Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Leyden and Teixeira: Political “Civil War” Coming Because of Global Warming

The Politicization of Science

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently tweeted that Peter Leyden’s and Ruy Teixeira’s article, “The Great Lesson of California in America’s New Civil War,” is a “Great read.” The article both urges and forecasts a blue-state takeover of America where our current political divide gives way to a Democrat dominion. This new “Civil War” is to begin this year and, like the last one will have an economic cause. Unfortunately, the thinking of Leyden and Teixeira is steeped in scientific ignorance which drives their thesis.

According to Leyden and Teixeira both the last, and now upcoming, Civil Wars are about fundamentally different economic systems that cannot coexist. In the mid nineteenth century it was an agrarian economy dependent on slaves versus a capitalist manufacturing economy dependent on free labor. Today, the conflict is between (i) the red states which are dependent on carbon-based energy systems like coal and oil, and (ii) the blue states that are shifting to clean energy and weaning themselves off of carbon. Granting this dubious thesis, why are these two economies so irreconcilable? Because of global warming and the terrible natural disasters it brings:

In the era of climate change, with the mounting pressure of increased natural disasters, something must give.

You read that right. Leyden’s and Teixeira’s thesis is driven by anthropogenic global warming, or AGW, which they sprinkle throughout the article. Red states are bad because they deny it, blue states are good because they face the truth and reckon with it with progressive policies. After all, it is “the scientific consensus that climate change is happening, that human activity is the main cause, and that it is a serious threat.”

It must be nice to go through life with such certainty. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.

We can begin with the most obvious mistake. While it certainly revs people up to hear that global warming is “a serious threat,” we have little evidence for this. Even those “consensus” scientists agree that we are not justified in claiming the sky is falling. And, no, in spite of what you may have heard, the recent hurricanes were probably not products of global warming.

But what about that scientific consensus that Leyden and Teixeira speak of? Doesn’t that make their case?

Unfortunately, Leyden and Teixeira are the latest example of how historians have utterly failed. In spite of their best efforts, historians, and especially historians of science, have not been able to disabuse people of the myths of science.

In science, as in politics, majorities are majorities until they aren’t. A scientific consensus can occur both for theories that end up enshrined in museums and for theories that end up dumped in the trash bin.

Once upon a time the scientific consensus held the Earth was the center of the universe. Only later did the scientific consensus shift to the Sun as the center of the universe.

Both were wrong.

What Mr. Nelson taught you in seventh grade history class was right after all: If you don’t understand history you will repeat its mistakes. And Leyden and Teixeira are today’s poster children of such naiveté.

A scientific consensus for a theory means just one thing: That the majority of scientists accept the theory. Nothing more, nothing less. The problem with science, as Del Ratzsch once explained, is that it is done by people.

What we do know about AGW is that the data have been massaged, predictions have failed, publications have been manipulated, enormous pressure to conform has been applied, and ever since Lynn White’s 1966 AAAS talk the science has been thoroughly politicized.

None of this means that AGW is false, but the theories that end up in textbooks and museums don’t usually need enormous social and career pressures for sustenance.

As it stands scientists have been walking back the hype (it’s climate change, not global warming anymore), and trying to explain the lack of a hockey stick temperature rise (the ocean is temporarily absorbing the heat); insiders are backing out (see here and here), and new papers are showing current temperatures have not been so out of the ordinary (e.g., here).

AGW is certainly an important theory to study. And perhaps it is true. But its track record of prediction is far more important than the number of people voting for it.

The idea that AGW is the driver behind a new Civil War in America to start, err, later this year is simply absurd. I’m less concerned about Leyden’s and Teixeira’s political desires as I am about the mythologies they are built on.

Religion drives science, and it matters.


  1. As far as emulating California, let's not.

    "Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?"

  2. I heard an interview with Teixeira this morning on NPR. It was a 5 minute interview, so short and to the point. It focused entirely on politics and his suggestion that the nation will follow the pattern seen in California. Climate change didn't come up at all. If interested, here is a link to the audio:

  3. I don’t think the article is stating that the “civil war” is primarily because of AGW. The article talks also about “two cultures” and “two classes” also being drivers - particularly the economic divide - perhaps even bigger drivers. And of course the collapse of the Repubican party in California too is playing into this.

    Climate change may be a factor, perhaps even a big one, but is not the only one. It is more multi-faceted and complex than the OP would have us believe (things usually are).

  4. The civil war was not about a farm/slave versus jobs in building two cultures. It was about two separate people/civilizations in a a mutual boundary that had a moral disagreement and one party decided to change the boundaries and the other said no you can't. It was about America stopping a invasion of their territory as general grant said. every Canadian knows that.
    Its not the scientific community. The community , be definition, has no speciality in subjects separate from the subjects they do. The whole point of science is to be a expert using expert methodology in drawing conclusions. its impossible scientists have any credibility in subjects other then their own. In fact more then regular people they have no right to say what they think about other subjects if using the title of scientist.
    its only small numbers of "scientists" that get paid 9-5 to do climate science.
    How many is that? who is paying them? it might just be hundreds or thousands at most.
    so common errors easily linger.
    yet the great point in global warming is how to p[rove its warming and if so how??
    True or not it could only be raw data!
    Its a great globe and seeing invisible things change the weather is very difficult.
    since its a contention then they must prove it on the merits and not on the claim of SCIENCE CONSENSUS.
    Thats not proving it. if they think its true show why!!
    I say its not true and clearly poorly done.
    I'm canadian and know many polar bears. A majority, a high one, say its not evidenced in their homes.
    The minority are younger ones influenced by the media.

  5. it’s climate change, not global warming anymore.
    The reason for the two terms is that they are not the same thing. Global warming is the observation. Climate change is the consequence.

    We know that CO2 (and methane and others) is a greenhouse gas. We know that CO2 has been increasing in the atmosphere. We know that most of this increase is due to the burning of fossil fuel.

    The environment has repeatedly shown us that when we add something to the environment above nature’s ability to easily remove it without other consequences, it seldom is beneficial to humans. And that is what we are talking about. The biosphere will survive reagardless of how much CO2 we pump into the atmosphere. Humanity may not.

    Acid rain, lake eutrophication, higher rates of lung disease in places like Delhi are all the result of indiscriminate discharge of compounds into the environment.

    1. I think Delhi is a myth and anyways wouldn't just be there if true. Acid rain?? thats old news and over.
      yes its about adding over nature but we don't do squat to nature. its a myth.
      What is greenhouse gas/ It means nothing. there is no greenhouse effect that been proven. CO2 therefore is irrelevant.
      I say global warming has really been fueled by a upper class establishment in order to make a cleaner greener planet. they suspect, sincerely, mans emissions hurt the planet and this deceives their investigation which is by very few people.
      We are not getting warmer in canada.

    2. What is greenhouse gas/ It means nothing.

      CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases cause global warming. Civilization produces CO2. Therefore AGW is true. Does that clear it up?


  6. "I think Delhi is a myth and anyways wouldn't just be there if true. "

    Tell that to the people that live there. Tell them it's all in their minds. Seriously? Have you ever been to a highly polluted city? But if Robert says it's a myth then it must be true.

    1. Pollution, yes. But CO2 is not a pollutant anymore than water vapor is.