The Subversion of Science by Green-Left Politics.
by John Reid
The development of modern science in the late 18th century went hand in hand with the rise of modern industrial capitalism. Its potteries, mines, steam engines, mechanization, and science itself, were all done by private enterprise. The role of government was to enforce patents and maintain a healthy legal and commercial environment.
Nowadays most scientists are paid by the government. What passes for science has largely become taxpayer-funded Environmentalism. Environmentalism has taken over much of science.
Scientists discover, understand and inform.
All of us … are borrowing against this Earth in the name of economic growth, accumulating an environmental debt by burning fossil fuels, the consequences of which will be left for our children and grandchildren to bear. Marcia McNutt – Chief Editor, Science Magazine.
This is preaching. There is no scientific justification for this statement, which was made by the editor of one of the world’s most prestigious science journals. It is a statement of militant Environmentalism, pure and simple. To say that she should have known better is to misunderstand the situation. It would be like saying that the Communists, who controlled big chunks of the Australian trade union movement in the 1950s, “should have known better”. Environmentalists are way ahead of those old Communists; their “Long March through the Institutions” is now a fait accompli.
It works like this: activists use science to push for international action on a science-related issue in an area such as health or environment. Then, an international agreement is established, and the science on which it is has been based becomes institutionalized and funded by government. Time and again, when this happens, “the science” stops being science. This is because the scientists working on the relevant topic start being advocates and stop being researchers. After all, they are now being paid by the bureaucracy to support a particular doctrine, not to discover new stuff.
Real science, which requires a sceptical and innovative frame of mind, then withers on the vine.
Here are some examples:
In 2012 I received 7000 milli-Sieverts of radiation as treatment for prostate cancer. I found out from the Web that this is twice the fatal dose! I became curious about how I came to survive this assault and I discovered that radiation administered in moderate doses is not cumulative and is not especially harmful. In my case it was definitely beneficial.
But the International Committee for Radiological Protection says otherwise . They say radiation effects are always cumulative and that there is no safe dose: see here about Wade Allison‘s book, Radiation and Reason.
But you can’t be too careful, I hear you say. Well, yes you certainly can be too careful. The Japanese government was too careful when it forcibly relocated 100,000 people following the Fukushima meltdown.
- Number of deaths: about 1600 people.
- Cause of deaths: Suicide mainly.
- Number of cases of radiation sickness: 3 people.
- Number of deaths caused by radiation: none!
The suicides arose from the social dislocation which occurred when people were compelled to leave their homes and their farms and their jobs and their schools to be relocated to the other side of Japan for reasons of political correctness.
The 1968 London Convention on Ocean Dumping
This forbids the disposal of poisons such as heavy metals in the deep ocean. Hydrothermal vents were discovered in 1977, 9 years after the convention took place. Also known as “black smokers”, they lie on mid-ocean ridges and above volcanic hotspots, 2 to 3 kilometres below the surface of the ocean. Every year they pump into the ocean:
- 500 tonnes of Arsenic,
- 1500 tonnes of Lead,
- 50,000 tonnes of Copper,
- 140,000 tonnes of Zinc and
- many other metals including Uranium and its radioactive daughters.
This has been going on for, perhaps, a billion years or so.
Nature is the biggest polluter of the ocean and the London Convention is a joke. In fact it is worse than a joke because it precludes sensible, practical solutions to important environmental problems. For example, without it we could dispose of radioactive waste in deep ocean trenches where it would be out of harm’s way until it is ultimately subducted under the earth’s crust by geological processes.
The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is the most egregious example of this science-destroying institutionalization. It is all the more virulent because it feeds into the pre-existing mindset of Left and Green ideologies about “Corporate Greed” and “Mankind wrecking the planet”.
Billions of dollars are being pumped into this. Tens of thousands of climate modellers, their technicians and their computer jocks are the self-righteous recipients. They are not going to give up their funding easily – for them this is the greatest thing since sliced bread and, what is worse, most of them sincerely believe that they are saving the planet.
Over the last 30 years, Climate Science, once a forgotten little wallflower, has become a rock star.
There is really no solid evidence that human activities affect global climate. It is only a theory. Computer models based on this theory have no predictive power; they are complicated curve-fitting exercises and, like all such curve-fitting exercise, they fail catastrophically outside the range of the fit.
On the other hand there is ample evidence that so-called “greenhouse gases” do not affect global temperature to any observable degree (see my UNFCCC Submission to the Federal Government for more detail), viz.:
The observation that the amount of industrial CO2 added to the ocean-atmosphere system since the beginning of the industrial revolution, about 400 Gigatons, is only a tiny fraction of the total amount in the system, 32,000 Gigatons.
The observed rate of decrease in temperature with height, the adiabatic lapse rate, is measured many times a day throughout the world by weather balloons and it fits a simple convective heat transport model of the lower atmosphere. It does not fit a simple radiative heat transport model; there is no blanket of CO2 “holding the heat in”.
Careful comparisons of small changes in global average temperature with variations in atmospheric CO2 concentration indicate that the latter lags the former by about ten months indicating that temperature increases cause CO2 increases and not the other way around. (Note added 2/2/22: Better statistical techniques now indicate that there is indeed a causal relationship between CO2 concentration and surface air temperatures.)
The global distribution of atmospheric CO2 concentration recently observed by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory does not support the view that increases in this gas are largely due to Western industrial activity. Rather, the gas appears to emanate from the rice paddies and rain-forests of the Third World (see here and here).
The observation that global average temperature has a variance spectrum which is “red” at every time scale from one year to 100,000 years (i.e. the longer the time scale the bigger the variation). The small variations (~0.8°C) which occurred during the 20th Century are only to be expected. They are random walk excursions. There is nothing to explain. Climate science is like picking patterns in TattsLotto numbers. Meteorologists can predict the weather up to about a week ahead. That’s as good as it gets.
But if you are a scientist who is part of the climate change institution this evidence is all irrelevant. The “Science of Climate Change” was frozen sometime back in the 1990s when the IPCC was first set up. Nowadays it is just a matter of running ever more complex computer simulations and making more “projections” of future climate and its alarming consequences.
And, of course, re-jigging the data so that it fits the models better.
We often hear it said that “97 percent of climate scientists agree …” and so on
Well they would, wouldn’t they.
About the author: I have a PhD in Upper Atmosphere Physics from the University of Tasmania. I have worked for the Australian Antarctic Division and CSIRO in auroral physics, ocean waves and fluid dynamic modelling.
I am a scientist – I discover things. I discovered cosmic noise absorption pulsations and I discovered the physics underlying the frequency down-shifting of surface gravity waves. I am presently working on a method for distinguishing between cyclical behaviour and random walk excursions in natural time series.
21 Replies to “The Subversion of Science by Green-Left Politics”
A great piece of work John. THE most important trans-disciplinary article to have come out of science in the last several years ! ! ! ! ! !
Thank you for your insightful and accurate observations.
My only complaint is that you should have made a clear distinction between “Science” and “scientist.”
At no time has “Science” been corrupted, as Science is ultimately a process. What has happened is that some scientists have perverted, aborted, distorted their professional commitment to Science, in favor of promoting a political or economic agenda.
Look up “Normative Science” or “Post Normal Science” as examples of how the public is being purposefully confused by faux-science — i.e. non-sense.
My talk to Congress, ScienceUnderAssault.info covers a lot of what is going on here.
The URL for ScienceUnderAssault.info is
That much longer url will work, but the actual url is “ScienceUnderAssault.info”.
Good point Mr. Droz!
Speaking from personal experience here in New York State (NYS), science has absolutely nothing to do with energy policy decisions going on here today!
Back in 2009, a number of NYS citizens pressured the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) to have a meeting to discuss whether or not industrial wind energy is a scientifically-sound solution to our energy issues, since NYS was not only allowing, but actively pushing the proliferation of sprawling, bird-chopping, community-destroying wind factories across the state. Instead of being concerned about wasting our economic and environmental resources on the NON-SOLUTION of wind energy, NYSERDA officials told us: “Industrial wind is a political agenda that has been handed down to us from Albany and Washington [DC] – It is not up for debate.”
NYS officials refused to discuss any of the realities surrounding industrial wind at all. There you have it – our energy-illiterate government at work. You can not get any more UN-scientific than that.
There is nothing at all that is “scientific” about political cronyism-driven solutions to corporate-profit-driven, taxpayer-pickpocketing, climate alarmism that is going on in the world today. “It’s all about the money” – period.
For a summary of the 2009 NYSERDA Meeting on wind, see:
NYS’ Multi-Billion Dollar Energy S-WIND-LE:
I agree with John Droz’s comment but that said, I have not seen the assault on the Scientific Method described more elegantly and succinctly elsewhere. I think (and hope) that some politicians are aware of what is happening, particularly in Australia where I live, but it is in the nature of politics that politicians cannot get too far ahead in a political debate lest they leave sufficient numbers behind such that they are not elected. That said, this issue above all others requires leadership and heaven only knows just how many crave for that but don’t yet see it. I just hope that the climate itself will reveal all, and soon, and that we then have a shame list of the rent seekers who exploited this scam.
Great, except for one wild swing:
“ For example, without it we could dispose of radioactive waste in deep ocean trenches where it would be out of harm’s way until it is ultimately subducted under the earth’s crust by geological processes.”
I don’t believe subduction occurs (along with a sizeable minority of geologists), but even those who do have the process of “off-scraping” of the sediments as the plate dives down, allegedly forming folded sediments. So the radioactive rubbish would not be subducted.
I think the idea was first proposed by Fyfe – a New Zealander and basically a physicist and not a geologist.
I first heard it in the morning tea room of the Uni of Tas Physics Department from my old Prof, Bill Ellis ca 1968. Even if you are right about subduction not happening, it is surely still worth discussing and maybe doing some modelling and testing. It should not be put beyond the pale because of some poorly-informed treaty from half a century ago.
Enjoyed your essay. You might enjoy mine, in which Marcia McNutt also stars.
While I have been with the Sceptics for several years now on Climate, your paragraphs on Radiation Health and Ocean Dumping were new to this non-scientist author. Good luck to you in this patient disarming you do. As you will have divined, we are about the neutralising of our era’s version of the Eschaton. The previous epoch had nuclear weapons, the 17th Century had witchcraft and Armageddon, and human pathology seems to need something to exercise its enjoyment of doomsday contemplation. You help to talk the pathology down. My thanks.
Excellent Article on how environmentalism has hijacked the real science of climate change and prediction. Since the UN climate body the IPCC came into being in 1988, climate science has stopped making any progress in understanding past climate changes and there is NO predictive skill in climate models.
I love that you put this in ways a non-scientist can understand. Living in England, there is something in the news almost every day about “Climate change is responsible for…” or “Global warming now means that…” – part of the culture now.
Thanks from another US reader. And thanks to John Droz, jr for bringing it to my attention via masterresource.org
Here is a useful disruptive thought.
There is much too much concentration on immediate / short term of temperature changes. The big picture is much more informative.
Our current beneficial, warm Holocene interglacial has been the enabler of mankind’s civilisation for the last 10,000 years. The congenial climate of the Holocene spans from mankind’s earliest farming to the scientific and technological advances of the last 100 years.
The usual lengths of past interglacial periods are 10,000 – 11,000 years, so the Holocene epoch could well be drawing to its close. A climate reversion to full, encroaching, glaciation is therefore foreseeable, if not overdue, in this century, the next century, or this millennium.
Using ice core records and looking at climate change from a century by century or on a millennial perspective the overall millennial difference during the Holocene since ~8000BC has in total been a cooling of ~-1.8°C.
The data shows the early Holocene encompassing the “Climate Optimum” of ~ 7000BC and lasting for about 7000 years was relatively constant with a temperature loss of only about -0.05 degC per millennium
However since 1000BC up to the present day the temperature drop was at about 10 times that rate at ~0.5degC / millennium.
The last millennium 1000AD – 2000AD has been the coldest of the Holocene overall.
Most of the Holocene temperature loss ~-1.5°C has been in the last 3 millennia since 1000BC.
The scale of temperature changes that alarmists anticipate because of Man-made Global Warming and their view of the disastrous effects of additional Man-made Carbon Dioxide emissions, the much vaunted and much feared “fatal” tipping point of +2°C would only bring Global temperatures back to the level of the very congenial climate of “the Roman warm period”.
If it were possible to reach the “potentially horrendous” level of +6°C postulated by Warmists, that extreme level would still only bring temperatures to about the level of the previous Eemian maximum. The world has been there before and survived.
Current Modern warming does not even bring temperatures back to those of the Medieval warm period.
Already the most recent 3 millennia which have experienced accelerated cooling, a continued natural climate change towards a colder climate would now seem more, rather than less, likely. This makes the late 20th century warming look pretty insignificant and nothing to get distressed about. Now that warming seems to have tailed off the world can now only expect cooling in line with the millennial trends.
Warming alarmist expect the man-made effect to reverse the climate trend of the last three millennia in the coming century.
Just not plausible !!
In other words, viewed in historical context, all policy decisions to curtail warming are facing in exactly the wrong direction.
A great blog, Ed. Keep up the good work. If science were working as it should, your article would be in Nature or Science.
I have formed an idea that I have found useful in making sense of the views of people I respect but who seem to have ridiculous political or social beliefs. It goes like this:
There is a notion in psychology that says that our sensory inputs are far too data-rich to be understood by the brain. So we have in-built concepts of reality to which we fit the data. For example, if we see a furnished room the image on our retina is a hugely complex pattern of light and shade. When we see an elevated flat surface on uprights we convert this into something we have as a concept, and we see a table. We don’t bother with the minute details of the table. I think psychologists call the filtered image a percept, and the internal concept that is the basis for the filtering, a percept. Lately I have been applying this model to the political discourse.
Our precepts are essential to our mental stability, and they are formed in a dynamic life-long process. Their value lies in them being in sync with those around you. You will cherry-pick input that conforms to, for instance, your political point of view. If your precepts are too far removed from the mean, you present a a lunatic. If your filtering level is low, as I believe is yours and mine, you can present as an eccentric because your precepts are susceptible to capricious change because we are ready to accept (some) contrary data. The political data are the massive field of “news” and commentary we are subject to via the media, as well as friends and colleagues.
Viewed through this lens, climate scientists take on a less dishonest persona. I imagine that most of them occupy a world in which government is good, capitalism is bad, and industry destroys our environment. It is not difficult to lock onto input that will reinforce these precepts. Climate change is a natural fit, and their cherry-picking is not driven by dishonesty, but by the inherent nature of the human brain.
So it is with our home-grown jihadis. Brought up in a devout muslim household, it would be simple for groups of kids in Lukemba to see themselves as persecuted believers, living in a decadent society of infidel Crusaders. There is no shortage of input to support such a precept.
This also explains why so called public intellectuals seem bereft of creative ideas. They are able to promote conventional wisdom very effectively because they are not distracted by the white noise of reality. Their precepts are mainstream and their percepts conform rigidly to their world view.
I haven’t found that this concept is helpful in prosecuting a cause, but I feel less anger toward Tony Jones. He is a perfect example of someone who is untroubled by anything that might destabilise his (I won’t say smug) precepts. in fact I am this far away from feeling sorry for him.
Touching on radiation health and Fukushima – I can’t help but think that its the fear of the unseen driving out rational thought. The fact that radiation can’t be seen, smelt, tasted or felt, can put otherwise sane people into a fear frenzy.
Another good example is the US EPA’s advice on radioactive kitchen benchtops – http://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm/granite-countertops.html – and Canada Health’s advice on the danger’s of Radon in your basement – http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/radiation/radon/faq_fq-eng.php
Radon is a different matter. Radioactive substances are very poisonous if ingested. One of Radon’s daughters is Polononium 214 which is a solid alpha emitter – not something you would want in your body. What the Japanese authorities should have done was warn people about eating garden veggies etc. and give out iodine and calcium tablets to inhibit the uptake of radioactive Iodine and Strontium.
Concern about granite bench tops is ridiculous – many people live their entire lives among granite outcrops (e.g. Wilsons Prom. in Victoria and Bridport and Coles Bay in Tassy) but there is no evidence that this affects their health.
Thanks Shag Pile Rug – for a moment there I thought you were a spammer!
Well put sir! Although not a scientist my understanding is that theories are meant to be challenged and it seems in these days of ‘settled science’ that rent seekers have a vested interest in doing the opposite. When science becomes theological on any matter rational conversation is precluded. Again thankyou and keep up the good work.
This is a superb descriptor or not only the assault on the Scientific Method, but the assault on Western Civilisation itself.
Apparently we live only a few kilometers apart, and I would thoroughly enjoy discussing this with you some day John.
The spammers have started up again so I am going to switch comments off now. If you wish to comment send an email to the address in the banner at the top of the page.
There have been fewer spammers for this post. Perhaps the purveyors of sunglasses and football jerseys have no wish to be associated with such a controversial topic.
Comments are closed.