Of all the climate “science” scams I’ve helped expose, about the worst has got to be Ocean Acidification.
The very name is a lie: no our oceans are not turning acid; still less are our corals and marine life under any threat of dissolving in what the New York Times once hysterically described as “our deadened, carbon-soaked seas”.
Yet still this junk-science scare story refuses to lie down and die because there are so many vested interests determined to prop it up.
Here is the latest egregious example. Published at The Marine Biologist (“the magazine of the marine biological community”) it purports to be a damning refutation of one of my many articles calling out the Ocean Acidification lie.
There was a time when I would have just ignored it: the guy who wrote it – one Phil Williamson – is the embodiment of Upton Sinclair’s dictum that “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
Not only is Williamson based at the “University” of East Anglia – aka Climate Alarmism Central, heavily featured in the Climategate scandal – but since 2010 he has been paid as Science Coordinator of the UK Ocean Acidification research programme. This project has received around £12.5 million of UK government funding, most it provided by the Natural Environment Research Council (for which conveniently Williamson also works).
But to ignore articles like Williamson’s is, I have learned from experience, a grave mistake. Like an untreated wound they have a nasty habit of going septic. They need to be cauterised lest they turn gangrenous.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
— Daily Climate (@TheDailyClimate) August 28, 2016
The Spectator published a piece by James Delingpole on the acidification of our oceans. Guess what, it was rubbish! https://t.co/MjihyIhcO8
— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) August 27, 2016
— Simon Cook (@glacio_cook) August 27, 2016
— (((Greg Jenner))) (@greg_jenner) August 27, 2016
Do you see how these memes metastasize in the liberal-left echo-chamber?
I mean, you expect this kind of crap from DeSmog Blog – a Soros-funded alarmist site; from Graham Readfern, a Guardianista hack on a life mission to prove that denialists are a bunch of evil deniers; and from Sunny Hundal, a painfully stupid left wing blogger. You also fully expect it to be shared by people involved in the climate change industry, as a kind of mutual self-esteem-boosting exercise.
Where we need to start worrying, though, is when this nonsense goes mainstream.
That last tweet from Greg Jenner, for example. Yes – as a popular TV historian he probably qualifies as a member of what I’d call the Wankerati: the left-liberal media chattering classes. But for all that he’s a decent, reasonable guy – not aggressively political, not a rabid environmentalist, not aboard the climate change gravy train or anything like that.
Yet on the basis of Williamson’s piece, this decent, reasonable guy has made up his mind that the science behind Ocean Acidification is solid and that the only people questioning it are – to use his words – “untrained opinionistas.”
And the problem is there will be many others like him. Which is why, of course, Williamson wrote his rebuttal in the first place and took so much trouble over its presentation, giving it the look and feel of a proper scientific paper. He knew exactly what he was doing by playing the “more science-y than thou” card, because he and his kind have been playing it very successfully for years.
“Scientists say…”. It’s amazing what powerful magic this formula can effect on otherwise well-educated, intelligent, skeptical people.
It never occurs to them that there as many chancers and charlatans with science degrees as there are with arts degrees. Nor that scientific research, being often dependent on the values and aims of those who are funding it, is prone to corruption and politicisation. Nor yet that science is more than capable of going down completely wrong alleys for any number of other reasons, from human error to the domineering arrogance of a few influential individuals.
Consider, for example, Noam Chomsky, the subject of Tom Wolfe’s latest book Kingdom of Speech. For fifty years – his position assured by his fashionably left-wing politics – Chomsky dominated the field of linguistics to such an extent that almost nobody dared question his theory that language is hard-wired into our brains.
Think about this: a half century in which one field of scientific study was entirely in thrall to the theory of one individual. How many tenured professors is that? How many PhDs? How many undergraduates? How much money in research grants? All of it – it has since emerged – to no useful purpose whatsoever. As Wolfe explains in his book, Chomsky had formulated behind his Harvard desk a theory which a researcher in the field – one Daniel L Everett, formerly an acolyte of Chomsky’s – was finally able to prove be fatally flawed.
Yet if you’d expressed skepticism towards Chomsky in that fifty year period, how do you think you would have been received in all the linguistics faculties promoting Chomsky’s theories? What kind of a hearing do you think you would have had in broader intellectual circles if you tried to take on the reputation of a man everyone had come to accept unquestioningly as the cleverest thinker in his field?
This, unfortunately, is how bad scientific ideas get to survive long past their sell-by dates.
Not that Ocean Acidification is nor ever was really about “the science”. Partly it was dreamed up as a way of hoovering up some of the vast quantities of government research grant available for anything vaguely connected with “climate change”; partly, as a pals’ make-work scheme for otherwise unemployable environmental science and marine biology graduates from places like the “University” of East Anglia.
Mainly, though, Ocean Acidification was invented to serve the same purpose as the Siegfried Line did for the Germans in the Second World War: that is, as a fall-back position for when all the other plans failed.
Remember that “climate change” represents a global industry worth around $1.5 trillion – all of this expenditure predicated on the notion that man-made carbon dioxide is a problem because it causes catastrophic global warming. Now clearly if – as seems to be increasingly likely – CO2 turns out to be just a harmless trace gas whose influence on climate is marginal, then an awful lot of vested interests are going to be heavily out of pocket. Hence the appeal to the vast climate alarmist conspiracy of Ocean Acidification: the handy theory which ensures that even if global warming doesn’t happen, there will still be plenty of snout-space at the trough for all those rent-seekers, crooks, greed-heads, scamsters and shills involved in the “decarbonisation” industry.