Monday, March 30, 2009

Piers Akerman, Earth Hour, Green Ivory Towers, Water Dowsing and I'm alright Jack

(Above: Nils-Axel Morner. Call this man now if you need to find water).

Well if you've discovered Mata Hari is alive and well and working for the Chinese government in Australia, seducing the Rudd government into a Malcolm Fraser Memphis-like attitude to precious Australian secrets, you'd think it would be time for an intrepid columnist to rest.

But no, the work of Piers Akerman, aka our favorite fat owl of the remove, is never done, as he beats on against the storm of rampant leftie greenie propaganda threatening to swamp us all with their assorted stupidities.

Earth hour of power in green ivory tower, he titles his latest outburst, in what is perhaps the most poetic and lyrical header the fat owl has mustered for a column, as he manages to traduce ivory towered academics by crossing them with the world of greenies and earth hour loons.

Well let's cede one thing right away. We don't think much of Earth Hour, and we think even less of the SMH seizing the moment to print off an advertising supplement supposedly to advise us of the planetary global warming crisis, when it's actually a chance to sell ads to people who should know better. Trees died for this nonsense.

But after slagging off Earth Hour and Al Gore (natch), the fat owl quickly beats a path to his own hobby horse, namely the mythology of climate change.

And who does he lead with but Professor Nils-Aexl Morner.

Now Morner is a fascinating case study, not least for his self-proclaimed expertise in water witching or dowsing - the finding of water by use of a Y-shaped twig - a claim which has attracted the ire of sceptic James Randi, amongst others.

Now far be it for me to dispute another's claims to paranormal powers, without a stringent bout of scientific testing (which Morner has strangely refused to allow), and far be it for me to suggest that claims of paranormal abilities might arouse some suspicions regarding Morner's credibility, but it does make me wonder just a wee bit about the fat owl's scientific sources.

Morner was one time President of the Commission on Sea Level Change of INQUA, but he left in July 2003, because the commission was "terminated at that time during a reorganisation of the commission structure of INQUA". The President of INQUA felt compelled to advise the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences in a letter in 2004 that INQUA which is an umbrella organization for hundreds of researchers knowledgeable about past climate, does not subscribe to Morner's position on climate change. Nearly all of these researchers agree that humans are modifying Earth's climate, a position diametrically opposed to Dr. Morner's point of view.

Now we can understand that Morner might be a brave iconoclast tilting at the windmill of stultifying conventional science. After all, most reputable scientists at one time thought that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth, though to be fair to them, as the alternative involved a joust with Jesuits manning the Inquisition torture chambers, there were sound reasons to be conservative.

It might be true that Morner's observations of sea levels are more soundly based than computer projections favored by his colleagues. It might be true that he got the Maldives government agitated by denying sea levels would rise, simply because they were busy planning how to get loot as aid from western governments to re-locate off the islands.

All this might be true, and the science in Morner's book The Greatest Lie Ever Told might be impeccable, though the title makes me wonder a little, in much the same way as I had buyer resistance to director George Stevens' The Greatest Story Ever Told, the most turgid re-telling of the Christ story in cinema history. As soon as you start throwing around titles like that, there arises the ripe smell of loonacy and paranoia and squabbles with colleagues, where hysterical denunciation becomes favored over scientific method.

Who knows the ultimate truth of the matter, as the scientists squabble amongst themselves, and the bulk of them dismiss Morner as a loon, while Morner calls them a bunch of low level, unacceptable sheep incapable of hard facts.

One thing's for sure - given the fat owl's credentials in science, I wouldn't have him as the umpire.

Anyhoo, after playing the Morner card as a lead, the fat owl gets on to even happier turf by berating the greenies' love of candles, calling into play that bete noir of greenies Bjorn Lomborg, "The Skeptical Environmentalist", who just hates candle power and its environmental inefficiency (though why we should care about a few candles - if the environment's totally safe - somehow escapes me. Can't we just let the green loons frolic and picnic and grow fat and indolent before turning them into soylent greenies?)

Then it's on to a lot of favorite fat owl topics - the Ruddster's national renewable energy target is unachievable, wind turbines aren't the answer, the UK is looking dire, we're all doomed in the summer with our love of air conditioners, and in the winter with our love of heaters, and we're stuck with traditional power stations until the twelfth of never - and as Johnny Mathis once assured us, that's a long, long time.

Ergo, the fat owl is triumphant: ... the likelihood of Earth Hour and its advocates achieving anything of any significant value is as likely as the invention of a perpetual motion machine. 

Or as likely you might guess as Professor Morner reliably finding water with the aid of a Y-shaped twig, which he assures us he can do all the time. If that's the case, with a little paranormal thinking, who knows what the Earth Hourers might achieve. Why they might even invent a perpetual motion machine able to utilize the perpetual supply of water found by dowsing. 

Though they might actually have to get into the lab and start experimenting rather than sit around celebrating darkness by candle light with a good red and some roast chicken.

Now in all this, tell me, what do you think you might have learned that has scientific validity and has any usefulness in relation to risk management for the future? Allow me to answer for you. Three fifths of fuck all. For that I'm sorry, but all I can do is gloss what the fat owl has to say, and really he's in the business of FUD.

Here's how it works. Slag off the greenies for using candles, then establish that all we can do is use conventional power - coal and oil - for ever and ever. Now even the direst loon would surely recognise that boxing clever would suggest we'd be better off going hell for leather to devise alternate energy sources. There's nothing sacred about coal, apart from Australia having lots of it, and loving to dig it up and ship it overseas so we can afford to buy all those goodies from the two dollar store, and even the most hard headed neos recognize that oil has a limited future in the matrix.

You don't even have to be an over-energized bouncy bunny like futurist Thomas Friedman to realize that leaving the planet in better shape for people down the track might actually involve some scientific research, some planning, and some strategic energy management for the future. Y'know, instead of chanting "coal is a four letter word meaning love."

If the fat owl had his way, I guess Londoners would still be happy with pea soup fogs and acid rain melting away their statues because that's the way it had been done, and that's the way it has to be done in the future.

In short, the fat owl is so intent on navel gazing and greenie bashing that the profound stupidity of his position never enters his noggin. So when he talks about the streams of hot air emitted by the environmental movement, he's actually making just as much of a joke about the sulphurous bile emitted from the antediluvian mudswamps of his mind. Reading the fat owl is a bit like a a romp in the boiling mud of Rotorua, and just as smelly.

There's a self-satisfied complacency, a willingness to cite preferred loons without qualification, as if they're somehow the only authoritative sources, and an eagerness to use Earth Hour as a kind of QED - candle power is silly, so we're all just fine and dandy.

I wish I had the fat owl's certainty, but I'd actually prefer a science degree or two. Second thoughts why bother. I'd be better off being able to locate water in the back yard with a twig in case we hit end times sooner than expected. Oh wait I can because we're on the side of a hill and there's a spring running about three feet down over the clay base. 

Great, well no worries then, I'm alright Jack, bugger you lot, and while I'm at it, bugger the future too. 

No comments: