Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) appears to be a contagious disease spreading through academia and the media and becoming more virulent.
Thus we have Stephen Hawking, a man I used to have a lot of respect for, saying
“We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.”
This completely ridiculous claim was presented without question by BBC’s science correspondent Pallab Ghosh, and by the Independent and other media sources. A few climate scientists have criticised Hawking for this.
CNN has got itself into a hole and continued digging, by somehow identifying the individual who made the silly video of Trump defeating CNN, and threatening to reveal his name if he does anything that CNN deems to be “ugly behavior”. The inevitable result is hundreds of similar videos being produced on the #CNNBlackmail twitter tag.
The latest climate scientist to exhibit the symptoms of TDS is anti-Trump ranter Ben Santer, in an article at the Washington Post, where he begins by saying that he feels he’s in “the darkness of the Trump administration’s scientific ignorance”, in the middle repeats that “The ignorance starts at the top, with President Trump”, and at the end accuses Trump of having a “self-created cloud of willful ignorance on the science of climate change”.
Santer starts off with a lot of heroic virtue-signalling, saying that he nearly died in a crevasse in a climbing accident and that Trump is just as terrifying, and describing his long and arduous journey up the greasy pole of climate science.
But let’s move beyond the vacuous rhetoric – which makes up most of the article – and canter through Santer’s claims.
- “The consequences of this ignorance affect every person on the planet.” Really? Everyone? Trump’s climate ignorance affects 78-year-old Mrs MacGregor in her Edinburgh care home? Towards the end, he repeats this in even stronger form, saying that Trump’s “cloud of willful ignorance” is a “clear and present threat to the lives, livelihoods and health of every person on the planet”. I can say with confidence that Trump’s ignorance does not threaten my life, livelihood or health.
- “They find human-caused climate fingerprints everywhere they look.” Really? You see a
permanent droughtflood in California, and it has a human-caused fingerprint?
- “Your peers are your fiercest critics.” Really? Remember ‘By the way, I have got the paper – review will be friendly though!‘ and ‘It is of course comforting to know that I will be able to give it the rich praise that I know it will deserve.‘ Of course it is simple to think of several other people who are fiercer critics of Santer than his peers.
- The leveling off of warming is an “alternative fact” – which is odd since the IPCC and dozens of scientific papers have talked about the hiatus.
- The Trump administration has access to “media megaphones” – says the guy in his article in the Washington Post.
- “we can’t ignore the reality of … changes in the severity and frequency of droughts and floods”. As I’m sure Santer is aware, the IPCC WG1 SPM says that there is low confidence in any global change in droughts and low confidence in any human contribution to changes, while on floods they say “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.” But Santer claims there is a “human fingerprint”.
Trump may well be ignorant of much of the science of climate change. But that’s better than being knowledgeable about the subject and deliberately trying to mislead people about it.
How do people like Santer get away with this bullshit? The answer may be that it goes unchallenged by his peers, showing again the falsehood of his claim that they are his fiercest critics. In any normal science, this sort of rhetorical nonsense would be called out by his peers, and he would have to correct it or lose credibility in the field. But in postnormal, non-functional climate science, this doesn’t happen. Or it may be simply that Santer is so angry with Trump that he responds irrationally – in other words he’s suffering from TDS.
William M Briggs has also written a response to Santer, in his usual entertaing style: “Santer is far from the first, and certainly won’t be the last, public intellectual triggered into a foamy-mouthed spasm by one of Trump’s tweets.”
On July 20, Roger Pielke Jr is giving a talk in London on ‘Manichean paranoia’, meaning the view that ‘your opponent is considered to be malign and willfully ignorant, whereas your own side is noble and uniquely enlightened’. Santer’s article fits this description perfectly, even using the exact term ‘willful ignorance’.
But apparently, Santer is “the nicest guy in the world”:
Readers of CliScep may be familiar with Santer’s banter from the Climategate emails:
“I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him.” and “I’d really like to talk to a few of these “Auditors” in a dark alley”. If he is a nice climate scientist, what are the nasty ones like?