Precautionary Principle as Deus ex machina

Andrew Bolt picked up on one of the emails from Climategate 2 that gives a fascinating insight into the collusion between academia and the WWF in the manufacturing of environmental scares.

It also shows the role of the precautionary principle as a “deus ex machina”, a device of dubious merit for solving tricky problems in a plot.

Step 1. At 12:21 13/09/99 -0400, Andrew Markham, director of World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Change Campaign, writes to Mike Hulme at UAE:

>Meanwhile, Hurricane Floyd seems to be heading for Florida. >WWF offices are keen that we have something to say on this.

Step 2: Mike says there is no evidentiary link between Hurricanes and AGW, only theory. Suggests a number of scientists with “precautionary sense” including:

Barrie Pittock at CSIRO is always good for some precautionary sense, and/or Kevin Hennessy from the same group.

Step 3: Two days later the WWF report from Andrew Markham appears.

For Release: Sep 15, 1999
Adam Markham

Growing evidence suggests that global warming may be a factor in the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean – a prospect that makes it likely that super storms like Hurricane Floyd will occur with increasing frequency in the future.

Interesting how the precautionary principle is used to justify an environmental scare in full knowledge that there is no evidence to support it. The main criticism of the principle is well summarized (from wikipedia) in Sancho vs. DOE, by Helen Gillmor, Senior District Judge, dismissing a lawsuit which included a worry that the LHC could cause “destruction of the earth” by a black hole:

Injury in fact requires some “credible threat of harm.” Cent. Delta Water Agency v. United States, 306 F.3d 938, 950 (9th Cir. 2002). At most, Wagner has alleged that experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (the “Collider”) have “potential adverse consequences.” Speculative fear of future harm does not constitute an injury in fact sufficient to confer standing. Mayfield, 599 F.3d at 970.

Cold Fusion, in Walmart Soon.

To some, the Rossi E-Cat device has come out of nowhere, perhaps fueling the skepticism. This article in the Nebraska Engineer (blog) lists a number of competitors that may soon have marketable applications.

These include

1. Andre Rossi, who is keeping ahead of the pack by promising an electricity generator within a year.

2. Defkalion Green Technologies claim they have a LENR/Cold Fusion product not based upon Rossi’s core design, perhaps based on another researcher Piantelli. They claim they will be announcing details of final products coming for sale this next week

3. Prof. George Miley has been involved in Cold Fusion / LENR research for many years, and is reporting energy density levels similar to Rossi.

4. Dr. Brian Ahern currently CTO of his own startup company, Vibronic Energy Technologies, founded in 2009, claims to have made a major theoretical breakthrough related to his earlier academic work at MIT.

5. In contrast to large industrial devices like the 1MW Rossi device claims are appearing of a simple approach, called Chan’s recipe, using a mixture of nickle and a metal hydride as a source of hydrogen, activated by a radio frequency generator. The accuracy of this report remains to be seen.

The view has been raised by Peter Heckbert that Rossi’s difficulties in patenting his device may in part arise because one cannot patent a “Natural Law”, thus leaving him wide open to competitors.

I think H-Ni fusion cannot been patented. The discovery and scientific proof could be awarded a Nobel price, but as a principle of nature it cannot been patented. Marconi could not get a patent for wireless communication, Otto and Diesel could not get a generic patent for combustion engines. They got patents for their devices.

Natural laws cannot been patented. Usage of micro- and Nanoparticles cannot been patented. This is already standard in industry and research. It is researched as a method to use the phase changes in Metalhydrides as a very efficient heat storage method by Max Plank Institute and as a method for solid state Hydrogen storage it is already used in many real products day by day.

The question in my mind is, what would the world look like, without the need for mining, transportation and combustion of large quantities of chemical fuels to provide the energy needs of society? And if this is so, how soon will the transition take place?

Climategate Bits

Have you listened to the Ray Hadley audio here ripping into Tim Flannery?

Bolt doesn’t go into detail, but its well worth the 20min listen. Apparently Flannery fabricated the whole Crikey story about a media setup over his Hawksbury River house, with interviews with the local resident in question to prove it. Ray calls him “low scum” and a “liar” repeatedly. Strong stuff. Off to court we go again.

Climategate2: This from Mike Hulme is interesting recommending CSIRO as being reliable for providing “precautionary sense” on hurricanes, mentioning Kevin Hennessy, lead author of the alarmist drought reports from BoM and CSIRO. Its the same theme in many of the emails, bemoaning lack of evidence, and casting around for people who will follow the party line, providing the appropriate level of alarm. Conspiracy theories anyone?

Climategate 2: What Climate Scientists Really Think About You


“David Jones”
subject: RE: African stations used in HadCRU global data set
to: “Phil Jones”

Thanks Phil for the input and paper. I will get back to you with comments next week. Fortunately in Australia our sceptics are rather scientifically incompetent. It is also
easier for us in that we have a policy of providing any complainer with every single station observation when they question our data (this usually snows them) and the Australian data is in pretty good order anyway

Rossi opens 10 KW expression of interest list and sets 10 kW price

From Vortex list.

Re: [Vo]:Rossi opens 10 KW expression of interest list and sets 10 kW price

Aussie Guy E-Cat
Tue, 22 Nov 2011 01:15:21 -0800
Just placed my order for 10 x 10 kW plants. Will install them, at no cost in my, by children and by friends homes. Rossi said in the radio interview that they had cleared the certification issues and they expected the 10 kW plants to be available in less than 12 months. With a price of $5,400 for a 10 kW thermal plant, this will really upset the market. That is $0.54 / Watt of heat. Assuming the 20 year life Rossi claimed in the interview, the simple LCOE is so small as to make the energy almost free at $0.003 / kWh. At 30% efficiency heat kW to Ac kW with 3 Ac kW output, the electricity price rises to $0.01 / kWh. Good bye grid. It all changes.


On 11/22/2011 7:20 PM, Aussie Guy E-Cat wrote:

Andrea Rossi
November 21st, 2011 at 11:25 PM

Dear Felipe From Chile:
You are right, we are organizing this.

EUR4,000 (USD5,400) for a 10 kW heat / hot water plant

IPCC Report on Extreme Events

On IPCC scientists test the Exit doors.

Professor Palutikof said it would take a while for the effects of climate change to become visible. But without action, she said, “gradually, over time, that signal will emerge with resounding clarity”.

Well that’s inconvenient, isn’t it? So how about anomalous heat in the ocean, the melting of glaciers and arctic ice. How about the surface temperature and the sea level? How about droughts, floods, hurricanes and cyclones? You know — like the ones that are *not* found to be significantly increasing.

Jean Palutikof, director of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility at Griffith University, in Queensland, said the findings of the UN report would “not surprise anyone involved in climate science”.

Condescending ass. Most people know little about the
whole field of climate science and do not have the time of day for it until they demonstrate robust predictions and the rigor of “mainstream” science. We attack it in our spare time because the claims are so incredibly extravagant, the practices so furtive and evasive, and little they say makes scientific sense.

However, Professor Steffen told the Ten Network’s The Bolt Report at the weekend that most experts agreed we would see an increase in intensity in cyclones as the warming continued.

Sorry, but I don’t see anything more than the same premature speculations. There is no clear plot of increasing energy over a long period. Sorry but I have no interest in what most climate experts agree on anymore.

Professor Steffen recently said:

”Well over 90 per cent of scientists in the area are quite clear: the Earth is warming and human activity is the major cause.” The blame for this ”phoney debate”, he believes, lies squarely with the media. ”A very small, very vocal minority is given the same weight,” he says.

You can call me a phoney but unless you’re omniscient, you don’t know the answer. And according to the report nobody does in most areas. So basically, you’re just calling anyone who questions the magnitude and cause of global warming a liar. Nice. Very professional.

You and Clive Hamilton make a good pair. On JoNova and Anthony Cox:

“But, hell, if like these two muppets you can pretend that thousands of scientists have made up two decades of research about global warming, you can attribute anything to anyone without any hesitation. It’s what they do. “

Both of these people are experts in their respective fields. I have developed new computational and statistical methods that helped to bring a new field of niche modeling to fruition. We don’t know science and its limitations? We don’t recognize the self-serving strategies of mediocre minds? Of course we do. Very very well.

Once and for all, I am not in any way, shape or form against some effects of CO2 somewhere. Show me exactly where I said that or please don’t mention it again. I am campaigning
for proper testing and proper critiques of claims instead of the fawning acceptance of AGW and undeserved praise
and adulation the IPCC has gotten from too many people in the CSIRO, the BoM and the government without proper evidence. If you want to raise objections to doing science properly, please feel free to justify it.

Things of Interest

New E-Cat website here. Nice.

Patronizing essay at the Conversation. My guess is that as the “Climate Crisis” continues to fizzle, the less gullible skeptical scientists will take a more prominent place. The credibility of CSIRO, BoM and Astronomers will likely suffer for the certainty they have voiced, their deference to the IPCC, and defense of poor practices.

Newt Gingrich now leading in the GOP polls. A man for the time? UPDATE: Good article on why Newt will lead – its his command of the ancient art of debating.

UPDATE: Penn State and academia:

The culture of the academy teaches that the primary allegiance of faculty and staff is to the institution and not to external democratic values.