A bit of history

I’ve been reading Nature since I’ve been able to afford a subscription, e.g. since about 1972. To put their undoubted coming hysteria about Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement into perspective, consider the fact that they bought the arguments of the Club of Rome, hook line and sinker. The Wikipedia article is quite sanitized, but here’s a direct quote from the jacket flap of the club’s book “The Limits to Growth” which came out in 1972.

“Will this be the world that your grandchildren with thank you for? A world where industrial production has sunk to zero. Where population has suffered a catastrophic decline. Where the air, sea and land are polluted beyond redemption. Where civilization is a distant memory. This is the world that the computer forecasts. What is even more alarming, the collapse will not come gradually, but with awsome suddenness, with no way of stopping it”

Well, it’s 45 years later and their grandchildren have seen no such thing. Nature’s online available archives go back to 1975, but I’ve been unable to find a link to one of their articles. If anyone out there has found one, post a comment.

When we were down in New Haven, I picked up a book by a Yale Prof, Paul Sabin called “The Bet” concerning the intellectual conflict between Paul Ehrlich — he of the population bomb and Julian Simon. Ehrlich said we’d run out of just about everything shortly (presumably because of too many people), so economist Simon bet him that we wouldn’t. The intellectual war began in earnest in the 80’s and dragged on for a decade or so.

I recommend the book. In it you will find John Holdren, Obama’s ‘science’ advisor, also a devout malthusian, although with a degree in physics.

Perhaps Nature has it right this time, and that the models of warming which failed to predict the climate stasis of 17 years duration (the term pause gives away the game implying that temperature will continue to increase) are a reliable guide to the future.

Even if Nature is right, the Paris Agreement was terrible, no verification, no penalties for missing targets etc. etc. A massive expansion of governmental control and clamps on economic expansion, for minimal benefit.

So relax. Protest if you wish, it’s a cheap display of virtue which costs you nothing, even though you’re quite willing to fight global warming down to the last coal miner.

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  • andyextance  On June 2, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Hmm, the first piece I find on Nature’s coverage of the Club of Rome seems appropriately sceptical: https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v236/n5341/pdf/236047a0.pdf. On the hiatus, it was always little more than cherry-picking, and now it has been dispelled completely. This is a suitably irreverent retrospective: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2016/mar/03/did-global-warming-really-slowdown-have-a-large-injection-of-nuance-and-a-side-order-of-abuse?CMP=share_btn_tw Here’s a quote: “All this talk of a “slowdown” period, remember, overlaps a period when we saw 14 of the 16 hottest years on record all happening since 2000.” Still, I understand that scepticism is useful and important. Sadly, unlike the population models, climate models seem remarkably accurate: https://climatecrocks.com/2016/08/19/climate-predictions-how-are-we-doing/

  • Imaging guy  On June 2, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Nature archive goes back to 1869 (1) and you can easily search by using advanced search (2). I have just searched and found that Nature did criticize “The limits of Growth” in their editorial (3) for building computer simulation models using difficult to verify variables. They even called it “Malthus in, Malthus out”. I agree with you that this whole thing about man made global warming is completely rubbish.
    1) http://www.nature.com/nature/archive/index.html
    2) https://www.nature.com/search/advanced
    3) Almost the Last Word on the Club of Rome (Nature 16 March 1973 Vol 242 No 5394 pp147) http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v242/n5394/index.html

    • luysii  On June 2, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      Imaging Guy — thanks a lot, the second reference was accessible to me and came up with > 700+ hits. However, even though I’m currently logged into the current issue of Nature, I can’t get to any of the articles without paying for them. Any suggestions? If I’m wrong about the editorial treatment of the Club of Rome, I’ll apologize.

    • andyextance  On June 3, 2017 at 1:41 am

      I’m curious, when you say ‘this whole thing about man made global warming is completely rubbish’, do you really mean the whole thing? Like, CO2 demonstrably absorbs infra-red radiation, and CO2 levels in the air are rising measurably, Or is there another aspect of it that makes it rubbish?

      • luysii  On June 3, 2017 at 10:31 am

        Andy: I think you are responding to Imaging guy. Few critics of the science behind global warming models deny that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that it will elevate earth’s temperature (see Watt’s up with that). The disagreement comes from just how important a factor CO2 is, just how fast global temperature is actually rising, whether the undoubted human contributions to the CO2 rise is a significant cause, how accurate the models are and whether they should be believed.

      • andyextance  On June 5, 2017 at 4:33 am

        Yes, it was an answer Imaging guy. As you’ll have hopefully read, the last link in my first comment shows even one of the earliest, relatively simple models can be impressively accurate. In terms of the significance of CO2, have you heard of stratospheric cooling? It’s a measurable indication that it is CO2 that is the driving factor, see: https://simpleclimate.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/enhanced-fingerprinting-strengthens-evidence-for-human-warming-role/ If it’s of interest I can try to dig out other examples for the other factors you mention.

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