Saturday, December 03, 2005

Protests against climate change

Have you ever attended a protest against Newton's gravitational law? A protest against Maxwell's equations? Or a protest against another basic law of Nature? If you have not, you have a great opportunity. Today, the green activists organize worldwide protests against one of these natural laws, namely against the climate change.

The weather and the climate have always been changing at all timescales you can think of. Almost every day, the temperature is higher during the day than what it is at night. Within a couple of days, the average daily temperatures may change by as much as 10 or 20 degrees centigrade. At the annual scale, most people recognize the four seasons. There are 11-year solar sunspot cycles whose relevance for the climate is a matter of debates. Most likely, there are multicentury cycles between climate optimums and little ice ages. Quite certainly, there are multi-millenium Milankovitch cycles whose origin is astronomical in nature. The longest Milankovitch cycles we seem to observe last 100,000 years. If we look at even longer timescales, we will recognize new kinds of glacial periods and different geological eras. At the scale of tens of millions of years, the continental drift becomes essential for a correct analysis of each continent's climate. At the timescale of billions of years, the age of the Sun and the Earth starts to play an important role. I could continue. At the electroweak scale, a fraction of second after the Big Bang, the electroweak symmetry was spontaneously broken as the Universe cooled down below 250 GeV and so forth. ;-)

Many of these factors are very well understood. Many of them have a completely scientific explanation. Others seem rather chaotic, irregular, and unpredictable. I have omitted many other factors that are partially understood - for example volcanoes, asteroids, cosmic rays. There are quite certainly many other cycles and effects that we have not yet observed, identified, and quantified. Some of them will be very predictable. Some of them will look chaotic to us. Many of them will remain chaotic forever and we will always describe them as noise parameterized by a few parameters. At any rate, the lesson is clear. The denial that the climate is naturally changing is fully analogous to the denial that the Earth revolves around the Sun. In fact, the latter is a small subset of the former. Literally.

Freezing protesters against the global warming

But some people just don't want to listen. They're either convinced that the Earth orbitting the Sun is a piece of propaganda of the heretics and the Devil Himself; or they want to believe that the natural climate change is a piece of propaganda created by the evil capitalists. Even if you imagine that your humble correspondent's quantitative ideas about the strength of various effects mentioned above are inaccurate, it must be completely clear to every rational reader that most of the green activists are demonstrably unable to calculate and/or learn the results more accurately.

What drives them is a postmodern perverse kind of religion and political bigotry, not an actual observation or a scientific analysis. Prof. Stott describes the likely goal of their "campaign against the climate change" as follows:
  • The organisers of today's 'global warming' marches (see blog below) call themselves, most hubristically some unkind people might say, the 'Campaign Against Climate Change'. Oh me! Oh my! I await eager volunteers to cap volcanoes, to wrestle with the Earth's axis, to dampen down sunspots, to adjust the cosmic ray flux, to divert ocean currents, to MOP (in joke) up water vapour, to re-model the Tibetan High Plateau, to intercept asteroids, to dust the world, and to manage chaos.... among other Herculean tasks.

In the fast comments, the SocialistCommunistEnvironmentalistPig argues that the green brains do not want to stop the physical laws of the climate change and therefore my analogy with Maxwell's equations is not right. Of course that he is absolutely wrong. The sentence "stop climate change" produces around 50,000 hits - from GreenPeace as well as other institutions of a similar type. Of course that they want to "stop the climate change". And it is as mad as trying to stop Maxwell's equations - or trying to set the human contribution to the right-hand side of Maxwell's equations to zero.

(Incidentally, the human production of microwaves - a particular way to evaluate the human term on the right-hand side of Maxwell's equations - is gigantic in comparison with the natural background and much bigger than in the case of the climate. Will the environmentalists also argue that we are the sinners because we change the energy density stored in the microwave spectrum? Shall we replace cellphones by pigeon postmasters?)

BBC explains that the demonstrations have been timed to coincide with a UN summit on climate change in Montreal, Canada. And therefore thousands are marching through the streets of Montreal, Washington, and many cities overseas. In Washington DC, the maximal temperature today is about 3 degrees Celsius although the average maximal daily temperature in DC for December 3rd is about 10 C.

In Montreal, Canada, where the key protests take place, the maximal temperature today is -3 degrees Celsius, with windchill at -11 degrees. Imagine that. It's even more f$&%$* freezing cold outside than what we have here in Cambridge but thousands of people find it completely natural to spend hours in the streets and protest against the global warming.

Of course, they're not the first ones who seem to address the climate but are completely unaffected by any actual data. On January 15th, 2004, the New York City has seen the coldest January 15th since 1957 and the coldest day since 1977: minus two Fahrenheit degrees. Nevertheless, Al Gore has given a major speech about the global warming in New York at exactly the same day.

Of course, he could have afforded it because the people who actually listened to that speech were the same kind of bigots who have no problem to protest against the global warming at the windchill of -11 degrees Celsius. The people who see nothing strange about saying that 0.6 degrees centigrade change of the temperature per century surely cannot be natural - instead, it must be a catastrophic change that was created by the capitalists - but a cold snap that is 20 degrees centigrade below the long-term average is certainly just a fluctuation that can't diminish their excitement from a speech of one of the green prophets, Al Gore.

The right question is not whether a government anywhere in the world should be affected by these bizarre people who attend the protests today and many similar protests. Of course, no responsible government in the world should listen to these lunatics; even BBC agrees that every single participant among those 8,000 green brains is a confused moron. The right question is whether these people are dangerous enough so that the governments should be monitoring them more carefully than what they have been doing so far.

And that's the memo.

Gulf Stream weaker

Incidentally, if you still follow the speculations about the future climate, you may have noticed that the predictions of a catastrophic warming have once again been replaced by predictions of catastrophic freezing, at least for Europe. Well, because of some data indicating that the Gulf Stream may have weakened. Or maybe not. It is not hard to see that if the climate scientists (?) change "2/e" of their basic predictions every 6 months, only "exp(-100)" of their predictions for the year 2055 will survive. And that's a pretty small number - something like 10^{-40}. ;-)


  1. Dear Lumos,

    You have to study the history of propaganda, which drives protests. During the Cold War, there were anti-nuclear protests funded by the Moscow-controlled 'World Peace Council'.

    A lot of the people on the protests are old people with nothing better to do, like the sad old guys who attack string theory now, not because they have a better approach, but because they just can't think of anything more constructive to do.

    (I don't refer to Dr Peter Woit of course, after all he confirmed Witten's QCD work back in 1979. A pity he doesn't see an apple fall and write a confirmation paper of string theory: ‘String theory has the remarkable property of predicting gravity.’ - Edward Witten, April 1996 Physics Today.)

    The rest are young people (like Peter Woit in 1979) who don't yet have enough knowledge of reality to see that their idealism is being abused by the organisers.

    Big pressure groups, Greenpeace and others, function as religions, with members doing what they are asked. I'm glad you don't look the other way when you see propaganda, Lubos!

    Best wishes,

  2. A final theory will produce electromagnetism from a unified theory. Therefore, it will produce Maxwell's equations probably as an approximation or limit to that unified theory, the same as general relativity and Newton's limit for gravity.

    HUMAN ACTIVITY can therefore change the laws of physics, if it can unify them and show existing laws are approximations to the unified theory for particular conditions!

    You seem to be particularly unable to grasp the facts, like Peter Woit, who can't grasp the fact that if Witten makes crackpot claims for string theory, he doesn't deserve a Nobel Prize for QCD work until he grows up.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. "Global warming is shorthand for 'climate change', and the term is correct if you realize that it's referring to the average temperature of the Earth over the years; not to the temperatures at particular times and places."

    Taken from

    "Pattern of changes in ocean temperatures almost perfectly match simulations of human effects on regional climate, ruling out natural causes"; New Scientist Magazine, 11 June 2005, Issue 2503

    From the article:
    "The evidence is so strong that it should put an end to any debate about whether humanity is causing global warming," says Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.

    Taken from

    "White House report says people cause global warming";, 13:10 27 August 2004

    From the article:
    "People are responsible for the spike in global warming in the last 30 years, says a new US government report. The verdict, long accepted by most scientists, has encountered resistance from the Bush administration in the past, prompting experts to question if the president will now enact policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions."

    "Well over 98% of scientists competent in this area would agree with that [human activity as cause of global warming]." says Thomas Graedel, an industrial ecologist at Yale University.

    Taken from:

    hey lubos, if the bush administration can get it, so can you...

    best regards,


  5. Dear jbg,

    be sure that my thinking is independent from the Bush administration, and if someone in the Bush administration can be fooled by some idiocy, it does not yet mean that it will also fool me. ;-)

    All the best

  6. sorry for posting the same comment twice (and removing one copy).

    the last link wont work because it has a full stop in the url. the correct link is:


  7. i gathered that much but couldn't resist the sarcasm;-)

    but i find it strange, that you wouldn't agree with the empirical data and the experts in the field.



  8. ...after all, if we like to think of ourselves as an enlightened civilization and want to act in a collective intelligent manner with respect to the future, it is my opinion, that one should take the slightest possibility that our modern way of life could be affecting the global dynamical processes on our earth very seriously.

    the approach of waiting for 100% proof could maybe take too long. and if you talk to people in the insurance and re-insurance business, i.e., the only ones interested in the issue from an economical and not ideological point of view - after all, they'll have to pay - the outlook is gloomy and is getting more so with a growing body of evidence...



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