Jonathan Cook has written a piece titled “Why action on the climate crisis is all hot air”. As the title suggests, it deploys a boiler-plate mainstream Leftist regurgitation of fact-bending climate alarmism. I’m pretty sure that many of my Substack readers are more clued up than I am on the climate debate, so I am by no means promising any light-bulb moments in this piece. But, following a mild scrap I had with Cook in the comments section of his article, I am presenting a more detailed rebuttal here of his arguments. And since Cook thinks I’m full of hot air – that was his carefully considered response to my criticism of his unscientific interpretation of carbon dioxide predictions – I now feel obliged to play the part by huffing and puffing and blowing his climate alarmist nonsense down.
Brilliant piece! Rational, critical thinking at its best.
I wish more in the media think and write this way, but I know I'm pissing in the wind.
A fine polemic!
Why don't you read James Hansen, "Storms of my Grandchildren". Fear could be a reason.
A windy, tedious apology in support of human extinction. Academically Pollyanna.
hmmm thats interesting
This is really outstanding. I only discovered about it because I subscribed to Jonathan Cook's Substack (I admire his work on Palestine). As soon as I read the opening paragraph of Cook's post, I clicked through to your rebuttal and was enormously pleased that I did. Your rebuttal is all-round excellent, convincing, rational, well-constructed, underpinned with solid, factual arguments. I guess I ought to thank Jonathan Cook for pointing the way to your excellent piece; I would almost certainly never have stumbled upon it otherwise.
Interesting but meandering piece that attempts to make a point but doesn't really say very much. I also think the science on climate change is settled. Not because I subscribe to some elaborate theory but because climate change is actually happening and anyone who has considered the science and the changes that are happening on the ground will understand precisely what's going on. The NYT piece about global cooling was published around the same time that the World Meteorological Association and fossil fuel majors Shell and Exxon Mobile came to the conclusion that global warming would become a major problem in the future. We all know of course the trajectory the fossil fuel companies went. They buried their reports. So here's one of my takes on the issue. Granted I take a different approach from Cook, but the message is largely the same https://shadowlightblog.substack.com/p/the-hidden-climate-catastrophe
GB News received £60 million in funding from Legatum, a Dubai-based investment firm, and American multinational Discovery, Inc., whose stake in the company was bought out by the other backers in August 2022 as part of an additional capital injection of £60 million.3 The two co-founders of GB News, Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider, both resigned as directors after Legatum and Sir Paul bought their shareholdings.0 GB News lost more than £30 million during its first year on air.1 The platform is funded primarily by the New York-based investor Matthew Kibble, an early investor in big-data company Palantir.2
Its just amazing how those hypocrites dont know where their funding is coming from!
In my view, it boils down to belief. Neither the author nor I have the expertise to make a scientific conclusion about the validity of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). We thus each pick who we want to believe.
I'm a Ph.D. in the sciences and thus have a basic trust in scientists. I know many scientists and know the life and codes scientists live by. I trust that the majority are devoted to honest investigations that truly reflect the truths of nature. I believe there's a sufficient consensus in the scientific community that we are experiencing AGW, a conclusion made by scientists who devote their lives to such studies. All the data I investigate corroborate that. (It's puzzling why the author doesn't even mention those record-breaking facts.) The official position of all scientific and engineering acadamies support the view that AGW is happening.
I also believe that the scientific community is subject to a certain amount of group think, for many reasons. Funding is perhaps the biggest reason. Bottom line, however, is that I don't believe these defects are dominant and do not invalidate the mainstream view, which is that we need to attain net zero by 2050.
It's obvious that the writer expresses his beliefs as much as he cites facts, and he's entitled to his beliefs, as I am.
It's very easy to let our personality traits lead us to our beliefs. I admit this is the case with me, and I believe the same applies to the writer. We all express cognitive biases, and only ignorant people aren't aware of that.
I came to this article from Cook's website, eager to learn facts that I should know. Although this article isn't enough to change my mind, I will investigate some of the interesting links the writer gives.
I should say that I was disappointed by the tone of the writer. The extreme hyperpole and poetic expression is distracting and doesn't add anything to whatever facts and rational thinking this writer has to offer. Although he decries "emotional manipulation," this article is extremely emotional. I also see contradictions in the authors view of his belief that the global warming hoax will benefit fossil fuel companies.
I'm sure the author's choir enjoy such emotional diatribe, but to one seeking facts, validity, and clear reasoning, it's little help. It appears he believes such emotional distraction increases his appeal, and I'm sure he believes it demonstrates his intelligence. To me, it's childish.
I grew up in the 'scientific community', the son of a now retired, highly distinguished earth scientist; Oxon, professor emeritus, etc. etc. Some of his students went on to have similarly distinguished careers in climatology, working at the Wadham Center, etc. These people were at the top of their field and you don't get there by doing bad science. I can assure you the science @ climate change and anthropogenic drivers has been COMPLETELY settled since the last century, no matter how many of the handful of powerfully promoted and well-compensated deniers you cite here. Indeed to even make the assertion that the science is not settled simply demonstrates how pitiful your own grasp of the subject is and how little actual climatology you have studied to form your laughable opinion. And since the science has been settled for decades corporate media has had ample time to fashion and deploy its suicidal response. When you accuse the science of being politically motivated, you are actually confusing the science with the consequences of its extremely poor uptake among the political and corporate classes: it is this latter who have turned a matter-of-fact scientific truth with existential implications into a political hot potato.
Go back to the beginning. Start with actual climate scientists and not the monstrous fantasies peddled by corporate media. Do not cherry-pick from the tiny minority of self-styled 'mavericks' who derive all manner of personal satisfaction out of bucking the consensus; start with the overwhelming majority. Of actual climate scientists. Look up the thousands of scientific papers they have produced which neatly and explicitly present the data sets upon which their theory rests. Read at least a few of them. Appreciate that, as a group they are extremely fastidious and tend to err on the side of the conservative. Understand that the theory originated with temperature readings that could not be accounted for by the existing science: a new mechanism was clearly indicated. The data doesn't lie. And the explanation that has emerged, over 30 years of rigorous testing and analysis is that anthropogenic activities are destabilizing the climate system. That is what the science tells us. You think you know better when it is PAINFULLY clear you haven't even grasped the basics.
Back to school with you and spare us your clueless opinions until you have something worth sharing.
Journalists are ill-equipped to parse narratives that are based on quantitative evidence - and they're even worse-equipped to evaluate the merits of the quant evidence itself.
Generally, journalists are the sorts of people whose eyes glazed over when their 8th grade Maths teacher first tried to introduce letters into "sums".
Anyone who has any experience in quantitative modelling, knows that a competent modeller can manipulate the model in such a way as to produce whatever output is desired.
This can be done by some or all of:
① the selection of closure;
② changes to relevant parameters;
③ altering forecast paths of exogenous variables.
Much more significantly, it is TRIVIAL for a competent modeller to do any of the above, while ensuring that the changes to the inputs are not statistically significant.
As an example: let's say you have a model with a few million equations. Let's say it's just like the model that I used for my PhD work in the 1990s - a multi-regional, multisectoral, dynamic computable general equilibrium model of the Australian economy.
Well, there are tens of millions of parameters - things that determine the PATHS of tastes/preferences; technology; population/demography; and POLICY variables.
By 'policy variables' I don't mean the path of government spending or reserve-bank interest rates: I mean the parameters of the REACTION FUNCTIONS that 'drive' the decisions that GENERATE the paths of those things.
(I have a joke about the DEBT BLOCK in the 1990s version of TRYM, and another joke about how parameters for models of this type should be estimated AS A SYSTEM - using 3NLS or FIML - but I'll spare everyone the pain. Suffice it to say that NOBODY USES SYSTEMS ESTIMATORS because if they do THE MODELS DON'T SOLVE).
So anyhow... in general, only a SUBSET of the entire endogenous set is of any interest; there are several million behavioural equations, but literally nobody ever wants to know more than about 100 or so of them.
That's sensible: for a given policy, Queensland Treasury might want to know the expected employment outcome for all industries and all regions of Queensland, but doesn't particularly care about what happens to output in Victoria.
I can GUARANTEE any interested observer that I could run the same model twice, with the same forecasts for all policy variables - and generate two sets of results that have a different SIGN for any outputs of interest.
That's a big deal; the general view is that policies that negatively affect key aggregates are BAD and should not be deployed.
Furthermore, I could do so without 'perturbing' the parameters outside of statistically-defensible bounds; the two parameter sets would be 'statistically identical'.
And don't get me started on medical/pharma 'research'; their quant is as bad as, if not worse than, psych research.
They use linear regression wantonly, with dozens of variables in the regressor matrix... and they don't use Bonferroni correction to their critical values for t-tests. Worse: their regressions are a mix of categorical and continuous variables - it's like they literally don't understand the Gauss-Markov conditions... as such, they would have failed first year Econometrics, circa 1992.
And don't get me started on what is actually being sought: it's trivial to show that even for a linear model, the mapping from the joint distribution of the INPUTS, to any SUBSET of the OUTPUTS, IS NOT A BIJECTION. (It's not 1:1).
That is to say, giving the model the EXPECTED paths of its inputs, will not - in general - produce the EXPECTED path of a subset of the outputs.
The same is true of using the MODE for the inputs.
Think on that: there is so much 'embedded uncertainty' that the output that results from the MOST LIKELY forecast for the inputs, is not the MOST LIKELY output.
The only solution is to run the model hundreds of thousands of times, drawing from the joint probability function for the exogenous variables and parameters... a STOCHASTIC SYSTEMATIC SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS.
At that point you discover that in any model of more than pedestrian complexity, ALL FORECASTS for ALL POLICIES have forecast bounds that are so wide that the SIGN of the output is up for grabs. (More formally: "zero" is in the forecast interval)
And since forecast error increases at O(T^2) where T is the forecast horizon, the forecast bounds for climate models will look like those trumpet-looking attachments on old gramophones.
I use Arch (btw).