Sciencing Vs. Scientism


What is Scientific Truth? Previous posts here have discussed the difference between science as a process of discovery (“sciencing” if you will), and science as a catalog of answers to how the world works (“scientism” in this sense). On this issue, I am following Richard Feynman, and also Arthur Eddington, who is quoted at the end.

This post dives into the struggle over truth and science in contemporary society. It also discusses some underlying philosophical confusions leading to distortions of scientific processes and discoveries. Michela Massimi is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She works in history and philosophy of science and was the recipient of the 2017 Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal by the Royal Society, London, UK. Her article recently published at Aeron is entitled Getting it right. Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images. My takeaway: Science matters only because Truth matters. But do read her entire essay for your own edification. Title is link to essay.

Truth is neither absolute nor timeless. But the pursuit of truth remains at the heart of the scientific endeavour

Think of the number of scenarios in which truth matters in science. We care to know whether increased CO2 emission levels cause climate change, and how fast. We care to know whether smoking tobacco increases the risk of lung cancer. We care to know whether poor diet exposes children to the risk of developing obesity, or whether forecasts of economic growth are correct. Truth in science is not esoteric dilly-dallying. It shapes climate science, medicine, public health, the economy and many other worldly endeavours.

That truth matters to science is hardly news. For a long time, people have looked to science for truths about the world. The Scientific Revolution was nothing if not the triumph of Galileo’s scientific truth – hard-won through his telescopic observations – over centuries of dogma about the geocentric system. With its system of epicycles and deferents, Ptolemaic astronomy was at once sophisticated and false. It served to, at best, ‘save the appearances’ about how planets seemed to move in the sky. It did not tell the truth about planetary motion until the discovery of the Copernican explanation. Or consider the Chemical Revolution at the end of the 18th century. We no longer, after all, believe in phlogiston – the fictional imponderable fluid that Georg Ernst Stahl, Joseph Priestley and other natural philosophers at the time believed to be at work in combustion and calcination phenomena. Antoine Lavoisier’s scientific truth about oxygen prevailed over false beliefs about phlogiston.

The main actors of these scientific revolutions often fostered this way of thinking about science as an enquiry leading to the inevitable triumph of truth over past errors. Two centuries after Galileo’s successful defence of the heliocentric system, this idea of the course of scientific truth continued to inspire philosophers. In his Cours de philosophie positive (1830-42), Auguste Comte saw the evolution of human knowledge in three main stages: ‘the Theological, or fictitious; the Metaphysical, or abstract; and the Scientific, or positive’. In the ‘positive’, the third and last stage, ‘an explanation of facts is simply the establishment of a connection between single phenomena and some general facts, the number of which continually diminishes with the progress of science’.

In some scientific quarters, this Comtean notion of how science evolves and progresses remains common currency. But philosophers of science, over the past half-century, have turned against the representation of science as a ceaseless forward march toward truth. It is just not how science works, how it moves through history. It flies in the face of the wonderful and subtle historical nuances of how scientific revolutions have in fact occurred. It does not accommodate how some of the greatest scientific minds held dearly to some false beliefs. It wilfully ignores the many voices, disagreements and controversies through which scientific knowledge has often advanced and progressed over time.

However, many (and legitimate in their own right) criticisms against this naive view of science have committed a similar mistake. They have offered a portrait of science purged of any commitment to truth. They see truth as an inconvenient and disposable feature of science. Fraught as the ideal and pursuit of truth is with tendencies to petty doctrinairism, it is nonetheless a mistake to try to purge it. The fallacy of positivist philosophy was to think of science as coming in stages of some sort, or following a particular path, or historical cycles. The anti-truth trend in the philosophy of science has often ended up repeating this same misstep. It is important to move beyond the sterile dichotomy between the old (quasi-positivist) view of truth in science and the rival anti-truth trend of recent decades.

Let us start with some genuine philosophical questions about truth in science. Here are three: 1) Does science aim at truth? 2) Does science tell us the truth? 3) Should we expect science to tell us the truth?

In each of these questions, ‘science’ is a generic placeholder for whichever scientific discipline we are interested in questioning. Question one might strike us as otiose but, in fact, it triggered one of the liveliest debates of the past 40 years. Bas van Fraassen launched this debate as to whether science aims at truth with his pioneering book The Scientific Image (1980). Does science aim to tell us a true story about nature? Or does it aim only at saving the observable phenomena (namely, providing an account that makes sense of what we can observe, without expecting it to be the true account about nature)?

There are philosophers today who embrace the view that science does not need to be true in order to be good. They argue that asking for truth is risky because it commits one to believing in things (be it epicycles, phlogiston, ether or something else) that might prove false in the future. In their view, ‘empirically adequate’ theories, theories that ‘save the observable phenomena’, are good enough for science. For example, one might take the Standard Model in high-energy physics not as aiming at the truth about whether the world is really carved up into quarks, leptons and force carriers; whether these entities really have the properties that the Standard Model says they have; and so on.

When it comes to the second question – does science tell us the truth? – scientific realists and anti-realists of various stripes have debated it. Leaving aside the aim of science, let us concentrate on its track record instead. Has science told us the truth? Looking at the history of science, does it amount to a persuasive story of truth accumulated over the centuries? Philosophers, historians, sociologists and science-studies scholars have all challenged a simple affirmative answer to this question.

This decades-long, multi-pronged, disenchantment-with-truth trend in philosophy of science starts by rejecting the idea that there are facts about nature that make our scientific claims true or false. Fact-constructivism is only one aspect of this multi-pronged disenchantment-with-truth trend. Outlandish as this might sound, its defenders claim that there is not a single, objective way that the world is; there are rather many different and ‘equally true descriptions of the world, and their truth is the only standard of their faithfulness’, in the words of the philosopher Nelson Goodman. For example, he claimed that we do make facts, but not like, say, a baker makes bread, or a sculptor makes a statue. In Goodman’s view, we make facts any time we construct what he called a ‘version’ of the world (via works of art, of music, of poetry, or of science).

We do this all the time, for example, with stars and constellations. As the philosopher Hilary Putnam expresses it: ‘Nowadays, there is a Big Dipper up there in the sky, and we, so to speak, “put” a Big Dipper up there in the sky by constructing that version.’ Goodman’s world-making view has severe implications for truth in science. ‘Truth,’ he wrote, ‘far from being a solemn and severe master, is a docile and obedient servant. The scientist who supposes that he is single-mindedly dedicated to the search for truth deceives himself … He as much decrees as discovers the laws he sets forth, as much designs as discerns the patterns he delineates.’

Fact-constructivism sounds too radical to many philosophers, and alienating to most scientists. So here is another approach against factual truth, well-known among philosophers of science. Over the past 40 years, they have produced an extraordinary amount of work on models in science. The role of abstractions and idealisations in scientific models, they maintain, is to select and to distort aspects of the relevant target system. The billiard-ball model of Brownian motion, for example, represents the motion of molecules by idealising them as perfectly spherical billiard balls. Moreover, the model abstracts, or removes, molecules from their actual environment, which is of course where collisions among molecules take place.

Studying modelling practices in science has led some to argue that science does not tell the truth but it does provide important non-factive understanding. Consider, for instance, Boyle’s gas law, which captures the relation between pressure p and volume v in an ideal gas at constant temperature. At best, Boyle’s law is true ceteris paribus (ie, all else being equal) in highly idealised and contrived circumstances. There simply is no ideal gas with perfectly spherical molecules displaying ‘atomic facts’ (in a quasi-Wittgensteinian sense) that make Boyle’s law true. Despite being true of nothing real, the billiard-ball model of Brownian motion and Boyle’s ideal gas law do nonetheless provide important non-factual understanding of the behaviour of real gases. For they allow scientists to understand the relation between decreasing volume and increasing pressure in any gas, even if there are no atomic facts in nature about perfectly spherical molecules corresponding to such idealisations.

Anti-dogmatic and anti-monist approaches to science have also questioned the value, as well as the facticity, of truth. From the 1960s, science-studies scholars began to see the word ‘truth’ as evoking unpalatable petty doctrinairism and intracultural battles in the wake of the Vietnamese war, postmodernism and, later on, what became known as the ‘science wars’. Many saw the physicist Thomas Kuhn as the forefather of a new historicist trend that dismantled what they perceived as the naive view that science aims at or tracks truth. Kuhn saw himself as ‘a fact lover and a truth seeker’. Yet in the final remarks to his classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), he made a prescient, almost ominous, warning:

Does it really help to imagine that there is some one full, objective, true account of nature and that the proper measure of scientific achievement is the extent to which it brings us closer to the ultimate goal? … Successive stages in that developmental process are marked by an increase in articulation and specialisation. And the entire process might have occurred, as we now suppose biological evolution did, without benefit of a set goal, a permanent fixed scientific truth, of which each stage in the development of scientific knowledge is a better exemplar.

For Kuhn, truth is not an overarching aim of science across scientific revolutions. Nor do scientific revolutions (eg, from Ptolemaic to Copernican astronomy) track truth either. What they do, at best, is to increase our ability to solve anomalies that beset the previous paradigm (as when we eventually discovered that retrograde motion was only an illusion, and not something that needed epicycles and deferents to be explained).

We see the spirit of Kuhn’s warning in discussions today. Truth itself is not enough to settle or even guide debates about expertise, trust, consensus and dissent in science. The philosophers of science Inmaculada de Melo-Martín and Kristen Intemann have described the matter well in their book The Fight Against Doubt (2018). When it comes to the role of science in policymaking, the key is ‘engaging in discussions with all relevant parties about the values at stake, rather than the truth of particular scientific claims’. Policymaking involves politics and values, and ‘disagreement about values cannot, and should not, be decided by scientists alone’ or by just scientific evidence.

The third question is whether we should expect science to tell us the truth, or is truth (or at least the notion of factual truth) not best left to logicians and metaphysicians?

While critical analyses of factual truth are indeed best left to logicians and metaphysicians, philosophers of science should not abdicate their responsibility to talk about truth in science. The quasi-Wittgensteinian myth of atomic facts as the truth-makers of scientific claims has proved inadequate to even scratch the surface of very complex practices in science. But that is not a good reason (or pretext) for forgoing truth altogether. Nor is it a reason for concluding that science should not be expected to tell us the truth.

But whose truth? By whose lights? Some might be tempted at this point by a Jamesian pragmatist theory of truth. American pragmatism has traditionally provided an alternative way of thinking about truth, which some philosophers of science see as more congenial to capturing the complex nuances and the power structure of scientific practice.

In James’s words: ‘“The true” … is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as “the right” is only the expedient in the way of our behaving.’ Stripped of its rhetorical flourishes, for James to be true is (to a good approximation) to work successfully. A scientific model is true – on a loosely Jamesian view – if it successfully facilitates and enables activities (be they epistemic or not). If the billiard-ball model of Brownian motion helps scientists to predict the behaviour of gas molecules, for example, the model is (pragmatically) true. The falseness of the presumption of perfectly spherical molecules does not matter.

The risk with a James-inspired conception of truth, as I see it, is that it is too malleable to resist the tides of time and the stresses of social forces endlessly at work in science. A James-inspired view of truth abdicates the expectation that science tells us the truth in the name of a non-better-qualified kind of success of a scientific practice. But how to tell apart cases where success does indeed track truth from cases where it does not? More to the point, when it comes to matters such as climate change, the benefit of vaccinating children, or economic forecasts, we seem to need more than a malleable Jamesian conception of truth for the sake of scientifically informed decisions that do not bow to pressure from powerful lobbies and political agendas (in the name of what ‘might work’). But, someone might reply, how can truth and pluralism go hand in hand if not by opting for a Jamesian conception of truth (if we really care about truth at all)?

There is another way of thinking about how truth and pluralism might go hand in hand, without reducing matters of truth to calculations of what is pragmatically good to individuals or communities sharing a scientific perspective at some point in time. First, it is necessary to understand the key term ‘scientific perspective’ and how it impinges on scientific pluralism. In its original use by the philosopher Ronald Giere in 2006, ‘scientific perspective’ is akin to Kuhn’s disciplinary matrix: a set of scientific models (including the relevant experimental instruments to gather data). In broader terms, scientific perspective is the disciplinary practice of a real scientific community at any given historical time. It includes the knowledge they produce, and the theoretical, technological and experimental resources they use, or that guide their work.

The time for a defence of truth in science has come. It begins with a commitment to get things right, which is at the heart of the realist programme, despite mounting Kuhnian challenges from the history of science, considerations about modelling, and values in contemporary scientific practice. In the simple-minded sense, getting things right means that things are as the relevant scientific theory says that they are. Climate science is true if what it says about CO2 emissions (and their effects on climate change) corresponds to the way that things are in nature. For the sake of powerful economic interests, sociopolitical consequences or simply different economic principles, one can try to discount, mitigate, compensate for, disregard or ignore altogether the way that things are. But doing so is to forgo the normative nature of the realist commitment in science. The scientific world, we have seen, is too complex and messy to be represented by any quasi-Wittgensteinian picture of atomic facts. Nor can the naive image of Comte’s positive science render justice to it. But acknowledging complexity and historical nuances gives no reason (or justification) for forgoing truth altogether; much less for concluding that science trades in falsehoods of some kind. It is part of our social responsibility as philosophers of science to set the record straight on such matters.

We should expect science to tell us the truth because, by realist lights, this is what science ought to do. Truth – understood as getting things right – is not the aim of science, because it is not what science (or, better, scientists) should aspire to (assuming one has realist leanings). Instead, it is what science ought to do by realist lights. Thus, to judge a scientific theory or model as true is to judge it as one that ‘commands our assent’. Truth, ultimately, is not an aspiration; a desirable (but maybe unachievable) goal; a figment in the mind of the working scientist; or, worse, an insupportable and dispensable burden in scientific research. Truth is a normative commitment inherent in scientific knowledge.

Constructive empiricists, instrumentalists, Jamesian pragmatists, relativists and constructivists do not share the same commitment. They do not share with the realist a suitable notion of ‘rightness’. As an example, compare the normative commitment to get things right with the view of the philosopher Richard Rorty, in whose hands Putnam’s truth as ‘idealised warranted assertibility’ reduces to what is acceptable to ‘us as we should like to be … us educated, sophisticated, tolerant, wet liberals, the people who are always willing to hear the other side, to think out all the implications’.

Getting things right is not a norm about us at our best, ‘educated, sophisticated, tolerant, wet liberals’. It is a norm inherent in scientific knowledge. To claim to know something in science (or about a scientific topic or domain) is to claim for the truth of the relevant beliefs about that topic or domain.

Thinking of truth as a normative commitment inherent in the very notion of scientific knowledge brings some benefits. It overcomes a false dichotomy between atomic facts and non-factive, non-truth-conducive inferences. And it makes realism compatible with perspectivism. Scientific communities that endorse historically and culturally situated scientific perspectives (either across the history of science or in contemporary science, across different fields or different scientific programmes) share (and indeed ought to) a normative commitment to get things right. That is a minimum requirement to pass the bar of what we count as ‘scientific knowledge’.

Getting the evidence right, in the first instance – via accurate measurements, sound non-ad-hoc procedures, and robust inferential strategies – defines any research programme that is worth being called ‘scientific’. The realist commitment to get things right must begin with getting the evidence right. No perspective worthy of being called ‘scientific’ survives fudging the evidence, massaging or altering the data or discarding evidence.

Scientists ought to share rules for cross-perspectival assessment. That our knowledge is situated and perspectival does not make scientific truths relativised to perspectives. Often enough, scientific perspectives themselves provide the rules for cross-perspectival assessment. Those rules can be as simple as translating the 10 degree Celsius temperature in Edinburgh today into the 50 degree equivalent on the Fahrenheit scale. Or they can be as complex as retrieving the viscosity of a fluid in statistical mechanics, where fluids are treated as statistical ensembles of a large number of discrete molecules.

Let there be no doubt: scientific knowledge is the product of our getting it right across our perspectival multicultural scientific history. Scientific knowledge is not a prerogative of our Western cultural perspective (and its discipline-specific scientific perspectives) but the outcome of a plurality of historically and culturally situated scientific perspectives that, over millennia, have reliably produced knowledge with the tools, resources and concepts respectively available to each and every one of them.

Scientific truths are the resilient and robust outcome of a plurality of scientific perspectives that, over time, have meshed with one another in their (tacit, implicit and often survival-adaptive) normative commitment to reliably produce scientific knowledge for us as humankind. That is why, far from being an insufferable hindrance to scientific pluralism, truth is in fact its best safeguard in tolerant, open and democratic societies that are genuinely committed to the advancement of scientific knowledge in the very many faces it comes with.


Religious creeds are a great obstacle to any full sympathy between the outlook of the scientist and the outlook which religion is so often supposed to require … The spirit of seeking which animates us refuses to regard any kind of creed as its goal. It would be a shock to come across a university where it was the practice of the students to recite adherence to Newton’s laws of motion, to Maxwell’s equations and to the electromagnetic theory of light. We should not deplore it the less if our own pet theory happened to be included, or if the list were brought up to date every few years. We should say that the students cannot possibly realise the intention of scientific training if they are taught to look on these results as things to be recited and subscribed to. Science may fall short of its ideal, and although the peril scarcely takes this extreme form, it is not always easy, particularly in popular science, to maintain our stand against creed and dogma.
― Arthur Stanley Eddington

See Also: 

Data, Facts and Information

Three Wise Men Talking Climate

Head, Heart and Science

Post-Truth Climatism

How Science Is Losing Its Humanity


No, Cold Doesn’t Disprove Warming, Nothing Can

That quote from Herodotus was put on the USPS building in Boston referring to postmen, ie postpersons today.  (Are postpersons also postnormal?  Just wondering).  But I digress.

As bitter cold is hitting the US midwest, Trump chose to troll the warmists with a sympathetic tweet to those freezing their tails off.  And now we get a deluge of articles declaring the title of this post.  NOAA even drew a cartoon in response.  Meanwhile some people bundled up and went to Niagara to witness the frozen falls.

In this context, the trusted couriers are the warmists swiftly making their rounds repeating their new message; “Heatwaves last summer prove global warming/climate change; Freezing cold this winter is also caused by warming.”

The evidence is in:  Global warming is a religious belief, and adherents cannot be dissuaded by any fact, event or argument.

Footnote:  USPS Suspended Service in 11 States Due to Record Low Temperatures.



N. Atlantic’s Cold Year

RAPID Array measuring North Atlantic SSTs.

For the last few years, observers have been speculating about when the North Atlantic will start the next phase shift from warm to cold. Given the way 2018 went, this may be the onset.  First some background.

Source: Energy and Education Canada

An example is this report in May 2015 The Atlantic is entering a cool phase that will change the world’s weather by Gerald McCarthy and Evan Haigh of the RAPID Atlantic monitoring project. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

This is known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and the transition between its positive and negative phases can be very rapid. For example, Atlantic temperatures declined by 0.1ºC per decade from the 1940s to the 1970s. By comparison, global surface warming is estimated at 0.5ºC per century – a rate twice as slow.

In many parts of the world, the AMO has been linked with decade-long temperature and rainfall trends. Certainly – and perhaps obviously – the mean temperature of islands downwind of the Atlantic such as Britain and Ireland show almost exactly the same temperature fluctuations as the AMO.

Atlantic oscillations are associated with the frequency of hurricanes and droughts. When the AMO is in the warm phase, there are more hurricanes in the Atlantic and droughts in the US Midwest tend to be more frequent and prolonged. In the Pacific Northwest, a positive AMO leads to more rainfall.

A negative AMO (cooler ocean) is associated with reduced rainfall in the vulnerable Sahel region of Africa. The prolonged negative AMO was associated with the infamous Ethiopian famine in the mid-1980s. In the UK it tends to mean reduced summer rainfall – the mythical “barbeque summer”.Our results show that ocean circulation responds to the first mode of Atlantic atmospheric forcing, the North Atlantic Oscillation, through circulation changes between the subtropical and subpolar gyres – the intergyre region. This a major influence on the wind patterns and the heat transferred between the atmosphere and ocean.

The observations that we do have of the Atlantic overturning circulation over the past ten years show that it is declining. As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative (colder surface waters) phase. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.

Cold “blobs” in North Atlantic have been reported, but they are usually a winter phenomena. For example in April 2016, the sst anomalies looked like this

But by September, the picture changed to this

And we know from Kaplan AMO dataset, that 2016 summer SSTs were right up there with 1998 and 2010 as the highest recorded.

As the graph above suggests, this body of water is also important for tropical cyclones, since warmer water provides more energy.  But those are annual averages, and I am interested in the summer pulses of warm water into the Arctic. As I have noted in my monthly HadSST3 reports, most summers since 2003 there have been warm pulses in the north atlantic.
amo december 2018The AMO Index is from from Kaplan SST v2, the unaltered and not detrended dataset. By definition, the data are monthly average SSTs interpolated to a 5×5 grid over the North Atlantic basically 0 to 70N.  The graph shows the warmest month August beginning to rise after 1993 up to 1998, with a series of matching years since.  December 2016 set a record at 20.6C, but note the plunge down to 20.2C for  December 2018, matching 2011 as the coldest years  since 2000.  Because McCarthy refers to hints of cooling to come in the N. Atlantic, let’s take a closer look at some AMO years in the last 2 decades.

amo decade 122018

This graph shows monthly AMO temps for some important years. The Peak years were 1998, 2010 and 2016, with the latter emphasized as the most recent. The other years show lesser warming, with 2007 emphasized as the coolest in the last 20 years. Note the red 2018 line is at the bottom of all these tracks.  Most recently December 2018 is 0.4C lower than December 2016, and is the coolest December since 2000.

With all the talk of AMOC slowing down and a phase shift in the North Atlantic, it seems the annual average for 2018 confirms that cooling has set in.  Through December the momentum is certainly heading downward, despite the band of warming ocean  that gave rise to European heat waves last summer.

amo annual122018



Icy Arctic January 2019

Kara and Barents Seas Chilling Out: 
The animation above shows the last two weeks on the Atlantic side, with Kara achieving its annual maximum and Barents growing ice up to 75% of its max last March. Those two regions are the last to cool down this year. In the upper right the ice solidifies next to Svalbard and fast ice forms along the mainland. Icing begins in the Baltic.  In the center Greenland Sea ice reaches out toward Iceland.  On the left, Baffin ice thickens along the Labrador coast and is filling the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Below is the ice recovery on the Pacific side.

As we will see in the numbers below, Bering on the right has 100k km2 more ice now than  a year ago, though still lagging the 12-year average.  Okhotsk on the left is almost average and is reaching well south in its basin.

The graph below shows January progress in ice extent recovery.

2019 ice extents are tracking slightly lower than the 12-year average (2007 to 2018 inclusive).  SII lags MASIE by 157k km2 at this date. 2019 presently has 300k km2 more ice than 2017, and 500k km2 more ice than 2018

The table below shows the distribution of ice in the various Arctic basins.

Region 2019028 Day 029 
2019-Ave. 2018028 2019-2018
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14216967 14304896 -87929 13720485 496482
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070498 1070200 297 1070445 53
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 966006 965999 7 965971 35
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087133 4 1087120 18
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842 3 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 935023 904103 30921 864752 70271
 (6) Barents_Sea 594754 552640 42114 448388 146366
 (7) Greenland_Sea 559919 588686 -28767 502182 57738
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1355417 1335964 19453 1357109 -1693
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 853337 853036 302 853109 229
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260903 1259599 1305 1260838 66
 (11) Central_Arctic 3206769 3208914 -2145 3176440 30330
 (12) Bering_Sea 557702 657897 -100194 414234 143468
 (13) Baltic_Sea 84454 79993 4462 37674 46780
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 765952 777348 -11397 718922 47030

The table shows how 2019 is matching the 12-year average almost everywhere.  Barents and Kara Seas have caught up and edged ahead of average, and are much higher than last year.  The slight overall deficit is due to Bering ice down 100k km2 to average, while being 143k km2 more than last year.


Footnote:  At his AER blog  Arctic Oscillation and Polar Vortex Analysis and Forecasts Dr. Judah Cohen writes yesterday on this cold winter in the Arctic. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Arctic has warmed at least as twice as fast as any other region of the globe and the accelerating warming of the Arctic relative to the rest of the globe but especially the Northern Hemisphere (NH) mid-latitudes is known as Arctic amplification. The cause of Arctic amplification is surprisingly complex and not well understood but the cause is at least partially related to Arctic sea ice and snow cover melt. Certainly, heading into this winter, I was very confident that we would observe an anomalously warm Arctic this winter especially coming off of last winter where the Arctic was record warm (see Figure i) and sea ice was record low extent.

But the Arctic was surprisingly cold last summer that prevented a new record low minimum for sea ice extent in September. Since then it has been at least strategically cold in regions across the Arctic this fall and winter that allowed sea ice to grow more extensive this winter in the Arctic basin compared to recent winters except in the Barents-Kara Seas. But even more surprising to me has been how cold the Arctic has consistently been this winter, especially when compared to recent winters. The only region in the Arctic Ocean basin that has been consistently warm is the Barents-Kara Seas.


US Leads Globe in Clean Energy Tech


North America has grown in population, but not in energy use.

Hank Campbell writes in Science 2.0 America Leads The World In Controlling Energy Consumption And Emissions – We Should Be Exporting That, Not Solar Dogma.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

As the world’s most powerful economy, we read a lot about how America needs to do more to use cleaner energy, and less of it.

The data show we already do. Energy is a basic need, like food, and in energy and food America has been a trailblazer in reducing environmental strain. We had a blip upward in emissions from energy when we scuttled nuclear in the U.S. (resulting in a coal surge), but less than two decades later improvements in natural gas had caused coal to be such a non-factor more people are now employed by the solar panel industry than in mining. The energy sector has made such dramatic improvements in emission reductions that President Obama’s Clean Power Plan was outdated before it could ever be enacted; the private sector reached what would have been the government’s 2025 target for energy emissions in 2017.

Americans are also good about responsible energy usage. Though there is a political divide about how much climate has changed since the 1950s, and how much of that is due to mankind, there is no political difference when it comes to green efforts like energy conservation. All of us do it. That shows in recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Though our population continues to grow, our growth in energy consumption has not.

The growth in energy and emissions is instead in Asia and Africa. But even that is not a bad thing when we consider the health hazards of burning wood or dung, as 90 percent of Africa recently did. The developing world deserves a chance to have centralized affordable energy and the benefits to culture that occur when basic needs become cheaper and more money is available for art and libraries and sanitation. Even coal is a reasonable interim solution because of its cost.

Source: EPA Our Nation’s Air 2018

The World Health Organisation estimates up to 6.5 million annual deaths are linked to air pollution each year but those are not happening here, we have the best air quality in the world; it is happening in homes where one billion people still burn their own fuel for cooking and heating.

We have done a disservice to poor countries telling the World Bank we would only help finance centralized energy in developing countries if it was solar or wind when we know they can’t afford those. We sacrificed sanitation and hygiene in places that need it most.

American science and technology has been a role model for how the world can keep energy affordable and clean. That is what we should be exporting to other countries, not guilt over our success.



Media Dumbing Down Truth

And he said that even before Twitter.

The phrase “Survey Says!” comes from the popular TV game show Family Feud, which has aired continuously since 1976 and spawned multiple regional adaptations in 50 international markets.  The program ranks among the top five most popular syndicated television shows in the US. In 2013, TV Guide ranked Family Feud third in its list of the 60 greatest game shows of all time.

What’s the fuss all about? Everyone knows that contestants compete to see who can correctly guess the answers to questions given by a random sample of the public. Consider the import of that: Points are awarded not according to the factual answer, but according to your estimate of what others think is the factual answer. To succeed, you must set aside any of your factual knowledge on the topic, and instead guess what ordinary people guessed when questioned.

Could there be any more striking display of social proof? Winners of the game are the ones who are most tuned in to the common denominator of public awareness on a range of topics active in social discourse. And to the degree that issues might be controversial, you can imagine a future game show like this:

OK, that cartoon cuts too close to the Progressive bone, so would never be aired on mainstream TV. But it does point to the emotional undertow of all of this. A strong sense of public acceptability, or political correctness is key to guessing what the survey says.

Turning to the scientific issue of the day, let’s consider how to interpret results of an ongoing survey regarding global warming/climate change. First a digression.

Global Warming Vs. Climate Change

A recent article in Grist was entitled: Move over, polar bears: Climate change has a new symbol. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Climate change has a new symbol, and it’s not melting ice floes or charismatic megafauna. Last week, researchers at Yale University and the University of Westminster published an analysis showing that Americans increasingly connect climate change with real-life, actually-happening weather. And, given the crazy heat waves, wild hurricanes, and downright bizarre disasters 2018 has already brought us, people are probably thinking about climate change a lot more.

Researchers asked survey respondents what their knee-jerk, top of mind associations were with the phrases “climate change” and “global warming.” In 2003, when the survey began, many people pictured melting polar ice and glaciers.

That was all well and good, Anthony Leiserowitz, coauthor of the analysis and director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, tells Grist. “But for all of the millions of Americans who have that image come to mind, none of them live on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, in Antarctica, or next to a glacier,” he says. “It reinforces the sense that this is far away.

But that’s beginning to change. In the past decade, the analysis shows, the number of associations of climate change with weather has quadrupled. “It’s now one of the highest or most likely first associations that people have,” Leiserowitz says.

He attributes this change in part to the development of projects like Climate Matters, a program run by nonprofit Climate Central, which trains TV meteorologists to incorporate climate change data into their forecasts. The program landed in the news recently when a group of Republican senators — including notorious climate denier James Inhofe — called it a form of “propagandizing” and called for an investigation of its grants from the National Science Foundation.

Big extreme weather disasters are one of those times where Americans all collectively focus on an issue or set of events that have a direct connection to climate change,” Leiserowitz says. “They’re teachable moments.”

As for polar bears? “As a communications icon, it’s pretty much tapped,” Leiserowitz says. “We’ve got to expand the tent — and that means helping people connect to this issue for reasons that might be quite different from yours.”

The Grist article is biased toward alarm and obscures the actual rationale. Yes, the Arctic is far away and extreme weather events are closer and more personally threatening. But the real problem was the Polar bears represented victims of warming.  Inconveniently, Arctic ice failed to melt away in the last 12 years, making a joke of the Polar bear balancing on an ice cube.  For “climate change” something else was required: nearer, scarier and more reliable.  There will never be a complete lack of extreme weather to fill the media time and space with alarms, though we were in the doldrums prior to Hurricane Harvey.

Global Warming. And the Survey Says What?

Click on image to enlarge.

A previous post went into details on the Yale/George Mason survey Climate Change in the American Mind. See: Climate is a State of Mind.  I will only do an overview here to make the link to dumbing America down on this topic. Above is a graph showing the core questions and patterns of responses over the years.

First, I commend the surveyors for keeping the questions on the topic “Global Warming” rather than switching to the totally vacuous “Climate Change.” At least, GW has some content, I.e. expecting temperatures to rise in the future.

But the whole exercise is like a game show. Here is the introduction given to participants:
Recently, you may have noticed that global warming has been getting some attention in the news. Global warming refers to the idea that the world’s average temperature has been increasing over the past 150 years, may be increasing more in the future, and that the world’s climate may change as a result.

So we have a news buzzword, “Global Warming” and people are asked what they think, but really they are giving reactions based on what they have seen and heard in the media. And to remove the matter even further from intelligence, many of the questions are about emotions.

How worried are you about global warming?

How strongly do you feel each of the following emotions when you think about the issue of global warming?

To summarize, Survey Says:

What He Said:   “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” (Obama tweet).  The survey could be reduced to one question:  Do you agree with this tweet?


Opinion polling is a media tactic to raise public concern about an issue: conduct a survey, then publicize the results, further raising attention to the topic. Rinse, repeat, and keep repeating so that the public alarm rises with every iteration. Except with global warming, it hasn’t gone up that much. Maybe the battle for hearts and minds is not totally mindless.

Footnote Re Cortez and the End of the World

Statistician Bjorn Lomborg: Ocasio-Cortez was ‘wildly wrong’ on climate ‘doomsday’.  Yet AOC was just saying what many people believe. Shallow, apocalyptic reporting on global warming has made us all panicky, more likely to embrace poor climate policies and less likely to think about the price tag. The truth is comparatively boring: According to the United Nations climate-science panel’s latest major report, if we do absolutely nothing to stop climate change, the impact will be the equivalent to a reduction in our ­incomes of between 0.2 percent and 2 percent five decades from now. Yet by the 2070s, personal incomes will be some 300 percent to 500 percent higher than they are today. Far from the “end of the world,” the impact of warming is what we’d expect from roughly a single economic recession taking place over the next half century…

By 2100, even if hurricanes were to get twice as bad as they are now, increased prosperity and ­resilience mean the cost will have halved to 0.02 percent of GDP. What’s more, the UN panel finds there is no observable increase in hurricane frequency. Likewise, extreme weather is killing fewer people now than at any point in the last 100 years: In the 1920s, extreme weather killed about half a million people annually. Now, despite there being four times as many people, it kills fewer than 20,000 each year. If the world isn’t ending, and the impact of global warming by 2030 is much less than 0.2 percent to 2 percent of GDP, then we need to start comparing costs with benefits

Green fretting about Armageddon is nothing new, of course. In the 1960s, mainstream environmentalists worried that the world was running out of food. In the 1980s, acid rain was going to ­destroy the planet’s forests. There were good reasons for concern, but a panicked response led to a poor, overly expensive response…We need to make sure our solution doesn’t cost more than the problem. If we look at the science and stop believing the end of the world is nigh, our decisions will be much smarter.

Green Energy Blues: Falmouth City Cautionary Tale


A wind turbine loomed over the Craggy Ridge neighborhood in West Falmouth.

The story is by David Abel at Boston Globe January 24, 2019 ‘Green energy blues’ in a town that sought to do something about climate change.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.   H/T Greenie Watch

FALMOUTH — For nearly a decade, the giant blades have loomed over this seaside town, stirring hope and fear in the salty air.

To proponents, the twin wind turbines proved that residents could act on their ideals, producing their own clean energy and relying less on fossil fuels. To critics, they were mechanical monstrosities, blinking eyesores whirring at such a frequency that some neighbors said they became ill.

Nine years after the first was built beside Falmouth’s waste treatment plant, both turbines now stand idle, no longer producing a kilowatt of electricity, totems of good intentions gone awry.

Facing fierce neighborhood opposition and multiple lawsuits, selectmen last week voted to remove the turbines, which had cost the town about $10 million to build, saddling residents with years of debt.

“All that’s left now is that we have an albatross to live with,” said Sam Peterson, the one dissenting vote on the five-person board.

Wind power offers communities a way to reduce their emissions, but the protracted resistance to the turbines offers lessons as communities throughout the region consider similarly controversial renewable energy projects.

It also reflects the challenges, often tacit, in the state’s promises to make substantial reductions in its emissions. Those plans rely on importing hydropower from Canada and major offshore wind farms, and both approaches are being contested by powerful, well-organized interest groups and could be subject to legal challenges.

For Dave Moriarty, who spent much of the past decade fighting the Falmouth turbines, news that the town was finally giving up its efforts to keep them running was a welcome relief. He considers the turbines “overbearing, antiquated dinosaurs” and said they left the town with the “green energy blues.”

The 56-year-old contractor, who lived close to the turbines after they were built, moved across town because they wrought too much stress, he said. He blames town officials for ignoring his and other neighbors’ concerns.

“The town was warned,” he said. “The damage can never be reversed for many of us wind turbine victims. Some of my friends have serious health issues now.”

Neighbors complained that the churning of the turbines and the resulting flickering light and vibrations produced dizziness, nausea, depression, or anxiety — a set of symptoms that critics call “wind turbine syndrome.”

In 2012, with both 1.65-megawatt turbines operating and the opposition becoming increasingly vocal, state environmental officials took the unprecedented action of recommending that one be shut down. They found that turbine, which was fewer than 1,500 feet from the nearest home, had repeatedly exceeded allowable noise levels.

But a panel of independent scientists and doctors convened by the state Department of Environmental Protection found little to no evidence the turbines posed a health risk to neighbors.

The town eventually stopped them from operating at night, and in 2015, a state appeals court judge ruled that the town lacked sufficient permits for one of the turbines and prohibited it from operating. Two years later, a Superior Court judge ruled that both turbines posed a nuisance to neighbors and ordered that they never operate again at their current location.

“The lessons others should learn from our experience is that residents should do their homework in advance of construction,” Moriarty said. “They should ask questions and know what they’re really getting into.”

For Peterson, the only selectman who declined to vote in favor of removing the turbines, the decision ultimately reflects the power of those concerned about any large industrial project close to their homes.

While he said he felt empathy for those whose homes are closest to the turbines, he thinks they exaggerated their complaints. He visited their homes and never heard more than a minor hissing of the moving blades.

“We had the best of intentions, and they bullied those of us who tried to reason with them,” said Peterson, a retired physics teacher who like many of his neighbors hoped to do his share in addressing climate change.

He also noted that the turbines were approved by repeated votes by more than 200 members of Falmouth’s Town Meeting. But he acknowledged that town officials made mistakes, particularly in failing to comply with zoning requirements.

A woman walked along Westmoreland Drive in Falmouth, in the shadow of one of the city’s wind turbines. JONATHAN WIGGS/GLOBE STAFF

In addition to the $10 million that the town’s 30,000 residents spent on building the turbines, they now have to pay as much as $2 million more to remove them.

“It’s a shame,” said Susan Moran, chair of the town’s board of selectmen, who initially supported the turbines but voted to take them down. “This is absolutely a financial blow to the town.

Moran and other town officials acknowledge those losses will take a toll. They’re already considering cutting back on some services, such as curbside trash collection.

While the town received $5 million in state loans for the project — $1.5 million of which has been forgiven — residents are likely to have repay the rest. If the turbines had operated as planned, functioning 24 hours a day, they were projected to earn the town between an estimated $1 million and $2 million a year.

In an effort to recoup some of those costs, selectmen have instructed town officials to consider a variety of options for what to do with the turbines.

Those include possibly converting them into cellphone towers or selling them to another community that might operate them. If they were able to negotiate such a deal with another town, Falmouth might have the rest of their state loans forgiven, as the turbines would be generating renewable energy.

“We’re looking at our options, but either way, there’s certainly going to be a financial impact to Falmouth,” said Julian Suso, to town manager.

Climate Is a State of Mind

A recent survey by Yale and George Mason activists is another reminder that “climate change” is actually a branch of environmental psychology. Consider that “climate” is an human construct, defined as the pattern of weather we remember in our living space over seasons and years. And “climate change” is therefore an added belief that our expectations about future weather are uncertain and unreliable. And so, attitude surveys are a suitable way to explore an issue that is wholly a matter of public opinion, IOW a state of mind rather than a state of nature.

The survey is appropriately entitled: Climate Change in the American Mind. Title is link to the website for the 2018 edition, with earlier results back to 2008.

The resources there are informative, including articles expressing both satisfactions and disappointments with the levels of belief and concern expressed by survey participants. The compliant mass media cherry pick various findings, giving headlines like these.

“We’ve entered a new era” of climate concern, survey finds CBS

Americans Believe in Climate Change, But Not Climate Action NYmag

Yale Poll: Climate Change ‘Personally Important’ to Record Number of Americans EcoWatch

Most Americans Don’t Know Vast Majority Of Scientists Agree On Climate Change CleanTechnica

Most Americans now worry about climate change—and want to fix it National Geographic

Poll Shows Most People Believe ‘Global Warming is Happening’ necn

Survey reveals 70% of Americans favour the environment over economic growth ClimateAction


What is the American Mindset according to the Survey?

So beyond details of particular responses, what can we learn from this series of polls about the American state of mind regarding global warming/climate change?

The specific questions and response patterns are at Appendix I: Data Tables & Sample Demographics

There are a lot of questions asked and answered, including exploring a complete range of feelings people have on the issue. I will summarize the central questions and the pattern of responses over the last decade.

Click on image to enlarge.

The core set of global warming beliefs are listed on the left.  The marked lines show the % of responses each one achieved over the years.  For example, over 50% agreed to four of them in 2018: GW is happening, GW is man made, Future generations will be greatly harmed and Most scientists agree.  Other patterns are also of interest.  Personal experience of GW effects is reported by almost 50%, while only 30% are very worried.  Indeed, people are less concerned about harm to themselves or even the US, then they are fearful for Developing Countries (DCs) and for Future Generations.

Notice there is a general curve to most of the answer time series.  Beliefs are only slightly higher in 2018 than they were in 2008.  In general, the %s were flat or declining in this decade until starting to rise again around 2014.  This points to the linkage between the opinions held by the public and the emphasis promoted in the mass media.  Compare the curvature in the above graph with this chart of climate change coverage in leading US newpapers.

The chart and research and research come from International Collective on Environment, Culture & Politics, AKA ICECaP.  Note the peaks in 2007-8 at the time of IPCC AR4 and Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth flick, and in 2009-10 around the time of the Copenhagen COP.  The Climategate emails were also in the news in 2010, but for some reason newspapers were less interested in that aspect, the topic dropped in coverage.

The spike in 2013 coincides with Obama’s SOTU speech featuring climate change as the “defining issue of our time.”  The rise in climate change coverage in recent years is a more complex matter.

Climate journalists (like most all journalists) have been obsessed with trashing Donald Trump, and climate change is mentioned often as a subset of Trump complaints.  Consider this chart from Media Matters.

See that huge spike in the middle? That’s from June 1, 2017, when President Donald Trump announced that he intended to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. No other day in the last three years saw anywhere near that much coverage. When Trump stages an event related to climate change, the media snap to attention. The rest of the time it’s like, “Climate what?”

That aligns with what Media Matters found when we looked at climate coverage on broadcast TV news programs in 2017: Trump dominated the news segments about climate change. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, in the International Collective on Environment, Culture & Politics, reached a similar conclusion when they analyzed TV news coverage from November of this year: “In US television coverage of climate change or global warming in November 2018, ‘Trump’ was explicitly invoked over fourteen times more frequently than the words ‘science’ or ‘scientists’ together and nearly four times more frequently than the word ‘climate’ itself.”

A research group at the University of Colorado-Boulder, the International Collective on Environment, Culture and Politics (ICE CaPs), produced the findings that illustrate how much climate coverage has been driven by President Donald Trump. It examined coverage last year in five major American newspapers: The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times. In the 4,117 stories in those papers that mentioned “climate change” or “global warming,” the word “Trump” appeared 19,184 times — an average of nearly 4.7 times per article.



To summarize, Survey Says:

What He Said:   “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” (Obama tweet).  The survey could be reduced to one question:  Do you agree with this tweet?

There is not much upward movement in public belief in global warming/climate change.  There is increased attention from the left-leaning media as part of their general dislike of the Trump administration. One more time, who made global warming into a political rather than a scientific issue?

Climate Models Cover Up

Making Climate Models Look Good

Clive Best dove into climate models temperature projections and discovered how the data can be manipulated to make model projections look closer to measurements than they really are. His first post was A comparison of CMIP5 Climate Models with HadCRUT4.6 January 21, 2019. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Overview: Figure 1. shows a comparison of the latest HadCRUT4.6 temperatures with CMIP5 models for Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). The temperature data lies significantly below all RCPs, which themselves only diverge after ~2025.

Modern Climate models originate from Global Circulation models which are used for weather forecasting. These simulate the 3D hydrodynamic flow of the atmosphere and ocean on earth as it rotates daily on its tilted axis, and while orbiting the sun annually. The meridional flow of energy from the tropics to the poles generates convective cells, prevailing winds, ocean currents and weather systems. Energy must be balanced at the top of the atmosphere between incoming solar energy and out going infra-red energy. This depends on changes in the solar heating, water vapour, clouds , CO2, Ozone etc. This energy balance determines the surface temperature.

Weather forecasting models use live data assimilation to fix the state of the atmosphere in time and then extrapolate forward one or more days up to a maximum of a week or so. Climate models however run autonomously from some initial state, stepping far into the future assuming that they correctly simulate a changing climate due to CO2 levels, incident solar energy, aerosols, volcanoes etc. These models predict past and future surface temperatures, regional climates, rainfall, ice cover etc. So how well are they doing?

Fig 2. Global Surface temperatures from 12 different CMIP5 models run with RCP8.5

The disagreement on the global average surface temperature is huge – a spread of 4C. This implies that there must still be a problem relating to achieving overall energy balance at the TOA. Wikipedia tells us that the average temperature should be about 288K or 15C. Despite this discrepancy in reproducing net surface temperature the model trends in warming for RCP8.5 are similar.

Likewise weather station measurements of temperature have changed with time and place, so they too do not yield a consistent absolute temperature average. The ‘solution’ to this problem is to use temperature ‘anomalies’ instead, relative to some fixed normal monthly period (baseline). I always use the same baseline as CRU 1961-1990. Global warming is then measured by the change in such global average temperature anomalies. The implicit assumption of this is that nearby weather station and/or ocean measurements warm or cool coherently, such that the changes in temperature relative to the baseline can all be spatially averaged together. The usual example of this is that two nearby stations with different altitudes will have different temperatures but produce the similar ‘anomalies’. A similar procedure is used on the model results to produce temperature anomalies. So how do they compare to the data?

Fig 4. Model comparisons to data 1950-2050

Figure 4 shows a close up detail from 1950-2050. This shows how there is a large spread in model trends even within each RCP ensemble. The data falls below the bulk of model runs after 2005 except briefly during the recent el Nino peak in 2016.  Figure 4. shows that the data are now lower than the mean of every RCP, furthermore we won’t be able to distinguish between RCPs until after ~2030.

Zeke Hausfather’s Tricks to Make the Models Look Good

Clive’s second post is Zeke’s Wonder Plot January 25,2019. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Zeke Hausfather who works for Carbon Brief and Berkeley Earth has produced a plot which shows almost perfect agreement between CMIP5 model projections and global temperature data. This is based on RCP4.5 models and a baseline of 1981-2010. First here is his original plot.

I have reproduced his plot and  essentially agree that it is correct. However, I also found some interesting quirks.

The apples to apples comparison (model SSTs blended with model land 2m temperatures) reduces the model mean by about 0.06C. Zeke has also smoothed out the temperature data by using a 12 month running average. This has the effect of exaggerating peak values as compared to using the annual averages.

Effect of changing normalisation period. Cowtan & Way uses kriging to interpolate Hadcrut4.6 coverage into the Arctic and elsewhere.

Shown above is the result for a normalisation from 1961-1990. Firstly look how the lowest 2 model projections now drop further down while the data seemingly now lies below both the blended (thick black) and the original CMIP average (thin black). HadCRUT4 2016 is now below the blended value.

This improved model agreement has nothing to do with the data itself but instead is due to a reduction in warming predicted by the models. So what exactly is meant by ‘blending’?

Measurements of global average temperature anomalies use weather stations on land and sea surface temperatures (SST) over oceans. The land measurements are “surface air temperatures”(SAT) defined as the temperature 2m above ground level. The CMIP5 simulations however used SAT everywhere. The blended model projections use simulated SAT over land and TOS (temperature at surface) over oceans. This reduces all model predictions slightly, thereby marginally improving agreement with data. See also Climate-lab-book

The detailed blending calculations were done by Kevin Cowtan using a land mask and ice mask to define where TOS and SAT should be used in forming the global average. I downloaded his python scripts and checked all the algorithm, and they look good to me. His results are based on the RCP8.5 ensemble

The solid blue curve is the CMIP5 RCP4.6 ensemble average after blending. The dashed curve is the original. Click to expand.

Again the models mostly lie above the data after 1999.

This post is intended to demonstrate just how careful you must be when interpreting plots that seemingly demonstrate either full agreement of climate models with data, or else total disagreement.

In summary, Zeke Hausfather writing for Carbon Brief 1) used a clever choice of baseline, 2) of RCP for blended models and 3) by using a 12 month running average, was able to show an almost perfect agreement between data and models. His plot is 100% correct. However exactly the same data plotted with a different baseline and using annual values (exactly like those in the models), instead of 12 monthly running averages shows instead that the models are still lying consistently above the data. I know which one I think best represents reality.

Moral to the Story:
There are lots of ways to make computer models look good.Try not to be distracted.

U.S. Elites $$$ Funding Overthrow of Canadian Government Policy (by force and violence)

A current example of disrupting lawful development activity in Canada is the illegal protests against the LNG pipeline in BC.  Amy Judd writes at Global News RCMP arrest 14 at anti-pipeline protest in northern B.C.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The RCMP say it has arrested 14 people Monday evening for allegedly violating the conditions of an interim court injunction requiring the removal of a blockade to a forest service road in northern British Columbia that is preventing access to a pipeline project.

The interim injunction issued by the B.C. Supreme Court in mid-December orders anyone who interferes with the Coastal GasLink project in and around the Morice River Bridge to remove any obstructions.

In statements issued today, the RCMP say they arrived on scene around 11 a.m. By 3 p.m., they entered the blockade, after a meeting with a number of hereditary elders and CGL failed to resolve the issue without police involvement.

By 6:45 p.m., they had made a number of arrests from the blockade set up by Gitdumt’en on Morice West Forest Service Road. RCMP also say they observed a number of fires being lit along the roadway by ‘unknown persons’, with large trees felled across the roadway.

Click on link below to watch video report.,ctvgmnewsglobalsuite&cid=%5B%7B%22contentId%22%3A1581681%2C%22ad%22%3A%7B%22adsite%22%3A%22ctv.ctvnews%22%2C%22adzone%22%3A%22embed%22%7D%7D%2C%7B%22contentId%22%3A1581852%2C%22ad%22%3A%7B%22adsite%22%3A%22ctv.ctvnews%22%2C%22adzone%22%3A%22embed%22%7D%7D%2C%7B%22contentId%22%3A1581754%2C%22ad%22%3A%7B%22adsite%22%3A%22ctv.ctvnews%22%2C%22adzone%22%3A%22embed%22%7D%7D%2C%7B%22contentId%22%3A1581731%2C%22ad%22%3A%7B%22adsite%22%3A%22ctv.ctvnews%22%2C%22adzone%22%3A%22embed%22%7D%7D%2C%7B%22contentId%22%3A1581603%2C%22ad%22%3A%7B%22adsite%22%3A%22ctv.ctvnews%22%2C%22adzone%22%3A%22embed%22%7D%7D%2C%7B%22contentId%22%3A1580971%2C%22ad%22%3A%7B%22adsite%22%3A%22ctv.ctvnews%22%2C%22adzone%22%3A%22embed%22%7D%7D%2C%7B%22contentId%22%3A1580906%2C%22ad%22%3A%7B%22adsite%22%3A%22ctv.ctvnews%22%2C%22adzone%22%3A%22embed%22%7D%7D%2C%7B%22contentId%22%3A1580884%2C%22ad%22%3A%7B%22adsite%22%3A%22ctv.ctvnews%22%2C%22adzone%22%3A%22embed%22%7D%7D%2C%7B%22contentId%22%3A1580579%2C%22ad%22%3A%7B%22adsite%22%3A%22ctv.ctvnews%22%2C%22adzone%22%3A%22embed%22%7D%7D%5D

In their statement, the RCMP dispute reports that they jammed communications in the area in order to prevent the media and public from communicating the unfolding situation to the outside world. They say the area is extremely remote, and even police had limited access to communication, other than their radios.

They also say reports that the Canadian Military were present are erroneous, saying they have deployed Tactical and Emergency Response Teams as part of their ‘measured and scalable approach to enforcing the court ordered injunction’.

RCMP say they set up a ‘temporary exclusion zone’, where the police do not allow access to anyone – media or otherwise – who is not part of the enforcement team.

The dispute centres around the GasLink pipeline project, which is intended to convey natural gas from fracking projects in the Peace Region to the future $40-billion LNG Canada plant in Kitimat.

The pipeline route travels through Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory, and the nation’s elected leaders signed a benefits agreement with the province for Coastal GasLink in 2014.

However, some Wet’suwet’en oppose the development and have established a years-long camp, known as Unist’ot’en, blockading the Morice River Bridge.

In December, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled in favour of Coastal GasLink, granting an injunction against demonstrators occupying the area around the bridge.

The order has since been expanded to include the Morice West Forest Service Road, where other Wet’suwet’en demonstrators have set up a second checkpoint known as the Gitdumt’en access point.

The protesters assert that the project is infringing Aboriginal title, citing the 1997 Delgamuukw Supreme Court of Canada ruling. The court found that the Wet’suwet’en had not given up title to 22,000 square km of territory, and demonstrators say those rights are represented by their hereditary chiefs.

RCMP say their first priority is safety but protesters say they are worried about what they call an “invasion.”

“It’s important for the government because they want the tax money coming in,” said Jeffery Brown, Chief Madeek, Head Chief of the Gidumt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

“[It’s] important to get [the pipeline] through but even to get it through, there’s a moratorium on the coast to get that lifted and I’m sure they’re gonna try and do that, too.”

The RCMP issued a media release Sunday morning affirming its role in enforcing the injunction, and stating that police have been in dialogue with the camp in recent months about possible enforcement.

“We would like to emphasize that the RCMP respects the Wet’suwet’en culture, the connection to the land and traditions being taught and passed on at the camp, and the importance of the camp to healing,” states the release.

“Should enforcement take place, the RCMP will be prepared to ensure the safety of everyone involved — demonstrators, police officers, area residents, motorists, media and general public.”

The Wet’suwet’en are seeing support from across Canada and a number of events are being planned by groups standing in solidarity with them. Those events start Tuesday in Victoria and Vancouver.

Coastal GasLink says it consulted with hereditary chiefs for more than five years and secured 20 project agreements with elected First Nations councils all along the pipeline route.

“We understand that there are those that share different opinions so we want to continue to work with those individuals to find solutions,” Jacquelynn Benson of Coast GasLink said.

The company says seeking an injunction was a last resort.

Pipeline Protests Fueled by $$$ from Alarmist US Billionaires

From CBC News January 22, 2019  Debate grows over impact of American funding being directed towards Canadian environmental campaign.  Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.

Alberta at Noon host Judy Aldous spoke to researcher and blogger Vivian Krause, as well as award-winning Calgary author Chris Turner, Monday about the degree to which U.S. dollars are shaping the conversation we’re now having in Canada about building pipelines.

Krause has estimated that various U.S. funders have contributed in the neighbourhood of $40-million in recent years to hundreds of Canadian environmental and Indigenous groups. The goal is to help them spread a message about the need to land-lock Alberta crude through protests against the construction of new pipelines.

Krause believes those American dollars are financing a message that has turned the conversation around, adding topics like pipeline development have become toxic.

“The campaign has been devastating,” Krause said.

“I think the campaign is the reason why Northern Gateway was cancelled: Energy East, Keystone, Trans Mountain.

“And this is the same organization, same strategy, same funders that stopped the Mackenzie [Valley] gas pipeline. I think the coastal gas pipeline is also in serious trouble.

“I have no hope for any pipeline [being approved for development] until this campaign is brought to an end,” she said.

Turner, meanwhile, said that foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Hewlett Foundation, and the U.S. environmental group the Tides Foundation have far less of ability to manipulate the environmental agenda in Canada than Krause suggests.

He didn’t disagree with the numbers but disputed Krause’s interpretation of them.

Krause said she isn’t opposed to the principle of funding environmental groups from outside the country. However, she said she feels there has been a disproportionate focus on the oilsands by American environmental activists, particularly considering the U.S. is now one of the top oil producers on the planet.

She also suggested that by turning up the heat on Canadian energy development, those same activists are enabling — or perhaps are motivated by — a desire to open up markets for American oil producers.

“But here’s the thing,” she added. “Guess whose oil is getting to market and is getting the highest prices? It’s not Canadian oil or gas. It’s American oil and gas.”

She asked why environmentalist don’t instead focus on “landlocking the development of American oil and gas.”


Hey PM Trudeau, how about a wall to protect Canadians from US billionaires funding the overthrow of our governments’ policies?  Hungary took the initiative to block socialist George Soros from subversive political activity in his homeland.  What are we waiting for?  Can we be a nation without controlling our borders?