Posts Tagged ‘Cowardice’

Earth Alarmism Day today celebrates human cowardice

April 22, 2015

This started in 1970 and not one of the many catastrophes predicted has come to pass. 22nd April 1970 is when environmentalism buried its frightened head and started humans down the path of subordinating their actions to the fear of imagined, future catastrophes.

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”  Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day, 1970

“If present trends continue, the world will be … eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.” Kenneth E.F. Watt, in “Earth Day,” 1970.

“By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.” Paul Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For Biology, September 1971.

“In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.” Ehrlich, speech during Earth Day, 1970

“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”  Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University, Earth Day 1970

Every year since has been the “last chance” to do something about some imagined, looming disaster. Each pending disaster has been based on some belief and the forecast is always for some future time such that no indicating parameters can be measured. Yet doomsayers and their predictions (which all fail) remain the darlings of the media looking for a sensational headline. For “scientists”, doomsaying which cannot be checked in their lifetimes is a certain way to get funding. Acid rain never did threaten the Black Forest. The ozone hole was not caused by man and healed itself. The ice age predicted in the 1970s did not happen. World-wide starvation did not occur. There are more species alive today than ever before (though it is not clear as to why that is a good thing).

Global warming has been absent for 2 decades while carbon dioxide emissions have almost doubled. Most of the global warming that has occurred falls within the bounds of natural variability (as a new paper recently showed). Most predictions about global warming have failed and none has ever been proven. The fantasised link between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and significant global warming is well and truly broken. Even the link between man-made carbon dioxide emissions and carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is tenuous at best. Sea levels are not increasing any faster than since the end of the last ice age. Global ice coverage is currently at the highest for many years and all the variations in ice extent in modern times are within the bounds of natural variability. The acidity of the oceans is not showing any change beyond that of natural variability. Coral reefs are not dying out.

Population – sans immigration – is already in decline in China and most Western countries. By 2050 population will be in decline in India and by 2100 in the whole world.  In the 4 decades since 1970, world population has doubled from 3.5 billion to 7 billion and fewer people are dying of starvation. More people are being fed today than ever before. Fewer people are dying of disease (but more are dying in wars). In spite of industrial activity and its growth, longevity is increasing all over the world. Gene modified crops are feeding the world. Peak oil did not happen and neither did peak gas. With shale discoveries and the potential of methane hydrates, fossil fuels will be available to humankind for the best part of the next 1,000 years.

Here are some more of the alarmist predictions of that first Earth Day of Cowards in 1970. Paul Ehrlich sticks out as being one of the chief proponents of cowardice:

“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”  George Wald, Harvard Biologist

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” Life Magazine, January 1970

“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.” Sen. Gaylord Nelson

And all the headlines today read just the same. A celebration of cowardice. My faith is not in catastrophe but in human ingenuity to cope – and thrive – in whatever conditions may prevail. We will manage whether sea level is 100 m lower than today in another ice age or if it rises another 2 m. We will even survive a VEI 8 volcano eruption whenever it comes – and come it will. Primitive man thrived through a number of glacial periods and many greenings of the Sahara. I would prefer an Earth Day which celebrated the ingenuity of man – but that is not the stuff of headlines.

Without scepticism there is no science – only religious belief.

Roll on midnight – or why the Doomsday Clock is an abdication to cowardice

August 10, 2014

August 6th is Hiroshima Day and it is now 69 years since the Enola Gay dropped its bomb and the nuclear weapons age began. In 2010, there were about 227,00 hibakusha (被爆者) still alive. In 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki met their Doom. But such is the resilience of man that, today, less than 4 generations later, both are thriving cities. Hiroshima has a population today of 1.2 million compared to the 340,000 before the bomb. For Hiroshima and Nagasaki their Doomsday Clocks reached midnight and moved on – into yet another day.

The Doomsday Clock was “invented” in 1947 and, of course is purely symbolic. It is “set” by a group of alarmists to represent the time left before a human induced catastrophe (nuclear war, global warming, genetic modification, disease …) strikes at the “symbolic” hour of midnight. But this symbolism is flawed, rather stupid and just plain wrong. They use midnight as a symbol of the end of things whereas – certainly for me and, I suspect, for most people – midnight is just the start of another day. And when that day ends there will be yet another one to come. When it was first set in 1947 the alarmists of the time reckoned that humanity was 7 minutes away from their “midnight”.  In 1953 the clock was set to 2 minutes to midnight. The time to catastrophe has gone up and down over the years and reached 17 minutes in 1991 when the Berlin Wall fell and optimism ran high – even among the professional pessimists. Currently pessimism has taken over again and we stand just 5 minutes from catastrophe.

Doomsday Clock - Wikipedia

Doomsday Clock – Wikipedia

The Doomsday Clock is nothing more than a subjective – and less than qualitative –  assessment of the state of the world by a group of alarmist pessimists.

Naom Chomsky has a new article in The Unz Review – “How many minutes to midnight”. I’m afraid I do not have the same high opinion of Chomsky – even on language which is his own field – that others seem to have . But on the concept of the Doomsday Clock and the time left for impending disaster, his article is little more than well written drivel. He looks down on most of humanity – apart from himself of course – with a great deal of contempt when he writes

…. August 6, 1945, the first day of the countdown to what may be the inglorious end of this strange species, which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but — so the evidence suggests — not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts.

Chomsky’s article is not particularly insightful but it serves as an example of the cowardice that alarmists exhibit. Cowardice is the subjugation of actions to fear whereas courage is the subjugation of fears to actions for a purpose. Alarmism and the Doomsday Clock pander to fear. Catastrophe theories never – ever – come to pass. But raising false alarms gets headlines, gets funding and usually provides lucrative opportunities for some. Fending off Doomsday rather than working to some objective becomes the priority of the hour. Political action is diverted to avoidance rather than to achieve goals.

Roll on midnight – and the start of another day!

Intelligence Agencies have become a law unto themselves – by public consent

November 2, 2013

No politician wants to oppose anything said to be in the interests of National Security. Even politicians on oversight committees and the like would prefer not to know too much about the substance of what the Intelligence and Security Agencies get up to as long as proper form is observed. Very few politicians would have the courage to apply a moral or ethical judgement to what their charges get up to. They are quite ready to apply budget limitations or disapprove funding for a project but rarely to object to the substance of any program.

Invoking the spectre of “terrorism” or the “war on terrorism” appears to silence politicians with remarkable rapidity and to bypass any attempt to apply ethical standards. The end justifies any means whether it involves simple snooping or secret renditions, secret prisons or torture. If we judge by the level to which “fear of terrorism” governs our actions one could conclude that the terrorist attacks have mainly achieved their objective of getting their targets to operate in an atmosphere of fear.

The Snowden revelations are fascinating. It would seem that the Intelligence Community works across national boundaries – and it seems – behind the backs of their respective political masters. Almost as if these agencies in different countries apply their own code of ethics or morality. it seems they decide among themselves as to what level of transgressions of the integrity of private individuals  is acceptable and proper. US Agencies worked together with British, German, French, Spanish and Swedish intelligence agencies – probably on their own initiative and without feeling any need to inform their oversight politicians – about the details of their collaboration. After all, these politicians “do not need to know” and to help matters along, “they do not wish to know”.

But politicians only reflect the views of the general public.  Most of the security checking and scans at airports is of little use. The bans on electronic equipment during flights is totally pointless. But we, the general public, accept it since it panders to our fears. We accept the excesses of intelligence and security agencies for the same reason. So far the 21st century is characterised by actions being subservient to the “fear of terror”. And that I would define as cowardice. Courage consists of fears being subservient to actions.

Intelligence and Security Agencies have become a law unto themselves and our politicians have acquiesced on our behalf.

The Guardian: 

The German, French, Spanish and Swedish intelligence services have all developed methods of mass surveillance of internet and phone traffic over the past five years in close partnership with Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency.

The bulk monitoring is carried out through direct taps into fibre optic cables and the development of covert relationships with telecommunications companies. A loose but growing eavesdropping alliance has allowed intelligence agencies from one country to cultivate ties with corporations from another to facilitate the trawling of the web, according to GCHQ documents leaked by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

The files also make clear that GCHQ played a leading role in advising its European counterparts how to work around national laws intended to restrict the surveillance power of intelligence agencies.

The German, French and Spanish governments have reacted angrily to reports based on National Security Agency (NSA) files leaked by Snowden since June, revealing the interception of communications by tens of millions of their citizens each month. US intelligence officials have insisted the mass monitoring was carried out by the security agencies in the countries involved and shared with the US.

The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, suggested to Congress on Tuesday that European governments’ professed outrage at the reports was at least partly hypocritical. “Some of this reminds me of the classic movie Casablanca: ‘My God, there’s gambling going on here,’ ” he said.

Swedenwhich passed a law in 2008 allowing its intelligence agency to monitor cross-border email and phone communications without a court order, has been relatively muted in its response.


On courage and foolhardiness

December 30, 2011

A young friend recently faced a number of less than easy options regarding his employment and his career and our discussion turned to behaviour in the face of uncertainty and fears:

The fundamental characteristic of courage in actions is that the action remains central and fear is then the constraint or barrier to action which must be subordinated. I have heard it said that courage lies in confronting fear or defeating fear but this, I think, misses the central point. The focus of courage is on the actions not on the fears. Whatever purposeful action has been decided proceeds even though fear exists. Defeating the fear is not the focus where the action then becomes secondary or merely a by-product.


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