Academic Global Warming Advocates and the Power of Incoherent Jargon
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. -- George Orwell
Nature Climate Change is a monthly magazine that is devoted to supporting the idea that we face a man-caused climate disaster that will surface at some future date. The magazine presents itself as if it is a scientific journal. But scientific journals, real scientific journals, don’t fill their pages with advocacy for a single point of view.
The April 2017 issue of Nature Climate Change carries a commentary: The food-energy-water nexus and urban complexity. The title is an indication of things to come. “food-energy-water” is abbreviated as “FEW.” Obviously, people need food, energy and water. But, why are these grouped together? People need lots of other things, for example: police, transportation, housing, and education. Is water a more urgent problem than, say, education? Some people think so. When I lived in Chicago there were true believers wandering on Michigan Avenue, proselytizing for the supposed future global warming-caused water crisis. This a few blocks from one of the great fresh-water inland seas of the world. These true believers were, no doubt, less interested in the education crisis represented by the failing public schools of Chicago.
According to the article:
“The world’s FEW systems are significantly stressed and already experiencing shortfalls due to their interactions with global anthropogenic processes such as urbanization and climate change”
Okay -- urbanization, the migration of poor rural people to cities, is an anthropogenic process. In fact, everything that people and societies do is an anthropogenic (man-caused) process. Urbanization in the U.S. was largely finished by the 50s and instead we had migration out of the cities to the suburbs. But, is “climate change” a man-caused process? Not unless you believe that carbon dioxide is the great controller of the Earth’s climate.
The authors explain some of their thinking with this quote:
“National and human security approaches illuminate contrasting aspects of FEW security and their epistemological and ontological differences lead to differing proposed response options, and can hinder communication and incorporation of insights and lessons across disciplines. These differences need to be carefully elicited to avoid the risk of theoretical and practical incompatibility of inconsistency.”
I have tried to translate this into plain English, but it defies a translation that makes sense.
When the authors occasionally descend into the real world, they appear to embrace conspiracy and be badly misinformed:
“While the energy security of consumers would benefit more from distributed [solar] installations, utilities and their investors have supported regulations, business plans, and technology designs that favor industrialized, large-scale plants managed by a few.”
Utilities have little to fear from rooftop solar installations because the utilities can supply power much cheaper than these installations can. What the utilities object to is a state enforced requirement to buy this power at the retail price of power. Utilities need to buy power wholesale and sell it retail in order to be able to operate. So it is not a conspiracy of capitalists against rooftop solar. If you own a cow, the state does not require that dairies buy your milk at the same price they sell milk. Rooftop solar does not provide consumers with a backup source of power for the simple reason that in the vast majority of cases, for technical reasons, the rooftop power will not work if the power grid is not working. At least, if you have a cow, you can drink the milk.
A favorite academic trick is to restate the obvious in pompous, obscure language. For example:
“A nexus approach to interdependencies among food, energy and water security is promising in many ways. It call on us to go beyond academic and policy silos and look at how are efforts to attain one goal may prevent achievement of others. It provides a vision within which an interrelated set of goals and outcomes can be defined. It can help to determine key thresholds below which urban users become FEW insecure, or beyond which FEW systems are unsustainable.”
All this really says is that we should plan carefully and consider all contingencies.
It is not surprising that the three academics who wrote this drivel are supported by government subsidies (see: here, here and here). Certainly it is a worthy thing to study ways to provide security and resilience for our cities. However, if you start with an unchallenged belief in imaginary global warming, you are going to end up making things worse. Substituting wind or solar power for conventional power plants does not provide greater energy security, for obvious reasons. Worrying about fashionable, imaginary water shortages distracts from real urban problems such as crime or broken families. Worrying about food security is fairly comical given the obesity epidemic. There are real threats to the urban world, such as electromagnetic pulse. But that threat is largely ignored.
Nature Climate Change is published by the same company that publishes Nature, a scientific journal begun in 1869, has published some of the most original and important research of the last century and a half. The company is in no position to not pay homage to global warming mythology. If the company dared to publish works openly skeptical of the global warming religion there would be a furious counterattack by the largely academic customer base. It’s all about money, the vast flows of money that global warming disaster predictions have bought to a large segment of academia.
When an academic discipline runs out of progress, fake progress is substituted. Fake progress consists of restating well-known truisms in a more obscure, abstract and pompous form. For example, there is a trend in sociology called grand theory. Established sociological ideas are restated in tortured and obscure language. The Polish émigré sociologist Stanislav Andreski remarked that the communist government of Poland saw no need to censor grand theory. Obscure, abstract theorizing was no threat to Polish communism.
One investigator attempted to confirm 100 published psychology papers. Only 39% were confirmed. This illustrates the great pressure to publish; to publish something or anything. The low quality of academic investigations is well known. The government agencies that finance academia are complicit in the vast outpouring of academic garbage.
I’m not claiming that everything academic is fake or that we should cut off all the money to academia. Generally, the softer the discipline, the greater the rot. Climate science prediction is weak scientifically. Sociology is very far down the road to irrelevance and has become largely a promoter of left-wing dogma, but with honorable exceptions.
Norman Rogers writes often on climate and politics. He has a website.