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Thursday, 1 May 2014

David Bellamy OBE: Victim of the “No Platform” Policy Against Global Warming Sceptics

It's funny that those who stress the scientific credentials of the anthropogenic global warming theory (AGWT) use very unscientific and indeed political ways and means to silence all contradictory -- or even sceptical -- views about it.

For example, AGWT activists, scientists and even some MPs have written to the BBC begging it not to give “airtime” to AGWT sceptics or critics. This is a kind of (non)scientific version of the British Leftists' “no platform” policy; which is similarly used to silence literally all the people who dare to have nonconformist views about various and many political subjects.

Indeed individuals in America have even argued that AGWT skeptics should be prosecuted or criminalized -- quite literally!

Will there now be a Gulag built for those who dare to question the complete and total truth of the AGWT? Are all AGW sceptics, by definition, “flat-earthers”, “knuckle-draggers” or the paid agents of Big Business?

So it's clear that these AGW totalitarians don't want to give any “oxygen of publicity” -- to use Margaret Thatcher's phrase about terrorists - to skeptics or critics. Yet we're not talking about terrorists here! We're talking, in many cases, about scientists and those who simply question many -- or simply some -- aspects of what is supposed to be a scientific theory. Aren't questioning and criticism part of the very essence of science? And doesn't all this AGW evangelism show that the theory may in fact be more political than scientific after all?

David Bellamy OBE (Order of the British Empire) himself called the AGWT “poppycock”.

Mr. Bellamy was once a very well-known British TV presenter. He's also a scientist (a botanist). For over two decades, he was almost the face (after Sir David Attenborough) of science -- or at least of natural history -- on British television. He made and presented countless TV programs, wrote over 45 books and even had a top 40 hit called 'Brontosaurus, Will You Wait For Me?' He also set up many charities and, at one point in time, was the patron of more than 400 of them.

However, it was his character -- often parodied by comedians -- which proved to be the most endearing to British people.

David Bellamy first rejected the AGWT in 2004.

What happened then? According to David Bellamy himself, this:

From that moment, I really wasn’t welcome at the BBC. They froze me out, because I don’t believe in global warming. My career dried up. I was thrown out of my own conservation groups and I got spat at in London.”

Now it's not clear from that whether or not the BBC “froze out” Bellamy because it feared he would articulate his scepticism about the AGWT on air; or that it simply froze him out because of what he believed.

Things got worse for Mr. Bellamy.

He was then dropped, in 2005, by The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. (He was the president of that organization at the time.) The RSWT said: “We are not happy with his line of climate change.”

In response, Bellamy said:

I worked with the Wildlife Trusts for 52 years. And when they dropped me, they didn’t even tell me.”

Later, in October 2006, the New Zealand Herald reported that Bellamy had joined the AGWT-skeptic New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. Following that, in May 2007, Bellamy and Jack Barrett wrote a paper -- in the Civil Engineering journal of the Institution of Civil Engineers -- called 'Climate stability: an inconvenient proof'. (One claim in that article is that the predicted doubling of carbon dioxide levels from natural, pre-industrial levels was not only unlikely but would also amount to less than 1 degree C of global warming.)

As for Bellamy's evidence against the AGWT, he once said the following:

For the last 16 years, temperatures have been going down and the carbon dioxide has been going up and the crops have got greener and grow quicker. We’ve done plenty to smash up the planet, but there’s been no global warming caused by man.”

Now that evidence alone is of course far from conclusive. And I don't think that Bellamy himself, as a scientist, would see it as being conclusive. (No single “bit” -- or bits -- of evidence are ever conclusive in science.) In other words, those simple facts don't disprove the AGWT. But that's primarily because proof and disproof are not notions that are used in science in the first place: they are exclusively, strictly speaking, mathematical and logical notions. In addition, Bellamy's facts (which may well be facts) are simply not enough to even discredit -- never mind disprove -- the AGWT. However, he wouldn't claim, I hope, that they do that. Nonetheless, the facts he cites -- as well as the innumerable other counter-AGWT facts -- do give us at least some grounds for skepticism. Indeed many people argue that they give us grounds for intense skepticism.

This isn't a matter of whether or not the AGWT is true or not. In fact the AGWT can be neither true nor false. (Let's forget here about the fact many philosophers of science, and some scientists also, have a problem with the very notion of truth -- as applied to scientific theories -- in the first place.) Only single statements or propositions can be true or false. More relevantly, the AGWT is so broad, and contains so many variables, that it's difficult to decipher what people are actually saying when they make general statements about it. The AGWT can, at most, only be true or false in part.
Al Gore & Lysenko.

So this is in fact a matter of the tactics and opinions of those who zealously and piously uphold the theory in the rather Stalinist manner they do. Indeed the very political nature of this intolerance of different views (as well the scientific fundamentalism of the believers) leads one to think that these things occur precisely because the AGWT itself is essentially political in nature. That is, the obvious political underpinnings of the AGWT (which the believers don't deny) are quite naturally leading to the very political methods and means which are used to create a 'no platform' policy for all those who dare to question it. Indeed it can even be said that anthropogenicglobalwarmingism (as it were) is the Lysenkoism of our time and that the United Nations -- or at least the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- is a contemporary version of the Soviet Union's Institute of Genetics of the Academy of Sciences.
Lysenko fuses science & politics.

Notes on American Thinker Comments:

1) AGWT scepticism must be a scepticism, in this case at least, that is both scientifically- and philosophically-informed.

The question in the article is not whether or not the AGWT is true. It's about the attitudes and actions of AGWT believers. And their actions are often unscientific - indeed they are clearly political. So when I received replies - after my last article on the AGWT - telling me that sceptic X or scientist Y has got his facts wrong (or that my questions about some of data were misplaced, etc.), they were simply missing the point entirely.

There are indeed fundamental theories in science: in physics and, to a lesser extent, in chemistry and in some other sciences. They are almost universally accepted. Yet the AGWT is not a fundamental theory.

Firstly, at best it is a collection of many theories, data, facts, surveys, findings, stats, etc. (which may well have a basis in fundamental theories). Secondly, climatology is not a basic science and the "science of global warming" is even less basic. In addition, both climatology and the science of global warming are new disciplines and not really distinct sciences (in that they are dependent on more basic sciences) at all.

So when believers show the same level of respect for the AGWT as they do for relativity theory or even the basics of evolutionary theory, then they are making a basic category mistake. The AGWT is nothing like, say, the accepted parts of quantum mechanics or relativity theory. It is a hotchpotch of theories. Not only that: the AGWT is riddled with political and social concerns and causes. Hence the scepticism. And hence the often political nature of the outright dismissal of all scepticism towards the AGWT.

2) In the article I wrote:

"Are all AGW skeptics, by definition, “flat-earthers”, “knuckle-draggers” or the paid agents of Big Business?"

One commentator said that all AGWT sceptics are indeed flat-earthers, knuckle-draggers or the paid agents of Big Business. Actually, he also added the supposed fact that they have“no moral compass” and that they are sceptical about AGWT because it is “inconvenient to their ideology”.

Well, I don't believe that the earth is flat. I don't know if I'm a knuckle-dragger or not. And I'm not paid by Big Business. Then again, if the critics is a Leftist conspiracy theorist of some kind, then he probably won't believe me about that.

So I also asked if he had ever tried some self-analysis. That is, was scepticism about the AGWT "inconvenient to [his own]ideology"? Perhaps he too is stupid, ignorant and paid by institutions/political groups which favour the AGWT. And his bringing in the idea of sceptics having "no moral compass" sounded to me like first-year-student journalese. He really did sound terribly smug and pious.

In fact, this critical commentator was exactly the sort of person I had in mind in the article. You see, it's really not a very good thing to have such a high opinion of your own grasp of total truth in science.

He also said this:

"Dr. James L. Powell, who was appointed to the National Science Board by Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, reviewed 10,885 peer-reviewed climate articles published in 2013 and found only 2 that rejected man-made global warming. He found similar results in reviewing articles going back to 1991.”

That sounded like name-dropping to me. On the other hand, I've seen surveys which site over 20,000 established scientists who are AGWT sceptics. So, if X can pick and choose his data, all I can do is pick and choose my own (which is part of the point of the piece).

3) I mentioned in the note above that on one survey there were around 20,000 established scientists who were also sceptical about the AGWT. That was off the top of my head. Nonetheless, someone questioned it. So I checked. And with a minute or two, I found another article.

That article claimed there are 31,000 American scientists alone who are sceptics about the AGWT. (So it trumped my original claim.)

Then again, that is not the point of the article. There are probably very few sceptics about, say, quantum mechanics, evolutionary theory, etc. in the universities. But when it comes to the AGWT, the sceptics are legion.... at least today.

So the critics was simply not getting the point. But if his points were driven by politics, then that's not surprising. Politics, on the whole, is not driving the agenda in physics, etc; though, to some extent it is undoubtedly is (even more so in aspects of genetics/biology). However, when it comes to the AGWT - politics appears to be firmly in the driving seat. And you can always tell the political nature of AGWT believers when they mention to “political biases” of the sceptics. That's always a good giveaway!

Despite that, I don't place that much faith in this single link or article; which I found very quickly. Though the problem is that AGWT believers you seem to place a lot of faith in people who put the opposite view. Therefore I think that politics is more important to such people than science:

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