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Similarities between the Dreyfus Affair and the Climate Wars

I’ve been reading about both recently.  For those unfamiliar with it, the Dreyfus Affair of the 1890s involved the wrongful conviction of a French officer for treason.

So, the similarities:

In the Dreyfus case, the authorities faked the evidence.  In the Climate Wars the authorities sought to “hide the decline”.

In the Dreyfus case, an officer who raised doubts was removed and posted to the desert.  In the Climate Wars, anyone raising doubts will find himself in the academic equivalent.

In the Dreyfus case, the authorities were aided by a tide of anti-semitism.  In the Climate Wars the authorities are helped by a tide of environmentalism.

In the Dreyfus case, the author Emile Zola was sued for libel.  In the Climate Wars, the author Mark Steyn is being sued for libel.

In the Dreyfus case the authorities withheld evidence that would have exonerated Dreyfus.  In the Climate Wars the “scientists” refuse to publish their data.

In the Dreyfus case the authorities felt it was all right to lie because the truth was on their side.  In the Climate Wars some warmists, convinced that the truth is on their side, are happy to lie.

In the Dreyfus case, Dreyfus was exiled to Devil’s Island.  In the Climate Wars it’s the truth that is far, far away and under guard day and night.

In the Dreyfus case, and after many years, justice was eventually done.  In the Climate Wars…well, we’ll see.


Alfred Dreyfus begins to regret challenging the global warming orthodoxy

Alfred Dreyfus begins to regret challenging the global warming orthodoxy


33 comments to Similarities between the Dreyfus Affair and the Climate Wars

  • Regional

    In Boganstan the bastions of independent thinking and inquiry scepticism about the theory of AGW is not tolerated and university students attack anybody who doubts AGW with such ferocity they make Hitler’s Brown Shirts look like big girl’s blouses.

  • Paul Marks

    I fear a different simularity between the Dreyfus affair and the man made globel warming dispute.

    When Dreyfus was proved innocent it was used as an excuse for much wickedness (of which Captain Dreyfus himself did NOT approve).

    For example, the so called “seperation of Church and State” in 1905 was actuall a state TAKE OVER of Church property – churches remain state owned in France to this day.

    Also the control of the left over EDUCATION became an iron grip (as, historically, only the influence of churches has ever offered any real resistance to the left).

    And, even as late as the 1930s, the Drayfus affair was being trotted out as excuse not to back the French army (with terrible results in 1940).

    Indeed to this day basically everything senible in France is smeared with the Dreyfus affairs. Because more than a century ago – Captain Dreyfus was innocent, and traditional conservative France said he was guilty (and many of them covered up evidence proving his innocence).

    I profoundly hope that the man made globel warming theory is false (just as most of conservative France honestly believed that Captain Dreyfus was guilty), but what it is correct?

    Just consider the poissiblity that it MIGHT be correct.

    Yes dreadful liars back the theory – but then dreadful liars (Zola and so on – people Captain Dreyfus himself despised) backed the innocense of Captain Dreyfus (true he case was oringially taken up by a CONSERVATIVE army officer – but it was soon taken over by the left, for their own reasons).

    No doubt the globel warming people are telling dreadful lies (just ad the pro Dreyfus people also often told dreadful lies, “it is a plot against the Republic, organised by the Vatican and…..”), but what if their central case is TRUE?

    After all (in spite of all the lies told by those who claimed to be his supporters) Captain Dreyfus was innocent.

    If all free market people totally commit ourselves to the position that “man made globel warming is a lie”.

    Then we may find ourselves the French right found itself in – after Captain Dreyfus was proved to be innocent.

    I say again that I know the first person to campaign for the innocense of Captain Dreyfus was a conservative army officer – but that was soon forgotten in the “left versus right” battle.

    That Mrs Thatcher was the first major politician to warn of the dangers of globel warming (and argue for nuclear power to reduce C02 emissions) may also be forgotten.

    However, let us hope that (in this case) “Dreyfus is guilty”.

  • Jim

    @Paul Marks: sounds like you are lacking the courage of your convictions! But you are right – one side of the AGW argument is going to end up on the @rse end of some pretty serious consequences, eventually. But of the two sides, I’m glad the left have grabbed AGW and grasped it hard to their bosom, because with a bit of luck it will explode and take them all with it.

    After all we on the libertarian right are fighting a losing battle – its getting harder and harder to convince anyone that the State should get smaller, whether or not we are on the wrong side of the AGW outcome. So we might as well hitch our wagon to the anti-AGW crowd, and hope for the best. The alternative is only where we are headed anyway.

  • Babinich

    Hear, hear!

    This post ties in beautifully with my reading of the The Guns of August.

  • Slartibartfarst

    I profoundly hope that the man made globel warming theory is false… but what it is correct?

    @Paul Marks.

    I’m not sure whether you are talking about the same thing, but there has been a trend of global warming, thank goodness, since about 1860, towards the end of The Little Ice Age (which followed “The Medieval Warm Period”).
    That global warming is not just a theory, as it has been substantiated/proven by observation.

    The invention has apparently been that of CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming), which seems to be an extension of a previous and preferred 1970s alarmist theory dreamed up under the name of Catastrophic Global Cooling, or something. Anyway, we were all going to freeze to death.

    The cooling did not eventuate. Now we have CAGW, and we are all going to boil to death, or something, unless the people in the rich nations pay an awful lot of tax to a new world government (New World Order), using a new financial instrument (“carbon credits trading”) invented for the purpose. The bank/world government will redistribute the tax to the poorer countries and we’ll finally get some human equality, and then everything will work out fine.
    I think this sounds like a great idea, personally.

    The reality of the CAGW theory seems to be that it is a largely mythical theme invented/developed upon by a Team of so-called “climate scientists”, some of whom (including some in the U of South East Anglia Climate Research Unit, Penn State U, and IPCC) apparently conspired to fabricate data and research papers to reflect the chosen outcome of their theory, thus “proving” it. Hence “Hide the decline” in the “Hockey Stick” graph.
    This is all according to their own emailed correspondence per Climategate 1 and Climategate 2 leaks, where they even referred to it as a “cause”.

    Unfortunately for the warmists, the warming did not eventuate (QED) – there has been no upwards trend in warming for the last 16 years it seems (and as reluctantly confirmed by the warmist-biased UK Met Office and other sources).
    One of the “Team” had said in Climategate emails that if there was no warming for a continuous 15-year period, then their theory would be in a bit of a mess, OWTTE. He has apparently now said that 20 years is the period they should look at. I kid you not.

    Now I’m not sure whether your question was asked tongue-in-cheek”, but, in light of the above, I would suggest that your question is in any event rather like asking “But what if the Emperor really does have some clothes, but we can’t see them?”
    If you had asked that, then I wouldn’t waste my time in answer. However, I have assumed your question is genuine.

    I have been an environmentalist for years, and was gullible enough to believe the AGW part of the CAGW theory, because I was too busy earning a living to spend my cognitive surplus on the subject and find out for myself, and so I effectively allowed them to tell me what I should think. It was only when Climategate eventuated in 2009 that I decided enough was enough and determined to find discover the truth for myself. What I have written above is a potted summary of some of what I found out. I discovered the truth, but it was buried under a pile of irrationality, deceit, downright lies, and obfuscation, and stealthily guarded by a “greenie” religio-political ideology and Fascism combined to be something like a modern-day version of Lysenkoism.

    Your question would thus seem to have no real meaning or rational use. I would recommend that you follow the advice of the Royal Society – “Nullius in verba” – literally, “Take nobody’s word for it; see for yourself”.
    From experience, you will generally get something more definite out of that than asking such questions, and then you can cease “believing” or “hoping” that something might be true or not.

  • Jacob

    “a state TAKE OVER of Church property”
    In 1905 ?
    Hasn’t the state (or rather – the crowd) confiscated all church property during the Revolution of 1789?

  • Jacob

    “That Mrs Thatcher was the first major politician to warn of the dangers of globel warming (and argue for nuclear power to reduce C02 emissions) may also be forgotten.”

    She was a shrewd operator, she was waging a war at that time against the coal unions, trying to close down the state owned mines. That might have been the explanation to her position. She did not anticipate at the time that this idea will do much more harm than good.

  • Simon Jester


    Mrs. Thatcher’s big speech on global warming came in 1988, well after the militant coal unions were defeated (in the miners’ strike that ended in 1985) – her concern was genuine, not purely tactical.

    She subsequently came to regret doing so, as described in her book “Statecraft”.

  • Frank S

    Interesting parlour game. How about repeating it for the Lysenko episode, or the Piltdown Man one? Each of these has features which could resonate with some in the CAGW fiasco.

  • Paul Marks

    “Courage of my convictions”?

    To me this matter is not poltical – it is scientfic. And I have no knowledge of science.

    However, it has become political.

    That is the problem.

  • veryretired

    Once again, we are allowing the collectivist elements pushing the “climate change crisis” to justify massive intrusions by the state into more and more areas of life to set all the terms of the argument.

    The issue is not warming or cooling, which occurs in fairly regular cycles, but the endless claim by the statist faction that only wider state powers can deal with this alleged crisis, just as the same solution has been advanced for any number of supposed crises in the past.

    Thus, while those on the individualist side attempt to discuss the science and examine the true nature of climatic changes, the statists simply posit another big need for state action, marshall their allies in the media, government, academia, and all the rest of the usual suspects, and start drafting regulations, legal formulae, treaties, and funding schemes.

    While opponents parse emails and critique satellite data, the EPA and its various equivalents in other nations and international bodies start extending their regulatory rules to cripple any industry or technology they oppose, and ignore any excesses that they might find in enterprises they favor.

    Schools from kindergarden on up are innundated with course materials and science projects and even puppet shows, all geared towards inculcating the most virulent antipathy towards anyone who disputes the collectivist truth, or opposes any of the power grabs that quickly become necessary state policy, into the next generation.

    The news media, the entertainment industry, the social justice crusaders in the churches, and all the state cadres and ngo tranzis climb on the train, which sets off at bullet speed, while the advocates for individual autonomy are still parking their cars and haven’t even entered the station.

    It’s the policies, it’s the policies, it’s the policies—and the enlarged state power they require—that is the only true issue.

    Every moment that has been spent in this endless back and forth about “yes it is” vs “no it isn’t” has been utterly wasted.

    You can never win a game when you always allow the opponent to make up the rules as they go along. When are we ever going to learn this simple, eternal truth?

  • Paul Marks



    After all even if the man made globel warming theory is correct – the policies supported by the statists would NOT be the correct response.

    The correct response would be to remove the vast web of regulations that have held back the nuclear industry for decades.

  • bloke in spain

    Certainly a similarity between the two. They both involve matters that’ve been around for a long, long time.
    The Dreyfus case was,of course, not much about Dreyfus. His application to join the General Staff was rejected, along with that of another officer. One of the examining board objected to their being Jewish. Their unsuccessful attempt to contest the decision made a lot of enemies. When, later, a scapegoat was needed for the espionage scandal, Dreyfus was an obvious choice.
    And like antisemitism, the story behind the CAGWC myth has been running for millennia. It’s the latest iteration of the justification for elitist rule. Once it was organised religions telling the ruled their rulers had a direct line to the wishes of the gods or God. Then we’ve had a period where the elites have presumed a direct line to needs of that amorphous concept, ‘The People’. Socialism, communism, fascism… Take yer pick of isms. They pretty well all say the same thing. Now, with so many of the other isms discredited, environmentalism is a platform for the academic elite to retain their grip on power. Just another version of “We know what’s good for you” Because they claim a direct line to the gods of science.

  • Rich Rostrom

    I don’t find this very persuasive.

    The Dreyfus Affair was almost entirely about “honor” and “reputation”. The actual crime of which Dreyfus was wrongly convicted was fairly trivial. The wrongful conviction of a single man, while a serious wrong to him, was not in itself a great catastrophe.

    The controversy arose when the authorities which had erred refused to acknowledge and correct the error; rather than do so, they forged additional evidence. (The original evidence in the case was not faked, it was misinterpreted.) They took this position to “protect the honor of the French army”. The anti-Dreyfusards took the position that even if Dreyfus was innocent, his conviction should be upheld for that reason.

    Meanwhile, many Dreyfusards used the Affair to attack the prestige of the army and diminish the political influence of its conservative and often reactionary leadership. One should recall that the Dreyfus Affair arose only a few years after the Boulanger episode, when it appeared that the Republic would be overthrown by a military coup.

    Anti-Dreyfusards thereupon condemned Dreyfusards as radicals, out to subvert the army and other traditional institutions, and were supported by elements in for instance the Church, and by anti-semites.

    Dreyfusards then attacked these institutions for complicity in the crime against Dreyfus.

    It is important to note that at every stage, the great question was not what right or wrong, but rather who was right or wrong – in appearance if not fact.

    The CAGW dispute is very different – it is about substantive questions of enormous economic importance. If the warmists are right, human society is at grave risk of catastrophic climatic and meteorological events. If the skeptics are right, human society is squandering billions (perhaps trillions) of dollars through useless expenditures and mistaken regulations.

    Furthermore, with the exception of a few journalists and professional activists, nobody made or lost any money in the Dreyfus Affair. CAGW has generated billions of dollars in subsidies and mandates for favored industries, and hundreds of millions in funding for climate research; anti-CAGW regulation threatens to cost some industries billions of dollars and put many thousands of people out of work.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @veryretired: I suspect that you are spot-on. What you said would seem to be about the most rational answer to the question “Under what circumstances would all this deliberate CAGW nonsense make sense?”

    @Paul Marks: I suspect that it would be unnecessary to be a scientist to differentiate between the truth and falsehood in the climate science debate. A skeptical mindset with an analytical and rational (logical) bent is always useful, and being numerate or having some of the skills of a statistician or an accountant might help.
    Some of the people promulgating the CAGW tripe are scientists, but in name only, having apparently at some stage cynically sacrificed all their ethics and objectivity to a greater God – either money (funding) or a religio-political ideology or “Cause”, as @veryretired describes, or maybe both. That could provide the motivation for what often manifests as their seemingly fanatical behaviours.

    Where you say:

    “After all even if the man made globel warming theory is correct…”

    – I have to suggest that you might have misunderstood what I wrote above.

    A bit like saying “Even if the emperor’s clothes were real…”, and would seem to be just inviting a discussion about a fictional tale intended to teach morals about human gullibility.

  • Stonyground

    “The CAGW dispute is very different – it is about substantive questions of enormous economic importance. If the warmists are right, human society is at grave risk of catastrophic climatic and meteorological events. If the skeptics are right, human society is squandering billions (perhaps trillions) of dollars through useless expenditures and mistaken regulations.”

    Even if the warmists were right, human society is stiil squandering billions/trillions of dollars through useless expendature because the measures being taken to combat climate change are futile. Even if current climate change was entirely man made, windmills and solar panels do nothing more than make it look as though we are doing something. They don’t have any useful effect.

  • Paul Marks



  • Jacob

    when I think of the 180,000 useless widmills that were built, I can’t help asking myself: is mankind crazy? or am I the crazy one? Because it’s impossible that we are both sane.
    Then I think about The Great War, and I calm down. It’s mankind that’s crazy, I’m ok.

  • i am not a climate scientist and have not got the time or knowledge to know who is correct. I am generally believe the mainstream view unless there is a clear reason not to. (im pretty sure that the US didn’t fly drones into the twin towers. There are however plenty of web sites that will state with scientific certainty that they did.

    I worry that the reasonable sounding phrase “take nobodies word for it” can easily be taken as dont bother engaging with what the experts say just go with what you feel is right in the first place backed up by internet crank communities. That said i am aware that group think and un critical acceptance of the standard view can also be wrong (the y2k bug).
    so what im asking is
    i) are you aware how convenient it is that not believing in MMGW is to your your political beliefs? How do you protect yourself from cherry-picking sources that tell tell you what you want to hear?
    ii) What were the sources that were strong enough to convince you that the scientific community was wrong?
    iii) How do you account for the research funded by sceptics which still show MMGW exists?

  • Simon Jester


    It isn’t clear who you are addressing, so I’m going to answer you anyway. Before I do, though, I would like to ask: in what way is the Y2K bug an example of the standard view being wrong? (ie. what do you think was the standard view and how did reality differ?)

    (i) I am aware of how convenient a scepticism of catastrophic MMGW may seem, to someone of my political beliefs – however, for a long time I was convinced that there was a very real prospect of significant MMGW, while still holding something like my current political beliefs. Which brings me on to:

    (ii) In the late 1980s to early 1990s, a consensus had emerged on the expected scale of global warming by the end of the 21st Century (given existing trends): something like 1.5-2.0 K, +/- 0.5-1.0 K. Then, in the early 1990s, James Hanson publicly announced that warming by the end of the 21st Century would be at least 6 k, quite probably much more.

    This, in itself, did not make me sceptical: it’s quite normal for some scientists to hold views that are strongly at odds with such consensus as exists among other scientists. What did make me strongly sceptical of the media’s reporting of prospective MMGW was that they continued to report a consensus, including Hanson within that consensus, even though Hanson’s predictions completely blew the consensus apart.

    Then, some years later, I was ruefully remembering the difficulty I had had at college in trying to work out the structure of an organic compound with a hydroxyl bond from its infra-red spectrum (hydroxyl bonds absorb vastly more IR energy than other chemical bonds, and across a much wider frequency range – so if there are other bonds in the relevant range, their signals tend to get drowned out) when it struck me – water consists of nothing but hydroxyl bonds.

    This really shouldn’t have been news to me – anyone (who has a vague idea of how microwave ovens work) knows that water strongly absorbs some IR frequencies. Not only that, but water vapour is fairly well known to be a stronger contributor to the greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide (although it’s normally regarded as a feedback, rather than a forcing).

    What most people don’t seem to have noticed is that liquid water has the same IR spectrum as water vapour. Given that three quarters of our planet is covered in the stuff… do I need to continue?

    (iii) I’m not aware of any – perhaps you could supply some examples?

    What I am aware of, is that there is plenty of evidence that the planet seems to have warmed by something like 0.7-0.8 K over the past 100-150 years. The degree to which this can be attributed to MMGW is, to say the least, open to debate.

  • Tedd

    The issue is not warming or cooling, which occurs in fairly regular cycles, but the endless claim by the statist faction that only wider state powers can deal with this alleged crisis, just as the same solution has been advanced for any number of supposed crises in the past.


    David Deutsch nailed it in his TED Talk when he said, “The rational thing for a lay person to do is to take seriously the prevailing scientific theory. And, according to that theory, it’s already too late to avoid a disaster because, if it’s true that our best option at the moment is to prevent CO2 emissions with something like the Kyoto Protocol, with its constraints on economic activity and it’s enormous cost in hundreds of billions of dollars (or whatever it is), then that is already a disaster, by any reasonable measure. And the actions that are advocated are not even purported to solve the problem, but merely to postpone it by a little… No precautions, and no precautionary principle, can avoid problems that we do not yet foresee. Hence, we need a stance of problem fixing, not just problem avoidance.”

    I think it’s both a tactical and a strategic mistake to get caught up in a debate about whether or not AGW or CAGW is a sound theory. The important point that opponents of collectivism should make is that the solution that’s being proposed is wrong, regardless, and the right solutions are the same, regardless.

  • Jacob

    The question of MMGW doesn’t matter.
    Building 180,000 wind turbines, at a cost of hundreds of billions of whatever (dollars, pounds, euros) is insane. It does not reduce the possible MMGW.
    Even if the MMGW is true, the hysteria that gripped mankind is incomprehensible.

  • Paul Marks

    I the theory of man made globel warming is correct (and let us hope it is nonsense) than moving to a cold place – with a lot of land high above current sea levels would seem logical.


  • Jacob


  • Paul Marks

    Lots of nice hills?

  • @Simon Jester
    first sorry for the delay is responding bad form to start discussion then not get back.
    I can provide links for this assertion (its quite a few years ago when i was looking) but it seems that the potential of there being a problem coincided with the appocolicpic turn of the century stuff. The was incredibly flimsy evidence there would be a problem (some problems with computers obsolete at the time) but there was generated a industry generated making huge profits doom-mungering. Not all governments and companies shelled out millions and there were 2 cases of the bug causing a problem. In one the pc required a re-boot.

    ii) I again realise my research is out of date but 10ish years ago there was NOT any conciousness on how hot the earth was going to get and how fast. It was a large part of the problem is that many different studies has a huge range of predictions (all higher) what action to take would depend on which modle turned out to be the best. The media’s reporting was however predictably disgustingly sensationalist ( and in an asside aid agency’s purger themselves to the public to report more and more inflated casualty number knowing that the highest number is the one the papers will report with their quote).
    I don’t quite get your point on the O-H bonds absorbing heat. Waters absorbtion IS dependent on its tempreature and state. Thats why you get hot bits and cold bits in food quickly microwaved (the hot bits absorb the energy faster than the cold parts.)

    iii) Ok this bit is i know weak. I cant remember the name of the one i was thinking of or I would have put it earlier. Is it the Coke or Kole brothers? something like that? billinairs who heavily finance republican tea party candidates? i was listening to a scientist they had sponsored on CNN’s global public square saying basically he had thought the evidence was weak and got this funding to look at it in detail and did what good science should do and reported that there is strong evidence of MMGW. The other one is Bjørn Lomborg : The Skeptical Environmentalist. Who while making many points about the value of tackeling greenhouse gasses does not now say it isn’t happening.

    @Ted totally agree with TED on this. What you go on to say however im not sure about. If there is a potential cost to the planet in terms of billions of dollars / lives lost / homes relocated, either by paying for non-sense wind farms or the loss of whole coastal cities ect, surely best to use the science to find out which one is the least bad.

  • Simon Jester


    On the Y2K problem: while there was some hyping of the issue, the problem was a lot more significant than just “2 cases” – I say this as someone who made the switch from Chemistry to IT before 2000. Part of the problem was that it was not a single bug – it was a whole bunch of them, many of which would only affect in-house IT systems (as opposed to commercially available software) and many of which would have minimal effects if not fixed. The big problem was trying to work out which ones would cause real problems; the simplest solution was to fix them all.

    I deliberately moved into a job developing new software in the late 90s, as fixing Y2K-related problems was both tedious and had a short career horizon.

    On point (ii): it’s not clear whether you mean consciousness or consensus, but you’re wrong if it’s the former – there has been an awareness of the possibility of MMGW since the mid-1970s (if not before); awareness of the greenhouse effect goes back much further.

    If it’s the latter, then you are right, but for the reasons I laid out in my previous comment – the media has been presenting an image of consensus (initially, more-or-less accurately) since the late 1980s.

    Waters absorbtion IS dependent on its tempreature and state. Thats why you get hot bits and cold bits in food quickly microwaved (the hot bits absorb the energy faster than the cold parts.)

    No, this isn’t true (ignoring peak spreading due to the Doppler effect, which is minimal at Earth-normal temperatures, and reflection from ice which is minimal outside of the poles). Hot spots in microwaved food are due to the shape of the microwave oven and the food container – see here, for example.

    Apparently I do need to continue the point I was making – given that the amount of water on the Earth’s surface is vastly greater than the amount of water vapour, the vast majority of the greenhouse effect will be due to the oceans. Consequently, the global climate’s temperature sensitivity to concentrations of carbon dioxide will be vastly smaller than if the major elements of the greenhouse effect were levels of carbon dioxide and water vapour (and therefore MMGW, while real, will be vastly smaller in scope than many fear).

    On (iii), you may be thinking of the Koch brothers – I haven’t seen any instances of Koch-funded scientists saying that catastrophic MMGW was a real problem, but if you can point me to some, I would be interested in reading it.

    Lomborg has always (to the best of my knowledge) been a believer in the danger of MMGW – his dissent has been in the form of proposing alternative ways of minimizing its effects, for which he has been pilloried by the “true believers”.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Just to add to Simon’s point–As a former programmer and IT person, I can tell you that Y2K had the potential to produce horrible consequences if left unaddressed. Even back in the early ’80’s, we who serviced the banks were aware that sticking to the use of just the last two digits to specify the year in our data files and programs was going to create a horrible mess–indeed was already beginning to do so…a 30-year mortgage taken out in 1980 would run to 2010, but “10” sorts lower than “99” (1999), so….

    We should all be beside ourselves with gratitude to the programmers and their chiefs who, against the odds, concerned themselves with this issue sufficiently that in the end there was no problem and everyone made fun of this “imaginary” bug-a-boo.

    NOTE–that’s a different situation from the one we are said by some (the “warming alarmists”) to face–in the one case, disaster was sure to strike if nothing was done, and that was sufficiently obvious that something WAS done. In the other, the historical and archeological evidence indicates that warming would, on balance, be good for us–even if the polar bears did eventually shed their white coats and go back to being plain old brown bears (grizzlies, it is said). And that whether or not attempts have been made to claim that the Mediæval Warm Period never happened–it DID happen, and grapes and grain grew in Greenland (which might be a nice place for you to go, Paul, in the event we did see significant warming).

    This was coincident with the High Middle Ages–roughly 900-1300 A.D. in Scotland*, for instance. According to NOAA (always take its pronouncements with a large does of salt, however) the Mediæval Warm Period occurred from “the 9th through the 13th centuries.” From the page at

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/medieval.html :

    Norse seafaring and colonization around the North Atlantic at the end of the 9th century indicated that regional North Atlantic climate was warmer during medieval times than during the cooler “Little Ice Age” of the 15th – 19th centuries.

    It was a time of flourishing for European man.

    (Some of the subsequent remarks on that page are open to modification, I think.)


  • Paul Marks

    One interesting thing about old (not later) Scots law – was that any holder of a “free” (in other places called a “fief”) of land was AUTOMATICALLY a noble (nobility was not granted by the King).

    Of course military tenure (you hold the land in return for fighting to defend and my family – not for money rent) and hereditary jurisdiction (being able to go to the principle land holder, the clan chief, for judgement – rather than to a government appointed judge) lasted in part of Scotland till the 1740s

    (by the way – modern historians confuse hereditary jurisdiction with serfdom, there were in fact very few serfs in Scotland and very few in France in 1789 – the lord having his own court does NOT mean the population are serfs, they can leave the area at any time, unlike serfs the lord has no power to stop them or to bring them back, the lords court is for things like disputes over the ownership of cattle – a Royal court would be too slow and too expensive for most ordinary people to use anyway, they still are).

    The ancient Franks and Visigoths (as well as the Irish Scots) would have had no difficulty in understanding the culture of the Highlands – even in the mid 18th century. Whereas people (including Scots) whose minds were dominated by English (or Roman) law, were baffled by it.

    However, it was indeed the CLIMATE that destroyed most of the people of the Highlands – not insisting on money rents and so on.

    Unlike the high Middle Ages – the small farms of the Highlands were just not viable in the tough climate (hence the people were very poor – and always on the verge of starvation).

    And the various “reforms” in the Highlands were failures.

    The big “infrastucture” schemes (roads, ports and so) were well built – but economic loss makers (this did not stop Scots trying the same policy in India – where the tax demands to pay for it helped lead to the Indian Mutiny of the 1850s).

    And the landowners got deeply in debt – as they had to pay a percentage of the costs (not all the money was from the taxpayer).

    The “Highland Clearances” were also an economic failure.

    Why raise sheep in Scotland and send the wool to England – when England already had sheep (and far more and far fatter sheep)?

    Whatever they did – the Scots landholders remained bankrupt, their CLIMATIC condition was just totally different from that of English landholders.

    Thin soil, short growing season, cold and DARK winters……

    A Scots person did not even get enough sunlight to ward off rickets (unless they had a lot of fish [perhaps a reason why Scots Feudal law utterly rejected the Roman law idea that anyone could fish in the rivers – NO, fish were a valuable resource who the fishing rights belonged to was very important, if the fish were not to be wiped out by over fishing] and so on in their diet).

    Ironically many of the people kicked off the land in the Highland Clearances ended up doing better (in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand) than the people who stayed.

    And had they all stayed on the land?

    Then Scotland in the 1840s would have been like Ireland in the 1840s.

    And that did not go well.

  • Paul Marks

    Perhaps the toughest folk of all (in their quiet way) are the farmers and fishermen of Norway.

    Land and rights passed to the eldest son (the other children must go – there is no room for them, hence “Vikings”?), they have managed to cling on their narrow land “between the mountains and the sea” for thousands of years.

    Climate has not broken them, they have never relied on slavery or serfdom (in defiance of Marxist “science of historical stages”) and they remain to this day – having survived the Nazis and Labour governments.

    Although the E.U. (if it gains even more power in Norway) may finally succeed in destroying the farmers and fishermen of Norway.

    Call it the revenge of the Emperor Charles the Great of France-German, for it was he who started the war against the northen peoples (more than a thousand years ago) with his attacks on the Fresians and his threats against the Danes (which led the Olderbergs, who still sit on the throne of Denmark, to turn their Realm into an armed camp against him).

    It is also possible that the “Viking Age” was, in part, a response to the genocidal wars of Charles the Great.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Paul Marks: You had asked above, in two different ways “What if CAGW is happening?” (OWTTE), and I pointed out the absurdity of the question, without answering it.
    This evening I happened to be reading something by the writer Michael Chrichton: 2005-01-25 Michael Crichton – The Case for Skepticism on Global Warming.pdf

    In it, he asks a similar question:

    All right, you may be saying. Perhaps this is the state of climate science, as the IPCC itself tell us. Nevertheless we read every day about the dire consequences of global warming. What if I am wrong? What if a major temperature rise is really going to happen?

    Shouldn’t we act now and be safe? Don’t we have a responsibility to
    unborn generations to do so?

    And then he provides a very lucid answer. You will be able to find it in the document as per the link above.
    Actually, I think the entire document is very lucid, and somewhat prescient too – given that he wrote the talk in 2005, before the leaking of the Climategate emails.

  • Slowjoe


    The “Koch-funded” science may be the Berkeley Earth Surface Temp project(BEST), fronted by Richard Muller.

    Despite being on record in the 1980s that MMGW was the biggest threat to mankind, Muller claimed to be a sceptic undergoing conversion last year. Conveniently, he issued press releases while his papers were being rejected by peer-review. I say conveniently because the reviewers were thus bound by confidentiality rules.

    BEST had funds from Koch among others.

  • @simon and Julie +
    Thanks to everyone contributing and particularly to Simon and Julie on the y2k refutation. I accept both your superior knowledge on this especially as i cant remember the source of my claim (probably a drunken view confidently expressed in a pub)! The effect on this issue though means i’ve got to go back the time when some wierdo thought the world wasn’t flat and that medical bleeding was bad to find the last big the scientific community was just plain wrong issue. It makes rejecting the consensus even harder.
    ii) Firstly sorry I too enthusiastic acceptance of spell checker. I meant there was no consensus as to the amount of predicted warming.

    The equilibrium temperature is more complicated than how much of the greenhouse stuff is there in the planet. The more a substance absorbs the suns energy at one particular wavelength the more it will equally emit. And any reflection of the suns rays away from the planet will also reflect the heat back down to the earth (the greenhouse effect where this whole phrase came from). Whether a cloud is a net gain or loss the equilibrium temperature of the planet depends on the nature of the cloud e.g. hight (ok now WHY I dont know, thats how far I can fact check the experts but if you do know and can explain then please do).
    Of course the amount of and nature of the clouds does depend on the temp of the planet in a feedback. One of the reasons we don’t have the consensus on how hot it’s becoming.
    Im particularly interested in getting the scientific knowledge to the point where we can safely think about dumping a large amounts of say SO2 at the right height in the atmosphere to directly cool the planet and save the massive potential costs.

    iii) yes thanks it was Koch and i think particularly unfair that the media were sneeringly laughing that they had funded research into the issue that did not give there preferred result. Surely that is an example of good science?
    Lomborg has always believed that the world is getting hotter (as ever one here does). But was not convinced that at the lower predicted temperature raises there was a problem that it was worth spending the huge amounts of money on.

    Slowjoe thanks that the one i was thinking of.