A blizzard of potentially historic proportions threatened to strike the Northeast with a vengeance Friday, with up to two feet of snow forecast along the densely populated corridor from the New York City area to Boston and beyond.
I suppose there is no better time than now to amuse oneself with a look back in time at what the Met. Office in 2008 forecast the climate had in store for us in the future:
‘This long-term warming trend is set to continue as the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues to increase. Inevitably this will lead to further impacts on our lives and the world’s natural ecosystems. Heatwaves and droughts are likely to become more prevalent; snow cover is projected to continue to diminish.’
They also suggested that their long term forecasting was of such quality and reliability that it provided a sound basis for many organisations to base their future planning upon:
‘Predictions of future conditions, such as the seasonal, decadal and centennial forecasts provided by the Met Office, can help considerably in dealing with the challenges of our changing climate. For example, the emerging science of decadal forecasting has exciting potential to provide water companies, emergency responders and local authorities with information that can help them in planning for future droughts and floods.‘
Of course we know now that the Met. Office has had to abandon its long term forecasts because they got it wrong so often.
You might ask how that can be with so many resources and endless amounts of money invested in massive arrays of powerful computers.
You might also ask if the computer models are so obviously unreliable why governments, industries and other agencies rely on these models to shape their economic, social, political, industrial and military policies.
Why have we essentially handed over the running of our lives to a few lumps of machinery that fail again and again to accurately predict the climate?
Have you ever heard such a discussion on the BBC? A discussion that is surely of prime importance…the consequences of handing over decision making to error prone machines are frightening and horrendously damaging…all the more so because it is not just our own economy alone, or the French or US that gets damaged by decisions taken by some hopeless homegrown politician…these computer driven decisions are global……effecting everything from the economy, industry, planning and land use to the food we eat and the way we travel to work…..‘determining the new twenty-first century wealth of nations.’
The BBC does a huge disservice, putting it mildly, in not challenging the ‘consensus’. The consequences of getting it wrong are so serious, so damaging, that to come down so heavily in favour of AGW and then not to change or consider change as evidence mounts telling a different tale is extraordinarily foolish.
The BBC of course claim the opposite…the consensus is that man made climate change is so serious and damaging that not to do anything about it is almost criminal…..but where’s the proof? There still isn’t anything remotely conclusive.
The evidence on the ground is telling a different story…..that for 16 years global warming has slowed to negligible amounts…statistically insignificant, to use a favourite phrase of Phil Jones.
The models predicted droughts, no snow and increasing temperatures…..well you know…that ain’t happening is it….it may but for years now it hasn’t.
At the very least that should be raising some very serious doubts about the climate models and their predictions…but the BBC sails merrily on producing programme after programme selling the ‘nightmare’….only recently churning out programmes on archaeology in South America….repeatedly mentioning ‘extreme weather’, ‘catastrophic events’ and ‘catastrophic consequences of extreme weather’…..this is intentional…it is meant for you to pick up the cues and make that association in the future, in the real world of today…extreme weather events mean catastrophic consequences. We know that the climate seminars held by Harrabin set out this way of programming…introducing almost subliminal doom mongering about climate into every type of programme from comedy, children’s, drama, history and documentaries and news.
By coincidence in the Guardian of all places (thanks to George R and DB in the next post for highlighting this) we see the result of Harrabin and Dr Joe Smith’s handiwork in action…inserting spurious and exaggerated claims about climate into a programme fronted by the Nation’s favourite TV ‘uncle’:
David Attenborough claims in BBC One’s Africa series that part of the continent has warmed by 3.5C over the past 20 years
I was also curious about why Attenborough would have used a somewhat obscure factoid buried deep within a report published by an NGO as long ago as 2006 to make such an arresting statement within a primetime BBC natural history programme in 2013. And what of the source report’s strange reliance on the term “maximum temperatures” rather than the more normal (and comprehensible) “average temperatures”?
But again it all comes back to those computer models controlling your lives and the politicians who make decisions based upon those few computers….as stated below for the likes of the BBC ‘climate becomes the one ‘known’ variable in an otherwise unknowable future.’…...which of course we know is utter and complete nonsense….the climatologists have not the faintest idea of what the climate will be in 10 years let alone 100. The Future is almost totally unknowable…even your own day to day existence can be turned upside down by the slightest thing…to claim to be able to predict climate a 100 years hence is no less than a lie of the grandest order.
Here is Mike Hulme, ironically, as he comes from the UEA climate change department and is a hard core advocate of AGW. But here he outlines the dangers of handing over ‘authority’ to a computer model:
First telling us why the BBC et al love to scare us:
“Expected risks are the whip to keep the present in line. The more threatening the shadows that fall on the present because a terrible future is impending, the more believed are the headlines provoked by the dramatisation of risk today”
Reducing the Future to Climate: a Story of Climate Determinism and Reductionism
Simulations of future climate from climate models are inappropriately elevated as universal predictors of future social performance and human destiny.
The argument put forward here is that the new climate reductionism is driven by the hegemony exercised by the predictive natural sciences(climate computer models) over the contingent, imaginative and humanistic accounts of social life and visions of the future. It is a hegemony which lends disproportionate power in political and social discourse to model based descriptions of putative future climates.
It is a hegemony manifest in the pivotal role held by climate (and related) modelling in shaping climate change discourses. Because of the epistemological authority over the future claimed, either implicitly or explicitly, by such modelling activities , climate becomes the one ‘known’ variable in an otherwise unknowable future. The openness, contingency and multiple possibilities of the future are closed off as these predicted virtual climates assert their influence over everything from future ecology, economic activity and social mobility, to human behaviour, cultural evolution and geosecurity.
I conclude the paper by placing this reductionist tendency within a wider cultural context of Western pessimism and loss of confidence about the future and by pointing towards some correctives which involve restructuring ideas about how the future can be imagined and made known.
This transfer of predictive authority (to climate models), an almost accidental transfer one might suggest rather than one necessarily driven by any theoretical or ideological stance, is what I earlier defined as “epistemological slippage”……it offers a future written in the unyielding language of mathematics and computer code.
These models and calculations allow for little human agency, little recognition of evolving, adapting and innovating societies, and little attempt to consider the changing values, cultures and practices of humanity. The contingencies of the future are whitewashed out of the future. Humans are depicted as “dumb farmers”, passively awaiting their climate fate. The possibilities of human agency are relegated to footnotes, the changing cultural norms and practices made invisible, the creative potential of the human imagination ignored.
The consequence of such reductionism is expressed clearly in Karl Popper’s attack from a generation ago on historicism and its deterministic roots: “Every vision of historicism expresses the feeling of being swept into the future by irresistible forces”.
I suggest that the climate reductionism I have described here is nurtured by elements of a Western cultural pessimism which promote the pathologies of vulnerability, fatalism and fear.
“Expected risks are the whip to keep the present in line. The more threatening the shadows that fall on the present because a terrible future is impending, the more believed are the headlines provoked by the dramatisation of risk today” The epistemological pathways offered by climate models and their derived analyses are only one way of believing what the future may hold.
Some of these futures may be better; some may be worse. But they will not be determined by climate, not by climate alone, and these worlds will condition – perhaps remarkably, certainly unexpectedly – the consequences of climate change.
In this new mood of climate-driven destiny the human hand of climate change has replaced the divine hand of God as being responsible for the collapse of civilisations, for visitations of extreme weather and for determining the new twenty-first century wealth of nations.