Climategate: Science of a Scandal, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, producer and director Steve O’Hagan.
Posted by celticman on Mon, 18 Nov 2019
Our ancestors believed that the sky was round and the earth was square, the sun and all the planets circled the earth. All these things were self-evident.
When emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of Cambridge were hacked in 2009 the theory that global warming was a hoax gained credence and the sky really was round and the earth square. Everything was up for grabs, including the truth.
- Since 1880 our planet has warmed to around 0.85 degrees
- 100 percent certainty doesn’t exist in science, but we can say this with between 95 percent to 99.99999999999 certainty that half the global warming is due to human activity, in particular our reliance on fossil fuels
- To stay below 2 degree and runaway global warming we have a ceiling of one trillion tonnes of carbon which we can afford to burn.
- But we’ve already burnt more than half that figure and are accelerating towards runaway global warming.
Scientists in The Climate Research Unit don’t use terms like runway global warming. They use more prosaic terms such as ‘dangerous levels’ of climate change. In other words we are facing an existential threat in the same category as nuclear annihilation and nuclear winter.
The Third World War has begun but before it heats up, the propaganda campaign takes place. Climategate was the epicentre of the propaganda war.
One of the most striking features of the programme was science isn’t about certainty but uncertainty. Validation comes from not one body but many. When CRU released the data they used to a team of global-warming sceptics, physicists from the University of California, Berkley—with a $150 000 grant from Charles Koch, one of the richest men in America, friend of the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse and prominent climate-change denier— who used a different methodology, but came up with the same figures as the CRU that should be the end point of the earth is square believers. But we know that didn’t happen.
This is an interesting case study in why that didn’t happen and trolls rule the world. David Attenborough, Seven World, One Planet, can tell us that a football-pitch sized piece of the Amazon forest disappears every seven seconds and this can be seen from space. Similarly, Jonathon Watts, report Battle for The Amazon can make the analogy, ‘rainforests function as the heart of the world…sucking carbon dioxide out of the air’ converting it by photosynthesis ‘pushing 20 billion tonnes of water vapour into the atmosphere each day’ as part of the earth’s cooling system.
But for square earthers if we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. When we waken up in the morning take milk from the fridge and eat Cornflakes today is much like yesterday. The bomb hasn’t landed.
We’ve been here before. Thomas Malthus, for example, Essay on Population (1798) argued that unless we showed ‘moral restraint’ population levels would increase at a greater level than we could feed ourselves. He factored in the horseman of the apocalypse, War, Famine and Epidemics, but even allowing for these levelling factors his argument, like that of David Attenborough, on land and sea, mass species extinction and a holocaust, remained self-evident.
Malthus hadn’t factored in Planet B, the increasing efficiency of food production and the rise of global capitalism. As a general rule those that own the land own the people on the land. Natives of the Amazonian forest, for example, are vulnerable because clearing the land of forest increases its value by 50-to-100-fold and they have no land deeds to say they own the land. Land-grabbers, logging, mining and farming combine in a toxic mix that leaves little room for sentiment.
Marxism like Malthusianism has been overtaken by events. Liberalism and Capitalism have established hegemonic influence as the only game in town.
Marx argued, ‘It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness’.
In other words, the interests of the dominant class (the 1% to our 99%), land grabbers, logging, mining, industry, and farming conglomerates are reflected back to us in ideology.
Marx’s architectural metaphor makes this clear. The legal system, our ideology and politics is the ‘superstructure’ that rests on the ‘base’ of the economic structure and socioeconomic relations.
In crude terms, Marx describes morality, religion and philosophy, as ‘phantoms formed in the minds of men’.
When, for example, during the Highland clearances crofters were replaced by the more valuable monocrop of sheep, crofters had to sell their labour and learn to say ‘baa’ to survive. For their children this was a natural state, inseparable from their historical condition.
Marxism’s endpoint was when this false consciousness was shaken off. Climategate, the rise of the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse and Boris Johnston as the people’s czars show this is unlikely to happen soon.
Hannah Arendt, who fled Nazi Germany, argued ‘Things only become irreversible, when people start to think so’.
The dominant class, our 1%, since Climategate have opened up new fronts in the propaganda war. The nothing can be done argument has gained traction. Our eco-system rests on an economic system in which there are clear winners and losers. The Malthusian monopoly ‘on virtue’ has been co-opted by those that benefit most.
An archaic term, ‘running dogs of capitalism’ set loose to defend their rights and virtue. Marxism posited another scenario in which ‘contradictions of capitalism’ would be exposed and the workers would gain control of their workplace and the surplus value extracted from their labour.
Climategate shows there’s no Planet B and we burn through existing resources quicker than we can replace them leading to the increasing likelihood of extreme weather conditions and sea level rise. Bots and trolls rule the world. The contradictions of capitalism might just bring them down. But Malthus might just have got his timing wrong. Far more likely is tens of millions of refugees on the move. Wars and famine. An Amazonian frog doesn’t jump out of a pot if the water is slowly heated.