Aletho News


Climate scientists’ pre-traumatic stress syndrome

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | July 8, 2019

It’s getting worse.

About 5 years ago, I wrote two blog posts on climate scientists’ pre-traumatic stress syndrome:

Mother Jones has a new article on the same topic It’s the end of the world as they know it: The distinct burden of being a climate scientist. The following scientists were interviewed: Kim Cobb, Priya Shukla, Peter Kalmus, Sarah Myhre, Jacquelyn Gill, Katharine Wilkinson, Eric Holthaus, David Grinspoon, Ken Caldeira.

Lots of ‘trauma,’ read the article to get a flavor. This sentence pretty much sums things up:

“There’s deep grief and anxiety for what’s being lost, followed by rage at continued political inaction, and finally hope that we can indeed solve this challenge. There are definitely tears and trembling voices.”

End of civilization?

The title of the article is: “It’s the end of the world as they know it.” Some selected quotes:

“I’m tired of processing this incredible and immense decline”

” . . . knows of a looming catastrophe but must struggle to function in a world that does not comprehend what is coming and, worse, largely ignores the warnings of those who do.”

“it’s deep grief—having eyes wide open to what is playing out in our world”

“I lose sleep over climate change almost every single night”

“Climate change is its own unique trauma. It has to do with human existence.”

“I have no child and I have one dog, and thank god he’ll be dead in 10 years.”

Soooo . . . have any of these scientists read the IPCC Reports?  I’m not seeing this level of ‘alarm’ anywhere in the IPCC Reports?  Where the heck does this ‘end of civilization’ stuff come from?

In a tweet about the article, Lucas Bergkamp asked:

“How can these scientists produce any reliable, objective data?”

Gotta wonder. Sarah Myhre states:

“I have anxiety exacerbated by the constant background of doom and gloom of science. It’s not stopping me from doing my work, but it’s an impediment.”

Apart from ‘impediments’, what about flat-out bias in research introduced by this extreme world view?


Not all climate scientists are similarly ‘afflicted.’ My previous blog post included statements from Suki Manabe and Gavin Schmidt, who were not afflicted in this way. The Mother Jones article includes statements from David Grinspoon, Ken Caldeira and Michael Mann, who also do not seem to be so ‘afflicted.’

“Caldeira offers a blunt comparison: “I had a girlfriend once who was a social worker who had to deal with abused children. She had to deal with real shit every day. Climate scientists have it easy.” And Kate Marvel, a climate scientist and science writer, went even further in a tweet in January: “In a world where people have to deal with racism, inequality, and resurgent fascism, the notion that climate science is uniquely depressing is… weird.”

In my earlier blog post, i discussed the concept of psychological hardiness, excerpts provided below:

<begin quote>

And also inform yourself about psychological hardiness (something I learned from days at U. Chicago and hanging out with grad students in Salvatore Maddi’s group). Excerpt from Wikipedia:

The coping style most commonly associated with hardiness is that of transformational coping, an optimistic style of coping that transforms stressful events into less stressful ones. At the cognitive level this involves setting the event into a broader perspective in which they do not seem so terrible after all. At the level of action, individuals high in hardiness are believed to react to stressful events by increasing their interaction with them, trying to turn them into an advantage and opportunity for growth, and in the process achieve some greater understanding.

The ‘pre-traumatic stress’ thing clicked a link in my mind to my old U. of Chicago pal Colonel Paul Bartone, a military psychologist and a member of the hardiness group. The following paper seems relevant: A Model for Soldier Psychological Adaptation in Peacekeeping Operations. I think these concepts are relevant for what is going on with Parmesan et al.  Seems like skeptics are more hardy?

The psychology of all this is probably pretty interesting, and worthy of more investigation.   But Jeff Kiehl is right – whining scientists aren’t going to help either the science or their ’cause.’

<end quote>

Mann seems peculiarly hardy in this sense: “But Mann, who has had to contend with death threats and campaigns to have him fired from Penn State, derives motivation from being in battle.”


This ‘affliction’ of climate scientists seems rather trendy in some sort of ‘woke’ sense. If you do not aspire to such trendiness, what might you do to overcome this affliction?

“Professionally coping with grief is part of the job training for doctors, caregivers, and those working in humanitarian or crisis situations. But for scientists?”

To figure out how these afflicted climate scientists can become more hardy, it is useful to speculate on the reasons for their ‘affliction.’

Ignorance may play an important role. Few of the scientists interviewed are experts on attribution. They seem to blame everything on manmade climate change, and are extrapolating future consequences that are much more dire and with higher confidence than than those from the IPCC. Clearly an issue for Greta, but one would hope that actual climate scientists would dig deeper and be more curious and objective.

JC antidote: Apart from blaming anything negative on manmade climate change, take a step back and assess how the planet and the human race are actually doing. Take a look at, or follow them on twitter @HumanProgress.  Global life expectancy is increasing, global poverty is way down, global agricultural productivity is way up, global child mortality is way down, the planet is greening, etc.  Heck, even the corals are doing really well, following the 2016 El Nino.

A lot of this affliction seems to be about ‘ego’:

“I had to face the fact that there was a veritable tidal wave of people who don’t care about climate change and who put personal interest above the body of scientific information that I had contributed to.”

“his anger was driven by the fact that his expertise—his foresight—was not broadly recognized.”

JC antidote: Try reading some literature on history, philosophy and sociology of science – you will become more humble as a scientist and less likely to believe your own hype. Read Richard Feynman. Hang out at Climate Etc.  Listen seriously to a serious skeptic.

Having your ego wrapped up in having your research influence policy (frustrated policy advocates),  keeping ‘score’ in a personal war against skeptics, seeking fame, generating book sales and lecture fees and political influence, etc. can all come into play in influencing how a scientist reacts to the ‘threats’ of climate change. Scientists might get ‘upset’ if they don’t think they are sufficiently successful at the above. This is something else — not pre-traumatic stress syndrome.

Roger Pielke Jr tweets:

“The whole phenomena of climate scientists identifying evil enemies who have obstructed revolution, transformation, restructuring is not reality-based, but a reflection of power fantasies & a complete lack of understanding of how political and societal change actually happens.”

JC antidote: focus more on being a scientist than being a politician.  You might know what you are doing as a scientist. You are very unlikely to be effective as a politician, and your political activism will contribute to the appearance of bias in your scientific research.

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Inconvenient Energy Realities

“The shale revolution collapsed the prices of natural gas & coal, the two fuels that produce 70% of U.S. electricity. But electric rates haven’t gone down, rising instead 20% since 2008. Direct and indirect subsidies for solar and wind consumed those savings.”

By Mark P. Mills | E21 | July 1, 2019

The math behind “The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking

A week doesn’t pass without a mayor, governor, policymaker or pundit joining the rush to demand, or predict, an energy future that is entirely based on wind/solar and batteries, freed from the “burden” of the hydrocarbons that have fueled societies for centuries. Regardless of one’s opinion about whether, or why, an energy “transformation” is called for, the physics and economics of energy combined with scale realities make it clear that there is no possibility of anything resembling a radically “new energy economy” in the foreseeable future. Bill Gates has said that when it comes to understanding energy realities “we need to bring math to the problem.”

He’s right. So, in my recent Manhattan Institute report, “The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking,” I did just that.

Herein, then, is a summary of some of bottom-line realities from the underlying math. (See the full report for explanations, documentation and citations.)

Realities About the Scale of Energy Demand

1. Hydrocarbons supply over 80% of world energy: If all that were in the form of oil, the barrels would line up from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, and that entire line would grow by the height of the Washington Monument every week.

2. The small two percentage-point decline in the hydrocarbon share of world energy use entailed over $2 trillion in cumulative global spending on alternatives over that period; solar and wind today supply less than 2% of the global energy.

3. When the world’s four billion poor people increase energy use to just one-third of Europe’s per capita level, global demand rises by an amount equal to twice America’s total consumption.

4. A 100x growth in the number of electric vehicles to 400 million on the roads by 2040 would displace 5% of global oil demand.

5. Renewable energy would have to expand 90-fold to replace global hydrocarbons in two decades. It took a half-century for global petroleum production to expand “only” 10-fold.

6. Replacing U.S. hydrocarbon-based electric generation over the next 30 years would require a construction program building out the grid at a rate 14-fold greater than any time in history.

7. Eliminating hydrocarbons to make U.S. electricity (impossible soon, infeasible for decades) would leave untouched 70% of U.S. hydrocarbons use—America uses 16% of world energy.

8. Efficiency increases energy demand by making products & services cheaper: since 1990, global energy efficiency improved 33%, the economy grew 80% and global energy use is up 40%.

9. Efficiency increases energy demand: Since 1995, aviation fuel use/passenger-mile is down 70%, air traffic rose more than 10-fold, and global aviation fuel use rose over 50%.

10. Efficiency increases energy demand: since 1995, energy used per byte is down about 10,000-fold, but global data traffic rose about a million-fold; global electricity used for computing soared.

11. Since 1995, total world energy use rose by 50%, an amount equal to adding two entire United States’ worth of demand.

12. For security and reliability, an average of two months of national demand for hydrocarbons are in storage at any time. Today, barely two hours of national electricity demand can be stored in all utility-scale batteries plus all batteries in one million electric cars in America.

13. Batteries produced annually by the Tesla Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory) can store three minutes worth of annual U.S. electric demand.

14. To make enough batteries to store two-day’s worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of production by the Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory).

15. Every $1 billion in aircraft produced leads to some $5 billion in aviation fuel consumed over two decades to operate them. Global spending on new jets is more than $50 billion a year—and rising.

16. Every $1 billion spent on datacenters leads to $7 billion in electricity consumed over two decades. Global spending on datatcenters is more than $100 billion a year—and rising.

Realities About Energy Economics

17. Over a 30-year period, $1 million worth of utility-scale solar or wind produces 40 million and 55 million kWh respectively: $1 million worth of shale well produces enough natural gas to generate 300 million kWh over 30 years.

18. It costs about the same to build one shale well or two wind turbines: the latter, combined, produces 0.7 barrels of oil (equivalent energy) per hour, the shale rig averages 10 barrels of oil per hour.

19. It costs less than $0.50 to store a barrel of oil, or its equivalent in natural gas, but it costs $200 to store the equivalent energy of a barrel of oil in batteries.

20. Cost models for wind and solar assume, respectively, 41% and 29% capacity factors (i.e., how often they produce electricity). Real-world data reveal as much as 10 percentage points less for both. That translates into $3 million less energy produced than assumed over a 20-year life of a 2-MW $3 million wind turbine.

21. In order to compensate for episodic wind/solar output, U.S. utilities are using oil- and gas-burning reciprocating engines (big cruise-ship-like diesels); three times as many have been added to the grid since 2000 as in the 50 years prior to that.

22. Wind-farm capacity factors have been improving at about 0.7% per year; this small gain comes mainly from reducing the number of turbines per acre leading to 50% increase in average land used to produce a wind-kilowatt-hour.

23. Over 90% of America’s electricity, and 99% of the power used in transportation, comes from sources that can easily supply energy to the economy any time the market demands it.

24. Wind and solar machines produce energy an average of 25%–30% of the time, and only when nature permits. Conventional power plants can operate nearly continuously and are available when needed.

25. The shale revolution collapsed the prices of natural gas & coal, the two fuels that produce 70% of U.S. electricity. But electric rates haven’t gone down, rising instead 20% since 2008. Direct and indirect subsidies for solar and wind consumed those savings.

Energy Physics… Inconvenient Realities

26. Politicians and pundits like to invoke “moonshot” language. But transforming the energy economy is not like putting a few people on the moon a few times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon—permanently.

27. The common cliché: an energy tech disruption will echo the digital tech disruption. But information-producing machines and energy-producing machines involve profoundly different physics; the cliché is sillier than comparing apples to bowling balls.

28. If solar power scaled like computer-tech, a single postage-stamp-size solar array would power the Empire State Building. That only happens in comic books.

29. If batteries scaled like digital tech, a battery the size of a book, costing three cents, could power a jetliner to Asia. That only happens in comic books.

30. If combustion engines scaled like computers, a car engine would shrink to the size of an ant and produce a thousand-fold more horsepower; actual ant-sized engines produce 100,000 times less power.

31. No digital-like 10x gains exist for solar tech. Physics limit for solar cells (the Shockley-Queisser limit) is a max conversion of about 33% of photons into electrons; commercial cells today are at 26%.

32. No digital-like 10x gains exist for wind tech. Physics limit for wind turbines (the Betz limit) is a max capture of 60% of energy in moving air; commercial turbines achieve 45%.

33. No digital-like 10x gains exist for batteries: maximum theoretical energy in a pound of oil is 1,500% greater than max theoretical energy in the best pound of battery chemicals.

34. About 60 pounds of batteries are needed to store the energy equivalent of one pound of hydrocarbons.

35. At least 100 pounds of materials are mined, moved and processed for every pound of battery fabricated.

36. Storing the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil, which weighs 300 pounds, requires 20,000 pounds of Tesla batteries ($200,000 worth).

37. Carrying the energy equivalent of the aviation fuel used by an aircraft flying to Asia would require $60 million worth of Tesla-type batteries weighing five times more than that aircraft.

38. It takes the energy-equivalent of 100 barrels of oil to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store the energy equivalent of a single barrel of oil.

39. A battery-centric grid and car world means mining gigatons more of the earth to access lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, rare earths, cobalt, etc.—and using millions of tons of oil and coal both in mining and to fabricate metals and concrete.

40. China dominates global battery production with its grid 70% coal-fueled: EVs using Chinese batteries will create more carbon-dioxide than saved by replacing oil-burning engines.

41. One would no more use helicopters for regular trans-Atlantic travel—doable with elaborately expensive logistics—than employ a nuclear reactor to power a train or photovoltaic systems to power a nation.

Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a McCormick School of Engineering Faculty Fellow at Northwestern University, and author of Work in the Age of Robots, published by Encounter Books.

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

Hack, Now Ex-Bellingcat, Gets Climategate Timezones Backwards

By Stephen McIntyre | Climate Audit | Jul 4, 2019

Bellingcat’s Iggy Ostanin, [update: who Eliot Higgins says is now ex-Bellingcat ]  recently claimed to have discovered that the nomenclature of Climategate-1 emails was based on Unix timestamps and that the nomenclature proved that Russians hacked CRU from timezone +05:00. Amidst much uninformed hyperventilating. Ostanin’s assertions were swiftly retweeted by Andy Revkin, Roger Harrabin, Ken Rice and many others. However, his claims are backwards – or perhaps, in true Mannian style, upside down.

The connection of CG email nomenclature to Unix timestamps was observed as early as Dec 7, 2009 (see WUWT commenter crosspatch here)m who similarly noticed discrepancies between nomenclature and email times, but concluded that they showed that hacker used a computer set to Eastern North American time (-05:00 Standard).

I pointed the error out on Twitter with technical analysis. I also linked Ostanin to the original WUWT comment making similar point.

Ostanin  responded by claiming that my (correct) replication of CG1 nomenclature was “needlessly complicated” and doubled down with his incorrect assertion that “time seen in hacked email headers is 5 hours behind – to the second – of the time in the decoded email file names”:

Ostanin challenged everyone “to try to see for themselves” – pointing to a internet utility:

After I re-iterated my technical criticism, Iggy stated that he wasn’t “sure if either of [me or Charles Wood] ever came across a Kremlin narrative they didn’t endorse”. Then, in true Mannian (and Eliot Higgins) style, Ostanin blocked me on Twitter.

While it’s a bit absurd to waste time on this trivia, Iggy’s falsehoods remain in circulation. He hasn’t conceded anything. Nor have Revkin, Harrabin, Rice or other re-tweeters conceded that Iggy’s analysis was nonsensical.

In my tweets, I observed that Iggy’s analysis was based on an email sent from GMT timezone and that the 5-hour difference between nomenclature and email time only held for emails from that time zone.  What any competent analyst (and we may safely exclude Iggy from that category) would have done is to compare email timestamp to nomenclature across multiple timezones and Daylight/Standard times. I’ve done so in the table below.

Nomenclature for GMT timezone emails in winter are 5 hours ahead, but only 4 hours ahead in summer. This should have caused Iggy to pause.  Nomenclature for emails sent from Eastern timezone exactly matched the email time – both in Standard (winter) and Daylight (summer) time. Nomenclature for emails sent from Mountain time (two hours behind Eastern) were – 2 hours in both winter and summer.

Ironically, the very first email in the Climategate dossier was sent from Iggy’s Ekaterinaburg (+05:00). But instead of the nomenclature exactly matching the email time, the nomenclature was 10 hours ahead.

In other words, Ostanin got everything pretty much backwards and upside down. It’s about as bad a bit of analysis as it is possible to imagine. And, instead of simply conceding that he’d made a mistake (which is easy enough to do), Ostanin got belligerent and shut his ears. Unfortunately, Ostanin’s falsehoods are now in circulation and, like Mann’s, will probably fester forever.

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Google Promising Real-Time Censorship

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | July 5, 2019

Google has changed their algorithm so that it actively suppresses “misinformation” when “bad events” are taking place. This is pretty big news if you’re interested in free speech or the free flow of information. Nobody in the media treated it that way.

In fact, you probably didn’t see it at all. Almost no papers covered it – and the major one that did, The Guardian, buried back in the “science and technology” section.

The idea that Google suppresses “misinformation”, and boosts “authoritative voices” is not new. We already know they do that. The new part is that they will do it in real-time, they will respond to “tragic events” by focusing more on blocking “misinformation” at “criticial times”.

Pandu Nayak, the Google representative interviewed for the article, summed it up thus:

…we have developed algorithms that recognise that a bad event is taking place and that we should increase our notions of ‘authority’, increase the weight of ‘authority’ in our ranking so that we surface high quality content rather than misinformation in this critical time here.”

He is directly referencing mass shootings in the Sandy Hook vein, but he could just as well be talking about terrorist attacks, natural disasters, election results or war.

When he says “high quality content” (sic) he means corporate media. When he says “authority”, he means government sources.

Essentially, Google – the most powerful company on Earth – is going to be tightening its control on the flow of information when important news is breaking.

This is a step backwards for the internet, and the world. And it’s a direct response to challenges to state-backed narratives in multiple theatres of information warfare.

Take the Gulf of Oman incident. Compare and contrast: The Gulf of Oman, the USS Maine and the Gulf of Tonkin. The similarities are obvious, I won’t bother explaining.

The difference? Real-time flow of facts. Social media allowed people to comment on the flaws in the narrative instantly. The internet lets people see/hear Iran’s side of the narrative quickly and easily.

That open communication is the difference between a propagandised populace baying for blood, and an informed public asking the right questions. The difference between “historical realisation” decades after the fact, and instantaneous fact-checking. The difference between war and peace.

The almost-war with Iran is just the most recent example. Going back years now “official narratives” have faced a heretofore unknown level of challenge. The sheer number of people calling BS on the Skripal affair and the Douma chemical attack prevented a stronger reaction to both those false flags.

The war in Syria didn’t happen. The war in Iraq did. People believed babies were thrown out of incubators, but never bought that Assad had gassed his own people. All because of the direct channel of communication between people who know the truth and the people who want the truth.

That’s the channel Google are trying to close. Google, and Facebook, and Twitter and everyone else.

And, of course, the press cheers them on. Demanding we have our rights taken away for the sake of freedom, and applauding when some massive corporate conglomeration places yet another restriction on the liberty of the individual.

The Guardian has always been at the forefront of that push, with their absurd “Web We Want” section (which died a swift death, fortunately).

This article uses all the usual tricks, dressing the issue up in emotionally manipulative language – citing mass shootings and holocaust denial as if free speech precludes being wrong or offensive (it doesn’t).

The specifics don’t matter. Examples don’t matter. All that matters are the precedent and the future applications.

This is about what all “safeguards” on the internet are about – controlling the narrative. The old idiom still applies:
Knowledge IS power.

Right now WE have it, and THEY want to take it back.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment