We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Meanwhile in other news…

The end of the world is imminent. The Guardian Observer reports,

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’

Exclusive: Insects could vanish within a century at current rate of decline, says global review

Obviously my first thought was “Okaaay, tev. I will believe you believe it if it still keeps Brexit off the front page for, say, the rest of this week.” But given the stakes one should keep an open mind. You guys think there’s anything to this?

Alex Epstein on the 97% lie

Alex Epstein gives a well-deserved kicking to that 97% claim:

What you’ll find is that people don’t want to define what 97% agree on – because there is nothing remotely in the literature saying 97% agree we should ban most fossil fuel use.

It’s likely that 97% of people making the 97% claim have absolutely no idea where that number comes from.

If you look at the literature, the specific meaning of the 97% claim is: 97 percent of climate scientists agree that there is a global warming trend and that human beings are the main cause – that is, that we are over 50% responsible. …

But do the “97%” even say that? And are the actual percentage that do say that right? My opinion has long been: No; and: No.

I scroll down, and am pleased to discover that Epstein agrees with me:

But it gets even worse. Because it turns out that 97% didn’t even say that. …

Marxists used to believe that Marxist tyranny was needed to rescue the world’s economy from capitalists. But that excuse collapsed long ago. The biggest economic rescue acts that are now needed are to rescue the bits of the world’s economy that Marxist tyrants have been busy ruining. So, should Marxists abandon these methods? Yes. Are they abandoning these methods? Many presumably have, and have gone silent. But others, the ones we still hear shouting their nonsense, just fabricated a different set of excuses for those same old tyrannical methods.

Nico Metten on the we-dont-want-short-and-shitty-lives lobby

I like this:

… A lot of people have this strange idea that the only thing preventing us from going off fossil fuels is the oil lobby. But it is not the oil lobby that is doing that. It is the we-dont-want-short-and-shitty-lives lobby that is behind it. In other words it is all of us. …

This is from a piece by Nico Metten for Libertarian Home, published in October of this year. That I only just gave it any serious attention is because I have been having a breather from libertarian polemics, either written by others, or doing them myself. I still haven’t properly read through this one, but already I recommend it.

It’s not that I have been entirely ignoring Nico. He is a friend of mine, and this is a photo I took of him and some of his mates in the Blackheath Halls Orchestra, at a concert of music by Debussy and Sibelius that I attended in November. The Sibelius (Symphony No. 7) was particularly good:

Nico is the guy at the back who played those big drums. Some instrumentalists can hide in an orchestra. By which I mean that they can still do some damage, but without you knowing that it’s them doing it. But the man on the big drums cannot hide. Nico was very good.

The Libertarian Home piece quoted above is also remarkable for the scathing way that Nico writes about Germany and its government. Pioneers in badness basically, once upon a time, and still. But being a German himself, Nico is allowed to say such things.

Discussion point: what to do about drones being used to disrupt air travel?

According to the BBC, ‘persons of interest’ have been identified as responsible for flying the drone or drones that shut down Gatwick airport. As it gradually became clear that this was going on too long to be the work of careless hobbyists or malicious pranksters, the profile of the crime (it disrupted air travel but did not kill anyone) made me think that “climate justice” activists might be responsible. The BBC article says that is indeed one of the lines of enquiry being pursued. Still, let us be no more hasty to jump to conclusions or to blame every environmentalist in existence for the possible crimes of one of their number than we would like them to be next time someone loosely describable as “on our side” commits a crime.

The more urgent problem is that now whoever it was has demonstrated the method, anyone can copy it.

Technically and legally what can be done to stop a repetition? What should be done? What should not be? If you are one of those who have enjoyed flying drones in a responsible manner, or who is developing ways to use drones for emergency or commercial use, start work on your arguments now, because, trust me, the calls to BAN ALL DRONES NOW are going to be loud.

Hunting lions can help the species: a vegetarian conservationist speaks

I was impressed to see CNN publish something as unpalatable to their core audience as this:

Ending trophy hunting could actually be worse for endangered species

Amy Dickman is the founder and director of Tanzania’s Ruaha Carnivore Project, part of Oxford University’s WildCRU. She has worked in African conservation for over 20 years. All views expressed belong to the author.

I am a lifelong animal lover and vegetarian for whom the idea of killing animals for fun is repellent, and have committed my career to African wildlife conservation.

You might, therefore, expect that I would have been thrilled with Donald Trump’s suggestion — influenced apparently by media and animal rights pressures — that he could decide against the US importation of trophy-hunted elephants (and possibly other species such as lions).

However, I am fearful that impulsive and emotional responses to trophy hunting — no matter how well-meaning — could in fact intensify the decline of species such as lions.


People may find it very strange that there can be any positive aspect to hunting threatened species — surely any additional mortality heaped on a declining species must unquestionably be a bad thing?

The reality is more complicated. Of course, if trophy hunting is the main reason for the decline in an area’s lion population, then stopping it is entirely justified and desirable.

However, in most places, this is not the case. And if trophy hunting diminishes those other threats — by protecting habitat, preventing poaching or acting as a buffer between parks and human populations — then overall the threatened species could be better off.

The unsung genius of the yellow vest

Whatever one thinks about the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests/riots in France – and I happen to know that they are the result of a deal made between a French green activist wishing to see more protests about what the government was doing to combat climate change and a particularly literal minded demon – the choice of the yellow Hi-Vis waistcoat or vest as a symbol of the protests was inspired. As every schoolboy knows, St David told the Britons to wear leeks in their caps to distinguish friend from foe in their battles with the Saxons. In many struggles since then some item snatched up in haste from whatever was lying around in order to improvise a uniform has duly become an icon of that cause. Here are some reasons why the gilet jaune is destined to join that illustrious list:

One: Protesters want to be seen. Hi-vis vests make people highly visible. This is one of those linkages that manages to be both obvious and surprising at the same time. Why did no one think of this before?

Two, anyone driving a car in France has got one in the boot anyway because a 2008 law says they must. Might as well put the thing to use.

Three, and this is the one I love, it turns a symbol of compliance into a symbol of defiance. Cop pulls you over. Cop saunters up to the car. “Is monsieur carrying a gilet de haute visibilité as required by law?” “Why of course, officer. I always carry my yellow vest. One never knows when one might need it.”

One day the Times headline writers might figure out what actually helps save rhinos

The paper edition of the Times that hit my doormat this morning had an interesting headline: “Hi-tech kit keeps rhinos safe from poachers”.

The online version has an even more interesting headline: “Hi-tech kit and ex-spies keeps South Africa’s rhinos safe from poachers”.

Neither headline is untrue, both the hi-tech gadgetry and the spies are helping preserve the rhinos, but both are missing something. My use of the “Deleted by the PC Media” tag is a little inaccurate, as is my use of the “Hippos” tag, but we seem to lack a tag for “Rhinos” or for “Never even entered the PC Media’s pretty little heads despite the facts staring them in the face from their own reporting”. See if you can guess what the missing factor is from this excerpt:

South Africa, home to 80 per cent of the world’s 29,000 rhinos, loses about three a day to poachers, the vast majority in state parks. Private reserves have become essential to preventing the animals from extinction, as long as the owners can afford to protect them.

Turning the 150,000-acre reserve into a 21st-century fortress in the African bush costs £1 million a year but the investment has paid off. The park has not lost a rhino in the past two years. It is hardly surprising. At each of the park’s four gates, guests visiting its five-star lodges, as well as staff, only enter after systems have checked numberplates and fingerprints against a national criminal database and are tracked and monitored until they leave.

Kruger National Park is far less secure and the rate of survival among its 9,000-strong rhino population is poor. Sixty per cent of all poaching incidents in South Africa occur there. Too often its rangers, police and officials are in the pay of poachers. Rhino horns can fetch up to £70,000 per kilogram in Asia, where they are imagined to cure a range of ills from hangovers to cancer.

Nico Metten on the Electric Vehicle Revolution

Is The Electric Vehicle Revolution Real? That is the question that Nico Metten asks, over at Libertarian Home. Metten’s answer, surprise surprise: no. His English could do with a little cleaning up by a native of these islands, but that quibble aside, and on the basis of far less technical knowledge than him, I share his doubts, although in my case the proper word would probably be: suspicions. I suspect everything tinged with Green to be … suspect.

Ken Ferguson, commenting at Libertarian Home on the matter of electric vehicles, argues, in contrast, that this “revolution” is real, and is driven by the need to cut down on air pollution. He supplies this link.

And indeed, you do now see electric vehicles all over the place. Here is one I photoed a while back, just a walk away from where I live, getting an electro-refill from a special roadside charger:

But are electric engines n vehicles the only way to cut down on harmful vehicle engine emissions, or could regular or not-so-regular petrol engines be part of similar reductions, perhaps by having something bolted onto the end of them to take care of those emissions? Or, could vehicle emissions be somehow cleaned up by other means, with devices not attached directly to any vehicles? Do such things already happen? And: How harmful are those emissions, actually? (See above: “suspicions”.)

Since concocting the bulk of this posting, I notice that another Libertarian Home commenter, Jordan Lee, echoes many of my doubts, and one in particular of my questions:

Is there a way to make fuel burning cars more efficient in cutting emissions?

Cars are now being sold on this exact basis. But how far will they get in doing this, and how efficiently will such cars continue doing their number one job, of being cars?

The Samizdata commentariat contains some notably well-informed techies. I’ll be interested to read whatever anyone may feel inclined to say about this.

This month’s quota

February 23 2018:

Do male climate change ‘sceptics’ have a problem with women? – Bob Ward

I posted about it here.

March 28 2018:

‘It’s a Very Male-Dominated Space’: Welcome to the Sexist World of Brexit and Climate Science Denial – Christine Ottery

And I’m posting about it here.

Is this what a man hired to communicate climate science calls evidence?

As I have said before, I retain a belief in CAGW two-and-a-half letters to the left of most commenters on this blog. But Bob Ward – Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics – is not the first believer in the imminent peril of climate change to have a damn good go at pushing my scepticism-marker to the right. On the LSE British Politics and Policy blog, he writes:

Do male climate change ‘sceptics’ have a problem with women?

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines applies for a reason. If someone knows a thing for sure, they don’t ask the air. They state it, good and hard.

Although clearly not all climate change ‘sceptics’ are male, writes Bob Ward,

Get-out clause.

it does appear that those who most intensely promote climate change denial are usually male, and routinely refer to female climate scientists in a dismissive way. He provides some evidence for his argument.

The standard of what he thinks is evidence is what prompted me to write this post.

On 20 February, the Global Warming Policy Foundation launched a new pamphlet at the House of Lords, attacking the mainstream media for not giving more coverage to climate change ‘sceptics’. The author, Christopher Booker, is a veteran columnist for The Sunday Telegraph. This will be the 65th pamphlet published by the Foundation, since it was registered as an educational charity by Lord Lawson of Blaby in 2009, 57 of which have been written by men only.

So 8 out of the 65 were not. That is 12.3%. According to a Guardian article asking how well women are represented in UK science in the light of the forced resignation of Tim Hunt (an affair which itself demonstrated the incompatibility of modern feminism with science), women make up just 12.8% of the STEM workforce. So the GWPF’s pamphlet output is, as we scientists say, only short by a whisker. Yeah, that 12.8% is a factoid I plucked out of the air of questionable relevance to anything, but so is Bob Ward’s figure of 57/65 GWPF pamphlets not having a woman’s name at the end. Incidentally I am shocked that the Guardian, unlike Mr Ward, ignores scientists of non-binary gender. No, wait! I have suddenly seen that Mr Ward’s rather strange phrasing “written by men only” might not after all be a progressive acknowledgement that some authors presenting as male or female might actually consider themselves as part of the Two Spirit community. It could just be about papers with more than one author. Oh, poot. That’s a paragraph of snark wasted. Not to worry, though. All I have to do is put a question mark at the end and I can use it after all: Does Bob Ward have a problem with the Two Spirit Community?

However, male dominance of the Foundation’s other activities is even stronger. Of its 10 Trustees, all but one are men. All of the 25 members of its “Academic Advisory Council” are men.

Those square quotes are men. I can tell by the way they are so aggressive and in yer face. Female punctuation marks are much nicer.

Its Chair, Director, Deputy Director, Science Editor, Energy Editor, Director of Development and Researcher are all men. And all seven of its annual lectures have been delivered by men.

So that’s the Global Warming Policy Foundation shown to be almost as sexist as liberal Hollywood luvvies or Oxfam directors. Are we going to reach the bit where we prove – or even attempt to prove – the sexism of climate sceptics in general rather than this one think-tank soon?

The Foundation does not disclose any details about the identities of its members, thought to number about 100, or its donors who last year gave more than £284,000. It is not obvious why the Foundation should be able to benefit from charity status while appearing to operate as an old boys’ club. It is not, for instance, raising awareness of men’s issues, such as the risks of prostate cancer.

Huh? I can vaguely see how he gets from “does not disclose any details about the identities of its members” to “appearing to operate as an old boys’ club”, but where did the bit about prostate cancer come from? The term “old boys’ club” or “old boy network” is usually taken to mean a group that operates by the principle of “it’s not what you know but who you know”. But the mention of “boys” is a historical hangover from the days when the days when practically all professionals were male. There was never any suggestion that old boys’ clubs became more acceptable if they dealt with old boys’ issues.

I asked the Charity Commission to investigate whether the under-representation of women within the governance and activities of the Foundation was the result of discrimination. The Commission had previously carried out an inquiry into the Foundation and concluded that it had violated the rules for education charities because it was solely promoting climate change denial.

However, it refused to make any enquiries about the under-representation of women on the grounds that “there are no legal requirements around gender balance in governance and that under s20(2) of the Charities Act, the Commission is precluded from interfering in the administration of a charity”.

Good to see the Charity Commission staying within its legal remit. Gambling Commission, please note.

The Foundation may be dominated by older men because climate change denial is simply not popular among women and young people.

Science of the sort that Bob Ward approves of is also disproportionately old and male. Old because it takes time to learn this stuff, male because… well, that is not a question into which modern science cares to delve.

Numerous studies have suggested that climate change ‘sceptics’ are usually older and male, with political views that place less value on the environment. However, recent polls of the UK public suggest that there is little gender difference among the small proportion of the population who are hardcore ‘sceptics’.

The fact that Mr Ward put in this nugget that undermines the rest of his article made me think a lot better of him. But it still undermines the rest of his article.

A tracking survey commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy showed that, in March 2017, 7.6% answered “I don’t think there is such a thing as climate change” or “Climate change is caused entirely caused by natural processes”, when asked for their views. Among men the figure was 8.1%, while for women it was 7.1%.

As above.

Anyone who has engaged with ‘sceptics’ will have learned that it is the men who are most vocal about their views.

Anyone who has engaged with ‘human beings’ will have learned that it is the men who are most vocal about their views.

They tend to lack any training or qualifications in climate science, but still appear to believe that they know better than the experts. And there is also a degree of male chauvinism that often underlies the arguments put forward by ‘sceptics’ during public discussions. For instance, when Lord Lawson was asked to comment on a statement by Professor Dame Julia Slingo, the chief scientist at the Met Office, about the link between flooding and climate change, he did not refer to her by her professional title but as “this Julia Slingo woman”.

The degree of male chauvinism in that is close to zero. I am female but if I do not think too highly of a person I might easily refer to them as “this X Y man” if they happen to be male and “this A B woman” if they happen to be female. To omit her professional title does fall short of the highest standards of courtesy but before we specifically condemn Nigel Lawson for sexism perhaps we ought to establish that he is more insulting to women than to men. Paradoxically he could defend himself from the charge by pointing to his frequent waspishness to his male political allies, his male political enemies, and to the male chat show host Clive Anderson. I am sure Lord Lawson would not have dreamed of making disparaging reference to the appearance of a lady.

Other climate change ‘sceptics’ routinely refer to female climate scientists in a dismissive way. For instance, Professor Joanna Haigh of Imperial College London was called a “puffed-up missy” in a trademark rant by James Delingpole for the extremist website Breitbart. Mr Delingpole also referred on his website to Dr Emily Shuckburgh, an experienced climate scientist who specialises on impacts in polar regions, not by her name or job title but as “some foxy chick from the British Antarctic Survey”.

What an adorably old-fashioned chappie Delingpole is. As indeed is Mr Ward. A chick can go Oxford and have a science degree and still be pretty damn foxy, you know. This is a point upon which I feel strongly.

Female scientists outside the UK are also exposed to sexist invective from climate change ‘sceptics’, with Scientific American reporting that, in the United States, “more than 90 percent of the harassing emails they receive are from men and often include gender-specific abuse”.

Of course not all climate change ‘sceptics’ are male chauvinists, but it is clear that those who most obsessively promote climate change denial are usually male, arrogant, and unable to accept that the experts are right, particularly if they are female.

No, it is not clear. Insufficient evidence has been provided to support the assertion.

Edit: Oh, and one further thing. A point so fundamental that I didn’t think of putting it in until later, like the Zeroth Law. Lord Lawson, James Delingpole, the entire complement of the Global Warming Policy Foundation irrespective of gender, and every climate sceptic on the planet could all be misogynist space Nazis who wear Free Cuckistan socks in bed and it still would not make their opinions on climate change wrong.

Parasites invading Houses of Parliament – DO SOMETHING!!!

Shocking news, despite the best efforts of voters over the years, and repeated manifesto promises, and reform of the House of Lords, all of which has been to no avail, parasites are invading the Houses of Parliament.

As Oliver Cromwell put it:

You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!

Samizdata quote of the day

An Engineer, a Mathematician and a ‘Climate scientist’ are each asked “what is 2 + 2?”

The Engineer says “somewhere between 3.9 and 4.1”, the Mathematician says “4” and the ‘Climate scientist’ says “what would you like it to be?”

David Bidstrup