Fact and fiction and climate change


New wind farm off Shanghai

See also Chinese facility to produce 1GW a year of thin-film solar cells.

A rather good novel by Liz Jensen takes as its starting point a not too distant future where the famous 4C+ warming has arrived.

The Rapture, published by Bloomsbury in June 2009, and in paperback in January 2010, is an electrifying psychological thriller that explores the dark extremes of mankind’s self-destruction in a world on the brink.

In a merciless summer of biblical heat and destructive winds, Gabrielle Fox’s main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her career as a psychologist after a shattering car accident. But when she is assigned Bethany Krall, one of the most dangerous teenagers in the country, she begins to fear she has made a terrible mistake.

Raised on a diet of evangelistic hellfire, Bethany is violent, delusional, cruelly intuitive and insistent that she can foresee natural disasters – a claim which Gabrielle interprets as a symptom of doomsday delusion. But when catastrophes begin to occur on the very dates Bethany has predicted, and a brilliant, gentle physicist enters the equation, the apocalyptic puzzle intensifies and the stakes multiply. Is the self-proclaimed Nostradamus of the psych ward the ultimate manipulator, or could she be the harbinger of imminent global cataclysm on a scale never seen before? And what can love mean in ‘interesting times’? 

Of the novel she writes:

…science fascinates me, and thanks to some excellent books on the environment, and to Dr Daniela Schmidt of the Department of Earth Sciences at Bristol University, I had some first-class brains to pick when it came to the research. Dr Schmidt is an expert on a geological catastrophe that ravaged the planet 55 million years ago: this event was the inspiration for the disaster in The Rapture.

The novel turned out to be one of the hardest books I’ve ever written. I spent a year working on a very different first draft – to give you an idea, it spanned four centuries – but then I decided it wasn’t working, scrapped it, and started all over again. Finally after two more years, and many more major revisions, I completed it. The novel does not have a happy ending. I make no apology for that. But there are survivors, and where there are survivors, there is hope.  The writing of this book has brought me closer an understanding of where I think we are headed, and what new priorities may emerge as a result. I think we are living in the most ‘interesting times’ mankind has seen, and as a result we’re going to see more of the ecologically-themed fiction that some of our best writers, like Ballard, have been publishing for years. If The Rapture becomes part of a creative movement that raises awareness, then I’ll feel I’ve achieved something that goes beyond fiction. And I’ll be proud.  But The Rapture is above all a story, whose mission is to entertain.  If nothing else, I hope it does that.

She admits that the scenario she paints would not be likely to happen so quickly. It concerns ruthless energy corporations rushing hell-bent into tapping hitherto untapped sources of methane deep in the ocean, but even today the BP episode off the Louisiana coast is eerily similar if rather less dramatic than what happens in the novel. We should certainly question why we are now endeavouring to exploit more and more costly and dangerous sources of fossil fuels when the trick probably should be to explore alternative energy sources, though, as the picture heading this post suggests, that too is happening.

As a thriller I rate it smiley-happy005 smiley-happy005smiley-happy005smiley-happy005.

However, check out geologist Dr Iain Stewart:

Now another book, not fiction: James Hansen’s new book, Storms of My Grandchildren. smiley-happy005smiley-happy005smiley-happy005smiley-happy005smiley-happy005

100122_BOOKS_hansenTN The publishers should be shot, however, for their over-the-top cover – such sensationalism does not help and belies the tone of the book. The title refers to Hansen’s actual grandchildren who will quite likely be alive in 2100.

Hansen is famous for many things, including regarding the coal industry as the major villain. We should not lose sight however of the fact that the fossil fuel industry gives us rather more than hitherto cheap energy. See oil by-products and coal by-products. We would greatly miss many of the items listed there if we were simplistic in our prosecution of the fossil fuel industries.

He famously is pleased that Copenhagen failed, as he sees the cap and trade system as green-washing and no solution. He may well have a point there. He is however in favour of a carbon tax.

Finally he is a firm advocate of new generation nuclear energy which he foresees as reaching a point of sophistication where the nuclear waste involved will become negligible. He may well have a point here too. He regrets that environmentalists stymied the development of such technology over the past several decades.

For more see Hansen’s talk in Australia “Looking for real solutions after Copenhagen.”

James Hansen is known as the ‘grandfather of climate change’ and is perhaps the world’s leading authority on the science of climate change. He is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and has for the last 30 years focused on climate research, publishing more than 100 scholarly articles on the topic.

In this Sydney lecture he delves into the latest climate science, addresses the gap between the certainty of the science and the rise of climate changes scepticism, and also discusses the pros and cons of the world’s energy options, from nuclear to the (to his mind unlikely) viability of clean coal, as well as the various options for the necessary emissions reduction.

Presented by Sydney Ideas and the United States Studies Centre, March 2010

On the book read Ignore James Hansen’s climate predictions at your peril.

…The global-warming deniers have claimed for years that the overwhelming scientific consensus on this issue exists only because climate scientists are rewarded for making "alarmist" or "hysterical" claims. Hansen’s story shows this is the opposite of the truth. The pressure is, in reality, to make scientists play down their claims. Think of it as the real Climategate.

What are the politicians trying to hide when they try to silence Hansen? He explains—drawing on deep pools of scientific evidence—that the burning of oil and coal is emitting so many warming gases into the atmosphere that we are now very close to triggering a series of catastrophes we won’t be able to stop. The most striking to me, as I looked out over one of the world’s greatest ice sheets, is the danger of their disintegration—triggering a massive sea level rise. It used to be agreed that it would take millennia for ice sheets to go, but the evidence now shows this is wrong…

What must it be like to be a scientist who is exploring this every day and to walk out into an indifferent world? Hansen has worked hard at making himself a better communicator. He describes how he fought to overcome his shyness and the temptation to fall back on a technical scientific vocabulary in front of general audiences. He has channeled his anger in the best possible way—to make himself better able to warn us.

He did his job. So won’t the government do its job? These warnings aren’t coming from a crank, or a few random scientists. Virtually all scientists who study the climate regard Hansen as a hero. Why would government officials refuse to listen to such urgent threats to the U.S. homeland? Hansen’s explanation is simple: "Special interests have been able to subvert our democratic system," he says. If you want to run for office in the United States, you need to raise money—and the fossil-fuel industry is waiting with an open check book. Republicans and Democrats alike inhale the polluters’ cash, and as a result, we get only legislation that "coal companies and utilities are willing to allow." If we made the leap to a world powered by the wind, the waves, and the sun, they would hemorrhage profits, so it is not allowed. We are all being held hostage to the profit margins of a few polluters and their "lobbyists in alligator shoes."

The American political system as it currently works can provide only shams like the Waxman-Markey Bill, which Hansen exposes as an Enron-style con. It is so full of loopholes and lobbyist-authored treats for the polluters that it will achieve almost nothing. So what’s the way out? …

You will find more about Hansen in the comment thread on my post Monckton — the follow-up.


Since this is the last post for a while on climate change I am adding some more resources.

1. Slow TV has some excellent videos, lectures mostly by acknowledged authorities.

2. In particular see Australian Nobel Prize laureate Peter Doherty on the nature of climate science as seen from an experimental research scientist’s perspective. He corrects much spin and tripe about the IPCC reports. See also Prof Peter Doherty’s book launch speech for ‘The Clean Industrial Revolution’.

3. Speaking of IPCC here is Australia’s David Karoly, who also appears on Slow TV.

23 thoughts on “Fact and fiction and climate change

  1. I can sum it up for you in almost as short a sentence as your headline, “Fact and fiction and climate change”!

    Fact: The climate changes
    Fiction: Man can control the climate


  2. Fact: the human contribution to global warming is now beyond serious dispute.

    Fact: that human contribution is critical to upsetting the normal climate change process.

    Fact: through innovation, technology and intelligent climate policy humans can mitigate and adapt to the changes to which they have contributed and are still contributing.

    Fiction: current and ongoing climate change is entirely natural and irreversible.

    Fiction or at best overstatement: humanity is trying to control the climate.

    Fact: inaction is the worst of all choices.

  3. Yours is too long, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

    Fact: the human contribution to global warming is now beyond serious dispute.
    I completely agree!

    Fact: inaction is the worst of all choices.
    Ok then, let’s set off 1,500 nuclear bombs and re-introduce small pox across the planet to combat global warming. Hey, at least it’s not inaction! Progressives/socialists often think that inaction is the worst thing possible. Hopefully now you can see that it’s not.

    I’m intrigued by your belief that man is NOT trying to control the climate. If you get bored, I’d love to hear your reasoning on that subject. It seems pretty clear to me that this is exactly what the Church of Climatology wishes to do.

  4. There’s a logical fallacy called reductio ad absurdum. You have just committed it by suggesting action no sane person has proposed.

    That mitigation by intelligent action is within human capability is to credit the human race with at least some measure of ingenuity, if the denialists give us a chance. Watch the Peter Doherty lecture for a clear distinction between proper scientific scepticism and denial in the cases of HIV/AIDS (where denialism cost South Africa dearly), infant vaccination — and climate change.

    Then there’s the tired old analogy between a “church” and “climate science”…

    You can do better, Kevin. I am amazed you turn out to be an anti-science scientist in the area of climate change. Seriously, though, I am very grateful to you for forcing me to examine this topic far more deeply than I would otherwise have done.

  5. I find it hard to believe that you would give my ‘nuke the world and then shove in some deadly virus’ plan a roman name that includes the word ‘absurd’. Sure, it PROBABLY won’t lower Earth’s temps, but you never know. In any case, it’ll go a lot farther than the ideas of the people flying around the globe telling you to not fly around the globe will do.

    I know that you meant it condescendingly, but I’m very glad I’ve caused you to think, Neil. None of us do enough of that. Perhaps you’ll give more thought to WHY I suggest that AGW is a religion, not a science. What’s the difference between those two things, anyway? I think you know, one’s provable, and one’s not. Where does AGW fall? I’ll give you a hint: Dominus Ominus.

    • Quick note: I wasn’t being especially condescending. It’s a fact I wouldn’t have followed this up so much without your provocation.

  6. Peter Doherty goes into the “one’s provable, and one’s not” idea. See what he has to say, coming as he does from an area of science where experiment is the standard procedure. He explains the rather special nature of climate science and concludes its procedures for validation, while inevitably not those that would apply in his own field, still deserve respect and satisfy him. The conditions under which climate science must work are different from the science we have practised in the past, he notes, and he goes on to elaborate how science has changed radically in the last couple of decades. I think he is very clear on this and as a Nobel prize winner for his experimental microbiology and immunology he can hardly be faulted on his understanding of the scientific method. He is adamant that the findings of climate science belong in the realm of science, not religion. He clearly knows the difference:

    Everything we know in biology agrees with Darwin’s theory of evolution in a broad sense, and the theory is tested probably 1000 times a day in various laboratories without anyone going out to test it. They (the American-funded movement to foist intelligent design teaching onto science teachers in Australia) really want a science teacher who may well be atheistic anyway, introducing the concept of God into science. It’s a ridiculous idea and has no place in science teaching.

  7. But evolution has kind of been proven (not scientifically, of course) and man caused climate change has not. To equate the two theories is like equating apples to orange colored softballs with chocolate goo in them. Also, the orange balls have sand all over them. And maybe a few LED lights on them that blink really fast. And make the apple rotten. Yeah, it’s like comparing those two things I’ve just described. Rotten apples to weird orange things.

    If what you say about Mr. Doherty is true, that he is satisfied with the idea that AGW is proven, then I can only say that he’s not a very good scientist. There is very little proven about the whole theory, other than air containing extra CO2 can hold more heat.

    But worship at whatever altar you wish. It no longer affects me, assuming you’re not worshiping at the bloody altar of islam.

    Me? I’m off to the kitchen to design an orange sphere that tastes like chocolate and is covered in blinking lights (the ‘sand’ will be toasted coconut). What a great idea. A dessert that has blinking lights in it. If I perfect it, I’m sending the first batch to Sydney in the Surrey Hills district!

  8. That orange thing sounds good.

    On the other hand it seems a bit odd to say someone with a Nobel prize in his area of science is not a good scientist. I mean, how high a level of proof do you need?

  9. Yeah, arafat wasn’t particularly good at peace, but he got a Nobel prize for it. I’m not telling you how to live your life, but I think you put a bit too much faith in honors. They’re not the same as ‘smarts’.

    The orange thing was a failure :(. I couldn’t figure out how to make them orange. But we did end up with some golfball sized hunks of chocolate covered in toasted coconut. It’s a VERY good combination. Someone should make a candy bar out of it.

  10. Doherty’s profile may indeed mean more than the Nobel Prize, though I would suggest Nobels in the sciences are rather less contentious than the Peace Prize.

    His bppk A light history of hot air I haven’t read but it sounds good. Nice title too.

    [ The University of Melbourne Voice Vol. 1, No. 18 12 – 26 November 2007 ]

    Climate change presents a real danger but there are a lot of good ideas with which science can help us deal with global warming.

    Professor Peter Doherty, Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, recently published his second non-fiction book designed to amuse and educate lay readers. In A light history of hot air (Melbourne University Publishing) Professor Doherty signals a warning about the need for action on climate change. He speaks here to University of Melbourne Voice acting Literary and Arts Editor Amanda Tattam.

    Q What inspired you to write a book like this?

    A The topic of ‘hot air’ opens all sorts of possibilities for being totally irresponsible and having a lot of fun. There’s hot air balloons, political hot air and steam trains and ships and soaring eagles. The topic has allowed me a lot of latitude.

    Seriously, my work in influenza means that I’m travelling more in Asia. I am appalled at the air pollution in a lot of countries like China, India and Bangkok. They are beautiful scenic places and you can barely see because of the poor air quality.

    Q Are you trying to influence people’s thinking about climate change?

    A It is my own exploration about climate change. I’m trying to get people to think about evidence-based reality and not be seduced by fantasy. It’s part of all our lives (fantasy) but it’s important with some issues that we deal with the reality.

    A constant theme in the book is burning – of coal, oil, rushes, candles – which have really transformed our lives, but now there is a price to pay and we need to do something about it.

    Q Are there any good ideas in science that you believe could solve intractable problems, but are being ignored by politicians?

    A There are a whole lot of good ideas out there to try to deal with global warming. The journal Science had an issue earlier this year that explored 10 or so totally different technologies that are involved in producing clean energy or cleaning up carbon dioxide from coal-fired plants.

    What makes me sad is that we have been missing the boat in Australia and putting more emphasis on fossil fuels than on renewables where we have enormous potential. Until very recently, our Federal Government has made every wrong decision. I don’t know if I believe Howard is a reformed climate changer.

    Q You write about the positive influence of some teachers on your early school years. What can be done to improve science literacy in adults and children?

    A Good teachers are enormously important and they need to have a curriculum where they can actually teach properly. We see kids coming through who are passionate about chemistry and science, but they have to get the good marks to get there.

    One thing that really upsets me is pouring money into private schools and starving public schools of funds, because some of our best scientists come from public schools. It has always been the case that a lot of the people who do well in science come from poorer families.

    Science is totally meritocratic. The population is not resistant to learning more about science – but you have to engage people – they are interested in invention and originality and things that improve their lives. Women read medical stories. People will read things they are interested in. Stuff that is animated – videos and so forth – can explain science very well.

    Q You say in the book “We are consuming the future and it’s up to us to develop and use renewable resources”. Which renewable resources?

    A Solar, wind and deep geothermal. There are all sorts of other possibilities. Generating hydrogen from algae. There is some carbon capture sequestration work which involves producing hydrogen from coal. There is also discussion of using algae to capture carbon.

    It is probably inevitable that there is more nuclear power in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m not totally convinced we need it in Australia. Germany has rejected nuclear power and gone for solar and Spain is putting a lot of effort into solar. Denmark has chosen wind power.

    Q What is the significance of hot air?

    A Everything is about hot air. Political and in the atmosphere. We are in real danger. The recent CSIRO report suggests that temperatures could rise as much as five degrees by 2070. The ice is melting much more quickly than anyone expected. The Himalayas are melting very fast. We are now talking about the Arctic being ice-free by 2030.

    Q What does the University of Melbourne give you as a senior researcher?

    A It’s collegiate. People work extremely well together. I like city universities that are tight and crowded on a small campus. Melbourne is clearly Australia’s best medical research city, with some strong institutions.

    The University is going in a good direction by creating a more general undergraduate degree. The Melbourne Model is an excellent model. The liberal arts and humanities have to be the core of any university. We tend to divide ourselves into a literary culture and a science culture and I think that division is kind of silly.

  11. I get it. You dig him. But surely you can see a problem here. The article you quote starts with “Climate change presents a real danger but there are a lot of good ideas with which science can help us deal with global warming.”

    Well, no, it doesn’t present a real danger. How can you expect a non-believer in your religion to take anything following that statement seriously?

    The interview is conjecture. Who cares what the guy thinks? It’s not scientific, it’s not mathematical (in this case that means probabilistic) and it has nothing to do with historic evidence. Why do you trust him? He’s given no evidence of scientific skill, at least in the interview you’ve quoted. Is it because a dozen Scandinavians gave him a prize?

  12. Kevin, that you still reject the vast majority of those who work in the filed — actual climatologists — is your faith. They are wrong or suborned by cash. So simple. That other scientists of great eminence have looked at the work of the climate scientists and find it passes muster is persuasive to me, and in the case of Doherty the Nobel Prize is simply a recognition of the contribution he has made, as a strictly experimental scientist with no mathematical problems I am aware of. That people like him listen to climate scientists matters far more than that I do. He is well aware of the relevant critical issues in methodology and validating findings. If you bother to listen to the lecture I have linked too earlier he will explain very clearly exactly what the issue is with climate science and why its validity may not appear to some to be demonstrable in all the traditional ways, but may nonetheless be taken as at least so reliable as to be ignored at our peril.

    Do you endorse, by the way, this bit of corporate idiocy? Even I can see that argument is bogus. No-one denies CO2 is a greenhouse gas, surely; if it wasn’t we couldn’t live on this planet. The issue is how much is too much, especially when taken with other greenhouse gases we are also adding at rates well beyond what might be expected from natural sources. I regard the arguments for this to me very reasonable and not in the slightest degree fantasies. I also regard it as obvious that the sooner we find ways to reduce the extra-ordinary amounts of these gases coming from human activity past and present the less likely is a catastrophic warming event in the lifetimes of your grandchildren.

    It is within our capability to modify our behaviour and find better technologies and processes, particularly in the energy sector. China, for all its sins, is now way ahead of both our countries in this respect, despite pulls the other way due to the sheer size of China and the speed with which it is growing. I may refer to that in another post.

  13. Suborned is a new word for me. Thanks for making me look it up! I love new words. Here’s possibly a new one for you: dromophobia – the fear of crossing streets.

    Anyway, I think you are not understanding. There is no doubt at all that climatologists receive $BILLIONS to say that we are all going to die from AGW. It’s not even debatable. Governments really want us to believe in AGW so they can get away with increasing tax revenue. That’s why politicians are willing to pay so much for this faulty data we keep seeing about global warming. While it’s true that a few $million are going into actual research, which inevitably ends in a paper stating that AGW is a myth and that the sun is to blame for pretty much every temp change, the truth has a hard time coming out against the $BILLIONS given to money grubbing climatologists.

    “Kevin, that you still reject the vast majority of those who work in the filed — actual climatologists — is your faith.”

    Fairly true. (side note: should I [sic] you when you make what is obviously typo? I’ve never understood the rules on that. Back to the story.) I don’t truly know that CO2 is irrelevant to the climate any more than a True Believer in the cult of Man-Made Global Warming knows that it is. I would argue that science is on the side of the non-believer, but we’re decades away from proving that.

    “Do you endorse, by the way, this bit of corporate idiocy?”

    No. While increased CO2 does indeed cause an increase in green or biomass (as any scientist worth his salt will admit), as a rule I don’t enter into religious discussions, unless they involve the murderous religion known as islam. Religions other than the belief in islam and the belief in AGW don’t affect me, so I’m fine with letting them be.

    “It is within our capability to modify our behaviour and find better technologies and processes, particularly in the energy sector. China, for all its sins, is now way ahead of both our countries in this respect…”

    Yeah, they now consume more fossil fuels than any other nation. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see a cheaper alternative to fossil fuels. There just isn’t one. China seems to know that too.

  14. It is also well known that the anti-AGW lobby is funded by very rich carbon and energy interests and the item I linked to is one of their more crude efforts. In fact it is likely that lobby has more dollars at its disposal than genuine climate scientists can access.

    It is also well known that the case for anti-AGW is pseudo-scientific. It is really political. economic and ideological. Even, dare I say, as “religious” — impervious that is to any argument against the faith — if not more religious than its opposite number.

    Who can you really cite on your side other than zany English aristocrats, Scandinavians with no qualifications in climate science, superannuated geologists — or at least one (Plimer) whose book is severely tendentious though in many respects useful — and retired TV weather men? Oh yes, great scientists like our Aussie court jester, Tim Blair, who no-one in their right mind would regard as anything more than a public gadfly, along with the equally unscientific Andrew Bolt.

    On the other hand I guess Stephen Hawking could be called a scientist.

    It is a scientific fact that increased CO2 — beyond that which may be kept in balance by natural processes — has rather more effects than increasing biomass.

    And read this to see yet another article of the anti-AGW delusion challenged.

  15. Bah. The list of skeptics grows daily. The list of believers shrinks daily. It’s too late. The UN will not make money off of the people by using climate fear. Neither will most governments (except NZ of course). You took too long to act, thank God. And by that, I mean ‘thank the God of non-man-made global warming’ 🙂

    “Aussie court jester, Tim Blair”? Them’s fightin’ words.

  16. That’s all he is. That’s what he’s paid to do.

    Future generations, including your own grandchildren, will curse this generation for not acting.

  17. Future generations, including your own grandchildren, will curse this generation for not acting.

    Heh. How many times have we heard those toothless words throughout history from sycophants? It always turns out to be false. Such is the nature of sycophants though.

    Get over it. To put it religiously for the AGW believers such as yourself, your great God Gaia is ruled by a more important God named Sol. He can’t be controlled. His decisions are final.

    Let’s just rejoice in the fact that governments make no more money off of us from this AGW scam. I don’t know about your grandkids, but mine are not going to be whiny hippie children cursing their ancestors. I’ll be making sure of it.

  18. “AGW scam” — really AGW fact. Get used to it. I am merely following the world’s most eminent scientists, or the great majority of them, in saying that.

    AGW CAN be mitigated, but without action climate change is bound to take our grandchildren’s generation into conditions we would rather not — just because we were hidebound, stubborn, and allowed our way of doing business to carry on no matter what, as if, indeed, we could control the world. We refuse even small sacrifices based on good science and good economics, because we have made a religious faith of our current habits and prejudices.

    You are on the losing side here, Kevin, but the trouble is that the phonies who promote the scare campaigns against the known facts of AGW and its likely progression leave us all betrayed. Such a pity. We’ve known about greenhouse gases for over a century; we’ve had a pretty fair idea, since Maggie Thatcher raised the issue, what that meant and how humans have made a natural phenomenon, and a good phenomenon normally, into a major problem.

    Your faith is touching but foolish.

  19. Your faith, on the other hand, is foolish but not at all touching. It’s dangerous. I’m fairly close to the political pulse here in the states, so I know that the fear filled AGW worshipers will never gain traction. They can’t harm us much more than they already have.

    But your continued belief in the AGW scam makes me wonder – is Australia going to eventually fall from grace and put a tax on carbon? Other than a medium-sized investment in EPP, it wouldn’t affect me, but it would destroy you Aussies. I hope not. Pre-Rudd, you had one of the most fiscally responsible governments in the western world. Maybe you still do. It’d be sad do see you priced out of the markets by a silly belief.

    I still can’t believe you called the second greatest Australian alive a ‘court jester’. What does that say about the rest of you? Howard is the #1 greatest, in case you were wondering. I’m starting an offline petition that will try to get the phrase ‘God bless Australia’ replaced wherever it appears with ‘John Howard bless Australia’. So far I’m the only signatory :(.

  20. FWIW, I’m glad that you now realize that this is not a scientific issue. AGW simply cannot be disproven, since everything that ever happens – floods, droughts, high temps, low temps, wind, even earthquakes – is seen as evidence of global warming caused by mankind in the true believer’s mind. It’s closed-mindedly religious.

    I think that is what made AGW jump the shark. Normal people finally realized that these things happened long before the hippies started wailing about the travesty of AGW. They don’t buy it anymore, and for that, I’m glad.

    (You didn’t answer my [sic] question. I’d really like to know the answer from a guy who taught English.)

  21. The answer to your question is probably eventually, if not until after 2012, but then I believe in time everyone will.

    Repeat: AGW is a fact based on observations that converge to tell essentially the same story. Your faith distresses me because it reminds me of the HIV sceptics who, in this country, were seen and heard in the same magazines and think tanks as AGW deniers now tend to frequent, all reinforcing each other’s delusion. Fortunately we ignored those sceptics, or contrarians. (There never is anything very sceptical about HIV or AGW sceptics as far as I can see; they all sing from the same hymn sheet and repeat the same mantras.)

    Sadly, under Mbeke, South Africa took notice of the sceptics and the result was HIV out of control. Better late than never, SA has repudiated the sceptics.

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