate culture doesn’t come up short regarding the above list. A few examples: a) Long record of rights and law being trampled in the name of renewable energy: Pat Swords, b) Gleick, c) Ban Fossil Fuels, Ban Beef?, d) Legal academics: Silence the Skeptics, e) Put fossil fuel CEOs on trial, The RICO 20 letter, f) Lovelock: democracy on hold, or Overridden, g) EPA collusion, Conflicts of interest in Climate Science. Whether any particular cases out of these and many others happen to have some justification or not, isn’t the main point. Such an overarching list of this form is yet another sure symptom of a rising culture, and so the ultimate justification is only an emergent social story. Whatever the state of the opposing skeptic position, this story isn’t truth – rather, it is socially manufactured.

It is extremely important to note that cultures are emergent phenomena. So while elites will play their (often disproportionate) part, cultures are not ‘ordered from the top’. Much of the pressure on the law comes from self-convinced front-line professionals in the relevant fields, plus grass-roots support from passionate individuals. Even for highly offensive cultures (as perceived now), the self motivation at all levels of a population is well documented4.


Considering how much may be predicted about the climate consensus from one single fact, i.e. it is a culture, this has to be the most important single fact one could possibly know about the climate Consensus. And if this fact isn’t grasped more widely, especially by those in the disciplines that deal with culture, everything we know about culture will have to be learned again within a climate-change specific context, the hard way. Worse, if we don’t choose to exercise our understanding about the phenomenon that is bulldozing its way through our morals and laws and infra-structure, there’ll be little chance to free science from its grip, or mitigate the downsides of its advance, or prevent fundamental cultural change that could never have happened without the stalking horse of science, from going bad on us.

link [Climate Culture Footnotes] to endnotes

link [Who is Who Aux File] to ‘Who’s who’ auxiliary file

JC note:  As with all guest posts, keep your comments civil and relevant.

274 responses to “Climate culture

  1. “No one should be ashamed to admit they are wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that they are wiser today than they were yesterday.”

    ― Alexander Pope

    • omanuel,

      ‘Tis a pity that such common sense is not such common practice.


    • If and when global cooling commences, “climate change” culture with fade into the obscurity from whence it came in much the same manner as the “coming ice age” culture of the seventies…

      • I suspect that it will simply transition over a few presidential cycles into catastrophic global cooling is coming and it is due to capitalism, CO2, and fossil fuels – all while maintaining the “climate change” meme as the overarching theme. After all, Paul Ehrlich is still with us and the greenies still believe his nonsense and we actually started with global cooling in the 1970’s, albeit at a lower level of ‘derp’ due to the smaller numbers of climate “scientists”.

    • MIT Professor Lindzen has exposed Massively altered NASA temperature data on one Junk Science blog (below), and on another Junk Science he suggests NAS President, Dr. RALPH CICERONE, knows the AGW claim is an exaggeration.

    • Except climate scientists aren’t wrong.

      Are you actually expecting everyone to wake up one day and say, “Oops! CO2 really doesn’t absorb infrared radiation? How could we have been so wrong for 150 years.”

      Keep waiting….

      • Disingenuous straw man David. The argument is not whether or not CO2 really absorbs infrared radiation. The argument is ‘Does the amount of CO2 and resulting infrared radiation added by humanity cause massive and dangerous climate change on our earth because there is no compensating or buffering mechanisms, or any other factors that influence our climate more.’ I think your straw man argument qualifies very nicely as an example of “3. The above will include statements that are presented as all-explaining and/or indisputable.”

      • @tumbleweedstumbling @davidappell The argument is not whether or not the planet is warming. The argument is whether it is going to be catastrophic, whether the proposed remedies are effective, and whether they are worth keeping the world’s poor in poverty.

      • Except climate scientists aren’t wrong.</i

        Technically being clueless means you can't be wrong.

        The CO2 forcing is claimed to be 1.5°C – 4.5°C. From the only actual measurement it looks to be 1°C. How can your estimate range be 100% of the mean value? How can you then miss by a factor of 3 and not even have the real value within the error bounds?

        Somebody should be fired. They have had 40 years to tighten the estimates, this is simple incompetence. A building engineer who missed by a factor of 3 in his design would be in jail. Why does such clear incompetence in the science field go unpunished?

        $ 0.00 dollars should have been allocated to study global warming until the forcing estimate was bounded to 10% based on empirical measurement.

        But it isn't too late. We can terminate all global warming funding unrelated to measuring CO2 forcing until it is bounded. If the ECS is less than 2.0 °C there is no problem to mitigate and further global warming spending would be throwing good money after bad.

      • David Appell
        Are you actually expecting everyone to wake up one day and say, “Oops! CO2 really doesn’t absorb infrared radiation?

        Let us all wish this lively climate novice well on his journey into the other 99.999’% of the issues involved, and that are not so settled.

    • @tumbleweedstumbling

      Succinctly put. The certainty around CO2 being a radiating molecule is matched by the huge uncertainty about everything else. They have taken something very particular and presented it as the general.

      Their certainty is belied by the continuous change in the science of things we absolutely know. How did it get to this I often wonder and Judith’s column today seems to be part of the answer. It is cultural or religious or just being a gang member. Sad really.

  2. Pingback: Climate culture | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  3. richardswarthout

    The article “How do we really make decisions” is informative and related to this post. The following excerpt aptly summarizes the article:

    “But then there is another system in your mind that is intuitive, fast and automatic. This fast way of thinking is incredibly powerful, but totally hidden. It is so powerful, it is actually responsible for most of the things that you say, do, think and believe.”


  4. Another aspect of the formal climate change culture: the consensus calls those who do not believe in bandwagon science deniers instead of skeptics.

  5. The consensus is culturally impoverished, and getting progressively cachectic.

  6. Yikes, Judy; clicking a comment on the sidebar no longer takes me to the comment, rather just to the head of the post. Mebbe it’s just me.

  7. No, it happened to me on this thread and the last one. It’s too much co2 clogging up the inter webs


    • See, it is worse than they thought.

      • Thank Gaia it’s not culture clogging up the interwebs.

      • Don’t worry, thanks to our large monthly subscriptions Judith retains a team of six top interweb engineers to cope with just this sort of eventuality. A good blow with a vacuum cleaner will soon get rid of all that co2


    • climatereason,

      Seek corrective treatment immediately! You have caught a touch of infective warmasia (Warmist aphasia). You use a vacuum cleaner to suck evil CO2, not to blow it even further into the Interwebs.

      At least, that’s how we do it in the Antipodes. Maybe the vacuum effect is inverted in the NH, due to the CO2 back Coriolis effect.


  8. Pingback: Academia’s Never-Ending Climate Disaster Always Looms | evilincandescentbulb

  9. Group defense, safety in numbers, divisions of labour, mating and other advantages mean we evolved in groups. And these advantages mean we evolved to stay in groups.

    And we evolved to conform to the group because being an outcast adversely effected success.

    So it is not surprising that ‘group-think’ exists – it’s in our DNA.

    Politics, religion, regionalism, gender divide, sports teams, and yes climate hysteric versus climate denier all seem to be examples.

    Science is about determining objective truths in spite of our underlying emotions.

    But it seems there is a great capacity to follow our group-thoughts, even without evidence to support them or in spite of contradictory evidence.

  10. Is Bjorn Lomberg’s ‘Consensus Centre’ an example too?

  11. NOTE: The ‘Aux’ file contains a 3 step basic social analysis showing the cultural nature of the climate consensus, using public survey and Kahan’s data. The 3 steps are first executed for the creationism / evolution domain, and then in exactly the same manner for the climate change domain. The paragraph in the head post referring to this appears to have gotten lost in the editing process; hopefully Judith will restore when she has some time.

  12. All you sons and daughters of the goddess Juno, your community has been stolen. There is a new temple on the hill. It is built upon the dead ashes of capitalism; and, it is run by the bitter professors of reductionism who worship manufactured science and live in the grip of imminent calamity.

    The culture is dead, long live the culture!

  13. Andy,

    Great post! I am going to have to read it again and think about it.

    Funny thing, even anthropologists are not above getting sucked in. Roy Rappaport, an icon of anthropology, author of the seminal work “Pigs for the Ancestors”, became a force in the persecution and professional destruction of the brilliant anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon for publishing his ( NP’s) data that demonstrated that Yanamamo males that killed other males had more wives and more children. The guardians of the anthropology consensus could not accept this challenge to their idea of the noble savage.

  14. Thoughtful essay. Especially persuasive was the Crusoe professor’s list of 22 suspicions — each one called to mind real-world examples of orgs or individuals engaged in climate politics or science. Advise you might make one small change in future presentations. It’s more convincing if Crusoe recognizes the cultural character of the consensus from sailors’ descriptions of current events rather than from one sailor’s use of the term “formal culture” based on an article he read. (1) Sailors typically don’t read cultural anthropology. (2) By your own account, you are the first to develop the thesis that consensus climatology is a culture. So even if the sailor were an amateur sociologist, stumbling across that article is almost as unlikely as finding Crusoe. (3) The odds are even more remote that the one sailor in the world who read the article finds the one professor of cultural bio-evolution (whatever that means) who ends up stranded and alone on a Pacific island for 30 years. In short, don’t spoil a valuable analysis with poor storytelling!

  15. This is strikingly similar to Seven Rules of a Bureaucracy:

    Rule 6 appears to be partially passed over in Andy’s excellent article.

    Rule #6: Create vested support groups by distributing concentrated benefits and/or entitlements to these special interests, while distributing the costs broadly to one’s political opponents.

  16. An erudite exposition of what is, really, a statement of the obvious

    But I suppose some people may need that

  17. Good story, no science.

  18. jens, denmark: I look forward to the day, when its understandably what is written. As Einstein says: if it is not explained, thats bec the writer dont himself understand it

  19. Andy West:

    …do not so much communicate the truth, as manufacture it.

    All truth is culturally manufactured.

    (cue Steven Mosher)

  20. “one sailor happens to add that he’d read a recent article…” that evolution/plate tectonics/relativity/quantum mechanics/genetics/… was just a culture. The professor immediately gets it in his mind to disbelieve any of it, and doesn’t see that maybe this sailor is the crazy one, and perhaps he should first talk to some scientists or read their journals or browse some university text books for the basics.

    • Heh, Jim D elevates climate alarmism to a pantheon. Well, that explains a lot.

      • Maybe the sailor was a fundamentalist Christian like a Republican congressmen where he would disbelieve half of these things. There’s an example of “culture” for you.

      • Heh, sometimes you are highly amusing, JimD. Note that it is Republican congressmen(people) reigning in science gone daft.

      • Jim D 6:59pm

        See the analysis in the Aux file, including the 2D religious / political, and 2D climate culture / political, maps.

      • kim, sure you trust them on creationism, so you trust them on climate science. It follows.

      • Heh, JD, you’ve presumed right out of reality. I’m willing to bet that you’ve just reacted out of frustration and have no idea of what I believe about ‘Creationism’.

        The idea linking Creationists with skeptics is another errant alarmist meme. Keep walking down that sad road.

      • Kim, you may be interested to know: the ‘Aux File’ shows that precisely the same 3 social analysis steps that pick up the creationist position as cultural, when applied to the climate domain pick up the Consensus position as cultural. The 3 steps are demonstrated for both domains.

      • andy, you are really on to something with these analyses of yours. Sometimes I wonder a little why you don’t yet see this alarmist culture as a vastly destructive force in modern society, but I guess we’ll ultimately see some good come out of it.

        Years ago I considered that this social mania, once exposed as false, would act as a vaccine against the next false narrative to roll down the road. Unfortunately, the side effects of this vaccine have since metastasized, there is widespread infection, and the organ systems are failing in concert.

      • kim | November 20, 2015 at 8:11 pm

        Thanks Kim, appreciated.

        Yes, despite much science and reason in the modern world, cultures are still big beasts and still rule much of the action, for better or worse. Not least because they can still de-rail science itself. A difficult truth is that cultures are what have gotten us to the point of even having science, and despite the downsides we still need them. Some relief is provided by the fact that while we’re all subject to the influence of cultures, there will always be some folks vaccinated against any particular one. I think a more general immunity is far far into the future, though I guess the history of the climate change phenomenon will indeed be an important lesson regarding that immunity.

      • kim, OK, so you don’t trust them as far as you could throw them when they discredit evolution, but you do trust them to the hilt on climate science? Why would that be? Doesn’t creationism disqualify all their scientific views in your mind?

      • In the US Congress you could do a Venn diagram of creationalists and climate denialists, and I am fairly sure these have a very large intersection area, also with being Republicans. More than coincidental.

      • No, Jim D, it would be quite foolish to so behave. They are two separate things, and despite your Venns, never the twain shall meet.

        andy, thanks for the encouraging words, and it helps explain your distance and objectivity.

      • Andy, I am just saying you are looking in the wrong place for a culture. Go to a Heartland or Cato meeting and see all the old white guys there. That is a culture, possibly a subculture. They think uniformly on things other than climate change, such as politics, economics, or academia in general, which is a more robust definition of a culture. You can’t define a culture by views on one subject such as climate, which is your attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole. People believing in climate change policies come from a diverse set of cultures, and have widely ranging views on other subjects.

      • Jim D | November 20, 2015 at 8:40 pm

        Venn diagrams of that sort don’t necessarily lead to the kind of conclusion you appear to be expecting. Cultural influence is highly domain bounded. Hence it’s perfectly possible for someone, let’s say a Rep, to be enormously biased by the religious culture that promotes creationism, hence illogical here, yet be largely uninfluenced by the climate culture that promotes calamity, hence reasonable here. Likewise someone else, let’s say a Dem, can be enormously biased by the climate culture that promotes calamity, hence illogical here, yet largely uninfluenced by the religious culture that promotes creationism, hence reasonable here. Bias in one domain is not an indicator of bias in another, although cultural alliances (i.e. Reps to religion, Dems to climate culture), will tell you how biases are more likely to align *upon average* (per the diagrams in the ‘aux file’).

      • Jim D | November 20, 2015 at 8:40 pm

        Or what Kim said!

      • JimD, first off not all of us here are from the US so if you could dial back your ugly americanism and stop referring always to Republicans that would be nice. There’s nothing worse than a yank who only refers to his own country – in that way you’re just like those isolationist Republicans you loathe so much.

        Second, climate science as it is practiced today by Gavin Schmidt, Joelle Gergis, Michael Mann, Thomas Karl, Robert Way, Kevin Cowtan, David Karoly, Camille Parmesan, Shaun Marcott, Raphael Neukom etc etc etc is no better than naturopathy/homeopathy/astrology/herbalism/cupping. It does no have the rigour of plate tectonic science and evolutionary biology yet.

        Thank goodness for folks like Prof Curry and Ed Hawkins who work daily to introduce scientific rigour to the field of climate science.

      • Jim D | November 20, 2015 at 9:07 pm

        see my wrong threaded at 9:17pm below…

      • Kim,

        Thanks you for your ongoing excellent comments, as always, and all with good humour.

    • Of course he’d do that reading etc as soon as he got back. Not just wrt the science, but wrt all happening in society. Hence he’d have confirmed in short order that there is indeed a climate culture. Whereas his colleagues who were not isolated from the growing culture over decades, believe the narrative that the certainty of calamity is a scientific truth, and so do not even think to apply their skills to the domain.

      • He might have established that the anti-climate-science culture has a somewhat uniform-looking base in the US among free-market, anti-academic types especially in fossil-fuel states and their equally uniform right-wing news outlets, but outside of that, and in other countries it is sparse.

      • Jim D | November 20, 2015 at 7:39 pm

        See the ‘Aux File’. He’d see per the analysis there that there is a cultural alliance between the Dem/Libs and climate culture. No doubt he’d also see that climate skepticism is pretty damn convenient to Rep/Cons. But the latter isn’t a cultural alliance; notwithstanding that nothing in society is wholly free of cultural effects, skepticism isn’t a culture.

      • Well, Andy, my skepticism is highly cultivated, if not cultured.

      • And doubt in the presence of catastrophic forebodings is cultural.

      • kim | November 20, 2015 at 8:00 pm / 8:01 pm

        For the domain uninitiated, doubt in the presence of a strong culture, e.g. a culture of catastrophe, would typically be ‘innate’, i.e. a defense against misinformation or cultural overdose that theoretically at least, is deeper than culture.

        For the domain initiated, remaining or even amplified doubt, is likely just a recognition of reality (i.e. genuine uncertainties), so not cultural either. (See the increasing polarization of the domain knowledgeable in the ‘Aux File’).

        But indeed you are highly and enviably cultivated, as evidenced by your excellent phraseology :)

      • I’m glad doubt is deeper than faith. How else would we have survived?

      • Heh, flattery will get you everywhere. I was just riffing off of ‘cultivated’ and ‘cultured’, digging as I do in the soil of science and society, turning over spadeful after spadeful in search of richer nutrients, weeding out the errors.

        It’s funny, at what I was once good at, I’m completely unknown. What I’m a superficial hack at, I’m widely infamous.

      • Catastrophic climate change and evangelical apocalypse are parallel narratives. Both are visions of earth destroyed due to human depravation. Both are based upon unprovable revelations from insiders who ask to be taken on faith. Both have cult-like followings. Both promise redemption.

        The warmunists are blind to this. Some of us see right through both cults and wear the true badge of science; agnostic.

        Narrative is as narrative does.

      • Ooh, I like ‘depravation’. What’s wonderful is that ‘deprivation’ and ‘depredation’ also work.

      • Depravation?

        I thought William F. Buckley had died…

      • Deer kim, u can see fur. )

    • Jim : “People believing in climate change policies come from a diverse set of cultures, and have widely ranging views on other subjects”

      People believing in Christianity come from a diverse set of cultures too. Cultures are very rarely, maybe never, exclusive; perhaps arguably in the case of very extreme and strict cults. Nevertheless there is an agreed and emotively driven consensus on the common Christian values that they all hold, and one which rules much of their lives, and at the societal level much policy (more so in the past). Likewise with climate culture, where the emotive narrative of imminent (decades) calamity on a global scale if the heart of the cultural narrative.

      • That’s where the word “culture” does not help inform in any way. You want to wrap everyone you disagree with on a subject into a “culture” as though they all come to their belief in the same way, and not by rational consideration of the evidence. This instead defines your own culture as dismissive of the scientific evidence, and often of scientific academia in general, because those people overwhelmingly accept the evidence, and they are the ones who can judge it for themselves from basic principles.

      • This instead defines your own culture as dismissive of the scientific evidence, and often of scientific academia in general, because those people overwhelmingly accept the evidence, and they are the ones who can judge it for themselves from basic principles.

        In fact, the “scientific evidence” provides very little evidence for any sort of immanent catastrophe. Yet the vision of such catastrophe is widespread throughout the “climate culture”.

        I’ve seen comments here (this blog, not necessarily this post) from you suggesting that the current evolution of the market will actually result in the “problem” being solved without requiring any sort of massive structuring of our world’s socio-economic system. Yet, any sort of objective look at the “climate culture” Andy West is describing will find widespread doomsaying and urgent demands for such massive structuring of our world’s socio-economic system.

        The fact that the “problem” (if any) such doomsayers are pointing to is well on its way to being solved without the massive structuring of our world’s socio-economic system they demand seems invisible to them, which, in turn, seems invisible to you.

        Putting it simply, there is a “culture” of doomsaying, and demanding ridiculous “solutions”, that has nothing (or at least very little) to do with the science. And all you do when it’s pointed out is go into denial.

      • Why can’t people simply consider “The Population Bomb?” Or this:

        On the first Earth Day in 1970, he warned that “[i]n ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.”[5][25] In a 1971 speech, he predicted that: “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people.” “If I were a gambler,” Professor Ehrlich concluded before boarding his plane, ” I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.

      • AK | November 20, 2015 at 10:07 pm |

        The fact that the “problem” (if any) such doomsayers are pointing to is well on its way to being solved without the massive structuring of our world’s socio-economic system they demand seems invisible to them, which, in turn, seems invisible to you.

        Putting it simply, there is a “culture” of doomsaying, and demanding ridiculous “solutions”, that has nothing (or at least very little) to do with the science. And all you do when it’s pointed out is go into denial.


      • Jim D | November 20, 2015 at 9:33 pm
        “You want to wrap everyone you disagree with…”

        If I was arbitrarily doing this, that indeed would be wrong. But I’m not. I’m rationally considering the evidence, the social evidence, which clearly marks the climate consensus as a culture. The same 3 steps of analysis in the ‘Aux File’ that show creationism is a culturally defined position, also show that the climate consensus position is culturally defined. These steps are demonstrated in both domains. Much evidence from my other posts here too, support various facets of the list of cultural characteristics from the head post. And as Jim2 and AK note, doomsaying and narrative contradictions abound, as promoted worldwide by authority not just from a bunch of bloggers. I know some consensus folks distance themselves from the worst of this, but not far enough and too few of them to stop the culture from dominating the agenda.

      • Andy, your methodology relies a lot on polls, but if instead of the “urgency” question you ask about whether they support climate action which is reducing CO2 emissions, the large majority across the political spectrum say yes, e.g.,
        This means that yes people not only see that climate change is a problem, but also agree with the solutions being proposed, presumably based on the evidence they have seen as to what is happening and why. This would put it into your evidentially defined category as opposed to culturally defined.

      • Yes, public surveys are very useful :) Quite a while back I thought polls like those you show seemed inconsistent with other data. But if you dig deeper, they are not. It turns out that the wide support for action evaporates when you attach it to actual costs, and likewise the desire for action (or the concerns supporting such desire) drop dramatically when you rank them with other concerns both global and local, rather than asking about this in isolation.

        Globally, I guess the ultimate one is the big UN poll with 8 million or so respondents, in which concern for climate change comes last (well did do, I think they are still collecting responses). In the US, and even *for Dem / Libs only*, concern falls low when ranked with other issues. Only 18% of the US population would pay over $100 more in tax for climate policy, which is a trivial sum compared to US national income. And the 18% has to have Dem / Libs in it, the figure is way too low to be purely Rep / Cons. One wonders how low the percentage would go if one asked instead for $200 annual, for what the president himself urges is the most urgent global problem.

        See here:

        This hypocrisy is itself another sign of culture. Rather like all Catholics agreeing that sin is bad, but when it comes to personal enforcement…

      • sorry: ‘US *average* income’

      • Agghhh, try again: and the 82% who *wouldn’t* pay more than $100 has to include many Dem / Libs, the figure is far too high to be purely Rep / Cons.

      • If you are checking a poll on whether people think climate action is needed, the fact that they think it is tells you that they are aware of a problem, and what the solution is. You want to discount that fact, and global polls that rate the problem as very serious, as I linked. Noting that science has no international borders, polling should be global not regional, because science can’t be true in one place and false in another. Having said that, polling the public is not the way to evaluate science. You may as well ask them if they think the neutrino is massless, or whether dark matter exists. You would not get a public consensus because they don’t have the background to judge, and the same is true of climate science where very few know the physical basis or even the evidence for warming and its causes. On climate, the public view is guided by their favorite news source, which could be anything based on other factors including where they live and political biases.

      • Jim D | November 21, 2015 at 8:27 am

        You need to know the context of polls asking about the seriousness of the issue. Whether or not this seriousness is ranked wrt other issues, and if so what rank might emerge, is highly relevant, even critical info.

        Indeed polls both regional and global are necessary to get the picture. There is much more political asymmetry on climate change in the US for instance (see the 2D culture graphs in the ‘Aux File’). The big UN survey I mentioned covers all nations in the world afaik, and climate change comes last out of a long list of concerns. But you can separately dial up each country too, where results vary.

        Public surveys are very helpful to identify the presence or absence of culture. And the scientifically knowledgeable (not a trivial percentage in countries like the US) are embedded within the public. But in any case Kahan’s data (and other surveys aimed specifically at the science knowledgeable), identify their attitudes in isolation. Kahan even has a data for the climate science literate. And this data shows the increasing polarization of the science literate and climate science literate with more knowledge (and one can hardly accuse Kahan of skeptic bias), which itself is a strong sign of culture. Per the ‘Aux File’, this same effect occurs in the creationism / evolution debate too.

      • All you get from polls is a “culture” that thinks the science is right and another one that thinks it is wrong. You don’t get an answer on the science itself, even from the politically independent.

      • You sadly don’t know what to believe today.

      • We are not looking for an answer on the science itself, whether in public polls or in more nuanced data like Kahan’s. We are looking for the presence / absence of strong culture. Which is found, on the climate Consensus side. All we know about cultures says they are capable of derailing science and have done so before. Hence the narrative from the climate Consensus promoting the certainty of calamity, cannot be trusted, as it is a product of culture and not science. Finding this culture, doesn’t mean all the skeptic stuff (which is wide ranging anyhow), is automatically right. It means this is not in the main a cultural output, and hence is free from the strictures of conforming to cultural consensus.

      • You will find a strong anti-science culture in this case that is rather politically aligned, but I think we knew that.

      • It is strong cultures with the attendant biases they foster, which are the enemies of science and reason. The ‘Aux File’ shows the alliance of Lib / Dems with climate culture. *In this domain*, they are the ones siding with culture, and hence against science. In other domains, this may not be the case, and for instance in the evolution debate they side with science. It can hence be seen that siding for or against science is *highly domain dependent*; you cannot make the assumption that it holds in all domains. The evidence says this is simply not so.

      • Usually the ones who side against the science are the more interesting ones. If you want to investigate cultures, how they arrive at those opinions in the face of all the scientific evidence would be worth studying.

      • Jim D | November 21, 2015 at 9:40 am

        Indeed. There’s a very large literature on this already, of which I’ve only delved into a part. I have referenced some in other posts. An underlying driver is typically emotional bias:

      • You can even ask them some probing questions yourself here. You would learn a lot about what makes them tick :-)

      • Jim D | November 21, 2015 at 9:51 am

        Don’t have the time or resources for that, unfortunately. But other folks do, so there’s data around. I find Kahan’s particularly useful, especially as for the climate domain no-one could accuse him of skeptic bias.

  21. Well.

  22. One can only admire Andy West’s flight of fancy as expressed in this post.

    The only trouble is that the desert island scientist could equally well have been an atmospheric physicist rather than a sociologist.

    When told of the current climatology concensus he would know he could go back to the 1964 paper of Manabe and Strickler. Manabe and Strickler explains the average actual temperature of the atmosphere with height using only the CO2 greenhouse effect plus convection. 1964 was far too early for any of the cultural effects Andy described, because at that point climate science was a sleep backwater, so the scientist would know he could use the methods described safely.

    And since the scientist could repeat the 1964 work of Mannabe and Strickler with the November 2015 CO2 level of 400 ppm, he could very swiftly validate that modern climate science was on the right approximate track….

    …which is what ultimately matters, isn’t it.

    • Whatever the climate system is doing, and whether it turns out to be good, bad, or indifferent, and whichever measurements eventually turn out to be more or less validated than others with the benefit of long hindsight, the cultural effects listed are occurring,

      • Yet if the climate science is right then it does not matter whether the cultural effects are occuring.

        And are you seriously suggesting that the base paper from 1964 is tainted with all the effects you list in your post?

      • I am seriously suggesting that cultural effects dominate the expectation of imminent (decades) calamity. Whether the paper from 1964 and similar evidence speaks to any such calamity or not, is precisely what is hugely uncertain, which uncertainty is the window through which the culture got such a grip in the first place. If the cultural predictions of calamity ever do turn out to be true, climate culture will be the first one in a very long line of cultures stretching way back into pre–history, whereby its core narrative turned out not to be just a story.

    • Peter Davies,

      You have no doubt already noted that paper contains a large number of assumptions with regard to input parameters. Approximations abound, but are used willy-nilly, in spite of Lorenz pointing out the dangers of this in 1963. Lorenz turned out to be right.

      Further, the authors persist in characterising computer model runs as “experiments”. The birth pangs of modern-day Warmism, or just symptoms of ignorance or wishful thinking?

      Look again at the paper, in the light of 50 years additional knowledge, and you might not be so sure about the authors’ assumptions, conclusions, and apparent disregard of the physical characteristics of the atmosphere.

      Even statements such as referring to the radiative equilibrium of the atmosphere in the absence of solar absorption, seem odd. Do they not realise that in the absence of a heat source, the atmosphere will cool to the temperature of the surface of the very, very, hot blob of rock on which we live?

      Or did they mean something other than what they wrote? In that case, what else is just inadvertent mistake?

      Just another nonsense paper, written to support a fantasy. Well meaning, no doubt, but nonsense nonetheless.


      • My preferred level of CO2 was 280 ppm which causes zero temperature rise compared with pre-industrial times. However, we are currently at 400 ppm. Stabilising below 450 ppm would give a decent chance of restricting temperature rises to 2 degrees C and is therefore my preferred option. The closer we stay to 400 ppm the better.

        560 ppm is expected to give a temperature rise of 4.5 C. Implementing only the commitments in the current set of national INDC’s is expected to reduce the final rise to 3.6 C. Of the 0.9 deg C reduction compared with no new reductions, China’s contribution is worth around a 0.4 C reduction.

        However, if the 2030 targets are all hit, further (and currently uncommitted) CO2 emission reductions can still restrict us to a 2 deg C rise. So the current INDCs buy time to do this.

        In practice, the Paris agreement will probably result in some countries making further commitments for 2030. It’s fairly clear that UK could do more, but on its own makes little difference. USA is hardly even trying right now. Probably the biggest single swingers will be extensive agreements between developed countries and China and India to transfer and jointly develop technology and, in the case of India, to help finance the transition to renewables. In this context, loan guarantees to India are a very efficient way to help – they cost almost nothing but are a huge enabler in reducing the cost of finance for renewable energy projects.

        By 2030 the government policies and mechanisms for a move to renewables and nuclear will all be in place and power transmission grids will be sufficiently intelligent and flexible to cope with high levels of renewables generation. Governments will therefore have the levers to go faster with emission reductions and can globally choose to do so if necessary.

      • Peter Davies

        You say

        ‘ It’s fairly clear that UK could do more, but on its own makes little difference.’

        I am never sure which country you are from. Please clarify how we can do more without bankrupting ourselves and disrupting our power supplies even more through expensive energy that works only when the sun shines and the wind blows?

        You also never seem to take into account both sides of the carbon balance sheet, only what you perceive as the negative side.

        Since ushering in the industrial revolution Britain has done more than any nation in the world to improve the sum total of mans happiness improving health, wealth, general well being and helping to transform mans lot from that of a poor, unhealthy and wretched society into one in which general well being is improving for the mass of people.

        So, please try to look at both sides of the balance sheet and then tell me how we can do more without us sliding back towards the levels of those trying to claw their way up to the standards enjoyed by the west thanks to fossil fuel.


      • Peter Davies,

        Thanks for your answer. I see that your preferred level has nothing to do with climate as such, or stopping the climate from changing, although you seem to think that a temperature rise of 2C above current levels would result in adverse consequences for humanity.

        Firstly, when CO2 levels were higher historically (check it yourself, if you don’t believe me), the temperature still managed to drop to its present levels. This would indicate that high CO2 levels do not stop cooling. This is backed up by four and a half billion years of cooling of the Earth’s surface, regardless of atmospheric conditions.

        But setting aside inconvenient facts, what are the specific and demonstrable negative effects of temperature rises? Will the temperature rise everywhere, or just here and there? How do you know? The future is not here yet, so your predictions are not fact.

        So you haven’t really got anything factual, have you? On the one hand, you used to prefer 280 ppm (apparently for no reason), but now prefer 400 ppm for the same reason. Maybe 450 ppm, or even 560 ppm?

        A new record low temperature was set recently in the Antarctic – maybe it’s cooling there, but this is made up for by increasing the amount of missing heat captured and stored by the oceans, or CO2 or pixie dust! What do you think?

        You haven’t thought it through by the look of things. That’s OK. any warming caused by CO2 is only in the fevered brains of Warmist cultists. Not in the real world, thank goodness!


      • climatereason,

        I’m from UK.

        UK could clearly do more by continuing to include the cheaper onshore wind in the contract for differences auction renewables commissioning process, rather than including only offshore wind, which seems to be the case right now. You get more bangs for the buck with onshore wind.

        UK has also made recent increases in fossil fuel tax subsidy – it is the only G7 country to increase these since they all agreed not to. The tax money could be used instead to subsidise more renewables through an contract for differences process (which normally is paid through fuel bill).

        There’s also the weaknesses of the Levy Control Framework budget for CfD, when cheaper gas prices artificially result in higher LCF CfD expenditure (difference between agreed price per unit and the market rate the producer would get anyway) and increase the chance of an LCF cap while the consumer is actually paying less for their fuel bills overall including the CfD costs. it is a bit of a nonsense to cut down on renewables commissioning just because power prices are lower than originally expected.

      • Mike,

        I go with the mainstream climate research findings, as do the totality of world leaders attending next week’s climate conference in Paris.

        The first paper come across to do with historic CO2 levels approaching 400 ppm is (not paywalled, though you do have to register). It says :

        “When pCO2 levels were last similar to modern values (that is, greater than 350 to 400 ppmv), there was little glacial ice on land or sea ice in the Arctic, and a marine-based ice mass on Antarctica was not viable. A sea ice cap on the Arctic Ocean and a large permanent ice sheet were maintained on East Antarctica when pCO2 values fell below this threshold. Lower levels
        were necessary for the growth of large ice masses on West Antarctica (~250 to 300 ppmv) and Greenland (~220 to 260 ppmv). These values are
        lower than those indicated by a recent modeling study, which suggested that the threshold on East Antarctica may have been three times greater
        than in the Northern Hemisphere (35).”

        In other words, sea levels were very considerably higher than at present.

        A SciAm post ( a series of articles says :

        “the last time CO2 levels are thought to have been this high [400 ppm] was more than 2.5 million years ago, an era known as the Pliocene, when the Canadian Arctic boasted forests instead of icy wastes. The land bridge connecting North America and South America had recently formed. The globe’s temperature averaged about 3 degrees C warmer, and sea level lapped coasts 5 meters or more higher.”

        Since on the timescales of millions of years, the earth’s continents move around, giving different climates, and the earth orbital parameters change a little, you can probably find an era when temperatures were similar to now with higher CO2 levels. But since that is clearly not always true (including last time around) then you cannot bank on it this time around and there is plenty of research on the current earth which says high CO2 levels causes a problem.

      • Peter Davies

        I thought you were from the UK but wasn’t sure.

        You know how close we came to power shortages a week or so ago as renewables weren’t available on a warm still evening. The idea of backing them up with diesel generating sets is nonsense.

        The UK govt has at last realised that we can’t keep on subsidising renewables and that we need more base power in the form of gas or nuclear power stations.

        As you know, there are frequent times during the winter when a blocking high creates overcast and calm conditions meaning that we get no power from renewables just when we need it. I would like to see us leading the world by developing a system that stores renewable power when it is in surplus.

        In the meantime, it is a crazy situation to subsidise on shore wind which destroys the vistas of our uplands and subsidise solar when, 2000 years ago the Romans realised we were a cloudy country, and yet we ignore that great generator lapping our shores-the Ocean.


      • Peter

        Your comment to Mike.

        You do realise that Sea levels in Roman times were higher than today, that the Bronze age and MWP were warmer than today, that temperatures have been generally rising for nearly 400 years but that -perhaps due to the 1998 El Nino our temperatures have been declining in the UK for some 16 years?


      • Peter Davies, you don’t have to go back too many millions of years to see things like the closing of the Panama Isthmus, the opening of the Drake passage, the filling of the Mediterranean, and even more recent events such as the formation of the North Sea and the English Channel, and the most recent opening of the Bering Strait.
        And there are probably unknown changes as well, such as sea channels which are now completely blocked by ice and detritus when they never were before.
        Bottom line – lots of things have had, and continue to have, profound and often unquantifiable effects on the climate.

      • climatereason,

        In the UK we do indeed need to replace all the coal generating plant with more gas-fired plants. However, since they will not stay as baseload plants for their lifetime, the new gas plants should be the latest 15 minute fast start designs so they can be used later on to provide fast back up for renewables generation from wind and solar.

        One issue with gas generation is that the consumer carries the risk of fuel price increases over time, be they due to market forces or to carbon price uplifts. With renewables there are no such increases as the finances are set up front by capital costs and costs of money with no fuel.

        Yes, storage would be very handy too. There’s a, possibly hare-brained, pumped storage scheme proposed by Scottish Scientist to provide storage for the whole of northern Europe with 160GW output and a 1 or 2 day capacity.

        More realistically Norway already has 84 TWh of hydro lake and dam capacity and ought to be able to pair lakes to provide a few days of storage capacity for Europe as pumped storage hydro. The Norwegians are investigating, but the real issue is who pays for the conversion to pumped hydro. The initial answer is probably the Germans as they will hit the requirement first. Connectors from Norway to UK should be merged with the offshore wind networks between the two countries.

        While we can discuss subsidies for renewables until the cows come home, the fact is that current UK wholesale electricity rates are not sufficiently high to allow ANY new generation to be installed without some form of extra payments, and this applies to new gas, nuclear and renewables generation equally.

        We have already seen the subsidy required for new nuclear. Although nuclear per se is fine, a 35 year inflation-proof price guarantee of 9.2p / kWh for Hinckley Point C is too much, and we could provide secure power more cheaply using wind and gas combined. £24bn is a lot of money to spend on 3.2 GW of generation. You could provide four times that capacity as wind and solar power split between Europe and North Africa, and fill the residual 20% time gaps with gas generation for that.

        While UK is not particularly sunny, it is very windy, particularly offshore, and new turbine designs (bigger rotor area for a given generator capacity) ought soon to give 50% or more capacity factors offshore and maybe even onshore.

        Whlle I sympathise with guys that don’t want a wind turbine nearly the size of the Shard in their skyline, there’s a huge NIMBY element about all this. If the stark choice were to be no electricity / local nuclear plant / local coal plant / local wind turbines / local coal mine, we both know almost everyone would vote for wind turbines. The objections are primarily intended to move any planned generation elsewhere.

        What is suitable for backup depends highly on how much you expect to invoke it. Natural gas generation is very suitable for back up of a few 10%s of the time. If the expectation is for 1-3% then diesel generating sets may well be fine as it would hardly be used.

      • Peter

        A pumped type storage capacity using a reservoir of water is Unlikely to be useful here where there is limited land for such a scheme and if located logically In the uplands would likely be located a long way from any solar installations. I was more thinking of battery type storage for surplus renewables power but we seem to be a long way away from any realistic solution. Hence the need for research as its potentially a money spinner as lack of storage is the Achilles heel of all renewables.

        Our energy prices are quite expensive enough without deliberately jacking up prices in order to make other types of energy competitive.

        As I say, I favour wave, tidal and thermal power derived from the oceans as they are largely predictable, unlike solar and wind which can never be more than a useful top up until storage devices are invented.

        However, that doesn’t get away from our current urgent requirement which is the building of base load capacity at reasonable prices in order to cope with our falling temperatures.


      • I grew up near the Ludington Pumped storage and toured the facility.

        All you need is land above a body of water where you can put a reservoir.

        Ludington is right on the shore of Lake Michigan.

      • All you need is land above a body of water where you can put a reservoir.

        You don’t actually even need that. Instead, you can use the sea-surface as the upper reservoir, while building pressure containers at depth for the lower.

        I’ve been doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations WRT costs for such lower reservoirs, and while I’m not ready to do a formal post on the subject, the economics look very good, assuming the right learning curve and economies of scale.

        And it’s semi-infinitely scalable.

      • PA

        If you were to put a reservoir above everyone of our wind or solar installations there would be a huge fuss as we are only a very small country. What with wind farms, solar farms and pumped storage reservoirs there wouldn’t be any countryside left, nor money.

        Mind you, we have lots of ocean we can generate power from…


      • AK

        Sounds interesting. Would this be in addition to wave and tidal power and any oceanic thermal gradient power ?


      • Would this be in addition to wave and tidal power and any oceanic thermal gradient power ?

        I envision it as pure energy storage, equivalent to Ludington.

        It could in principle be done anywhere the off-shore depth is more than 100-200 meters, although I normally assume 500 meters (close to the current maximum/most efficient head for Francis Turbines).

      • AK

        Is there any practical distance between the oceanic reservoir and the energy power source?

        For example our coast line is precious and it is unlikely that solar or wind farms would be allowed too near. Does that matter, or does the reservoir and power source need to be located close together?


      • Is there any practical distance between the oceanic reservoir and the energy power source?

        I would assume current high-voltage DC, which means that a few hundred kilometers would be unimportant, given that pumped storage usually usually returns, at best, 85-90% of input energy, and (per Wiki):

        Depending on voltage level and construction details, HVDC transmission losses are quoted as about 3.5% per 1,000 km, which are 30 – 40% less than with AC lines, at the same voltage levels.[22] This is because direct current transfers only active power and thus causes lower losses than alternating current, which transfers both active and reactive power.

        This would be for longer-term (i.e. daily, etc.) balancing, of course. Hour-scale balancing would probably best be done with more lo cal batteries, or battery/capacitor hybrid systems.

      • Another effect of pumped storage is to further reduce the capacity factor of intermittent sources, simply because the energy generated is spread put over a longer time period.

      • It’s not nearly that simple. But yes, an intermittent energy source like solar PV should be considered in terms of its actual average, as maintained by whatever energy storage technology is used to balance it.

        For instance, solar PV is usually assumed to have a capacity factor of around 19% in Arizona. If you assume that most of that power (81%) goes through pumped hydro storage with a return of ~85%, the overall capacity factor must be multiplied by 0.8785 to give an effective capacity factor of 16% (0.166915).

        The difference between 19% and 16% isn’t really all that much.

        Similar logic applies to intermittents such as wind power in England.

      • What I mean is, if a windfarm with an installed capacity of 20GW generates 4GW for 6 hours a day, but drives pumped storage in order to produce a steady output, it’s going to provide just 1GW for 24 hours.
        Whereas a conventional power station with an installed capacity of 20GW can provide pretty much 20GW 24/7

      • There’s an EU analysis of where reservoirs or lakes could be paired, and also where a second reservoir could be created within 20km of an existing one.

        It’s talking about a European potential of 80 TWh of pumped storage hydro, compared with a current European demand of around 8 TWh per day, so implementing all such schemes would provide 10 days of storage, which is about what 100% renewables would need, though there’s no reason to discard back-up gas generation.

        There’s no particular need to put the storage and the generation in the same place as Europe has an extensive grid. The transmission losses are not normally that great unless the distances are huge.

      • peter3172 said, “What I mean is, if a wind farm with an installed capacity of 20GW generates 4GW for 6 hours a day, but drives pumped storage in order to produce a steady output, it’s going to provide just 1GW for 24 hours. Whereas a conventional power station with an installed capacity of 20GW can provide pretty much 20GW 24/7”.

        Are you sure you meant these figures? The next generation of wind turbines will have larger rotors and smaller capacity generators, and in decent locations are likely to have capacity factors of 50%. Some offshore North Sea wind farms are hitting 50% without the new turbines. Even the very old onshore turbines usually hit 25% capacity factor.

        Whereas your example has a capacity factor of 5%. 20GW x 24 hours would be 480 GWh/day. You say it will produce 6GW x 4 hours = 24 GWh/day.

        Even with the different capacity factors of wind and gas generation the LCOE (cost per MWh of power) is likely to be similar to a first order of magnitude, at least for onshore wind.

        For a wind farm the use of pumped storage does not change the generation capacity factor, though it would smooth out the variability in supply of power to the load, which is what you want.

    • Andy, You are confusing scientific consensus for a cultural misunderstanding.

      The characteristic of scientific consensus are :-

      1. Multiple studies published in multiple peer-reviewed journals with an overwhelming majority coming to the same conclusion using a variety of techniques. ✓

      2. Agreement within the researchers in the scientific field as to the objective meaning of terms and how to express results which provides a firm foundation as to how to compare the results of different research studies. ✓

      3. Consistency of results between researchers representing a variety of different cultures (Western, Eastern etc.) ✓, political systems (democracy, communism, monarchism etc.) ✓, genders ✓, religions ✓, individual political views (conservative, liberal, socialist) ✓, nations ✓.

      By contrast those opposing mainstream climate science tend to be almost exclusively :

      A. White

      B. Male

      C. Conservative

      D. Restricted to English-speaking countries (US, UK, Australia, Canada)

      E. Over 30 and mainly over 50.

      F. In the hierarchical / individualist quadrant of both of the hierarchical / egalitarian, individualist / consensual axes.

      • English speaking, eh?

        Went to college near Canadia. Canadia and Oztralia are not English speaking countries, strictly speaking.

      • Heh, when you first showed up I thought it was going to be difficult to distinguish you from the esteemed Peter Davies, now calling himself Peter M. Davies. Gad was I mistaken.

        You sound now like a typical product of the propaganda machine, enslaved to authority, and sneering at skeptics. Whatsa matta you?

      • kim | November 21, 2015 at 12:40 am |
        Bigot much?

        Just the right amount.

        I get really angry with Canada.

        Either the name of the country is Canada and they are Canadans or the name of the country is Canadia and they are Canadians.

        Canadians living in Canada is just messed up.

        As far as Oztralia, what is a ranga? and why would anyone eat vegemite without a gun to their head?

      • PA, I beg your pardon for the misunderstanding. I was speaking to the Goraholic, Peter Davies. Yours was not the least bit bigoted; it was a joke.

        And if the response is that jokes can be bigoted, my response is that dawn is a trigger warning.

      • Don’t worry Kim, we all sometimes get it wrong. My twin needs to be more careful of the stuff that he puts out. I previously hinted that he was younger (and braver) but I think the comment he has just made is clickbait for sceptics and is not likely to be forgotten.

      • Peter Davies,

        You might be confusing pollution reduction measures – relating to things like particulates, sulphur, nitrogen and other oxides, and various other emissions of noxious chemicals – with CO2 and H2O reduction.

        You might find that opposition to the idea of CO2 caused warming is demonstrated in countries that contain people who are –

        A. Non white – eg China, India, Japan, Africa.

        B. Male, female and non specific

        C. Of a wide variety of political, religious and other persuasions.

        D. Representative of all language, ethic, racial and other groups.

        E. Of all ages – for example, no one below the age of 18 has ever experienced global warming.

        F. Haven’t got the faintest idea what you are talking about, but you’re probably wrong about that too!

        Even countries that were stupid enough to believe the Warmist nonsense, are now waking up. Removal of subsidies, plans to restart nuclear reactors, and an approach of panic relating to maintains power supplies, are all signs of reality sinking in.

        But keep predicting doom. We all need a bit of light relief from time to time. All part of the rich tapestry of life!


      • kim | November 21, 2015 at 1:19 am |
        PA, I beg your pardon for the misunderstanding. I was speaking to the Goraholic, Peter Davies. Yours was not the least bit bigoted; it was a joke.

        Cool beans.

        Now as to the points of the target of your affections…

        The characteristics of scientific consensus are :
        1. Multiple studies published in multiple pal-reviewed journals with handpicked editors that let the most mindless slop through (ref: climategate files).

        2. Collusion by the top climate centers as to the objective meaning of terms and how to distort results to provide a firm foundation to bogus propaganda claims (ref: climategate files)

        3. Consistency of results … huh? They didn’t actually have a study to measure forcing until this year – about 40 years late. The models bear no resemblance to actual climate. The whole field is based on vaporware.

        Typical warmer:
        A. No particular color – appears anywhere people have figured out how to get on the climate gravy train.
        B. Eco/Regressive (the “P” is silent).
        C. Ignorant – never had a practical job doing something useful in his life
        D. Values style points over substance.
        E. Restricted reasoning skills.
        F. High competence rating in self-delusion.
        G. Uses newspeak instead of English
        H. Found wherever cronyism and corruption is rampant.

      • Hey, twin2, I scored on all points from A to F! And I hardly ever win on tests and surveys!

        Except I’m not entirely sure about that tangle of axes with the quadrant thingummy…That might need some more work, twin2.

        For now, I still prefer the clarity of twin1, the one with the M.

      • I have seen this description about climate sceptics before Peter (see the work of Lewandowski) but suggest that there is more of a correlation between between these characteristics and that of blogging in general. Just another spurious correlation of which there are plenty, such as that of CO2 levels preceeding changes in temp when it appears that if anything, its the other way around. My bet is that there are other more important influences at work but climate science remains fixated on CO2.

      • It’s not the consensus at play, we all know there’s a consensus.

        What exactly is the consensus?

        That co2 causes warming?

        That it’s ‘extremely likely’- or in less scientific terms, extremely likely- that > 50% of heat is manmade?

      • Here are links to the source material for the makeup of those who oppose mainstream climate science.

        It looks as if I have slandered the Australians, though it was easy to get the wrong impression of them before Abbot was unceremoniously booted out as prime minister by his own party. By contrast the Finns, Danes and Swedes, though not particularly numerous, are more opposed than I would have supposed. Canada unfortunately doesn’t rate a mention, though again they have just booted out Harper as PM who was strongly opposed to climate science. The USA and UK are up there, of course.

        Mike mentioned China, but the results for China are about as close to 100% support for climate science and firm action to counter AGW as you can get.

        On the demographic characteristics it appears my “almost exclusively” phrase does overstate it somewhat, and the right term is “predominantly”.

      • Peter Davies, what a load of bull. So much wrong in your comment it would take too much time trying to correct it.
        But especially this is simply ridiculous.
        “D. Restricted to English-speaking countries (US, UK, Australia, Canada)”

        Most uninformed comment I have read here in a while.

        A Dutch speaking guy from a non-english speaking country, not a conservative and only half white (whatever “white” means)…

      • Having recently discovered I am one quarter Pom, I just want to say how proud I am that the climate botherers in England could only reach 41%, despite torrents of MSM bed-wetting and ubiquitous institutional messaging over decades. Maybe Old Blighty still has a role to play for free and individual thought in this naughty world, just when we’d written her off as the home of warm beer and Kevin Pietersen. God save the Queen!

        The Gallup survey is, of course, a blatant push-poll, shamelessly using slob terms like “global warming” and “How much personally worry” (sic!). It’s pitched by big babies for big babies. Extraordinary that they not only get away with dishing this pap, but they even get paid.

        Please God, send in the adults.

      • When Einstein was told of the publication of a book entitled, ‘100 Authors Against Einstein’, he replied: “Why one hundred? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.”

        “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” ibid

        Catastrophic climate change is a narrative. A just-so story to fill a vacuum in the soul of the irreligious.

        Recognize it for what it is.

      • Peter Davies,

        I looked at your first link. You may consider that 984 anti pollution activists accurately represent the climate change views of over 1,300,000,000 people.

        As I said, many people confuse a desire for less pollution with support for reducing CO2 concentrations. Your first link survey results are not terribly robust, to say the least.

        Look up the latest Chinese government official position on “climate change”. Look at what is actually said, rather than what you think is said. Scientific consensus that CO2 is dangerous or causes warming?

        You’re dreaming.

        The US has about 5% of the world’s population, but about 95% of the hubris, conservatively speaking. The other 95% of the world’s population are becoming progressively more disenchanted with the antics of US politicians, and the lunatic Warmists who advise them.

        Mahatma Gandhi was once asked what he thought of Western civilisation. He replied that he thought it would be a good idea. He was in the US at the time.

        I wonder what he would have thought of the Climate Culture – possibly not terribly cultured at all, given all the strident bellowing, thuggery, evasions and generally deceptive behaviour of its participants.


      • Science only needs consensus when it’s a parking place for stuff that is uncertain, especially when highly uncertain, and for which there will be no near-term resolution of competing theories. It’s a useful framework on which to base exchange and further exploration and work on uncertainty bounding, while even then bearing in mind that the framework itself could be misleading E.g. the dark matter debate.

        The climate consensus on imminent calamity (decades), is a socially manufactured one, enforced by culture; as noted in the head post that’s part of the job description of cultures. It is not a parking place for wide uncertainty; the uncertainty has been buried from public view under a cultural avalanche promoting calamity.

        In different countries (the US is more tribal than most on the topic), alignment or resistance by different social groups is what one would expect regarding a new culture pushing its way onto the block. There is much less alignment of this kind on topics that spring from science but have *not* been hi-jacked by culture. E.g. the GM foods debate. See the ‘Aux File’ for a brief look at that.

        And see the ‘Aux File’ also for 3 steps of social analysis using Kahan’s great data and public surveys, which same 3 steps detect creationism as a cultural position, and the climate consensus as a cultural position.

        The social attitudes to climate change, even limiting to the US, are more complex than you imply. You might find this helpful:

      • Why do you have a problem with white, middle aged, conservative males? They are responsible for pretty much everything that western civilization was built on and they keep it working.

      • Mike,

        984 poll respondents is 984 more than you have to provide any statistical support for your statement that ” The other 95% of the world’s population are becoming progressively more disenchanted with the antics of US politicians, and the lunatic Warmists who advise them.”

        It is true that some other countries, such as China, lump climate change and the environment together, even though they understand they could theoretically be separate issues. This is because from their perspective the solutions to both are very similar.

        “Look up the latest Chinese government official position on “climate change”. Look at what is actually said, rather than what you think is said. Scientific consensus that CO2 is dangerous or causes warming?”

        I just happen to have a printed copy of the English section of the Chinese INDC submission to the UNFCCC on 30th June 2015 in front of me (printed last week). See's%20INDC%20-%20on%2030%20June%202015.pdf . Let me just quote a little from it :

        “Climate change is today’s common challenge faced by all humanity. Human activities since the Industrial Revolution, especially the accumulated carbon dioxide emissions from the intensive fossil fuels consumption of developed countries, have resulted in significantly increasing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, exacerbated climate change primarily characterized by global warming. Climate change has significant impacts on global natural ecosystems, causing temperature increase and sea level rise as well as more frequent extreme climate events, all of which pose a huge challenge to the survival and development of the human race.

        Climate change is a global issue that requires the collaboration of the international community.”

        This is what the Chinese say they had achieved on climate change by 2014:-

        “Carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP is 33.8% lower than the 2005 level;

        • The share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption is 11.2%;

        • The forested area and forest stock volume are increased respectively by 21.6 million hectares and 2.188 billion cubic meters compared to the 2005 levels;

        • The installed capacity of hydro power is 300 gigawatts (2.57 times of that for 2005);

        • The installed capacity of on-grid wind power is 95.81 gigawatts (90 times of that for 2005);

        • The installed capacity of solar power is 28.05 gigawatts (400 times of that for 2005);

        • The installed capacity of nuclear power is 19.88 gigawatts (2.9 times of that for 2005).”

        And this is what they say they commit to achieving by 2030.

        “To achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early;

        • To lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% from the 2005 level;

        • To increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20%; and

        • To increase the forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic meters on the 2005 level.”

        Note that to hit these things by 2030 means starting at least a decade before that. In fact the Chinese have already started on most of these things.

        On the “best efforts to peak early” commitment, most analysts believe this means peaking coal use by 2020, as it has to be well on the way down by 2030 to allow room to expand the economy using gas generation. However, it looks like China might already have peaked coal use in 2013, as 2014 was down slightly and the figures we have for 2015 show it to be 7-8% down on 2013, with “only” 7.4% economic growth. Figures for the last 3 years were all revised upward recently, but the percentage changes are still valid.

        In case you want to go into more detail than is in the INDC, then here is the official Chinese government English climate change web site –

        You’re dreaming.

      • Peter Davies,

        As I said, read what they wrote. Disregard predictions, scenarios, PDFs. They haven’t happened yet. See what they have actually done. Their reductions are possibly accurate, but based on units of GDP. I’m sure you can define a unit of GDP as used by the Chinese government, but it is as meaningless as forcing is to a climatologist. It means precisely whatever you want it to mean.

        However, as a dedicated Warmist, I’m sure will be able to tell me what happens when you achieve your stated aim of stopping the climate from changing. You can also tell me, no doubt, what level of CO2 in the atmosphere you would like to see, and why. Will the climate stop changing? Will the weather change? Will we enter a Golden Age, when CO2 levels are reduced to pre Industrial Revolution levels?

        You’ve got no answers at all. You just can’t be bothered thinking for yourself, by all appearances, just another gullible lemming, cheering the others on as the horde plunges forward to who knows what.

        You’re right. I’m dreaming. Dreaming of sanity, rationality, and science performed by real scientists, not the ragtag lot of hasbeen and wannabe pretenders. Some dream, wot?


      • Mike,

        Sure, if we disregard all the Chinese achievements to date (probably peaking coal use 5 years too early, installing huge amounts of renewables, disregards all the Chinese commitments and plans, disregard all the predictions of the Chinese and others of the effect of those plans. Disregard all the Chinese statements that AGW is real and dangerous. Disregard all the commitments and plans of all other parties, plus their achievements we are left with precisely…


        And this is precisely what you are suggesting to do. Disregard everything which has or will make a difference. With no reason.

        But that is because you choose to ignore everything, not because there is nothing which will make a difference.

      • You’re forgetting the fact that anyone who does not accept the consensus is prevented from publishing in peer reviewed journals by the current culture so you can’t use #1 as an argument of validity. There is wide disagreement among researchers if researchers like Dr. Curry or those who study the sun or polar bear populations in Canada are included. “Within the field” has the same unfortunate problem as the peer review case. If you are not publishing what the culture wants you are not “in the field” and can therefore be discounted. Your list of the characteristics of the researcher do not take into account two confounding factors. Since culture requires conformity or loss of publications, grants and position only those scientists who have nothing to lose, i.e. those over 50 and retired or those not “in the field” can risk nonconformity. Since science of the 50+ crowd was largely male and white simply due to the dominance of the field by white males at the time they began their careers, stating that white males are themselves the problem is specious. It is however a very effective tool for discrediting them culturally as is labeling them the dreaded evil conservative. So you have nicely invoked 14 “Dissenters will be demonized, and possibly persecuted if the culture has gained enough moral penetration.”

      • Peter Davies,

        You still haven’t said what happens when the climate stops changing, or how you intend to do it.

        You haven’t indicated your preferable level of CO2, and why.

        I am all for burning as much of Nature’s previously sequestered CO2, and putting it back into the atmosphere as can be achieved. I want to keep living. Don’t you?

        Pollution is a separate argument, and I agree with the Chinese government in this regard. Like any cultist, you believe in doom and disaster, followed by death – you just cat explain why, or suggest any rational solution.

        Are you prepared to state your preferred level of CO2, and support it against any scientific objections? I don’t believe you can or will, but I’m always prepared to be proven wrong.


      • Somehow I managed to post the response to Mike’s post above my original second-level post and not above it, so please search for it above at time “November 20, 2015 at 11:52 pm”

      • Peter Davies, please stop trying to imply that comparing the installed capacity of intermittent power sources, such as solar and wind, with that of non-intermittent power sources, is in any way meaningful.

      • peter3172,

        Of course renewable capacity and fossil fuel generation capacity are not equivalent. You have to multiply everything by the respective capacity factors to get anywhere near equivalence. That’s what the LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) figures do – they measure the price per MWh unit generated. But even here the measures for fossil fuel and renewables are not comparable.

        For instance, for 2050 European generation you need something like 120-150% of the peak load capacity if using fossil fuel + nuclear. For wind and solar (no nuclear to simplify the scenario) you would probably want 400% of peak capacity + storage (10 days of average load plus generation capacity somewhat less than the peak). Ideally wind and solar would be split between Europe and North Africa. If you include nuclear then pro-rata the peak load down to do the sums.

        Wind in the North Sea (windiest part of Europe) is independent of onshore wind on the North African coast, and both have capacity factors of 50%. Wind has a correlation length of 1,000 to 1,200 miles so the whole of the North Sea can be becalmed at the same time. Solar power in southern Europe (not desert) should be supplemented by solar power in a variety of locations in the North African deserts. There is little correlation between weather, and therefore solar power, in deserts over a few hundred miles apart. So the geographic separation helps considerably in smoothing the gaps.

        This renewables approach would lead to gaps in satisfying demand about 20% of the time – mainly off-peak when solar is not generating. This must be satisfied with storage and pumped storage hydro is the only game in town. Europe has something like 80 TWh potential for pumped storage which is close to being enough for a current 8 TWh / day load.

        The total cost would probably be cheaper than today because solar is going to end up being dirt cheap by 2050, albeit the capacity factor will still be only 20-23% (except for some hot salt storage intra-day).

        You may choose not to decommission the remaining gas generation if you are of a nervous disposition. It would not be worth fitting CCS because statistically you hardly ever expect to use it!

      • p.s. 400% of peak load capacity of wind and solar means 200% of peak load capacity of wind and 200% of peak load capacity of solar (PV or CSP – concentrated solar power with storage).

      • I forgot what the consensus was, is that 50% or more of the warming the past century is man-made, which doesn’t really have any policy implications, or that greater than 100% of the warming is man-made and we should all stop breathing starting with “you first”?

  23. When does a culture become a cult?

    • Whern untestable hypotheses become regarded as foundational theory, which in turn is regarded as the unassailable arbiter of which empirical data are to be discarded

      Simple, really

      • Mommy, Mommy, are we there yet?

        Sorry, Sonny, we passed the turn-off miles ago.

      • The problem is if some guy in this day and age says God just gave him the Truth of the Universe, that guy will find himself in the asylum rather than at the right hand of the King. So, the power mongers had to find some other method to subjugate the citizens. Viola! “Climate Change”

      • Hee hee, I know who that is and I like him. Very acute often, and maybe this time, too. I’m very taken with andy’s work and can easily get carried away. Please forgive the youthful enthusiasm.

    • The current doctrine of separation of church and state properly applied – would find the “Cult of Anthropogenic Global Warming” (CAGW or the “Climate Cult”) is a religion and debar any and all members from government science grants.

      Current government policy on climate science is equivalent to giving over $2 billion in grants to study Catholicism and another $18 billion to promote the Catholic church.

      It is obvious that this would be unconstitutional. The global warming program – all $ 22 billion or so should be terminated. Climate science funding authority at NSF and EPA should be terminated.

      A new funding office – with a explicit ban on membership in environmental organizations by the staff as a conflict of interest – should be set up to administer climate funding, The “Honest Climate Science Foundation” (HCSF) would administer all climate science funding . By removing the EPA/NSF Ecowhatevers from the grant process and banning them from the new agency a modicum of honesty and objectivity in climate science may be possible.

      Cultists have proven time and time again that they are incapable of honesty and objectivity. Instead of advancing the cause of human understanding they have given us facsimiles of athletic equipment.

      Time has come to end the government support of Climate Cultism.

      • PA,

        The global warming program – all $ 22 billion or so should be terminated.

        I understand the ‘climate industry’ is about $1.5 billion p.a., PA. :)

        Has that figure been demonstrated to be grossly wrong? If so, link please?

      • Peter Lang | November 21, 2015 at 7:18 am |

        The global warming program – all $ 22 billion or so should be terminated.
        I understand the ‘climate industry’ is about $1.5 billion p.a., PA. :)
        Has that figure been demonstrated to be grossly wrong? If so, link please?

        1. You are factually incorrect. The ‘climate industry’ just from an activist organization perspective is $ 7.8 billion and they get kickbacks from the government for suing the government so there may be more money in the kitty.

        This encompasses sectors like renewables, green building and hybrid vehicles.
        2. The number batted around like a kat with a ball of string is $ 1.5 trillion per year. Haven’t analyzed it. Let’s see. That’s interesting. Wind maintenance is in the neighborhood of coal plant fuel cost on a per MW-H basis. Anyway – after some analysis (about a page or two) since I’m paywalled the numbers are about right. The $1.9 billion in consulting is interesting. Just the wind maintenance was $12-15 billion in 2014. Lumping all the green activities in is fair.

        3. Renewable Energy is ugly, it wastes raw material, chews up valuable land, is expensive, is uncontrollable/reliable, is dirty, and exists because of government fiat and subsidy. There is no reason to install renewable energy except for climate fraud, and corruption of the government by green interests who hate cheap energy.

        4. If we just said “screw it” and installed nuclear and coal and terminated all green programs it would be much cheaper. Global coal costs is only around $ 600 billion. The green industries cost 3 times the amount ($1.5 trillion) and only produce 10% of the power (biofuel/wind/solar/geothermal).

    • A bit late, but “When ure removed from it.”

  24. “…whatever you think about global warming and whether humans are responsible, I think we have to salute this remarkable feat of international cooperation.” Richard Dawkins.

    Where mediocre minds take you.

  25. Curious George

    I am not sure what qualifies as a “culture”. Is a religion a culture? Is silencing your opponents a culture? Can you list three most striking successes of a multiculturalism?

    • 1) yes
      2) it’s an act, which may be performed in or out of a cultural context
      3) multiculturalism seems to mean different things to different folks; I’ve not personally plumbed this fuzziness at all, doesn’t seem productive. Notwithstanding this I think it would be classified as a policy, and one which I figure has no bearing at all on the fact that cultures (with attendant characteristics) exist.

      Unfortunately the word culture does itself have wide applicability, in ordinary everyday language one can speak of ‘business culture’ for instance. I subscribe to the strong Darwinian end of cultural evolution, and memetics in particular. A better word from this area for what might be regarded as a mainstream or ‘full’ culture, would be a ‘memeplex’.

      • Curious George

        Thank you, Andy. Mr. Socrates would probably say that we are discussing an ill-defined subject.

  26. o/t

    In 2007 (published 2008) Keenleyside et al published a peer-reviewed paper in Nature titled “Advancing decadal climate-prediction in the North Atlantic sector”.

    Refreshingly they made an actual measurable forecast:
    “we make the following forecast: over the next decade, the current Atlantic meridional overturning circulation will weaken to its long-term mean; moreover, North Atlantic SST and European and North American surface temperatures will cool slightly, whereas tropical Pacific SST will remain almost unchanged.”

    (How often do you see actual measurable forecasting in climate science. More of that please.)

    The authors went on to state:
    “… global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming.”

    Apparently the nutty alarmists at are crowing about the prediction being wrong. But I can’t see it. I get a page telling me domain name has expired.

    Anyone else have this problem?

    • Heh, with a link to renew it. I don’t think the renewers have to be the present owners. Someone run and grab it, I’m too chicken.

    • This may relate:

      Even by the standards of Internet scams, the scheme is brazen. According to a tip sent to Science, fraudsters are snatching entire Web addresses, known as Internet domains, right out from under academic publishers, erecting fake versions of their sites, and hijacking their journals, along with their Web traffic.

      Hopefully, whoever hijacked RealClimate won’t give it back! :)

    • I assumed they realized the relevance of their site and came to their senses.

    • Their prediction was wrong before the ink dried.

      These people are all waiting for the AMO to go negative.

      It is as negative as it is likely to get in this century – the 21st century. There is a big blue blob in the North Atlantic. Even so, the bloody thing appears stalled at its crest

      If the AMOC were to shutdown, that is a different thing. Hansen, in his widely criticized recent paper, thinks it could, but you folks rejected that.

      The Water Chef said the AMOC would/could shutdown literally 100s of times in the comments section of this blog, and nobody said a word because they thought he was skeptic of catastrophe. Haha.

  27. I am struggling to hold onto a belief system that lets me believe in Creationism, Catastrophic Anthropogentic Global Warming, and the moral imperative of might makes right. This is my cultural meme:

    “There will likely be some vision of catastrophe, and yet also an expectation of salvation / rebirth / renewal that is conditional upon catastrophe avoidance.”

    Salvation and rebirth, where have I heard that before? Ah…within a religious context. It doesn’t matter which religion, just so that it is a religion. Today we have religious wars and at times before we had religious wars and now we have escalations religious wars; shooting religious wars. Are we descending into yet another 30 Years War? I think so.

    Mr West. Please show us a pathway to resolution rather than, what appears to me to be an iteration of the problem: entrenched ideology.

    Thank you

    • “Sigh”, in light of the recent Paris incident (no, not the IPCC conference, that hasn’t started yet), and the Russian tragedy, the “What’s flat and glows in the dark” jokes are making the rounds again.

  28. A discursive post – your choice as to whether you read or skip.

    Andy, excellent piece. You wrote “innate altruism needs cues regarding who is in-group and who is out, what is correct behavior in this group and what is not. These cues are largely provided by culture” (just before Conclusion); “Some relief is provided by the fact that while we’re all subject to the influence of cultures, there will always be some folks vaccinated against any particular one; “ (to kim @ 8.35); and “For the domain uninitiated, doubt in the presence of a strong culture, e.g. a culture of catastrophe, would typically be ‘innate’, i.e. a defense against misinformation or cultural overdose that theoretically at least, is deeper than culture” (to kim @8.24). Turbulent Eddie wrote @ 4.52 “Group defense, safety in numbers, divisions of labour, mating and other advantages mean we evolved in groups. And these advantages mean we evolved to stay in groups. And we evolved to conform to the group because being an outcast adversely effected success. So it is not surprising that ‘group-think’ exists – it’s in our DNA.”

    I’ll go back to my roots to respond. My response to family trauma from age two was to seek love through being “good” (of course, it doesn’t work, but it was the best strategy I could come up with at the time). My cues for good behaviour came from my environment – post-war North-East England, poor and uneducated (though intelligent) Irish-born Presbyterian/Methodist deserted mother, avid reader from an early age, school etc. Trying to be “good,” I was very often in trouble – perplexing! [Decades later, I summarised that “I’ve always been different,” not by trying to be, but always perceived as such; innate.] I got stoned for the first time in Istanbul in 1967, aged 25. That was a turning point. I realised that there were thousands of ways to see the world, and the one which I’d been shown, where I got my “good” cues, was false. Either the elders of society were lying, or they were ignorant. I realised that I had to find my own understanding of the world, a search which led through (limited) philosophy and LSD to India, a path followed by many from North America and Western Europe, and in my case to Vipassana meditation, which enables you to go the the depths of your mind – far greater than our so-called “conscious” – and observe reality as it manifests within ones own mind and body.

    So the cues I picked up were not coherent and consistent, and did not conform to reality. I learned not to accept them; I became “vaccinated.” I think this is essential for self-development, and for human well-being. Many CE posters exhibit “vaccination,” perhaps a bond amongst a disparate group. My doubt in, defence from, the culture is strong. Not that I see no merit in it, but I see some of the flaws and gaps. Call me sceptic if you wish. And yes, T’Eddie, there are advantages in group conformity, most people largely stay within prescribed (overt or innate) bounds, but that will always limit the society and the individuals within it. Being an outcast adversely affects success in the context of the group and its values, but it can be an advantage in self-development, understanding and the contribution you can make to humanity. I could go on (and on), but I’ll pause – I’m heading overseas tomorrow, and my daughter has just arrive after a day-and-a-half’s driving and needs a cuppa.

    • Well, Michael, I missed out on the Vipassana and have closed my mind to it not being too late to partake, but what I learned there was that much of the world’s people work at hard physical labor from dawn to dusk for barely enough to get by on, and that has helped me to get by without the Vipassana.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful answer Faustino.

      Your route to vaccination against strong culture is interesting. I think such vaccination is still rare globally, despite the progress and assistance of science. Pus vaccination against one culture is not always proof against another.

      Maybe in the far future, we will partake of major common action (which undoubtedly society needs to survive) by pure reason. But right now the majority of that comes from culture, so we cannot throw it overboard unfortunately. The best option is to manage the effects, and utilize those who are less influenced to help maintain some objectivity.

  29. Since our professor would have hung about with sufficient intellectuals in his youth, I don’t think he’d be surprised by the dangers of Global Solutioning…just the terrify scale of GS by 2015.

    Seriously, a “professor of bio-cultural evolution” from the 1980s would have been saturated in dogma, you wouldn’t be able to find his brain for the crust of assumption. I’m still not sure I have ever met a literal creationist, but just the faintest whimper about holes in evolutionary theory was enough to land you in the pillory back in the 80s. Culturally speaking, of course.

    Look, I love Darwin as much as the next bloke, but a High Victorian naturalist and geologist who marries his first cousin should stand as a warning for the ages against leadership by intellectuals.

    Let’s just obliterate the climatariat first and I promise I’ll go through the professors list of 22 suspicions about cultural stuff ‘n all that. Promise.

  30. LukesAreWrongToo

    The calculations by Lukes and Warmists are WRONG because they do NOT explain the required energy flows. The direct solar radiation cannot and does not account for the observed surface temperatures on Earth, let alone Venus. Back radiation has nothing to do with such temperatures. It could only slow the rate of cooling by radiation, but the solar radiation is not what gets the surfaces of such planets up to the observed temperatures. How does the surface actually warm each morning? How does the required new thermal energy get into the surface? YOU GUYS HAVE NO UNDERSTANDING AT ALL IN REGARD TO THE THERMODYNAMICS OF PLANETARY TROPOSPHERES. You need to think in a wholly different paradigm – one which has been explained correctly by only one writer in all of world literature. When you understand the maximization of entropy it will blow your mind as to just HOW WRONG all Lukes and Warmists are. The biggest single problem is that they don’t understand thermodynamics and radiation, and they are not prepared to try to learn and understand such. They just scoff at the author of that breakthrough science (already endorsed by other physicists) and think they know better. But water vapor does not raise surface temperatures and they cannot prove it does with any valid study of temperature/precipitation records. THAT SINGLE FACT DEMOLISHES THE GREENHOUSE.

  31. Fortunately there is not one World culture that can be manipulated in the ways discussed in this paper, as we can see from the difficulty that the IPCC has in persuading the Indian, Chinese, and other Governments to agree with its manufactured views on climate change without massive financial bribes.
    Way back in the 1950’s a friend of mine was commissioned by IBM to carry out a study of different societies to determine the best ways to sell their computers. He found that societies can be divided into four categories which he termed the Who, Why, How and When societies. The Who societies are dominated by authority, that is who is the decision maker. These societies can also be termed the Cowboy and Indian societies as they see things in Black and White or Right and Wrong. Such societies are well represented by the USA, UK and other societies of similar origins. They respond to authority, hence the appeal of the IPCC and claims of consensus promoted by persons in authority, but they are also the source of dangerous social trends. It is no accident that eugenics arose in the UK, was promoted by “elites” in the USA, especially California, and picked up by the Nazis to justify their actions. This theme, if one can call such a malicious anti-human view a theme, is still at the back of much of the climate change activity as espoused elites as seen in the activities of the Club of Rome and others of a similar ilk. They get support from the When societies that are based on authoritative and apocalyptic religions, especially the Catholic and other Christian based ones – that are or have been prepared to use torture to further their views – that promote the end of times, so repent now why you have a chance, and don’t forget to send your donation! These societies are opposed by the How and Why societies – Japan, China and other Asian countries being good example of a How society that wants to know all the facts before they act. The Why societies used to be represented by those that had a strong Shaman influence, such as Finland, but are mainly found now in individuals with a skeptical bent who need to be given a justifiable reason to act, which in the case of the IPCC climate change claims is currently absent.
    This means that we can expect many of the views expressed in this article to come to pass in the Who and When societies but not in the others that are benefiting from the self destruction that is being brought about by the climate change meme and are supporting it to claim even bigger benefits – think 100 billion dollars per year!

  32. “According to Live Science, NASA recently released information suggesting that Antarctica had been gaining ice instead of losing ice. The new study, published in a recent edition of the Journal of Glaciology, shows that melting ice and new ice formations are both forms of global warming in action, and that one does not automatically contradict the other. . . . [NASA] is making a statement about the way things are today [using] a data set that is seven years out of date,” said Mann. “If they used data that was up-to-date, they would find a higher rate of loss.”

    So losing ice and gaining ice are both forms of global warming.

    If that’s not good enough, Michael Mann implies that NASA is staffed by incompetents using obsolete data. Michael Mann no doubt is keeping the up to date data secret, just to demonstrate who’s really running the show.

    Must be a cultural thing, I guess. To a Christian, an omnipotent God can perform miracles. To a Warmist, omnipotent CO2 can perform miracles.

    With faith, there may be no need for rational physical explanations. The inexplicable or miraculous is simply put down to the supernatural powers of CO2.

    I believe cult and culture are derived from the same Latin root, so it probably doesn’t make much difference whether one refers to the Climate Culture, or the Climate Cult. Climatology by any other name would still stink.


  33. Judith, there are people who can be representative of Mr West’s Robinson Crusoe, I know because I am one. Some of this group have made important scientific and technical discoveries and innovations, I’m not one of those.
    Their greatest strengths can also be regarded as disabilities. John Dunne was wrong, a man can be an island. I am talking about autism, aka Aspergers Syndrome.

    Hans Christian Anderson is now regarded to be ‘on the spectrum’. His story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ is most often regarded as an example of ‘pluralistic influence’, and as a phrase is often used by climate sceptics to describe the logical fallacies in the alarmist’s arguments. But it’s simpler than that, it actually describes what it is like to be autistic. To be alone in a crowd, not understanding the crowd, not influenced by the crowd and not understanding that often in social situations honesty is not the best policy.

    Unfortunatey, under the present dominant sociopolitical culture, honesty is not perceived to make the best policy.

    • Autism as a child is NORMAL. The ultimate ability of the child to integrate with mainstream thinking is governed purely by how much he or she gives a f**k about conforming. I am speaking from experience.

      • I kind of see your point since the definition of “borderline personality disorder” begins with “Is not a teenager.” There are certain behaviours in a two year old which in a 12 year old would be alarming. However I would very strongly disagree that autism as a child is “normal”. Ask a parent whose child will not make eye contact, cringes with discomfort at a hug and can’t sit in a classroom because of the buzzing noise the fan down the hall makes. While I intensely dislike the term “abnormal” being applied to autistic, Aspies and those on the normal side of spectrum, we do need to be perceptive and respectful of their differences. They are not “normal” nor do their special differences and gifts apply to all children.

      • Conforming is the easiest way to gain acceptance from your parents, siblings and the general community. Kids catch on early that if they “performed” to expectations of the people whom they need to deal with, they will be “loved” or in some way deemed to be “acceptable”. Kids that don’t conform are “different” and they simply don’t care. Conformity involves eye contact and numerous other ways by which parents and teachers and others use to obtain the “correct” responses.

  34. “the climate consensus is as much about culture as it is about climate science”

    It has to be about the culture because the science is a pile of steaming dung.

    Even the stinkiest Warmer knows this.


  35. This is one of the very best articles I have read on the topic and has really helped me to understand what is going on. I have long been utterly baffled by events like traveling outside Canada and being confronted by concerns about polar bears going extinct when by every objective measure I have access to, polar bears are doing very well, thank you very much. In fact it was the entire bizarro obsession with polar bears contrasting so sharply with the reality that led me to my first global warming confrontation.

    • Thanks for this, much appreciated.

    • Climate contrarians should plant a seed of doubt by focusing on polar bear alarmism as a microcosm of climate alarmism. Debunking the first and exposing the emotional basis of PB alarmists is much simpler than doing so for the vastly more complicated and populated field of climate alarmism.

  36. It woul be interesting to see this approach applied to the ‘culture of climate skepticism’ – won’t hold my breath.

    • Kahan has tried to look for this, without success to date. See the bottom paragraph of page 6 in the ‘Aux File’, plus the related footnote 9 near the bottom of the same file, which has some links.

      • Indeed, all the claims of total scientific fraud and one-world govt are evidentiary in nature.

        Though I’d be easily convinced of the ideological, as opposed to the ‘cultural’, nature of most ‘climate skepticism’.

      • Michael | November 21, 2015 at 11:24 pm

        Sure there are emotive memes, ideology and downright wacky claims within the spectrum of skepticism. Yet even in the US where there is more tribalism in the climate domain than most of the RoW, the skeptic characteristics of this sort score low on the lists in the head post, falling far short of a full culture. The most obvious lack is that of a powerful socially enforced consensus, the most important feature of a culture. Nor to date are there anywhere near enough folks in this bracket for it to likely coalesce into a culture anytime soon.

  37. Thank you Andy for this great essay.

    The vast amount of climate information published daily demonstrates that the cultural defining of climate change is what drives disinformation as knowledge over science (biased or otherwise). Real science is overwhelmed many orders of magnitude by imbued cultural wants latching on to sciences power because it represents natural laws that can be used for leveraging effect; this is complicated by those scientists who are advocates of cultural change.

    All the cultural disinformation surrounding climate reminds me of an early Wendy’s TV commercial, “where’s the beef?”. There’s way too much soybean in our climate science.

    • Two voices from the past regarding those deep cultural

      Protagoras breaking with tribal god-given certainties by
      arguing that social norms are man-made.

      Michel de Montaigne observing re the tyranny of custom,
      there’s nothing so outlandish that cannot be demonstrated
      in public practice somewhere in the world.

      • There’s some comfort when an outlandish custom has to be found isolated somewhere in the world as opposed to the scaffolding of climate tyranny that circles the globe and is easily found in the lexicon of daily discussion.

  38. Thanks JT. Right now I’m eating a beef sandwich, so this is very apt. No soy :)

  39. Andy West, another excellent essay.

    How would you define the difference between a culture and a cult? It seems to me we tend to use “culture” as a positive, more reasoned entity and a cult as a thing that the more gullible are drawn to.

    Those that are advocating decarbonizing the world economy immediately and at any cost in order to stem catastrophic man made warming, seem to fit into the common definition of a cult than a culture IMHO anyway.

    • Demonizing your opponent, Mark?

    • Thanks Mark.
      “How would you define the difference between a culture and a cult?”

      That’s a tough one, as there’s a lot of fuzzy ground / overlap between them and I’m not sure anyone has a great definition. But cults are typically much narrower affairs, i.e. their scope is more focused, and they rarely get mass support (often concentrated just in one small social strata or geographical area, or both). While cultures and cults both feature passionate support from all involved, the entities that get described as cults often have a higher proportion of top-down control or personality worship, whereas cultures are not dependent on particular personalities, and throw up the right folks for the emergent course at the time.

      And yes cultures have many beneficial properties. An arbitrary social consensus in the face of the unknown is a huge evolutionary advantage considering that nearly everything was unknown historically (and a great deal still is!) That’s why we still have them. But they can go net negative, sometimes atrociously so. I think a culture with very strong downsides is how I see CAGW, not as a cult. Which also means there will some upsides. Cultures can sometimes start very aggressive, and via selection slowly get more benign, because otherwise the societies they affect most would die out!

      • Andy, I think you are confusing social movements with cultures. In fact social movements are how cultures change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, such is life. Environmentalism is a social movement and CAGW is just a stage therein.

      • No confusion. Among other reasons, social movements can occur in support of a new and rising culture, or in opposition to an ailing or oppressive one, as you imply. (And there is certainly an overlap of terminology too). There are movements supporting CAGW in various countries.

        But in this case the direction of causation is clear. The movements did not create the message of certainty of calamity, which then worked its way into society and finally academia to latch into these as a culture. The narrative started in academia and spiraled outwards with the increasing emotive content and alarm that eventually became culturally entrenched, then working its way through governments and eventually wider still. It fired existing NGOs into avid support, and also spawned new ones plus popular movements.

        The cultural narrative of calamity spawned the movements, not vice versa.

      • IMO there’s a lot more to the “impending calamity” feeling. I’d guess the potential goes back to before language, at least in its present form.

        And I’d also guess that the feeling usually comes from some unconscious prediction, but then gets attached to whatever rationalization catches the victims’ attention.

        The example I like best involves the apocalyptic strands of early Christianity. IMO many Jews and “God-fearers” saw impending calamity in the evolution of the early (Augustan) Imperium, but rationalized it as impending divine destruction. The calamity they foresaw actually occurred (the Judean War and “Year of the Four Emperors”), although the prophecies were at best distant metaphors of what actually happened.

        If my speculation is correct, most of the CAGW alarmists are actually foreseeing some sort of calamity probably unrelated to climate, which is just a rationalization.

        Given the heavily leftist correlation with apocalyptic CAGW, my guess is what they’re really reacting (proacting?) to is some sort of final triumph of capitalism. Something that ultimately renders their socialist ideology finally obsolete.

        Given how close technology, as produced by (somewhat) free-market capitalism, is to rendering all their fossil carbon issues into non-problems, I suspect what they really fear is final proof that humanity actually can support its full numbers in a comfortable Western-type lifestyle without ruining the planet.

      • Andy not really sure that this came essentially out of academia. Academia is always full of ideas of all stripes. When it is not, then almost certainly someone is effectively pushing an agenda from inside and out. So what gets picked up and run with is the question. In Europe Margaret Thatcher certainly had a big effect in popularizing it. It fit in with a style of millennial movements that sees itself struggling to save the world. Certainly the perils of overpopulation was a precursor. No doubt the more radical brands of Environmentalism found it to be a useful illustrative meme. It is, as is so often noted, a “Noble Cause”. It is an easy condemnation of industrialization and its organization foundation in Capitalism. I think that Global Warming was a useful and fruitful fact that provided a lot of congruence for a lot of dissatisfied and alienated individuals. These individuals came together in hopes of proving their social critique correct and of overwhelming importance. And in point of fact, there was and is enough “truth” in these critiques that they have the ability to move large groups of people, unfortunately, heretofore not to action.
        It has moved past that to what you so capable discuss as Culture. It is now a signifier of your membership in a group who is good, noble and trying to save mankind in contrast to those who are opposed for purely selfish reasons.
        I do find your analysis of culture rather value free. It has always seemed to me that while social organizations may flounder around, ultimately they must in the long run have social utility. I would propose that the Climate wars do to, but no one is willing to fight over the real issues. They are much too real. See my comment about Townsend’s anecdote 4:10 pm

      • AK | November 21, 2015 at 8:42 pm

        Powerful memes of the apocalyptic, often associated with guilt that “it’s ultimately our fault”, do indeed seem to appear in a variety of cultures. In the end, which memes rise to prominence is just a result of their ability to get the strongest emotive result (maximizes their replication). Yet through gene-meme co-evolution we may also become more sensitized to the successful memes, over millennia. I guess ‘world catastrophe’ is a kind of ultimate emotive argument our minds find hard to fight off.

        Fundamental memes of this type do seem to get endlessly recycled, in mildly differing forms. I guess this way they can attack the same basic entry port into our emotive reactions without having to evolve too much from an older religion / culture that is ailing or discredited. New lick of memetic paint, and off for another round that may last a generation, or a millennia or more.

        Though there’s an array of other related memes too, the apocalyptic does indeed form the heart of the CAGW narrative; the *certainty* of near-term calamity is the most powerful driver, and this time around the meme has hi-jacked the authority of science, which makes it much more relevant to the modern world and modern thoughts.

        In any particular country (e.g. the US), left wing support (e.g. the climate apocalyptic), or right wing support (e.g. the religious apocalyptic), are more likely just the convenience of those cultural alliances which happen to benefit the culture at that time and place.

      • Michael Scott | November 21, 2015 at 11:47 pm

        Well I would agree that the physics theory of warming from CO2 rapidly amplified to the concept of dangerous global warming in the seventies and eighties, and during this inflationary period spread through certain channels of society (universities and government research not least) into a whole bunch of groups to whose agenda the concept was a a huge gift. Politicians and environmentalists included, as you note. But as the underlying idea is indeed a scientific one, and it is enormously important to the culture that it is always underwritten by science, and indeed from Climategate one can see that the Hockey team and associated scientists continue to drive and fully back global warming, then I think it’s perfectly valid to say the culture was born in academia.

        I’m not sure what you mean by ‘value free’ regarding social utility. Cultures have immense utility, but one won’t necessarily find what this is in the immediate / surface events regarding any particular culture (e.g. CAGW). The benefits are not always intuitive, but the fundamental one throughout our evolutionary past is that it allowed societies to quickly and easily achieve common action in the face of the unknown (and pretty much everything was unknown until very recently, and much still is). This is an enormous survival advantage, and indeed common action is the basis of civilization. To release this monster benefit, we have to live with some downsides, like the temporary suspension of reason or parasitical cultures, or those that are too aggressive to people (typically aggressive cultures become more benign, otherwise the they die out along with their burdened hosts, being unable to compete with more benign cultures that benefit their hosts more).

      • Andy…

        I’m looking at it from a slightly different perspective.

        I guess ‘world catastrophe’ is a kind of ultimate emotive argument our minds find hard to fight off.

        Based on my studies of Early Christianity, I’d say the people who adopt such “apocalyptic” memes are already foreseeing some calamity they can’t do anything about.

        Fundamental memes of this type do seem to get endlessly recycled, in mildly differing forms. I guess this way they can attack the same basic entry port into our emotive reactions without having to evolve too much from an older religion / culture that is ailing or discredited.

        My speculation is that different people (or the same people at different times) have different sensitivities at that “same basic entry port”. During the early Roman Empire, for instance, the coming collapse of the “Pax Augusta” with armies marching all over the once-peaceful core of the Empire offered no way for a man to escape or protect his family.

        What Paul offered, instead, was an end of the world, along with ways to achieve resurrection afterwords, based on things people could actually do. By believing in Paul’s “Gospel”, they could escape a sense of helplessness WRT the coming collapse of the “Pax Augusta”.

        Similarly, what the apocalyptic CAGW offers is tokens (fluorescent lights, electric cars) along with political activities that people can actually do. Of course, it also demands blind denial of the actual proportional numbers, but most people don’t know how to work out the actual numbers anyway. They don’t see them as real.

        Based on this, I’ll predict a continuing denial on the part of the CAGW catastrophists that any solution based on tweaking “free-market” capitalism could be any help. Even while the real issues of fossil carbon are resolved by ever-cheaper solar PV, fossil-neutral fuels, nuclear power, and a new technological revolution, they’ll become ever more frantic, making ever more extreme demands to abandon their “Great Satan” capitalism.

        In Europe, I’ll predict that the “climate” movement will split, with the right-wing portions merging with an essentially capitalist “renewable” industrial revolution, while the left fades into the general mass of fringe socialist loonies.

        We’ll just have to see how it turns out.

      • AK | November 22, 2015 at 8:34 am

        Well I think your perception of the general process is great. Indeed folks do have differing sensitivities at the same basic entry ports for memes. And not only that these ports can be strengthened against certain memes by various kinds of ‘vaccination’. For instance one culture may claim it is the only one in the domain that matters, which helps vaccinate against others (there is only 1 God and his name is X). And reason can sometimes vaccinate against certain memes, as long as it gets in first, before intrinsic bias caused by the meme then blocks proper reasoning regarding the subject matter of the meme. Btw a memetic vaccination is called a ‘vaccime’.

        Though one should not be too literal and not take it to mean that cultures are illnesses (they are not), a good way to think about the situation is like diseases spreading through populations. Some populations have better natural resistance to particular diseases, some have worse, and individuals occupy a whole spectrum of vulnerability within their own population (evolution has resulted in polymorphism as a populational defense). Resistance can be increased by vaccination, or behavior that avoids exposure to the disease, and on a longer timescale biological resistance and increased efficiency of the disease are constantly chasing each other in an arms race. All this is true for memes that are the basic drivers of cultural engines too.

        But when it comes to the specifics of a particular culture, the amount of complexity and cross-cultural interference in the real world makes it virtually impossible to map detail without the benefit of hindsight, so I think predictions for the future are highly speculative to say the least (though I understand the temptation to try, and have tried to think forwards myself too).

  40. This post seems one sided to me, Andy. Presumably skepticism is just as cultural as the consensus movement. So are science, public policy making and politics for that matter. Skepticism might even be termed the counterculture cultural movement, because it is the cultural reaction to the cultural consensus movement. The question is so what?

    I hope you are not suggesting that the culture sciences you list are supposed to somehow resolve the debate. The most they can do is describe it scientifically. Moreover, the researchers are likely to describe it based on their position in the debate. We are seeing a lot of that already, such as the psychological analysis of skepticism as a disorder.

    • The situation is not symmetrical, any more than the creationism / evolution debate is. Please see the ‘Aux File’, which executes the same 3 basic steps of social analysis on both domains, and finds the creationism position to be culturally defined in the first case, and the climate Consensus position to be culturally defined in the second case. The skeptic position is evidentially defined, BUT I repeat from the ‘Aux File’:

      “…in this context ‘evidentially defined’ by no means indicates correctness. A range of evidential positions may even include at the fringe, wacky theories. It indicates a position or range of positions that whatever their merits, are not based mainly on a cultural argument or culturally enforced consensus, but on (potentially subsets of) evidence, no matter how well or how badly that evidence has been interpreted, or indeed how complete or incomplete the total evidence available currently is.”

      In its broadest sense, an ED position means any position that has not been co-opted by a culture. The robot from Mars (see the file) may wish to test much of the evidence, assuming it has humor it may even have a laugh at some, but it knows that the range of evidential possibilities are not systemically serving an arbitrary narrative.

      While no major issue impacting society will be devoid of some cultural effects, climate skepticism is not a main culture. It does not even have the same primary cause for those who are knowledgeable in the climate domain, and those who are not. For the latter, their skepticism is most likely ‘innate’, a deeper than cultural defense mechanism against misinformation and cultural over-dosing. For the former, it is driven by a realization of reality – i.e. the genuine uncertainties that undermine the narrative of imminent calamity. On the consensus side, both for those knowledgeable in the domain and those who are not, the main cause is the same, climate cultural influence. See the graphs of more polarization for the science knowledgeable and the climate science knowledgeable, in the ‘Aux File’. The same effect occurs in the evolution / creationism domain, for the same reasons.

      No, of course those disciplines can’t resolve the debate on climate science. But they would bring to bear immense knowledge on the behavior of cultures, and provide support that authorities would believe, that the climate Consensus *is* a culture.. As most of what is happening in the human sphere (as opposed to anything in the actual climate), is dominated by cultural effects, this would be immensely useful. But currently, folks in those domains believe the narrative that the certainly of calamity is merely a scientific fact, hence they don’t even think to apply their skills.

      • ==> ” For the latter, their skepticism is most likely ‘innate’, a deeper than cultural defense mechanism against misinformation and cultural over-dosing.”

        That just happens to be associated with ideological viewpoint? An “innate” defense against misinformation and cultural over-dosing just happens to be associated with support for the Republican Party, and even more interestingly, is stronger among Tea Partiers and less strong among mainstream Republicans (the mainstream Republicans are closer to independents than Tea Partiers), and even more, more interestingly, associated with a greater likelihood of belief that the Earth is 6,000 years old?

        Fascinating…so an “innate defense mechanism against misinformation and cultural over-dosing” can partially predict a belief that the Earth is 6,000 years old.

        Andy, collect some empirical evidence to support your theories.

      • The consensus position is most certainly evidentially defined, because CO2 is a GHG. Or do you doubt that? The skeptics actually have the harder case to make, because the consensus position is based on a simple version of the basic science. This is why the skeptics are so heavily into the detailed science.

      • Andy, regarding this statement of yours: “But they would bring to bear immense knowledge on the behavior of cultures, and provide support that authorities would believe, that the climate Consensus *is* a culture. As most of what is happening in the human sphere (as opposed to anything in the actual climate), is dominated by cultural effects, this would be immensely useful.”

        I do not see how it would be useful, much less immensely so. Given that most of what is happening in the human sphere is dominated by cultural effects this includes science, policy making and politics. So pointing this out seems pretty useless to me. But then I do not know what your “*is*” means. In fact I find most of what you write meaningless. If culture is everything we do then it explains nothing we do.

      • David Wojick | November 21, 2015 at 12:26 pm |
        The skeptics actually have the harder case to make,

        This is flatly wrong. The climate cultists (they aren’t really scientists) have the harder case. They have to prove:
        1. More CO2 causes warming
        2. More warming at some level of increase has negative effects that worsen with further warming..
        3. The change in CO2 is large
        4. The unit change in CO2 forcing per PPM is high.
        5. The combination of CO2 forcing and CO2 concentration increase produces net harmful levels of warming after feedbacks are considered.

        All 4 have to be proven to some degree of certainty for CAGW to be an issue. The cultists can prove #1 to the satisfaction of most people.

        #2 has seen some progress, but the temperature has to increase beyond 2.5K for there to be “low confidence” of harm. So it takes a lot of warming to be considered potentialy harmful and less than 2.5K is beneficial.

        They have gotten little traction on 3-5. If any of the 5 is untrue CAGW is off the table.

      • You are making my case PA. The points you raise are very detailed compared to the basic CAGW argument, which is simply that we are increasing CO2 and that is dangerous because CO2 is a GHG.

      • J: ‘innate skepticism’ works against all misinformation that is heavily pushed across society, from whatever subject domain and generally in a cultural context. See refs in previous posts with evidence from papers by Lewandowsky and colleagues (and other sources). E.g. the three part series at WUWT starting here:

        DW: The physical properties of CO2 speak nothing to a narrative of the certainty of imminent (decades) calamity, which narrative is the heart of the climate culture.

        Given climate culture is driving policy and also derailing science, better perception of cultural issues will be hugely useful, not least in freeing science from a cultural grip and letting it operate unburdened again. I did not say ‘culture is everything we do’.

      • By the way, Andy, I am also curious about your use of the term culture in “…the climate Consensus *is* a culture…” Apparently you think that single, narrow systems of belief are cultures. Is liking cats a culture? Also disliking cats? I think you are using the word culture in a very confused way, and as a club with which to smite your opponent. But then, confusion is a useful weapon.

      • David Wojick | November 21, 2015 at 2:57 pm

        I don’t think this at all. Nor is it implied. Cultures reveal themselves via known and recognizable effects; see the ‘Aux File’ for a basic 3 step analysis that picks up some such effects. The *same* 3 steps show that creationism is a cultural position, and that the climate consensus is a cultural position. Both are shown. If you don’t like the steps for the latter, you also have to say why they are wrong for the former.

        While the lists in the head post are not full, ‘liking cats’ does not match any items on there, let alone a majority. This is not a serious argument. You have read the head post, right?

      • David Wojick | November 21, 2015 at 2:50 pm |
        You are making my case PA. The points you raise are very detailed compared to the basic CAGW argument, which is simply that we are increasing CO2 and that is dangerous because CO2 is a GHG.

        The situation (and the likelyhood of global warming) is something like this:

        1. Global warmers essentially claim the next batter will hit a home run out of the park.

        2. When 6 year old with the plastic bat steps up to the plate, the skeptics say, “we see some issues with your claim”.

        3. The Global warmers double their bet and claim they are certain (all of them- a consensus if you would) that the batter will hit a home run.

        Lets look at the facts:
        1. They do have a batter.
        2. He might hit the ball.
        3. The ball will likely go some distance that is not negative or zero.

        And of course the skeptics have to delve into the “very detailed” points to explain why a home run is not the expected outcome.

        Will he hit a home run? Not likely. About as likely as CAGW.

  41. Andy –

    As with your selective, differential association of emotionality with views on climate change (failing to account for the abundant evidence of emotionality on the “skeptic” side in order to do so) your selective, differential association of “culture” with views on climate change suffers from a lack of empirical evidence. I’ll repeat my comment from your earlier post, with some appropriate adaptations:


    There is overwhelming evidence that the descriptors of “skeptic” side and “realist” side are subsumed by and associated with ideological distinctions. The notion of a division of people across society, and hence their cognitive attributes, by their view on climate change is facile.

    Assuming that there is, in general, a direct biasing influence towards irrationality bias due to emotional cultural engagement on one particular issue does not suffice to quantity the factors that govern the strength of that relationship for individuals let alone across some basically arbitrary distinguisher such as views in climate change.

    • See the evidence in the ‘Aux File’, and that below, both of which contain evidence from Kahan and public surveys, plus reference other posts with further evidence, for instance regarding bias mechanisms, which is drawn almost exclusively from consensus sources (papers and further surveys and quotes).

    • Joshua, are you jealous that somebody else is using your “selective, differential association” trademark argument?

      How about your “selective, differential association” of climate-change skeptics with conspiracy theorists? Or your various “selective, differential association” of climate-change skeptics with mental defects of several kinds over the years?

      How is it that you can attack another for using exactly the same argument style you have repeatedly used? Could it just possibly be a complete lack of self-awareness or reflection?

    • Regressives drove conservatives out of the psychology field. Overwhelming evidence by a field overrun by progressives isn’t evidence – it is propaganda.

      Most of the left is irrational, self-deluded, and narcissistic by the standards of the average population.

      50 years ago the “warmer” viewpoint would have gotten roasted over the coals by a psychiatric profession that was diverse and representative of the society it served.

      But regressives don’t like bad news and shoot the messenger. So in academia, psychiatry, the law, and the bureaucracy the regressives have driven out conservatives because they hate to hear honest opinions, objective analysis, and bad news (IE their pet theories are wrong).

      If you gag your opponents and claim overwhelming evidence, that is just overwhelming evidence that you gagged your opponents.

      And you wouldn’t have to gag your opposition if you were right.

  42. A friend recently admitted he had changed from being skeptical to a believer in the consensus, because to remain a skeptic meant to believe in a world-wide conspiracy of smart and knowledgeable people. I countered that no conspiracy was needed, indeed no belief in doing wrong. What we had was a confluence of interests, or “mutual self-interests”, that create a consensus (plus that very little of the position came from review of attribution studies but almost all came from studies of modelled effects of assumed cause-effect relationships).

    What I was describing was the practical results of and (partially) methods of cultural shifts.

    I can understand why the current philosphers/sociologists find analysis of their own time alarming. Finding a mote in one’s own eye is terrifying. Finding one in someone else’s is merely interesting, even if disappointing.

  43. Having many years ago spent a decade in graduate school studying Sociology and Social Psychology along with a smattering of the other Social Sciences. The points are all familiar. After having seen the movie “Trumbo” last night. I wonder if a listing of things which raises a skeptical mind would not be as illuminating.
    One of the tell tale indicators for me is when everything about a theory suggests a negative outcome and their are never any acknowledge positive side effects. Nature is never so tidy. only groups find comfort in absolutes. Even Arrhenius held “By the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates, especially as regards the colder regions of the earth, ages when the earth will bring forth much more abundant crops than at present, for the benefit of rapidly propagating mankind.”
    The denigration and definition of the other as an outsider who is either a dupe or motivated by personal gain at the expense of the greater good.
    Appeals to authority.
    The strongly held opinions by those who have no specific knowledge about a subject with the righteous belief that they should openly dismiss and ridicule other opinions.
    Calls for cloture as further discussion is detrimental to action.
    A means to a grand and worth idealized goal far beyond what the proposed solution could possibly provide. This anecdote I find telling.
    From Solitaire Townsend Co-founder and Chief Executive
    of Futerra Sustainability Communications
    “TOWNSEND: I was making a speech to nearly 200
    really hard core, deep environmentalists and I played
    a little thought game on them. I said imagine I am the
    carbon fairy and I wave a magic wand. We can get rid
    of all the carbon in the atmosphere, take it down to
    two hundred fifty parts per million and I will ensure
    with my little magic wand that we do not go above
    two degrees of global warming. However, by waving
    my magic wand I will be interfering with the laws of
    physics not with people – they will be as selfish, they
    will be as desiring of status. The cars will get bigger,
    the houses will get bigger, the planes will fly all over
    the place but there will be no climate change. And I
    asked them, would you ask the fairy to wave its
    magic wand? And about 2 people of the 200 raised
    their hands.”
    But I digress. Anyone else wish to contribute

    • Michael Scott,

      Can I get perfect unchanging weather, if I get in first? I realise someone else will suffer, but why should I care? If it gets boring, can I have a change? Please, Mr Townsend?


  44. Maybe. Stupidity certainly does get enforced by culture and yes the purpose seem to be common action. But the benefit of common action is so far undemonstrated. The actual benefit to common culture is the same as religion, the possibility that most folks across a broad area may mostly tolerate each other trade with each other be able to communicate with some understanding; they may even agree upon which life forms may be killed or even eaten and share a common currency or measuring stick.

    I’ve yet to see a benefit though of common action.

    • I guess this depends what you mean by ‘benefit’. I mean it in the evolutionary sense. Societies that could mobilize many upon common actions, not least in a war say, or upon major irrigation projects (e.g. in early Sumerian society and elsewhere), and have coherent interaction that doesn’t need to be reasoned all the time but just occurs through long reinforcement, would have had major advantages over other humans who did not do this, or did it much less. So it’s a major benefit to survival. This is not to say there aren’t downsides to this system also. For instance it is not always a benefit that reason may be compromised. But overall the system appears to have been a major *net* benefit, historically, which is why we are still sensitized to culture. Yes, religion is just one type of culture.

      • Andy, It seems to me that almost all people would like to make some simple kind of distinction between individuals and the culture they inhabit. I would say no, that no one who is not a part of a culture is a human being. Even the reported sightings of feral humans that would occasionally occur in the 19th century always seemed more romanticism than reality to me. The very thoughts that circulate in our head and that we use to think about and shape the world are the preeminent social tool. I am, of course, referring to language. If we were not social, we would not need language. The fact that it is at our core tells us that we are innately social and cultural. In fact, the idea that we believe in the dichotomy between people and their cultural simple tells me, we are in many respects, truly alienated from ourselves. So I guess my point is that “cultures” are not tools that we willy nilly employ, they are us. It just seems that we have very little control and understanding about the workings of our social nature. In my mind, that is our great failing. Even Psychology and the Social Sciences seem unable to find a framework which truly bridges this gap.

  45. Geoff Sherrington

    While watching ABC TV (culture) here in Australia this Sunday holiday (culture) morning, there was the usual (culture) emphasis on praying and related useless ways to waste time.
    So I knocked the top off a long one (culture) and had a cold, satisfying drink (need) while contemplating the developing court case (culture) about what Exxon knew (culture) about global warming (culture) dangers (culture). It seemed to me that because Exxon did not manufacture GHG (culture) it would be harder to prosecute than a beer company (culture) which exists to manufacture CO2 and sell it in bottles and cans and kegs and glasses.
    Come to think of it, so does Coca-Cola Corporation (culture), which might be more guilty (culture) than Exxon.
    Reminds me of that scene in Dr Strangelove where the sergeant with the 1000 yard stare (culture) is asked to shoot (culture) the lock off a dispenser so that a public phone call can be made to the POTUS (developing culture before losing it.)

  46. Considering how much may be predicted about the climate consensus from one single fact, i.e. it is a culture, this has to be the most important single fact one could possibly know about the climate Consensus. And if this fact isn’t grasped more widely, especially by those in the disciplines that deal with culture, everything we know about culture will have to be learned again within a climate-change specific context, the hard way.

    IOW, anthropology and sociology, which are supposed to distance themselves from the culture in which they reside in order to provide above-the-battle wise counsel, are instead Only conventionally unconventional, and are objectively “wise fools.”wise fools,

  47. I don’t know Andy, you appear to be applying the no true Scotsman fallacy,no true Robinson Crusoe professor of cultural evolution would apply anything but the skeptics guide to climate change cultures.

    Imagine your professor being stranded in 1913 and being rescued by the U.S. navy in 1944. Would she apply this kind of analysis to the anti-AXIS culture? I don’t think so.

    Ever notice how skeptics are always willing (ok, generally) to question other skeptics. It is a rare … non-skeptic that blinks an eye at anything a compatriot might avow.

  48. Jeff Norman | November 22, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    “Would she apply this kind of analysis to the anti-AXIS culture? I don’t think so.”

    I don’t either. Or at least if attempted, the professor would soon see upon a return home, that the characteristics didn’t match at all and the that anti-AXIS entity is not a culture, and only military pact thrown together for the purpose of defeating the AXIS. However, upon applying the analysis to the power that arose in Germany and swept over Europe, he/she would most certainly see that it is a culture matching all the above list, and a deeper look would reveal a core cultural alliance of National Socialism, anti-semitism, and eugenics, the latter providing the authority for atrocity by an under-writing of ‘science’.

    And if the professor was stranded some time before Christianity became the official religion of Rome, and rescued thereafter, the analysis would also apply, notwithstanding that the stretched timescales and historic era before skills like the professor’s existed, makes this example physically impossible.

    The feature lists in the head post are generic to many cultures, hence do not form a Scotsman fallacy, i.e. are not specifically related to the climate domain. And the ‘Aux File’ provides a basic analysis detecting the climate consensus as a culture. The same 3 steps are shown detecting creationism as a culture. You may not like the steps for the former, but if so you have to say why they’re wrong for the latter too.

    • But now you’ve changed the story. Before she’d just talked to some sailors. Now she’s back home seeing more of the picture. The alliance of the Allies to defeat the Axis was a political agreement. The cultural desire for this alliance had to be present before the citizens of the demoncracies could accept the political/military solution: really, an alliance with the Soviets?

      This culture was subsequently modified using propaganda, surely something a cultural evolutionist would be fascinated by.

      • And if the democracies believe they have the political support of their electoral culture they too will enter into an alliance to defeat the evil axis of AGW.

        A few problems… no Churchill in the UK, no FDR in the US, no climate change attacking innocent neutrals, no stormy sneak attacks on Hawaii or anywhere for that matter.

        Just a few hucksters trying to fool all of the people all of the time. It is their culture that they are trying to get societies to adopt. While this culture demonstrates the characterists listed in your essay only someone who has studied it will see how they manifest.

        So no true cultural evolutionary scholar would immediately assume anything based on a passing discussion with the crew of the ship that rescued them from a thirty year isolation.

      • I was merely answering the logic of your proposition; I’m sure you could have imagined the sailors telling the prof about the Hitler worship or some-such, which arouses the profs similar suspicions. And in comments above I also noted that of course the first thing the prof would do in the climate case, would also be to check the situation upon returning home.

        No important entity in society is likely to be devoid of all cultural features. And yes propaganda is an interesting aspect. But none of that addresses your original point. And interest in the mundane of some standard allied propaganda, when a full blown culture has swiftly arisen in the profs absence, that has dramatically changed the morals and laws and behavior of half of Europe, resulting in an regime that also commits horrendous atrocities and counts these as good for humanity, would pale hugely by comparison.

        The alliance against the AXIS is not a culture. The lists in the head post address different cultures, not just the climate case.

      • bother, mis-threaded again, see below…

      • bother, mis-threaded agaian again, see below…

      • ah, it’s my screen that was screwed, now ok.

      • Jeff Norman | November 22, 2015 at 3:50 pm

        I have no idea where you’re going with this. You raise an incredibly unlikely scenario (rather like a religion, climate culture is inside the democracies, so they can’t have a traditional war against it), apparently just so you can knock it down. Plus you cite AGW as ‘evil’, which seems wholly inappropriate. And none of this seems related to your conclusion anyhow.

      • “The professor immediately has strong suspicions that:”

        Your premise is wrong.

    • Jeff Norman | November 23, 2015 at 9:11 am

      Then present a case as to why you think so. I can’t identify any coherent case in your offering so far, let alone a persuasive angle. Per above the whole alliance against the AXIS thing is not relevant. Maybe you have a reasonable line of argument, but I’ve no idea what it is.

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