4 April 2017

Taking the long view

I don't know whether I agree with Trump or Obama about Climate Change ... perhaps a rough description of my feelings would be "I'm not competent to judge disputes in the Natural Sciences, but since most of those who are, take the Obama view, I suppose it's probably safest to assume that there might be something in it rather to leave a future generation to regret that we missed an opportunity". Similarly in the question of whether to praise or criticise Laudato si.

It's really a matter of age. One sees fashions come and go. Did I say 'Fashions'? I meant 'Certainties'.

When I was a small boy, they built a nuclear power station near the part of Essex where I grew up and was educated. (It was at Bradwell on Sea, on a desolate skylark-ridden part of the Essex marshes, not far from the ruins of a Roman 'Saxon Shore' fort called Othona, where S Cedd built within his monastic episcopium one of the oldest churches in England.)

I remember our Physics master talking to us in a self-important way (much use of the pronoun 'we') which seemed to imply that he was himself personally responsible for the anatomy and the properties of the atom. He solemnly assured us that, once this power station had paid off the initial costs of its construction, it would supply  free energy for ever.

Tiny that I was, I thought something like "If a man is stupid enough to believe that, he will be stupid enough to believe anything". Although the School had rules designed to ensure that each of us made a 'balanced' selection of academic options, I took steps to ensure that I got out of this daft, sci-fy fantasy subject as soon as I could. This included getting 3% in the next Physics examination, neatly matching the 97% I had got the previous term. Believe me, achieving such delicate and satisfying patterning is not easy, although I say it myself.

Yes, I was as nasty and opinionated as a schoolboy as I am now that I have become a wrinkly.

Now we have just been told that the hideous costs of decommissioning and rendering safe that generation of nuclear power stations will be far, unbelievably far, beyond all the other combined disastrous costs mounting up from all the many other bungled governmental decisions of the past.

Part of the problem is, apparently, that the wise infallibilists who designed and ran these poisonous institutions did not even bother to make records of how and where they stored their 'used rods', or whatever the silly phrase is.


Simon Platt said...

I doubt that most of those who are competent to judge disputes in the Natural Sciences, take the Obama view of climate variability. I can, of course, speak with certainty only for myself: I am and I don't.

Recent testimony to the US congress is revealing in that respect, "Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method" link:

"We" have made rather a bad job of nuclear waste management.

Claudio Salvucci said...

"If a man is stupid enough to believe that, he will be stupid enough to believe anything"

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "There's no such thing as a free lunch".

No expert on climate here either, but when I asked myself the simple question "Well, has earth ever been that warm before?", and found the answer, I couldn't resist this:


Rose Marie said...

Science is a method that depends on evidence. Consensus is no part of that method. Where is the evidence that human activity producing CO2 is causing dangerous climate change? Perhaps you can find it in the same place they stored the evidence that nuclear power plants would ever produce free energy. No doubt that is also where they are storing the evidence that wind turbines and solar panels are virtually free and will reliably provide all the energy we need.

Jonathan Dandridge said...

The problem with the rods used to fuel nuclear reactors is that after a while they stop being useful for generating power but are still radioactive and remain so for about another 25000 years or until the Second Coming whichever occurs first.

The problem with the climate change debate in general is separating out the actual science from the politics disguised as science, finding data that is actually dependable and has not been "enhanced" to justify whatever conclusion the presenter wishes to arrive at, which usually involves increased control by supra-national authorities over various aspects of our lifestyle.

vetusta ecclesia said...

Such a lovely spot, Bradwell. Many happy hours messing about in boats and the Green Man. Remember how very safe those power stations were reputed to be? That's why they built them in remote places like Bradwell!

I got 35% in my O level physics. Apparently my electric bell would have worked! I also failed Maths so had to do a salvage Biology O level to be able to take up my Oxford place for Spanish and French! Quel système

B flat said...

Harold MacMillan said we had not overthrown the Divine Right of Kings to fall down before the Divine Right of experts.
Clever statement of a national characteristic, but wasn't he Scots by descent?
I would rather fall down before Christ the King, and revere the Crown as having authority from Him, praying for the Queen that in her peace, we may live out our lives in godliness and holiness.
As for climate change, we are allowed our own opinion (just) if we are not professional scientists. Personally, I will not assent to a scientific theory which deliberately uses falsified "evidence" to prove its veracity. If a religious polemic were conducted with such chicanery, all the faithful would be mortified by shame. However, fortunes are being made, and careers depend on this false teaching of a branch of Science. And Science is the only acceptable dogmatic "truth" in today's world.
You are fighting on sufficient fronts dear Father, to excuse yourself from this fight with all honour intact, even without the great merit of symmetry. Be well!

Woody said...

"A wrinkly"?! I like that term, Father. As for climate change, yes, it does. I'm not an ex pert, but my knees are very keen on climate change.

bob said...

When grapevines again grow in Durham I shall start discussing whether it's worth worrying about.

E sapelion said...

Well Bob, there's a vineyard at Adderstone, near Bamborough in Northumberland!
As to the promise of free unlimited power, it was largely a PR exercise, since the main purpose of our nuclear programme was to produce plutonium for bombs, the power was a useful by-product, and a useful disguise.

Mark said...

But . . .but . . . SCIENCE!

(with apologies to Thomas Dolby)

Calvin Engime said...

If the choice is between the Obama view and Trumpian humans-are-doing-naught-whatsoever-to-the-climate pollyanism (let alone that the Obama view is a hoax cooked up by the Chinese!), I think one could venture that 100% of competent judges are closer to Obama. When you look closely into the views of the small number of "sceptic" scientists like Patrick Michaels and John Christy, you find that they agree with their colleagues that greenhouse gases warm the planet, and it is now warmer than it would be if we hadn't pumped these billions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. What they dispute is how much warmer it is going to get, or just how bad the consequences will be for humanity. But so far, it seems to only be turning out even worse than previously expected, probably because climate scientists naïvely assumed our political leaders would do anything meaningful after they raised the alarm...

Mike Hurcum said...

go read chaos manor (jerry pournelle) and his friends on his blog. catholic man from birth very high up in the american science scene there is a woman their who is very clever and wise she is very good on carbon problems.mrs ambrose.

Aitch said...

As Jonathan says "The problem with the climate change debate in general is separating out the actual science from the politics disguised as science, finding data that is actually dependable and has not been "enhanced" to justify whatever conclusion the presenter wishes to arrive at, which usually involves increased control by supra-national authorities over various aspects of our lifestyle." Just consider the present proposal to ban diesel vehicles from entering towns and cities or imposing a high charge on them. Remember we were encouraged to use them in order to reduce CO2 emissions, but now it turns out that the problem is the production of nitrogen oxides and particulates.

Just another mad Catholic said...

The problem I have with most environmentalists is the religious nature of their devotion. I actually agree more or less with the principles of taking care of the environment, but the self-righteousness, self ascribed infallibility (and in many cases rank hypocrisy) of the environmentalists is what puts me off.

I can see great sense in developing reliable alternative energy sources (indeed I am invested in companies that are conducting some interesting research in this are) to replace fossil fuels, I can see good sense in recycling. But as several commentators have already said I am uncomfortable with the frequent proposals to cede greater control of our lives to supranational bodies, especially when these bodies set out policies which are opposed to the Faith, seek to 'punish' those who do not blindly comply with their dictates, and in general make the puritans look like a group of drunken, licentious hedonists by comparison.

DeHereticoComburendo said...

Your younger self's contemptuous dismissal of your Physics master's views somehow put in me in mind of the remark attributed to Chesterton: "When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything".

Like you, I was a dunce at Physics. The only thing our teacher succeeded in instilling in me - for some reason best known to him - is that Golden Syrup and Treacle are not the same thing.

Rose Marie said...

Let's keep the facts straight. Things are not turning out worse than predicted. Over the last 25 years, using the best available data from satellites and radiosonde balloons, the vaunted climate models have over-predicted warming by a factor of 2.5. As John Christy has shown, the models work accurately only if the assumed warming effect of CO2 is removed.

But the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, had this to say about the Paris Climate Treaty in 2015: "This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution" (Investors' Business Daily, 10 Feb 2015). That's what it has always been about.

Simon Platt said...

Dear Calvin,

If you really were to venture that 100% of competent judges were closer to Obama than to Trump in this regard, I'm afraid you would be mistaken. And, surely, anyone who listened to what John Christy has to say, for example as recently as last week, would know that he argues that the results of calculations using models to predict temperature trends are "highly significantly different" from observations: observations show that temperature increases in recent years are much *less* than previously expected.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

ABS used to make money by storing Lobsters in the spent fuel rod containment pool at the Maine Yankee Nuclear Reactor.

Every summer he'd use a net to collect the bright red lobsters and sell them to the tourists from Massachusetts just as they were about to cross the bridge into Maine.

Wow, those are are bright red lobsters. Were they just cooked?

"More than you can imagine," ABS would affirm with a sly smile.

Mike Cliffson said...

Honestly Father ! Three entertainingly written points in slightly over a twitter-sized post ! .

However , on this post on purely evanescent material affairs may I differ on most points, from your lighthearted mention of rotating presidents' various positions on "AGW", to your stated luke-warm defence of "warmism" , thru to your telling personal reaction to twats and chairborne pinstripe whitehall and the postwar labour and later goverment's record on nuclear,I appreciate putting you into initial gut-reaction"agin', perhaps as I "agin" Obama, but for me not evidence for damning nuclear now and forever in a final evaluation.

8 years ago among (little publicized) few actual acts in then candidate Obama's local and national senatorial legislative voting and speaking record was a spirited defence of "partial-birth abortion" of lateterm and visibly obviously and clearly viable humans and of NOT "providing asistance" and worse implied to a baby that somehow survived "the procedure" - ie momma wants a dead baby mommas got a right to a dead baby, murdered how when and wheresoever - an at best exposure-at-birth equivalent is an ok defendable right and good thing. Gor blimey!
One of Obama's first acts in his first days as our cousins' president and likeitornot our leader of the free world was providing abortions abroad with "US gov." ie taxpayers' money for abortions internationally.The last 8 yrs have been of a piece.SIngle-Issue me doubts when such a man says Christmas is 25th Dec.and remains permantly suspicious and misgiving of whatsoever he touches; hold his sucessor such differing positions as he may or may not on any issue.
I can't trust the man an inch, nor understand so many catholic cousins who have and can. The enemedia portrayal is saintly , the smells are foul, not of the charnel house alone.

Trump having been mentioned, depite having been at most charitable a "wobbly" candidate ( eg en passant his praise for the"planned parenthood "organization ) to a singleissue mind, to his credit there are already two or three reversals of taxpayers' money going both directly and, importantly, indirectly to abortion and abortion practitioners and facilitators. Equally was it a hopeful sign to discover, very silenced by the deadtree press and lamestream media , that some few years ago as a public figure tho' not then a candidate for high office, after a wideranging interview had put him on public record obiter dicta as not at all against, but rather for if anything, this very same partialbirth abortion , he had then taken the trouble to consult a number of medical men he trusted, considered their information, and as a matter of setting public record straight , come out in print AGAINST partialbirth abortion in whatever his next book was ("How You too can make millions from bad taste on TV" or "Whither sequential poligamy?" for all I know, does it matter?). Far from enough, but moving in the right direction.Cf Keep the Aspidistra Flying.
"Call no man Father ", but compared to the other Gentleman (incidentally not blessed with the benefit of recent Scots forebears when they were still worth having), insofar as this bears on initial bias for or against his positions ...................
Father - you are every bit as competent a nonscientific judge of scientific issues as Obama or Trump : just checkout eg Patrick moore , or Mark Steyn, not for nothing invited by Senator Cruz to testify in the USA senate on the subject.

Calvin Engime said...

Simon, I must disagree. Dr Christy may think the consensus climate models give excessive weight to greenhouse gases compared to other influences on the climate, and he does not think we are facing an amount of warming we should be alarmed about, but I maintain this is very, very far from the official position of the Trump Administration that nothing is happening. Remember, Christy signed the American Geophysical Union's "Position Statement on Human Impacts on Climate" in 2003, though he is critical of later iterations of this document, and I can hardly imagine Trump or any of his direct reports expressing such sentiments as: "Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate. ... Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century. ... It is virtually certain that increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will cause global surface climate to be warmer. ... The unprecedented increases in greenhouse gas concentrations, together with other human influences on climate over the past century and those anticipated for the future, constitute a real basis for concern."