Bulgarian officials say the construction of the Russian-led South Stream gas pipeline does not breach EU legislation. The European Commission is concerned the agreement between Russia and Bulgaria violates EU competition law.
The Bulgarian government stood by its position on the legality of the pipeline in a Wednesday statement, ITAR-TASS reports. The agreement on South Stream construction signed in 2008 did not provide any exclusive rights, concessions, or tendering for the South Stream Bulgaria Company which is the owner of the pipeline, and therefore it does not violate EU law, it said.
“With its position the government presents arguments and motives in support of the decisions the Bulgarian nation has taken and which were the subject of concern at the EU Commission,” Reuters quotes the official statement.
Bulgaria will put these arguments at the Brussels summit on Friday, but the decision of the commission whether to accept or reject them may end up in full infringement proceedings and possible fines against Sofia, Reuters says.
According to Gunther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Energy, the construction process should be suspended until, “it completely corresponds to the requirements of the European Union.”
On Tuesday Austria, another strong defender of the pipeline, signed a deal to construct a South Stream arm on its territory, thus showing its firm commitment.
The 2,446 km South Stream pipeline will stretch across southern and central Europe via the Black Sea, bypassing Ukraine and reducing the country’s importance as a gas transit route. 64 billion cubic meters of gas will be transported annually.
Gazprom has said the project, estimated to cost $45 billion, can be completed without any funding from international partners.
Bulgaria’s prime minister, Plamen Oresharski, has ordered a halt to work on Russia’s South Stream pipeline, on the recommendation of the EU. The decision was announced after his talks with US senators.
“At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we’ve suspended the current works, I ordered it,” Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. “Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels.”
McCain, commenting on the situation, said that “Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues,” adding that in the current situation they would want “less Russian involvement” in the project.
Russia’s Energy Ministry said it had not yet received any official notification from Bulgaria on work on the project being suspended.
Earlier this week, EU authorities ordered Bulgaria to suspend construction on its link of the pipeline, which is planned to transport Russian natural gas through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and onward to western Europe. Brussels wants the project frozen, pending a decision on whether it violates the EU competition regulations on a single energy market. It believes South Stream does not comply with the rules prohibiting energy producers from also controlling pipeline access.
The EU is also asking for an investigation into how contracts were awarded for work on the pipeline in Bulgaria. Brussels sent the Bulgarian government a letter of formal notice asking for information, to which Sofia had one month to reply.
Russia’s energy giant Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline requires European approvals as its route would pass through the territory of several EU countries.
In Bulgaria, the ruling Socialists support the South Stream project, while Movement for Rights and Freedom leader Lyutvi Mestan told parliament on June 5 that Bulgaria should defend its strategic interests “in cooperation, not in confrontation” with Europe.
Earlier Serbia has said it has no plans to delay the start of construction of its leg of the South Stream pipeline, scheduled for July. Serbian Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic said that the position was not decisive: “I believe the European Commission and member states will find a solution because this is a European project in the best interests of energy security.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also said June 5 that the pipeline should be built, as there was no alternative to the project.
As we start hurricane season today, we note the unprecedented 3142 day drought of major hurricane landfalls, shattering a record that goes back to the year 1900.
Despite clear evidence to the contrary, president Obama is now warning us that “storms like Hurricane Sandy will become more frequent as climate change intensifies.” It’s merely the latest in the administration’s seemingly endless stream of headline-grabbing scare stories, designed to justify the job-killing, economy-strangling, family-bashing rules for vehicles, power plants, cement kilns, refineries, factories, farms, shopping malls and countless other facilities that are or soon will be regulated by Environmental Protection Agency fiat. We need to keep one vitally important fact in mind.
Every one of these “looming calamities” is based on assumptions, assertions and computer models that represent the real world about as well as the special-effects T-rexes and raptors do in Jurassic Park. The data on hurricanes says otherwise:
Climate modelers and disaster proponents remind me of the four guys who were marooned on an island, after their plane went down. The engineer began drawing plans for a boat; the lumberjack cut trees to build it; the pilot plotted a course to the nearest known civilization. But the economist just sat there. The exasperated workers asked him why he wasn’t helping.
“I don’t see the problem,” he replied. “Why can’t we just assume we have a boat, get on it and leave?”
In the case of climate change, those making the assumptions demand that we act immediately to avert planetary crises based solely on their computer model predictions. It’s like demanding that governments enact laws to safeguard us from velociraptors, after Jurassic Park scientists found that dinosaur DNA could be extracted from fossilized mosquitoes … and brought the carnivores back to special-effects life.
Climate models help improve our conceptual understandings of climate systems and the forces that drive climate change. However, they are terrible at predicting Earth’s temperature and other components of its climate. They should never be used to set or justify policies, laws and regulations – such as what the Environmental Protection Agency is about to impose on CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Even our best climate scientists still have only a limited grasp of Earth’s highly complex and chaotic climate systems, and the many interrelated solar, cosmic, oceanic, atmospheric, terrestrial and other forces that control climate and weather. Even the best models are only as good as that understanding.
Worse, the models and the science behind them have been horribly politicized. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was ostensibly organized in 1988 to examine possible human influences on Earth’s climate. In reality, Swedish meteorologist Bert Bolin and environmental activist groups wanted to use global warming to drive an anti-hydrocarbon, limited-growth agenda. That meant they somehow had to find a human influence on the climate – even if the best they could come up with was “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” [emphasis added]
“Discernible” (ie, detectable) soon metamorphosed into “dominant,” which quickly morphed into the absurd notion that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have now replaced natural forces and become the only factors influencing climate change. They are certainly the only factors that climate activists and alarmists want to talk about, while they attempt to silence debate, criticism and skepticism. They use the models to generate scary “scenarios” that are presented as actual predictions of future calamities.
They predict, project or forecast that heat waves will intensify, droughts and floods will be stronger and more frequent, hurricanes will be more frequent and violent, sea levels will rise four feet by 2100 [versus eight inches since 1880], forest fires will worsen, and countless animal species will disappear. Unlikely.
Natural forces obviously caused the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age and the Pleistocene Ice Ages. (A slab of limestone that I dug up has numerous striations – scratches – left by the last mile-thick glacier that covered what is now my home town in Wisconsin.) After long denying it, the IPCC finally acknowledged that the LIA did occur, and that it was a worldwide agricultural and human disaster.
However, the models and computer algorithms the IPCC and EPA rely on still do not include the proper magnitude of solar cycles and other powerful natural forces that influence climate changes. They assume “positive feedbacks” from GHGs that trap heat, but understate the reflective and thus cooling effects of clouds. They display a global warming bias throughout – bolstered by temperature data contaminated by “urban heat island” effects, due to measuring stations being located too close to human heat sources. They assume Earth’s climate is now controlled almost entirely by rising human CO2/GHG emissions.
It’s no wonder the models, modelers and alarmists totally failed to predict the nearly-18-year absence of global warming – or that the modeled predictions diverge further from actual temperature measurements with every passing year. It’s no wonder modelers cannot tell us which aspects of global warming, global cooling, climate change and “climate disruption” are due to humans, and which are the result of natural forces. It’s hardly surprising that they cannot replicate (“hindcast”) the global temperature record from 1950 to 1995, without “fudging” their data and computer codes– or that they are wrong almost every time.
In 2000, Britain’s Met Office said cold winters would be a thing of the past, and “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” The 2010 and 2012 winters were the coldest and snowiest in centuries. In 2013, Met Office scholars said the coming winter would be extremely dry; the forecast left towns, families and government agencies totally unprepared for the immense rains and floods that followed.
In 2007, Australia’s climate commissioner predicted Brisbane and other cities would never again have sufficient rain to fill their reservoirs. The forecast ignored previous drought and flood cycles, and was demolished by record rains in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Forecasts of Arctic and Antarctic meltdowns have ignored the long history of warmer and colder cycles, and ice buildups and breakups.
The Bonneville Power Administration said manmade warming will cause Columbia River Basin snowpack to melt faster, future precipitation to fall as rain, reservoirs to be overwhelmed – and yet water levels will be well below normal year round. President Obama insists that global temperatures will soar, wildfires will be more frequent and devastating, floods and droughts will be more frequent and disastrous, rising seas will inundate coastal cities as Arctic and Antarctic ice shelves melt and disintegrate, and 97% of scientists agree. Every claim is based on models or bald-faced assertions unsupported by evidence.
And still the IPCC says it has “very high confidence” (the highest level it assigns) to the supposed agreement between computer model forecasts and actual observations. The greater the divergence from reality, the higher its “confidence” climbs. Meanwhile, climate researchers and modelers from Nebraska, Penn State, Great Britain and other “learned institutions” continue to focus on alleged human influences on Earth’s climate. They know they will likely lose their government, foundation and other funding – and will certainly be harassed and vilified by EPA, environmentalists, politicians, and their ideological and pedagogical peers – if they examine natural forces too closely.
Thus they input erroneous data, simplistic assumptions, personal biases, and political and financial calculations, letting models spew out specious scenarios and phony forecasts: garbage in, garbage out.
The modelers owe it to humanity to get it right – so that we can predict, prepare for, mitigate and adapt to whatever future climate conditions nature (or humans) might throw at us. They cannot possibly do that without first understanding, inputting and modeling natural factors along with human influences.
Above all, these supposed modeling experts and climate scientists need to terminate their biases and their evangelism of political agendas that seek to slash fossil fuel use, “transform” our energy and economic systems, redistribute wealth [upward], reduce our standards of living, and “permit” African and other impoverished nations to enter the modern era only in a “sustainable manner,” as defined by callous elitists.
The climate catastrophe camp’s focus on CO2 is based on the fact that it is a byproduct of detested hydrocarbon use. But this trace gas (a mere 0.04% of Earth’s atmosphere) makes life on our planet possible. More carbon dioxide means crops, forests and grasslands grow faster and better. CO2’s role in climate change is speculative – and contradicted by real-world measurements, observations and history.
Computer models, scenarios and predictions of planetary Armageddon are little more than faulty, corrupt, even fraudulent pseudo-science. They have consistently forecast what has not happened on Planet Earth, and failed to forecast what did happen.
They must no longer be allowed to justify EPA’s job-killing, economy-strangling, family-bashing rules for vehicles, power plants, cement kilns, refineries, factories, farms, shopping malls and countless other facilities that are or soon will be regulated by agency fiat.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.
Governments and international agencies frequently boast that small farmers control the largest share of the world’s agricultural land. When the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization inaugurated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, he sang the praises of family farmers but didn’t once mention the need for land reform. Instead, he announced that family farms already manage most of the world’s farmland – a whopping 70%, according to his team.
But a new review of the data carried out by GRAIN reveals that the opposite is true. Small farms, which produce most of the world’s food, are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland – or less than one fifth if you leave out China and India.
“We are fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of the rich and powerful,” said Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN. “The overwhelming majority of farming families today have less than two hectares to cultivate and that share is shrinking. If we do nothing to reverse this trend, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself.”
Marina Dos Santos of the Coordination of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST), and of La Via Campesina, states: “Today, the peasantry is criminalised, taken to court and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. Currently, there are an alarming numbers of deaths that go unpunished. States have created legal concepts such as terrorism and sabotage to intimidate our struggle. Every day we are exposed to systematic expulsion from our land. This affects not only peasants fighting to stay on the land, but also many other small farmers and indigenous peoples who are the target of greedy foreign interests. We want the land in order to live and to produce, as these are our basic rights against land grabbing corporations who seek only speculation and profit.”
“People need to understand that if the current processes of land concentration continue, then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on,” said GRAIN’s Camila Montecinos. “The concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.”
GRAIN’s report also provides new data that show that small farmers still provide most of the world’s food, and that they are often much more productive than large corporate farms. If all of Kenya’s farms matched the output of its small farms, the nation’s agricultural productivity would double. In Central America, it would nearly triple. Women are the major food producers, but their role remains unrecorded and marginalised.
The international agencies keep on reminding us that we need to produce more food to feed the growing population. But how much more food could be produced almost immediately if small farmers had access to more land and could work in a supportive policy environment, rather than under the siege conditions they are facing today?
“The vast majority of farms in Zimbabwe belong to small holders and their average farmsize has increased as a result of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme. Small farmers in the country now produce over 90% of diverse agricultural food crops, while they only provided 60-70% of the national food before land redistribution. More women own land in their own right, which is key to food sovereignty everywhere,” said Elizabeth Mpofu, General coordinator of La Via Campesina.
We need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems. Something peasant organisations and landless people’s movements have long been fighting for.
GRAIN’s new report, Hungry for land: small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland provides an in depth review of the data on farm structures and food production worldwide and comes to the following 6 central conclusions:
1. The vast majority of farms in the world today are small and getting smaller
Due to a myriad of forces, average farm sizes have shrunk dramatically over the past decades, particularly in Asia and Africa.
2. Small farms are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland
Despite what the UN and others report, small farms occupy less than 25% of the world’s farmland today – just 17%, if we exclude India and China.
3. We’re fast losing farms and farmers in many places, while big farms are getting bigger
One major reason why small farms are disappearing is the rapid growth of monoculture plantations. In the last 50 years, 140 million hectares – well more than all the farmland in China – have been taken over for soybean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane alone.
4. Small farmers continue to be the major food producers in the world
By definition, peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families – not commodities or export crops. GRAIN compiled staggering statistics that show how, even with so little land, small farms produce the bulk of many countries’ food supply.
5. Small farms are technically more productive than big farms
Industrial farms have enormous power, clout and resources, but small farms almost everywhere outperform big farms in terms of productivity. If all of Kenya’s farms matched the output of its small farms, the nation’s agricultural productivity would double. In Central America, it would nearly triple. If Russia’s big farms were as productive as its small ones, output would increase by a factor of six.
6. The majority of small farmers are women, yet their contributions are unrecognised and marginalised
Women’s immense contribution to farming and food production is not captured in official statistics and they are discriminated against when it comes to controlling land in most countries.
The report is accompanied by illustrative maps and a fully-referenced dataset. Available for download at: http://www.grain.org/e/4929.
More on the farmers’ struggle for land: “Land is life! La Via Campesina and the Struggle for Land” at: http://viacampesina.org/downloads/pdf/en/EN-notebook5.pdf.
Facts that don’t agree with claims
“One of the panel’s most striking new conclusions is that rising temperatures are already depressing crop yields, including those of corn and wheat.”
… is in this LA Times story by babout the latest IPCC report which has so much gloom and doom in it, one of the lead authors, Dr. Richard Tol, asked his name to be taken off of it for that very reason.
Problem is, the agricultural data doesn’t match the LATimes/IPCC claim, see for yourself:
Source: USDA data at http://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/ plotted by Dr. Roy Spencer.
Not only is the LATimes/IPCC claim about agriculture false for the world, but also the USA:
In fact, U.S. Corn Yields Have Increased Six Times Since the 1930s and Are Estimated to Double By 2030 according to Perry.
Maybe he’s just too lazy to check facts like this? Or, is it belief mixed with incompetence?
Russia’s oil giant, Lukoil, has begun pumping crude oil from one of the world’s largest undeveloped oil fields in southern Iraq, as the Arab country works to bolster its oil exports.
During a Saturday ceremony to inaugurate the West Qurna-2 field in Iraq’s southern city of Basra, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said crude production at the massive oil field is expected to reach some 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), from an initial 120,000 bpd.
The Iraqi minister further expressed hope that the country’s oil output could possibly reach four million bpd by the end of this year.
“This is a historic and great accomplishment that would enable the government to implement its development programs by increasing its revenues,” added Luaibi.
Lukoil Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov also hailed the launch of West Qurna-2 as “strategically important” for the Russian company, which is the principal firm developing the enormous West Qurna-2 field.
The inauguration of West Qurna-2 will allow Russia’s second oil producer to more than double its overseas crude output.
Earlier in the day, Dhiya Jaafar, the head of Iraq’s South Oil Company, said oil exports from southern Iraq have averaged 2.48 million bpd so far this month and would rise to 2.65 million following the inauguration of West Qurna-2.
West Qurna-2, with an estimated 14 million barrels of recoverable reserves, is the second biggest untapped oil field after Rumaila in southern Iraq.
Iraq is dependent on oil exports for government revenue and is working to boost its oil sales. The Arab country has proven reserves of 143.1 billion barrels of oil as well as 3.2 trillion cubic meters of gas.
Baghdad seeks to increase its crude production capacity to nine million bpd by 2017.
I’m seeing a lot of wrangling over the recent (15+ year) pause in global average warming… when did it start, is it a full pause, shouldn’t we be taking the longer view, etc.
These are all interesting exercises, but they miss the most important point: the climate models that governments base policy decisions on have failed miserably.
I’ve updated our comparison of 90 climate models versus observations for global average surface temperatures through 2013, and we still see that >95% of the models have over-forecast the warming trend since 1979, whether we use their own surface temperature dataset (HadCRUT4), or our satellite dataset of lower tropospheric temperatures (UAH):
Whether humans are the cause of 100% of the observed warming or not, the conclusion is that global warming isn’t as bad as was predicted. That should have major policy implications…assuming policy is still informed by facts more than emotions and political aspirations.
And if humans are the cause of only, say, 50% of the warming (e.g. our published paper), then there is even less reason to force expensive and prosperity-destroying energy policies down our throats.
I am growing weary of the variety of emotional, misleading, and policy-useless statements like “most warming since the 1950s is human caused” or “97% of climate scientists agree humans are contributing to warming”, neither of which leads to the conclusion we need to substantially increase energy prices and freeze and starve more poor people to death for the greater good.
Yet, that is the direction we are heading.
And even if the extra energy is being stored in the deep ocean (if you have faith in long-term measured warming trends of thousandths or hundredths of a degree), I say “great!”. Because that extra heat is in the form of a tiny temperature change spread throughout an unimaginably large heat sink, which can never have an appreciable effect on future surface climate.
If the deep ocean ends up averaging 4.1 deg. C, rather than 4.0 deg. C, it won’t really matter.
Roy W. Spencer received his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981. Before becoming a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2001, he was a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he and Dr. John Christy received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites. Dr. Spencer’s work with NASA continues as the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He has provided congressional testimony several times on the subject of global warming.
Dr. Spencer’s research has been entirely supported by U.S. government agencies: NASA, NOAA, and DOE. He has never been asked by any oil company to perform any kind of service. Not even Exxon-Mobil.
A new report in Science News Magazine (1-25-2014) by Bruce Bower details a reevaluation of the view that the Rapa Nuians, the native inhabitants of Easter Island (Rapa Nui), were responsible for the collapse of their population and society due to over exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of the rain forest on their island, a view recently popularized by Jared Diamond in his book Collapse (2005).
As Bower reports, the anthropologist Maria Mulrooney has published the results of her studies of the Rapa Nui culture (Journal of Archeological Science, December 2013) based on new radiocarbon dates from archeological sites on the island. She has concluded that after the clear cutting of the forest in the 1500s, to make room for agricultural production, the population of Rapa Nui remained sufficiently vibrant to carry on food production and continue their cultural development.
Exactly when the Rapa Nui arrived on Easter Island is unknown but it was on or before 1200 A.D. or so. Mulrooney maintains they had a thriving culture which was still going strong even after their “discovery” by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen on Easter Sunday 1722. This would indicate that they had not suffered “collapse” as a result of forest clearance.
Roggeveen reported that the island had about 2000 to 3000 inhabitants. He was the first to report on the moai– the giant statues (erected as religious symbols as part of an ancestor cult) for which the island is famous. They were all in place and standing when he was visiting the island (for less than two weeks). In his short time there he managed to kill a dozen or so natives and so his estimate of the population may be incorrect as many people fled and hid out until after he left.
The Spanish showed up in 1770, claimed the island for King Carlos III, then sailed away. The moai were all standing and the people were still engaged in agriculture. Captain Cook showed up in 1774 and noticed some of the moai had fallen but there was no sign of cultural “collapse.”
Bower quotes Mulrooney as saying, “Deforestation did not equal societal failure on Rapi Nui. We should celebrate the remarkable achievements of this island civilization”
Yet the culture did end up almost completely destroyed. After Capitan Cook’s visit Europeans visited more regularly in the 19th Century. It has been suggested that Rapa Nui’s decline may have been caused by the introduction of European diseases. By the early 1800s most of the moai had been toppled and the society had broken up into warring factions.
Peruvian slavers invaded in the 1860s and carried away 1500 of the 2000 or so Rapa Nuians into bondage in the mines of Peru. By 1878 only 111 natives were still living on the island. 97 per cent of the cultural memory of the people had been lost after contact with the Europeans. The greatest loss may have been that of rongorongo, the native writing system of Rapa Nui, and the only writing system created by any Polynesian group. All of those who knew the writing system died in the mines of Peru or from European introduced TB which ravaged the survivors.
Chile annexed the island in 1888. The Rapa Nui were given citizenship in 1966 but they no longer rule on their island. Of the 6000 or so people living on the island today about 3600 are Rapa Nui. The archeologist Carl Lipo is quoted as saying, “The idea of societal collapse on Rapa Nui has long been assumed but there is no scientific basis for it.” He is referring to a self induced collapse. Their traditional culture was destroyed, and the people today are trying to reinvigorate it, but it is a bum rap to blame them for the loss of their civilization.
Russian oil output, the largest in the world, reached 10.59 million bpd (barrels per day) in October, setting the record for the country’s post-Soviet period, Energy Ministry data showed.
The landmark was reached due to Rosneft increasing production at the Vankor field in the Krasnoyarsk Region, the Vedomosti paper reports.
The output at the field was 18.3 million tons last year, with the company planning Vankor reach 25 million tons annually.
Another influential factor is the larger amount of Gazprom-produced gas condensate, which has now reached 350,000 bpd.
The country’s total output in October reached 44,773 million tons, which is 1.3 percent higher than during the same period last year.
According to the International Energy Agency, Russia’s all-time production of black gold reached its peak at 11.41 million bpd in 1988, when it was still part of the Soviet Union.
The production of oil in Russia has been steadily growing since the setback caused by the global financial crisis in 2008, which saw output falling to about 9.8 million bpd.
In September 2009, it exceeded a monthly level of 10 million bpd, with the country overtaking Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer the next year.
Oil and gas remain the No.1 source of income for Russia, as hydrocarbons account for 80 percent of the country’s export.
The hypothesis for a single, simple, scientific explanation underlying the entire complex social phenomenon of CAGW.
Whatever is happening in the great outdoors regarding actual climate, inside the minds of men overwhelming evidence indicates that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is a self-sustaining narrative that is living off our mental capacity, either in symbiosis or as an outright cultural parasite; a narrative that is very distanced from physical real-world events. The social phenomenon of CAGW possesses all the characteristics of a grand memetic alliance, like numerous similar structures before it stretching back beyond the reach of historic records, and no doubt many more cultural creatures that have yet to birth.
Having painted a picture CAGW from a memetic perspective in fiction last December [link], I realized that many people instinctively sense the memetic characteristics of CAGW, and typically express this in blogs or articles as relatively casual comments that cite memes or religion. Yet these folks appear to have no real knowledge of how truly meaningful and fundamental their observations are. Hence I have written a comprehensive essay which attempts to fill in this knowledge gap, and indeed proposes that the entire complex social phenomenon of CAGW is dominated by memetic action, i.e. CAGW is a memeplex.
Note: a ‘meme’ is a minimal cultural entity that is subject to selective pressures during replication between human minds, its main medium. A meme can be thought of as the cultural equivalent to a gene in biology; examples are a speech, a piece of writing (‘narratives’), a tune or a fashion. A memeplex is a co-adapted group of memes that replicate together and reinforce each other’s survival; cultural or political doctrines and systems, for instance a religion, are major alliances of self-replicating and co-evolving memes. Memetics101: memeplexes do not only find shelter in the mind of a new host, but they will change the perceptions and life of their new host.
Because the memetic explanation for CAGW rests upon social and evolutionary fundamentals (e.g. the differential selection of self-replicating narratives, narrative alliances, the penetration of memes into the psyche causing secondary phenomena like motivated reasoning, noble cause corruption and confirmation bias etc.) it is not dependent upon politics or philosophies of any stripe, which tend to strongly color most ‘explanations’ and typically rob them of objectivity. Critically, a memetic explanation also does not depend on anything happening in the climate (for better or for worse). CO2 worry acted as a catalyst only; sufficient real-world uncertainties at the outset (and indeed still) provided the degree of freedom that let a particular ‘ability’ of memeplexes take hold. That ability is to manipulate perceptions (e.g. of real-world uncertainty itself), values, and even morals, which means among other things that once birthed the CAGW memeplex rapidly insulated itself from actual climate events.
Homo Sapiens have likely co-evolved with memeplexes essentially forever (Blackmore), therefore they are a fundamental part of us, and indeed no characteristic of CAGW appears to be in the slightest bit new, quite the contrary. Underlining this ancient origin, one class of memeplexes folks are familiar with is: ‘all religions’. Yet these fuzzy structures are by no means limited to religion; science has triggered memetic themes before and extreme politics frequently does so, and there have even been historic memeplexes centered on climate. This does not mean CAGW is precisely like a religion, but being similarly powered by self-replicating narratives creates the comparable characteristics that many have commented upon.
Using a great deal of circumstantial evidence from the climate blogosphere and support from various knowledge domains: neuroscience, (economic) game theory, law, corporate behavior, philosophy, biological evolution and of course memetics etc., the essay maps the primary characteristics of CAGW onto the expected behavior for a major memeplex, finding conformance. Along the way, contemporary and historic memeplexes (mainly religious) are explored as comparisons. The essay is long, book-sized, because the subject matter is large. I guess an essay describing all of climate science would be very long, so one exploring the entire memetic characteristics of CAGW plus I hope enough context for readers to make sense of that, is similarly so.
The context is extremely broad, ranging from why pyramid building evolved in Egypt to a passionate cry against kings, priests, and tyranny in a radical women’s journal of the early nineteenth century. From the impact of memeplexes on the modern judicial system courtesy of Duke Law, to the ancient purpose of story-telling and contemporary attempts to subvert this, along with a plot analysis of the film Avatar. From the long and curious tale of an incarnation of ‘the past is always better’ meme currently rampant on the internet, to the evolutionary selection of fuzzy populations in biology and the frankenplex multi-element cultural creature that is CAGW. From the conflict related death-rates in primitive tribes versus modern states, to analysis of corporate social responsibilities after the Enron and banking sector crises. From memetic chain letters that stretch back to the hieroglyphs (Letters from Heaven), to the analysis of social cross-coalitions via game theory within the perspective of economics. From the concept of ‘the Social Mind’ courtesy of neuro-scientist Michael Gazzaniga, to pressure upon religions by aggressive atheism as promoted by Richard Dawkins. From modification of theistic memes in the Old to the New Testament, to notions of Gaia and telegraph wires and wing-nuts. Plus memetic sex, witchcraft, cults, Cathars, concepts of salvation, Communism, hi-jacking altruism, Lynsenkoism, lichen, psychologizers, National Socialism, de-darwinisation, that ugly term ‘denier’, and much more.
The reason for this huge breadth and depth is that memeplexes are deeply integrated into both our psyche and our societies; this level of vision and historical context is necessary to uncover the entities, to identify their actions with as much distancing from what remains of ‘ourselves’ as can be achieved.
In counter-weight to this very broad context, the essay is richly laced throughout with quotes from many of the main players and commenters in the climate blogosphere (plus from newspapers and other publications too), much of which will be pretty familiar to followers of the climate debate. These quotes cover luke-warmers, skeptics and Consensus folks, plus politicians, philosophers, psychologists and others as regards their views on CAGW, yet all are chosen and brought together for their focus on the memetic aspects of the phenomenon. There are also plenty of deeper topics specific to the sociological aspects of CAGW that most denizens of the climate blogosphere will recognize and can get their teeth into, some contentious. For instance, a look at Richard Dawkins’ immersion within a rampant memeplex (while this would seem to be both controversial and ironic, when one realizes that we’re all immersed to some extent in several memeplexes, irony tends to morph to introspection). A brief view of a different Stephan Lewandowski paper (i.e. NOT either of the ‘conspiracy ideation’ ones) in which he highlights the very type of inbuilt cultural bias that has then led him blindly to produce those very challenged and troubled works! An exposé of memetically induced cultural bias in a recent paper on ‘Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change’, that in my opinion undermines the objectivity of the work and robs the conclusions of any real meaning. A very interesting take on Mike Hulme’s stance as revealed by the memetic perspective. A glimpse of the ‘shall-we shan’t-we dance’ tentative cross-coalition between the Christian and CAGW memeplexes. The constant references to grandchildren within CAGW advocacy texts. Both the laudable and the lurking memetic content in philosopher Pascal Bruckner’s essay ‘Against Environmental Panic’. Numerous views of sociological comment by atmospheric scientist Judith Curry or at her blog Climate Etc from a memetic perspective. Plus a delve into one of pointman’s very interesting climate related essays, strong language and classic climate quotes explained via memetics, and more…
While CAGW skeptics might at first blush celebrate the possibility of a single, non-climate related, non-partisan, science-based theory that explains the whole complex range of CAGW’s social characteristics, acceptance of this theory also requires acceptance of a couple of pretty uncomfortable truths, and the ditching of at least one touchstone used by many (but by no means all) climate change skeptics. These issues are all expounded in the essay, but I summarize here:
- Acceptance of the memeplex explanation requires us to rethink what ‘self’ means, and how our opinions, perceptions, and even morals are formed and maintained, with an implication that our ‘self’ is much more about the societal groups we’re immersed in than about what’s intrinsically inside our heads. The fact that we don’t really ‘own’ ourselves, is challenging.
- Acceptance of the memeplex explanation requires a rejection of the ‘scam’ or ‘hoax’ theory as a root cause of the CAGW phenomenon, and as a primary motivator for the vast majority of CAGW ‘adherents’. (Note this does not rule out the fact that scams / hoaxes and other negative social phenomena may be attached to the memeplex as secondary structures – this is in fact common for major memeplexes). The essay spends quite some length saying why this is so.
- Whatever downsides are observed to stem from the social phenomenon of CAGW, memeplexes in general often contribute major net advantages to their host societies, sometimes very major. The balance between positive and negative aspects of a major memeplex are not easy to determine except long in retrospect and with access to the ‘big picture’ (all attributes and all impacts across all of society). Hence we cannot yet know the balance of this equation for CAGW. The positive aspects are not typically intuitive.
- As already mentioned, the memetic explanation is virtually independent of actual climate events. Hence dangerous climate scenarios are not ruled out. It simply means that no scenarios are ruled out, from the very dangerous to the utterly benign, and it is very much in the memeplex’s interests to keep the situation that way. Memeplexes wallow in uncertainty and confusion.
Many commenters in the climate blogosphere have written to the effect that: ‘it isn’t and never was about the science’. I happen to agree, very little of the CAGW phenomenon is about the science. The memetic perspective reveals why this is; not in terms of political or financial motivations but in the objective terms of the underlying social mechanisms, which are independent of (and enable) all such motivations.
Despite the essay’s length, I hope you will take the journey to acquiring a memetic perspective. Here [ memeplex summary ] is a very distilled summary of each section of the essay below this text, with a list of references, in which a few regular contributors might find their names. Please note that the work is not a ‘paper’, containing no proofs or supporting mathematics, excepting a couple of references to Game Theory and the Price Equation. And merely for convenience, I have written as though the memeplex hypothesis is true, i.e. that CAGW is a memeplex and that this characteristic dominates the social effects. It is just extremely cumbersome throughout hundreds of references to make them all conditional – so I haven’t. Yet by no means does that mean the hypothesis is true, or at least wholly true in the sense that the memetic effects are dominant. Readers must form their own opinions regarding that, no doubt which opinions will be colored by the memeplexes they’re already immersed in J. I think most folks will find it an interesting and enjoyable ride though. The complete essay is here [link]: (Note: this Post text doubles as the essay Foreword, so you can skip that).
P.S. while I intend to issue further Revs of the essay with some extensions plus feedback / corrections applied, in practice this may only happen on a very long timescale, or possibly not at all as my time is extremely pressured. Please keep an eye on www.wearenarrative.wordpress.com for any up-Revs or additional information. Note: the novella Truth from the WUWT post above is now available (free) at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/273983 or within the anthology ‘Engines of Life’ also at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/334834, or at Amazon here.
Nearly 30% of all large clinical trials in the United States have gone unpublished five years after their completion, often because those running them—pharmaceutical companies—don’t want their results known.
This failure to share information represents an ethical violation on the part of companies and organizations that are obligated to tell trial participants about testing results, scientists wrote in the British Medical Journal.
These experts say approximately 250,000 people took part in the 29% of trials that haven’t been published. Considering only those trials funded by the pharmaceutical industry, the number rose to 32%.
This “violates an ethical obligation that investigators have towards study participants,” Christopher Jones of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, New Jersey, who worked on the study, told The Guardian.
Jones and his colleagues said changes must be made “to ensure timely public dissemination of trial data.”
Pharmaceutical manufactures are currently required to register all trials and report their results with the government through the database Clinicaltrials.gov. It is a global register and the largest such database in the world. But the study demonstrates that many companies are ignoring this requirement.
Síle Lane, director of campaigns at the U.K.-based AllTrials Campaign, told The Guardian that database postings are critical to science and, consequently, to patients. “There’s no excuse for not publishing results but a huge public health benefit to having a complete picture of what was found in trials conducted on treatments currently available to patients,” she said. “[For example,] trials from around the world are used to make UK prescribing decisions. So information from those trials is vital for UK regulators and researchers.”
Drug makers are sometimes motivated to not publish clinical trial information in order to hide details of side effects or outright failures of new treatments. They also try to avoid disclosing data that might help their competition.
Richard Stephens, a cancer patient who has been in five trials, told The Guardian that it’s important for testing to be made public.
“I would ask every researcher and every research funder out there to do all they can to make their results available. Patients become participants to add to knowledge and to eliminate uncertainties. Hiding results, no matter what the reason, isn’t in that spirit at all. In fact it is a betrayal of our trust,” Stephens said.
To Learn More:
Scientists Alarmed Over Ethics of Drug Trials Remaining Unpublished Up to Five Years After They’re Finished (by Sarah Boseley, The Guardian)
Non-Publication of Large Randomized Clinical Trials: Cross Sectional Analysis (by Christopher W. Jones, Lara Handler, Karen E. Crowell, Lukas G. Keil, Mark A. Weaver, Timothy F Platts-Mills; British Medical Journal)
Big Drug Firms Mobilize Patient Groups to Lobby against Publication of Secret Drug Testing Data (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Drug Companies Still Outsourcing Dangerous Trials to Poor Nations (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)