March 21st 2022.
Is earth too hot? Is the weather getting worse? Are we experiencing a climate crisis? Is CO2 the control knob for the earth’s climate? Is climate science basic physics? Do all scientists agree on these questions? Tom Nelson is an independent researcher who has spent many years studying these questions in-depth. He joins us to give us a rigorously researched perspective that contradicts the hysterical groupthink in fiat academia and media. He and Saifedean discuss how fiat funding of science creates incentives for groupthink and for bad ideas to survive unchallenged. They also talk about why fiat inflationism creates a strong incentive for researchers to support any pseudoscience that concludes you should avoid price-sensitive essential fuels in favor of less effective, cheaper alternatives.
- Tom on Twitter
- Tom’s article Useful Notes for Climate Sceptics on Substack
- The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change by Marc Morano
- Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom by Patrick Moore
- Watts Up with That blog by Anthony Watts
- The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein
- Steve McIntyre’s website Climate Audit website.
- The spiral structure of the Milky Way, cosmic rays, and ice age epochs on Earth by Shaviv, Nir J. and speech discussing the paper.
- Saifedean’s podcast episode with Patrick Moore
- Saifedean’s podcast episodes with Alex Epstein in Nov 2021 and Dec 2020, and his appearance on Alex’s Power Hour podcast.
- Saifedean’s first book, The Bitcoin Standard
- Saifedean’s second book, The Fiat Standard
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According to Tom, climate hysterics typically embrace six key assumptions:
- The Earth is currently too hot.
- We are experiencing a “climate crisis”.
- The weather is getting worse.
- CO2 is the climate control knob.
- Climate science is “basic physics”.
- Almost all “experts” believe in items 1-5 above.
Tom argues that every one of those assumptions is wrong, and that the following charts, images and article extracts below demonstrate why. This page also includes two charts from Saifedean’s book The Fiat Standard mentioned during the episode.
For more information, please visit Tom’s personal website here.
Charts from The Fiat Standard
Saifedean Ammous: [00:03:02] Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bitcoin Standard Podcast! Our guest today is Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson has an MS degree in electrical and electronics engineering, and he’s been involved in tech and software for many years, but we’re not hosting him today to talk to us about tech and software, we’re here to talk about climate!
Now, Tom has absolutely no credentials in climate, so if credentials are your thing, now’s the time to get agitated and angry and denounce us for hosting somebody who doesn’t have the right credentials to talk about these topics who hasn’t been approved by the church of climate to discuss things.
But if you care about thinking about things, and you care about ideas rather than credentials, and if you’d rather use your brain, then trust people who [00:04:02] tell you their authority supersedes what your brain says, then you might want to stick around. Tom has a blog and is pretty active on Twitter and I’ve come across his Twitter many years ago, I don’t even remember when.
And it was pretty influential for me in understanding the issue of climate change and then understanding how to think about it in a rational, scientific way. Tom’s ideas and work on this are just the work of an intelligent outsider who doesn’t get paid from this topic.
He has no interest except really discovering the truth. And he’s really helped me develop my understanding of this topic, and I thought it would be great to host him, to ask him about some of the most important questions related [00:05:02] to the topic of climate and climate change, which is becoming an increasingly significant topic.
And I discuss it in detail in my book, in The Fiat Standard. Now, many people tell me all the time, you should stick to economics, stick to Bitcoin, this is your expertise, why are you’re talking about climate? You’re not a climatologist, you don’t have a degree in it. And even though I do have a degree in this stuff, I obviously my degree isn’t what matters, but I think it is extremely related to the topic of money and Bitcoin.
Because I think the conclusions of climate science and the conceived notions of settled science are in many ways, extremely important economically, they have enormous implications. And what is being promoted as the way to fix the climate has enormous economic implications, and I would say it is enormously [00:06:02] important for the understanding of the topic of Bitcoin and fiat money.
Because a) the fiat money is what finances this science, and I think it’s a great example of how the scientific process gets corrupted with the use of fiat money instead of science being open to competition and having a free market and ideas, we have scientific authorities deciding what is correct and what is acceptable and what is not.
And also I think because of the topic of inflation, and we’re going to talk more about this later on today, we see this with nutrition, and then we had a recent discussion with Dr. Cate Shanahan about this, and we see this with climate. In both issues we’re talking about two goods that are extremely price sensitive, they’re extremely susceptible to price rises with inflation, and in both cases the supposed consensus of scientific experts once you to [00:07:02] stop consuming these goods.
Because they have a lot of consensus on why you should not be eating meat and instead substituting it with cheap industrial crops and why you should not be consuming the fuels that we need to survive the winter and to move around, and the fuels that have built our modern world, and allow us to have electronics and all kinds of amazing and essential goods.
Why we should stay away from these and go back to pre-industrial technology. In both cases, I think the impact of inflation is felt at the production of the science, but also at the conclusions which lead us to move away from the things that are pretty price sensitive.
So I think climate is totally up your alley, if you’re interested in Bitcoin and money, and inflation, if those topics interest you, I think you should pay more attention to climate and then just listen to what the [00:08:02] consensus says. Tom, thank you so much for joining us!
Tom Nelson: Good to be here, thanks for having me on.
Saifedean Ammous: First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your background and what gives you the audacity to opine on something in which you are not a credentialed expert?
Tom Nelson: Yeah. I am not a climatologist, but I have that tech and software background that you mentioned. And I got into looking at scientific debates back in 2005 with the ivory billed woodpecker rediscovery.
There was a peer review paper that came out with 17 authors and for awhile people believe that they had rediscovered this extinct woodpecker. And I’m a birdwatcher, and I just took a look at the evidence for myself and right away, when I looked at the evidence, you could see that they didn’t have really any evidence.
People had heard some sounds and they had a blurry video and they had a picture of an ivory bill that was six pixels. It was only six pixels, black and white pixels, and that was supposed to be evidence that they had rediscovered an extinct bird. That kind of blew my mind. [00:09:02] So I heavily got involved in blogging there and Jack Hitt actually wrote up in his book, A Bunch of Amateurs, he wrote a chapter on how this got debunked by amateurs. Because the professionals had believed in the rediscovery, but I checked into it and on my blog, a lot of people also looked at the evidence and commented and just ripped apart the evidence.
It’s an example of amateurs that are able to just directly look at the evidence and debunk something that’s just simply not true. So anyway later in that debate, a meteorologist told me there’s a lot of parallels between that debate and the global warming debate. So for the last 15 years, I’ve been looking at the global warming debate and it’s very similar again, in that the evidence is just not there at all for the climate crisis.
If you look at every single bit of their claims, if you look for hurricanes, polar bear populations, crop yields, et cetera, if you actually look at the data, there is no climate crisis. So amateurs are able to look [00:10:02] at the data and debunk that one too.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. So obviously this is a very big claim. Most people think, 97% of scientists agree, it’s a crisis.
If we don’t do anything, all kinds of vague doom is going to hit us. The Earth is going to boil or the oceans are going to boil, sea levels are going to rise. But I think in your blog you’ve got six, what you call six flawed assumptions, which are basically taken for granted by most people.
They think of these as just being a given. But I’d like to walk through these because I think these are very fundamental building blocks of trying to understand what is going on in the issue of climate. And most people take them for granted. And so if you take these for granted, because you think the experts agree and who am I to doubt the experts, then you’re going to arrive at the conclusion that indeed, we are [00:11:02] facing a climate catastrophe. So let’s begin with the first one. The first one says the Earth is currently too hot. Is the Earth too hot?
Tom Nelson: No, it is not too hot. And you can look at a human history to see that humans have always done better in warm periods. And they’ve historically been called optimums, and humans have struggled in cold periods.
They’ve had problems with crop yields and disease and a lot of other problems in cold periods, and during The Little Ice Age, witches were burned because crop yields were low and a lot of bad things were going on, and life just wasn’t as good in cold periods. So the whole idea that the Earth is currently too hot is not true.
And then if you go back before human history, it was warm enough for crocodiles and palm trees up in the Arctic. Naturally the Earth has been way warmer than it is now, and life still did just fine. You could argue that life does even better when the Earth is [00:12:02] warmer. Because as you go towards the equator, you get a lot more diversity than as you go towards the poles.
So warmth is good for life, including humans. So the Earth not too hot, there’s nothing that indicates the Earth is too hot.
Saifedean Ammous: What do you think of the historical temperature record that we have? What do we actually know about the history of the Earth’s temperature? How has it varied over the past hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of years? We see a lot of claims being made, what do you think is the evidence?
Tom Nelson: Yeah, I got a couple of graphs I can show you, I don’t know if I should show you those now or later.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah let’s go!
Tom Nelson: Let’s share a screen here and take a look. Yeah, so this is a graph of just the last few thousands of years, how the Earth’s temperature has varied.
And I like to point out on the left side there you have the Minoan Warm Period. So of course humans were around during this time, and that [00:13:02] period was warmer than anything we’ve seen recently. And we’ve also had other warm periods after that, including the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period. And then over on the right side, you can see the current warm period.
So the whole idea of panicking, if there’s current warm period over on the right, just doesn’t make any sense because even just a few thousand years ago it was warmer. And then also on this graph, I like to point out that around 1600 is where the witch hunts occurred, because those cold times were bad times and 50,000, witches has got burned back then because it’s a very old and a very wrong idea that if the weather is bad, it’s caused by people you don’t like.
And that continues to this day that people want to blame bad weather now on Exxon or whatever else. So it’s happened for a long time and it’s been wrong every time, but the warm periods have been better. That was for a few thousand years, and here’s a longer view of going back hundreds of millions of years as to how temperatures have varied.
And the black line is actually carbon dioxide and the blue line [00:14:02] here is temperature. But the main thing to look at on the blue line is that for most of the last 600 million years, naturally, the Earth was much warmer than it is now. So the idea that the Earth is mind-blowingly warm or that positive feedbacks are going to cause the Earth to become uninhabitable because it’s so warm right now.
Historically, it’s just not that warm right now. And while we’re on this graph, I wanted to point out something very important about carbon dioxide while we’re here. This black line is the carbon dioxide line, they’ve tried to figure out how much CO2 was in the air in parts per million.
And everyone agrees that back here a few hundred million years ago, there were thousands of parts per million of CO2 in the air. And as we get down here to the right, we have just a little over 400 parts per million right now of CO2. So the whole idea that the air is filling up with carbon dioxide, that it’s unnatural to have so much carbon dioxide out there is totally untrue.
We’re closer to having not [00:15:02] enough CO2 in the air than we are to having too much CO2. I wanted to mention that while we’re here.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. Now let me be a little bit skeptical here. Just how good is the evidence that allows us to extrapolate what temperatures were like hundreds, thousands and millions of years ago?
Because I see that there seems to be consensus, I think even among the skeptics, like if you showed some of these charts to the skeptics and what I like to call the hysterics, the people who think the sky is falling and the oceans are boiling, they tend to agree.
It’s actually quite remarkable that there isn’t much disagreement about what temperatures were like a hundred million years ago. Which I find a little bit odd because we don’t have reliable records from a hundred million years ago or even 400 years ago, to be able to tell with any kind of certainty what the temperature was like and what the [00:16:02] atmospheric CO2 was like. So what do you think of the quality of the evidence for these kinds of very long-term graphs?
Tom Nelson: I completely agree that the best you can do when you’re going back in time, not very far in time, it’s more of a guess than it is precision. NASA says they don’t even know the global average temperature right now, it might be off by a couple of degrees Fahrenheit. So with all our modern technology, we don’t really know what the global average temperature is.
So if you’re asking us what was the temperature on average on Earth 500 million years ago, today? It’s more of a guest than anything else, but they can use fossils and figure out, if they can find tropical fossils way up by the poles, et cetera. Under the Antarctic ice, there’s a evidence of life under there, so it must’ve been way warmer a long time ago there.
But I agree with you. If you’re trying to specify exactly either how much CO2 was out there or exactly what the temperature was, I don’t think anybody knows. Especially, I wanted to mention with trying to figure out carbon dioxide, some people think that [00:17:02] at the poles, if you just take an ice core and you’d get ice that you think is 800,000 years old and find an air bubble in there, you’re supposed to be able to tell how much CO2 was in the air globally using that ice bubble. I I don’t have faith that you’re getting the correct answer there either.
So I think a lot of this old stuff is guesses.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. And I think, if I’m not mistaken, a lot of the estimates for temperature are obtained from estimating CO2 concentrations, and then assuming temperatures must follow some kind of relationship with CO2, right?
Tom Nelson: There is yeah. There is a lot of assuming that CO2 is the climate control knob. So it must’ve been warmer when CO2 was higher, but that is not the case. I have a different slide, I think I can step back to it, of Greenland right here. This is a really good one from Greenland.
Up here, the blue line at the top is temperatures in Greenland. The red line at the bottom is CO2, global CO2. And you can see that throughout for thousands of years, the carbon dioxide is [00:18:02] going up while the temperature is more, it’s going down. So this whole idea that CO2 is the climate control knob, there’s all sorts of exceptions. Sometimes it’s going up when the temperature is going up, but a lot of times it’s not.
So there’s all sorts of other things that are happening, and just assuming that if you know the CO2 you know what the temperature, it’s just no way, you don’t.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, but so to get back to the temperature, the historical temperature, so I think it’s reasonable to be skeptical about this data. I think I agree with you on that, but we do know for a fact that fossils exist in the Arctic and we’ve seen fossils in the Arctic and you don’t see a lot of living creatures today.
So it’s pretty clear that things were much warmer at a certain point in time back then. And we also have historical records from a few hundred years ago where things like The River Thames in London used to freeze. So this is well-documented. People have written about it. It used to happen every winter, that The Thames would freeze.
Now it never happens, no matter [00:19:02] how cold it gets in London, we haven’t had The Thames freeze in 200 years, 300 years or so?
Tom Nelson: Something like that, I really enjoy the type of evidence also where they find tree stomps that were only maybe a few thousand years old that are north of the current tree line up in the Arctic.
I like that type of evidence because there you’re not modeling or making any assumptions, you’re actually physically looking at a tree stump and it must’ve been warm up there, warmer up there for that to happen. And then also those historical records from Greenland, farming in Greenland. I have heard that there are some areas that are melting out now, and you can still smell a sheep smell from the sheep farms that used to be there.
And then they were covered with ice. And then now it’s warming up enough to unearth some of that stuff.
Saifedean Ammous: Okay. So what you’d say is, if you look at this chart, and by the way, we’re going to have all of these charts available, if you’re listening to the podcast and you can’t tell what we’re talking about, we’re going to have all of these charts available on the show notes on academy.saifedean.com/podcast.
Under [00:20:02] this episode, you’ll find all of these charts. So you can take your browser there right now and follow along as we discuss these graphs. So we are warming, I think you agree that the Earth is warming. The Earth today is a lot warmer than what it was a couple of hundred years ago, right?
A few hundred years ago. Maybe not a lot, but it is warmer than what it was a few hundred years ago, we know that, right?
Tom Nelson: It depends on which starting point you use. It’s clearly warmer than it was in 1850 right now. And it’s warmer than it was in 1975 right now. But if you go back far enough, of course, for hundreds of millions of years, it’s cooled since then.
So you can pick various points, then it’s both warmer than some of those points and colder than some of them. But lately it has been warming. But even in the last five years it’s unclear whether possibly we might be starting a short-term cooling trend again, nobody knows what’s going to happen next, but [00:21:02] possibly we are starting to cool.
Saifedean Ammous: It’s important to remember that nobody knows what’s going to happen with the weather more than five days away from now. Your weather forecast will tell you everything after five days is basically guesswork. So to be able to confidently make assertions about what’s going to happen in 50 and 100 years from now, it’s one of those things that you have to either be getting paid to do those things, or to have a lot of trust in the people that get paid to do those things, and to imagine that these people are somehow infallible to be able to make these estimates.
But if you actually look into the methodology for it, and I’ve looked at that to some extent, it’s modeling at the end of the day. And then these people are just looking at models and trying to predict the future from the models.
And that doesn’t have much of a better track record than crystal balls as far as actual track record and [00:22:02] not just going by credentials and titles.
Tom Nelson: Yeah. A point I would like to make is that not only do we not know what these graphs are going to look like in the future, we don’t know what caused the graphs to look like this in the past.
There’s all sorts of fluctuations there, and we can make guesses as to exactly what caused them. But Earth’s climate is so complicated that nobody understands it. We can have some general idea, but there’s a lot of surprises out there. So the whole idea of trying to model Earth’s climate, it’s not something we can do successfully right now.
Saifedean Ammous: Yes, we’re going to get to that in point number four. But yeah let’s get to the second point, which is we are experiencing a climate crisis. Why aren’t we experiencing a climate crisis, you heretic?
Tom Nelson: We are not experiencing, there’s no evidence at all if there’s anything wrong with the weather that hasn’t been wrong with it every other year in human history. Yeah, hurricanes are not getting worse, fires are not getting worse, we’re getting better reporting, we [00:23:02] might be finding out about more fires now. If you live in a certain city in the old days, a fire happened halfway around the world, you would never know about it. So now you can get a lot of reporting. And if you listen to all the fire news every day, you might think the world’s on fire, but it’s not.
And if you look at graphs in any particular location of over a hundred years, how bad are the fires now versus back then, there’s no crisis there. And I’ve been down every one of these rabbit holes for 15 years, I’ve carefully looked at the real data versus the claims. And there’s nothing alarming going on at all right now.
A big problem is people don’t realize how bad the weather was in the past. And they just figure if something bad happened today, it must be unprecedented. But none of it is.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I think the confidence with which people who are 20 years old or 30 years old, will tell you that, we’ve never seen anything like this.
It always amuses me. You’ve only been around for 30 years, you [00:24:02] remember 20 of these years, maybe if you’re lucky and the idea that the last 19 years should have shown you all of the possible variation in climate outcomes that would have ever existed so that something new happening in your 20th year is somehow conclusive proof that the Earth is witnessing something cataclysmic, I think is just funny really!
Once you step back from the kind of group think around this, and you think about it, the world has been very different. As we said, they used to be trees above the treeline. And the tree line is the Northern most point on Earth where trees grow.
Beyond that point, it’s too cold for trees to grow. But historically the trees grew there and we’ve had all kinds of different things that we know about as a matter of fact, from the historical [00:25:02] record of people writing it down and all kinds of other pretty solid evidence. So this notion that anything happening today is extraordinary or a crisis in any sense, I think is absurd.
And I think you’re absolutely correct on the issue of reporting. 300 years ago, nobody lived in Florida, or very few people kept records about what was going on in Florida. So when a hurricane hit Florida, it was just a bunch of rain on an empty swamp. And a bunch of crocodiles might’ve been bothered by it, but they didn’t keep track record and they didn’t write emotional diatribes about how this is the fault of people burning firewood or whatever.
But now we’ve got tens of millions of people living in Florida. And so when a hurricane hits, and of course the reason we have tens of millions of people living in Florida is because of all the technological advancement that we have. Florida has become habitable, we found ways of getting rid of the crocodiles, we’ve found ways of putting air conditioning there.
And so now [00:26:02] when you get a hurricane in Florida, it’s a big deal. It destroys the lives of people, and yes it’s a terrible thing, but the notion that it is some kind of crisis that has never happened before I think is just is outlandish.
What is the kind of strongest evidence that people who believe in a crisis would present? What are the kinds of things that they’d tell you to try and prove to you that it is indeed a crisis?
Tom Nelson: I see that all the time on Twitter and in the news is that there’s flooding in Australia lately. Heavy rains.
And they’re saying that of course, because the air is warmer, it holds 7% more moisture, and that’s why it’s raining so much, but these are the same people that two years ago when everything was, or whether you’re were having big fires down there and droughts, they were saying the carbon dioxide is a reason that it didn’t rain enough.
So just constantly there’s contradictory claims [00:27:02] like that. But I would say the biggest thing that I see is just something bad happened and carbon dioxide must’ve caused it. Heat waves, et cetera. Yeah, they haven’t dug very deeply or thought very deeply about the claims. The floods and droughts in the same area blamed on carbon dioxide.
I don’t understand why we should buy into that one, but that’s a common one.
Saifedean Ammous: This is one of my favorite things about following your Twitter account, which is most people just don’t think about those things this way, but you just put it out there in a way that really makes you think.
I’m old enough to remember when it was droughts, that were going to be the, obviously the science is settled, more CO2 is going to lead to magical things happening in the atmosphere, and then we get droughts. And then we get floods, floods happen because there’s a lot of rain, so it’s the exact opposite, but there’s very little difficulty [00:28:02] in noticing the contradiction here.
Either CO2 is going to cause the rain to stop falling, and we get a lot of droughts, or it’s going to cause the rain to increase. It can’t really do both. You have to really engage in a lot of very elaborate mental gymnastics to convince yourself that whether it rains a lot, or it rains too little, the answer is because of CO2.
And it’s just, this is where it turns into really which doctor territory. It’s unfalsifiable. The weather is always going to change, there will always be a place in the world that is recording a record in rain. There are tens of thousands of cities around the world, there are hundreds of thousands of stations where people are recording rainfall levels and temperature, and every year you’re bound to get records in some of these. It’s [00:29:02] just inevitable.
Records are set at some point. And so every year records are going to be set. You’re going to get most strainful, least rainfall, highest temperature, lowest temperature. And as long as these records get set, then this kind of pseudoscience will take them as evidence.
Just find one of these many cities anywhere in the world, it could be in China, Australia, Bolivia, wherever it is, they had more rain this year than they ever have. So that settles it. Or they had less rain this year than they ever had.
Both of these things are enough to convince the believers that this is a crisis.
Tom Nelson: Yeah. I do like to point out a record cold, just for fun on Twitter, you’ve probably seen that quite a few times. I do point that out all the time, then people who, whenever there’s a heat wave, they say, this must prove that the Earth is too hot, and I say that we have a cold wave, and then they’ll say [00:30:02] that’s just weather of course that doesn’t mean anything, and it’s back and forth all the time. I enjoy it. It’s not convincing anyway. No crisis.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, actually let’s take a little bit of a detour to talk about the climate versus weather dichotomy.
So basically when it’s hot and it goes along with global warming, then that’s the climate. But when it’s cold, it’s just the weather, right?
Tom Nelson: Yep. I’ve heard that so many times.
Saifedean Ammous: So what is the difference between climate and weather? Could you explain the difference between the two?
Tom Nelson: Standard definition seems to be that over a 30 year period it’s climate, versus shorter periods, then it’s weather. That’s the most common definition I’ve heard.
I was going to mention that when you’re talking earlier that I’m old enough to remember the 1970s global cooling scare. There really was a scare in the media, I don’t know what the scientists necessarily were saying, but for sure in the media there was a lot of talk about how the Earth was cooling because it [00:31:02] was, and it was a very cold and that they were extending that off into the future, an ice age was coming. That turned out to be wrong.
But it was cold enough in the seventies so that in Ohio, there were people that were snowmobiling right past the chimneys on houses. It did really get much colder in the seventies, but then it turned around and no one knows exactly why, but it was not humans that caused the cooling or the warming, it was something else.
Saifedean Ammous: I definitely agree with you on that. All right, so the third one, the third flawed assumption is that the weather is getting worse. Why do you think the weather is not getting worse?
Tom Nelson: Yeah, you can look at, I like to take each one of those one at a time, like hurricanes. You can look at all the records we have of hurricanes and the accumulated energy of hurricanes, et cetera, and they’re just not getting worse.
A lot of major hurricanes hit the U. S. in the 1950s, for some reason. And again, no one knows why, but [00:32:02] the hurricanes we’ve had since then, we haven’t had a state of hurricanes like we did in the fifties recently.
So hurricanes are not getting worse. I have a slide here someplace of the deadliest storms in human history. I like this one a lot, the 35 deadliest tropical cyclones. If you look at the deaths column on the right, there was horrible cyclones that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
But if you look at the years that they happened, like 1970 is one of the most recent ones, 1737, you had a really bad one in 1584, you go down here to 1281 there was a terrible one, and of course a lot less people were alive back in 1281. And there’s a lot of them that happened in the 1800s. The whole idea that if a storm kills 10 people now, a lot of people try to say, look there’s a climate crisis cause we had a storm that killed 10 people.
And it is an absolute tragedy, but the storms in the past were just so terrible also, and there’s no signal in the storms that would indicate that a [00:33:02] warmer climate, does that cause bigger storms? Not necessarily. Some people argue that as the Earth warms and there’s less of a difference between the poles and the Equator, that possibly storms might get to be less intense, and they might get more intense if we’ve got global cooling.
That’s a theory and I don’t know which one is right. I think it’s possible that if we were to get a one degree centigrade of cooling from here, we might see some signal in storms getting slightly worse, but certainly they’re not getting worse. If you look at the actual data, they are not getting worse.
And that’s true of so many other things, go ahead.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think the key point, which Alex Epstein always makes is what he calls climate mastery. I think this is something that is ignored, and Alex Epstein really makes a very compelling case for the importance, we’ve had Alex on this show a couple of times before, alex makes a very compelling case for why, even putting aside all of the scientific evidence about what is actually [00:34:02] happening with the climate, the case for using fossil fuels is enormously compelling regardless of what you think of the evidence.
Because the reason that storms and cyclones don’t kill as many people as they would have killed before is because of all of the incredible and amazing and previously unthinkable technologies that we use to build our modern world and our infrastructure, and that is largely thanks to fossil fuels.
And I think the biggest blind spot that climate change fanatics have, is that they ignore, the metaphor that I like to use is they think changing the energy sources that humanity uses is a design choice like changing the color of your iPhone.
It’s just if we could only stop using [00:35:02] black iPhone cases and all switch to white iPhone cases, we could fix the weather. And it’s I think a testament to just the level of naivety and ignorance, particularly among the very educated, because it’s usually university graduates and even PhDs, who have this enormously simplistic view of the world wherein, if we would just switch off the supply of gas, coil and oil and substitute it with wind solar and angel farts or something, then we could just stop the weather from going bad.
And of course this misses the point that if you got any kind of engineering background, you’re an engineer, and I studied in as an engineer, and I think I’m not an engineer but I’d like to ride the coattails of engineers and call myself one because I appreciate engineers a lot and I like the engineering way of thinking.
You can’t [00:36:02] just have the nice things that fossil fuels make possible without fossil fuels. We can’t have steel reinforced houses without producing steel. And we can’t just produce steel with seventh century technology that is windmill. I mean we could, but we can’t make anywhere near as good the steel that we have with that technology.
You look at how steel is produced, it involves enormous quantities of coal. So you may not like coal. You may not appreciate that it produces smog, you don’t have to live in the coal plant. You can move away from a coal plant if it’s right next to you, but you do like, I promise you that you do like the products that coal makes possible.
Your iPhone wouldn’t be possible without coal, your laptop, semiconductors, all of these things that you take for granted today cannot be [00:37:02] made with solar technology. Solar panels themselves cannot be made with solar technology. Wind turbines cannot be made with wind turbine technology or with sunrays.
You need high power, energy sources that produce an enormous amount of power and direct it towards forging that iron. And so having those fuels allows us to have those houses that can survive a lot of these things that would have killed your ancestors 500 or 5,000 years ago.
And whether the weather is actually getting bad or not, whether we are in the climate crisis is one thing, even if that were true, you would want to use more and more fossil fuels because that’s our only hope of protecting ourselves from worse weather. If it’s going to mean more cyclones, if it’s going to be mean more flooding, more snow, you’re going to need sophisticated machinery, you’re going to [00:38:02] need heavy infrastructure, you’re going to need modern sewage systems and a modern water drainage system.
And that can’t be done without these energy sources that these people like to vilify so much, usually using those energy sources. My constant response to all of those people is, I’ll consider your opinion when you’re able to tweet it to me without using any fossil fuel products, until you can switch away from it.
And then of course you see the completely delusional mentality when they respond to saying we need the government to pass laws that allow me to tweet without using fossil fuel technology. If they would only just pass a law, then all those greedy capitalists would build their computers out of solar wind and angel farts, and then I could tweet at you, but it’s not my fault.
That’s why we need climate [00:39:02] action.
Tom Nelson: I do Alex Epstein’s quote about how fossil fuels haven’t taken a safe climate and made it dangerous, but they’ve taken a dangerous climate and made it safe. I think that’s an excellent quote, cause that’s what’s happening here.
Saifedean Ammous: Exactly. And I think there’s a chart in my book, The Fiat Standard, we’ll put it in the show notes, I don’t have it right now, that shows the number of people that have been dying because of climate related disasters and catastrophes around the world, and also shows you the concentration of CO2. As CO2 is rising, oh yeah you’ve got the same chart.
Tom Nelson: I don’t have the CO2 but I just have, the blue line shows how the climate related deaths are plummeting.
Saifedean Ammous: Exactly. So over the last 100 years, we’ve seen an enormous decline in the number of people dying from climate related deaths.
100 years ago, a lot more people died from floods, droughts, storms, wildfire, [00:40:02] and extreme temperatures. A lot less people die today because we have infrastructure. We have houses that withstand flooding. We have infrastructure that allows us to bring water into the middle of the desert, in the middle of the drought.
People live in places today that were uninhabitable hundreds of years ago. And you have major modern cities in the middle of the desert, millions of people living there. And even in the middle of the drought, they managed to get water there. And that’s because of technological advancement.
It’s how we protect ourselves from the climate and ironically, and funnily enough, and coincidentally enough, this is what people think we need to get rid of in order to fix the weather. They want to take away your ability to handle weather under some kind of insane quest to appease the gods of the weather to then make the weather become [00:41:02] better.
Tom Nelson: I think a lot of people with the propaganda, they’ve heard, they think this blue line goes the other way. They think that way more people are dying now than were dying a hundred years ago, but again, it’s just a matter of looking at the data and then it all falls away. The whole thing is a house of cards.
Saifedean Ammous: Absolutely. And it’s a house of cards and it also relies on a lot of emotional manipulation. And I think most of my listeners and most intelligent people have now come around to this conclusion that when it comes to say the Corona crisis over the last couple of years, that yes, a lot of this was just emotional, and a lot of the evidence didn’t require all this insane reaction that happened.
And I think people need to start seeing the reality that this is something that the supposed official science has done before. We’ve burned witches before, and we locked up five-year-old kids and muzzled them for a virus that doesn’t threaten them and [00:42:02] ruined their development and destroyed the lives of millions of poor people.
And I think we’re seeing something similar with this climate hysteria all over the world. I think it’s high time that people start considering the fact that the cure is far worse than the disease. In the case of the coronavirus, I think clearly there was a disease, and it was a bad disease for many people, but I think the cure was arguably far worse. The interventions that were done were far worse.
In the case of climate, I think it’s arguable that there really isn’t a disease, that we can’t control the weather. The planet is far too big for us to be able to think that we can determine what’s going to happen with the weather. Which brings us nicely to point number four, and this is my favorite.
I think the first time I came across Tom’s profile on Twitter, this was his profile description and it [00:43:02] remains the byline of his blog, CO2 is not the climate control knob. Just simply hearing that sentence is just a massive slap in the face. Yes, why would you think that CO2 is the climate control knob?
The Earth is an enormous place. The Earth is a massive ball whose diameter is 12,700 kilometers. That’s a lot of kilometers. It’s a huge thing, and you are only 1/500 of a kilometer. So that’s 12,000 * 500 of you, roughly. So you’re extremely inconsequential as a human being and even 7 billion of us are extremely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
The Earth is enormous and it’s spinning around a giant ball [00:44:02] of fire in the middle of the sky. And the notion that we could just set the temperature of this Earth with CO2 is absolutely amazing. And why would anybody even believe that? Why would you think that this is the most important factor in determining temperature?
So tell us more, why is CO2 not the climate control knob?
Tom Nelson: Yeah, this graph here that I showed before, it’s from a guy named Bob Carter, the late Bob Carter. And I think it nicely lays out the fact that I mentioned before that for long periods of time, the temperature of the Earth and CO2 can go in opposite directions.
But I think it’s mind blowing that you have some local city councils that, they take it on that they’re going to go tackle the Earth’s climate, they’re going to tackle the climate crisis. What they’re trying to do is somehow change this red line and that’s supposed to change the blue line. And they’re hoping that they’re going to make an impact on global average temperature in 2050.
But what I think is, everybody’s efforts put together and all that money that’s spent, et cetera, [00:45:02] I’m highly doubtful that there’ll be any measurable impact on the weather or climate in 2050, everything put together. You can spend trillions of dollars or a go all nuclear even, and I don’t think there’s going to be a measurable difference in 2050.
Because it’s not the control knob, as you mentioned. There’s all these other factors, I think solar factors are bigger and there’s ocean currents and all sorts of things are going on, volcanoes, and the whole idea that it’s the control knob is, there’s no evidence for it.
And we have a lot of evidence now of CO2 levels and temperatures. And you can’t see where, as the CO2 levels change, the temperature changed as a result.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think the Sun is the major one. There are a bunch of scientists who have written extensively about how it is the Sun that is the main driver. What do you think of that?
Tom Nelson: I agree. I think it’s tremendously complicated. There’s a brilliant guy from [00:46:02] Israel, Nir Shaviv, he has some theories on how changes in the Sun changed cloudiness on Earth. And I think that, from my perspective, is one of the theories that’s most likely to prove correct in the future. That changes in the Sun changes earth cloudiness, and that is a huge factor. That really makes a big difference as to how warm it is on Earth.
But people who do the climate models, they admit that we don’t understand clouds and exactly how they’re formed. And if we were to actually try to model the Earth’s climate, we would have to know how the clouds are changing and we just don’t yet.
But I think the solar impacts on clouds are a big deal.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, and you just need to stand in the Sun and then watch a cloud come between you and the Sun and you immediately feel much colder. Like you’ll quickly notice several degree difference in temperature. So now just imagine how significant that is on a planetary level where cloud cover is just [00:47:02] enormous. We have enormous amounts of clouds covering the Earth all over, and the Sun hits those clouds. If there’s a lot of cloud, the Earth is going to get cooler, if there’s not a lot of cloud, the Earth is going to get hotter.
If you snap out of the programming that wants you to think the CO2, just think about it, CO2 is just so tiny as a percentage of the atmosphere. And this is something that people don’t get, people think CO2 is increasing and rising to these enormously dangerous levels. But the reality is we’re currently at 420 parts per million, that’s the concentration of CO2.
So every 1 million molecules in the attic. 420 of them are CO2. So you look around, the clouds are so enormous. The sun is enormous, [00:48:02] all kinds of other things going on, the wind patterns and the currents, it’s absolutely astounding that you would think that 420 parts per million CO2, and really all we’re talking about, all that has happened since the beginning of the industrialization is that we’ve gone from 280 parts per million to 420, which is really a very tiny, we’ve gone from very tiny to very tiny concentration. And the idea that this is going to affect the temperature of the Earth more than the Sun and the clouds and wind currents is just very difficult to believe logically. Wouldn’t you agree?
Tom Nelson: I absolutely would agree. One fact I do like to bring up that, as you and I are talking here, we’re exhaling about 40,000 ppm of CO2. So it’s a factor of 100 there and around in my [00:49:02] room right here, now there might be 3000 ppm. And so it varies a lot, and I did want to mention though that even though the CO2 is not the control knob, it is really good plant food.
And when people want to increase the rate of which the plants grow in the greenhouse, they might put 1500 parts per million of CO2 in the greenhouse. So I think it CO2’s effect on Earth, the greening of plants and the increasing of crop yields is actually, that’s an actual factor that you can measure.
And if you’re tweaking it, just to try to change the temperature, you’re probably not going to be able to measure that.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. And you did have a picture about that slide you wanted to show us about the growing of crops?
Tom Nelson: Yeah. So here is an experiment done growing trees at different levels of carbon dioxide.
Left side, the tree is short, growing at a 350 ppm. And as you add more parts per million and grow the same tree, it gets much bigger. So we have 800 parts per [00:50:02] million on the right, the tree is way bigger, and of course that applies for a corn and wheat and all sorts of our food crops and crop yields are way up of course, over the last a hundred years.
And there’s all sorts of reasons for that, but the additional CO2 was actually part of the reason why the crops are doing better, and the increased growing seasons are better too.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I know NASA on their website, they have an article in which they talk about how CO2 is helping greening. But how strong is that evidence? How do we know that it is actually CO2 that is helping?
Couldn’t it just be the fact that because we’re modernizing industrialization, it’s allowing us to concentrate in cities and then to spread out. A lot of the farm area, and a lot of the rural land is being converted into forested land as a result of urbanization.
Do you think that might be the driver, or how convinced are you that CO2 is actually [00:51:02] helping? Because wouldn’t you be skeptical of that claim too?
Tom Nelson: Yeah, I would be skeptical of how much it’s helping. If they tried to say it’s 75%, but it is a positive factor, I’m a confident of that.
Just because, like I said, if you’re growing plants in a greenhouse, you add additional CO2. And somewhere here I might have a slide and I might not about corn and growing a cornfield. It sucks up all the available carbon dioxide nearby. So in the morning, if there’s 420 PPM out there in the cornfield, it might be down to 200 PPM.
Cause on a day when the corn is growing it’s sucking up carbon oxide like crazy, it’s a very big factor in how fast the corn’s growing. And I think Patrick Moore argues that Earth’s CO2 without humans was continuing to go from thousands of PPM, and as plants were sucking it up and it wasn’t getting returned to the atmosphere, there’s getting to be less and less of it.
And he argues that maybe the [00:52:02] presence of humans has actually been a big deal in that we’re burning fossil fuels and returning carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and getting that number up to a higher level where our plants are doing better. I think if it gets down to 180 or so, a lot of plants really struggle.
So it could be argued that us putting that CO2 back there is really helping.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. We’ve had Patrick Moore here and he did make that case, and I think it’s a pretty compelling case. I think as you said, if CO2 drops too low, we’re in trouble. We’re going to have a lot of trouble growing crops.
It does seem like it is a good thing that the concentration of CO2 increases. But I think the other thing that is interesting, and this is where I think recent evidence has just been absolutely fascinating about this, how do we really know that it is our action that is increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere?
So yes, we are emitting a lot of [00:53:02] CO2 because we’re digging up a lot of hydrocarbon fuels from under the Earth and we’re burning them and we’re releasing them into the atmosphere. And it also happens to be that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is increasing. So the correlation is there, but how do we know that this is actually causal?
Because it could well be the case that our actions don’t really determine the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. And also it could be the case that these are just natural cycles that take place around the Earth. And maybe it is changes in the temperature, maybe it is changes in solar activity.
Maybe it is something about the Earth’s trajectory or whatever that is causing these kinds of changes in CO2 concentration regardless of what we’re doing. Yes, we’re emitting a lot of CO2, but the concentration of CO2 is going to find its [00:54:02] way into settling into a certain range, regardless of what we do, because the Earth is extremely complex, the Earth’s atmosphere and the biosphere is extremely complex.
The plants can absorb more CO2 or they can absorb less CO2. It can get absorbed or it can escape the atmosphere perhaps, all kinds of different things can happen wherein our contribution ends up being completely insignificant.
And the reason I think this is something worth considering, even though I don’t find many people making this claim, we saw this two years ago when the global lockdowns happened, we had basically a shutdown of global aviation, which is an enormous contributor to CO2 emissions. And we had a shutdown of car automobile emission. So not total, obviously, some airplanes, cargo, planes, and a lot of cars still [00:55:02] moved around, but there was an enormously significant reduction in the amount of CO2 emissions taking place. Everybody was locked at home.
And yet you look at atmospheric concentrations and you don’t notice any kind of effect. So there’s a chart on the, which I also include in The Fiat Standard, where it shows that we don’t really see any kind of effect. And you would imagine this kind of significant reduction in emissions would have an effect on atmospheric concentration.
You’d notice a little bit of a break in the trend of rising CO2 concentration, but we don’t. So what do you think?
Tom Nelson: Yeah, I think that is a great point that you bring up and I actually do have some of the same questions that you have about that. So not only is CO2 is not the climate control knob, and humans might not be the CO2 control knob either.
And I have seen some studies where people did direct air measurements of carbon dioxide a long time ago, like maybe 1900 or before that. And a lot of these measurements that [00:56:02] they produce back then were surprisingly high. They’re supposed to be stable at 280 for a long time, and they’re supposed to evenly go up to 420, but there’s a lot of measurements back there that didn’t fit that curve at all.
And either those measurements are all wrong or CO2 is doing something different than we think it’s doing. So I think you make a very good point, and we can’t run the experiments again, run the last hundred years without any humans on Earth and see what CO2 does, but I would not be surprised if humans weren’t here, if CO2, I don’t think it would have just stayed exactly stable.
I think it would have possibly gone up without humans here. There was a guy named Tom Segalstad, who talks about how a lot of CO2 that’s in the air ends up forming into, I believe calcium carbonate in the ocean, and just falling to the bottom of the ocean.
So there may be other sinks that we’re not really aware of. There’s so many things happening with CO2 that’s not just a matter of if humans that you meant more [00:57:02] than a it’s going to stay in the atmosphere like filling up a bathtub, it’s not like that. If we emit it maybe more, we’ll get sunk. Anyway, that last 140 PPM might not be due to humans.
They do say that they’ve done some isotope testing, and somehow using isotopes they pinned it on humans, but that may or may not be true now.
Saifedean Ammous: Okay. I think that’s fascinating, but I think here the onus of proof is not on the people who, like you and me, think there is no crisis.
I think this is just another, it’s adding more burden of proof on the people who think that there is a crisis because not only do you need to convince me that the weather is irredeemably broken in a way that has never happened, but you also need to convince me that is because of increasing CO2, and that the increasing CO2 was the fault of human [00:58:02] beings.
And I think, if you just step out of the idea that credentials are what determines truth, and you’re trying to think of this in a scientific way, scientific as in scientific method, not scientific as in people who get called scientists because governments pay them research grants to call themselves scientists, then I think the burden of proof is extremely difficult to determine. And again, on the opposite side, we’re being asked to basically sacrifice the things that make modern civilization possible. It’s very difficult to make the climate crisis case, I think.
All right, so that moves us then to number five, which is that climate science is basic physics. Is climate science basic physics or not?
Tom Nelson: That’s one of the craziest claims. I hear that all the time that it’s basic physics. And again, they’re assuming that if you just [00:59:02] add a certain amount of carbon dioxide to the air, you’re going to be able to calculate the global average temperature.
But anyway, as we discussed already, there’s so many different factors, the idea that you can just use basic physics to figure that out is ridiculous. Then why are we even funding climate science if it’s basic physics? I’ve heard some say that the basic science of global warming has been settled since the 1800s, but it hasn’t of course.
Like we were talking about, there’s all these things going on with clouds and all the other factors. So it clearly is not basic physics, it’s clearly tremendously complicated.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. And I think the fact that you can illustrate the greenhouse effect in a greenhouse in a laboratory setting is one thing, but extrapolating from that to a giant ball that is 12,000 kilometers in diameter is a completely different thing. It’s just the idea that you could reduce the entirety of the Earth’s climate to the effect that [01:00:02] you see in a tiny little lab setting is just unbelievably reductionist in a way that I don’t think survives any kind of scientific, critical scrutiny.
Tom Nelson: Yeah. And of course, even in a real greenhouse or in a hot car, it’s not CO2 that’s causing it to heat up, it’s it’s the glass, it’s the glass heating up, it’s not CO2. There’s been people who try to change CO2 levels inside a closed container. I think Anthony Watts has done some of these experiments and you can put more CO2 in there, or less CO2, and you actually don’t see a difference in temperature because of the CO2 inside of a closed container.
So I have not seen any lab experiment where they can actually prove exactly, I do believe that the CO2 does trap some heat, but I haven’t seen it proved in a lab experiment.
Saifedean Ammous: Oh interesting, I did not know that. It keeps getting flimsier and [01:01:02] flimsier.
Tom Nelson: It does, the more you look into it, yeah. I should mention at this point that when I first heard this stuff, I believed it. And lots of skeptics that I know started out believing it. They just thought, okay, scientist must know what they’re doing and they must be correct, but it’s very common that you believe it for a while, and then something makes you check into it for yourself, and then you become very surprised that the evidence does not hold up at all. If you look at it on your own for just a day, you can find out lots of different holes.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think it’s one of the funny things I find about this entire debate and not just this debate, but I think, generally the kind of people who think we’re in a climate crisis also think that all of these insane government mandates to fight a virus were a good idea, and it’s complete lack of critical thinking and a delegation to authority.
And what I find amazing about it is that if you try and have a discussion with some of these people that are [01:02:02] convinced that we’re in a climate crisis, it’s extremely rare that they would even have an idea, that they would even consider the possibility that you’ve actually understood what they’re talking about.
The only image they have in their mind, the only idea is that you’re simply ignorant because you haven’t heard of the science. And this is always, when you’re dealing with any of these kinds of mid wits, they talk to you as if you’re a ten-year-old and you need things explained to you as a ten-year-old.
No, here’s what you don’t understand. Here’s what the scientists say, the climate change is changing because of the greenhouse effect and they cannot conceive of the idea that you actually understand those things, that you’ve read about those things, that you’ve studied them more than they have studied those things, and you’ve come to disagree.
For them, the only [01:03:02] possible reason why you disagree with their TV and newspaper is because you’re ignorant. That’s it. There’s no ability to conceive of your opponent’s viewpoint. The people that are really fanatic about this, they can’t explain what it is that skeptics think. They can’t tell you why you don’t believe it.
Thex call this, I forget the name for it, being able to summarize your opponent’s viewpoint, they cannot do that.
Tom Nelson: People call that steelmanning.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. They could never provide a steel man. They could never tell you why, somebody will hear that I say something that is against the high priests of climate orthodoxy. And the only reaction I get is, oh my God, I can’t believe this [01:04:02] guy is such an idiot.
He doesn’t even know, and doesn’t believe in the science. It’s impossible for one of them to say alright, this is what you think, here’s your position, you think, the things that you and I have discussed right now, you think the weather is changing, but that it’s not catastrophe, and you don’t think that CO2 is the control knob, and here’s why you’re wrong.
They’re incapable of providing that kind of summary. All that they can do is just, oh my God, I can’t believe you don’t believe the science. I can’t believe you don’t trust the scientific evidence and it’s just, if only more people would mock you and laugh at you and force you to read more New York Times explainers and more NPR how to talk to your climate skeptic friends.
If only you’d would read more of these, then you would become informed. And of course, the amazing thing is that the vast [01:05:02] majority of those people don’t read any science. What they consider science is basically NPR and New York Times explainers and CNN segments.
Tom Nelson: Yeah. I think a lot of them think that their job is done if they can convince you that the climate is changing.
Like they think skeptics don’t believe the climate is changing, or if they can get you to admit that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which it is, then they think they may have won the debate, or all experts believe in it. I guess that’s coming up next.
Saifedean Ammous: Yep, number six.
Tom Nelson: It must be true if the experts believe it. But yeah, they’ve just as you mentioned, never taken the time to actually look at anything for themselves. Yeah, the knowledge is very thin.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. So this is of course, a very common one. You always get, which is 97% of all climate scientists agree, and so who the hell are you to disagree with them? So, do all the experts agree?
Tom Nelson: They do not. [01:06:02] The whole question is, do they agree on what? They do agree that Earth has warmed since 1975 and 1850, I’ve never heard anybody say that it hasn’t. And I’ve never heard any experts say that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas.
I’ve never heard any experts say the climate isn’t changing, but that’s about as far as it goes and what a lot of people think the consensus is that we are currently experiencing a climate crisis. And of course the weather is getting worse and all these other things, they think the consensus extends way further than it really does.
And that somewhere here, I should probably bring it up is what the IPCC says about storms, et cetera, this one, I like this one a lot. This is the IPCC from 2012, so oftentimes I’m dealing with people on Twitter, and they’re trying to tell me that the IPCC says that cyclones are getting worse. So at the top here, you can see the IPCC says there’s low confidence in what is happening with tropical cyclones.
And further down, they’re talking about droughts, and basically they say droughts have gotten worse in some places and they’ve [01:07:02] gotten less severe in other places. You get down to the bottom, what do they say about floods, and overall low confidence at the global scale regarding even the sign of the changes of floods.
So this whole time over and over we’re hearing of course, CO2 causes worst floods and all scientists agree. You look and see what the IPCC says, and they absolutely don’t say that. They just say, we don’t even know what to sign, maybe floods are getting worse or better, or we don’t know. Bottom line is consensus doesn’t say what a lot of warmish people think it says.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. And that 97% of climate scientists agree claim is dodgy as hell. What was it based on, are you familiar with the study on which it was based?
Tom Nelson: Yeah, I think it turned out there was a big survey sent out to, I don’t know if it was thousands of people, they got it down for some reason [01:08:02] to 75 out of 77 had agreed, I think that was the 97%, but I can’t remember what the premise was. It for sure wasn’t do you all believe that there’s a climate crisis right now. And I would like to see all climate scientists in the world, I’d like to see a poll saying, and they would have to reply and provide their name or sign their name to a statement saying it’s 2022 and I believe that there’s a global climate crisis right now.
I think very few climate scientists would be willing to sign their name to that where it would have to be thrown back in their face a years from now. Because for sure there is no climate crisis. And again the number of people who are living as if they believe that, that’s a big deal too. Almost nobody is living as if they believe that CO2 threatens to kill our children.
Even people who are on TV all the time, trying to scare us about this, they are living fossil fuel lifestyles. And if they actually believe that it threatened to kill their children, they would have to model that and not be flying flying off for vacation, et cetera. [01:09:02] So they just can’t be bothered to behave as if they believe what they’re saying.
I think that’s an important point.
Saifedean Ammous: This is another one of my favorite things about this whole hysteria is whenever I speak about this, there’s one particular podcaster in the Bitcoin space who shall go nameless, who is very good at regurgitating approved narratives.
And he’s always feigning outrage of the fact that how could this guy say that there is no climate crisis and he owns a sports car that does not run on wind or solar. And even if it did run on wind or solar, you can’t make wind or solar power without extensive use of fossil fuels, and extremely high carbon emissions.
And he conducts all of his interviews. He flies out to conduct all of his interviews rather than do zoom, which consumes and emits an enormous amount of CO2. And of course I have no problem with him doing all of those things, but [01:10:02] I find it astonishing and hilarious that these people will tell you, this is a crisis and they’ll harangue you, this kind of hysterical shrewd, how dare you say this, it’s a crisis.
He has no problem with really degrading and humiliating himself by haranguing strangers on the internet for not behaving like this as a crisis, but then he goes, and. Gets into airplanes out to do things that can be done over Zoom and gets it to a sports car when he could just get on a bus, it gets an enormous amount of CO2.
And it’s just, if you really think this is actually causing a crisis, you wouldn’t be doing this. If you really believed this is a crisis, if you really believe this is going to, I don’tk now whatever your claims are, whatever you’ve been programmed to believe recently, cause sea levels to rise or boil the oceans, or boil rising oceans or whatever it is, going to destroy [01:11:02] the climate for your children, is going to make Earth unlivable for your children, you’d think twice about emitting all those CO2 emissions.
But you don’t see that. You don’t see these people thinking in that way. It’s unbelievably funny for me how, it’s not something that will ever affect their own life and the way that they want to do it, it’s just something with which they harangue others.
And it’s the same thing with the coronavirus, all of the politicians that were the most fanatic about enforcing mass mandates and making children wear masks and enforcing all kinds of insane stuff about lockdowns, they were all, well not all, but an enormously high number of them were caught flaunting their own rules, like the British prime minister was throwing parties every couple of days when the entire country was on lockdown, the California governor had a [01:12:02] very high profile series of things and it’s amazing.
And it just shows that this entire thing is just, it’s just a stupid moral panic, really. It’s no different from burning witches. It’s just, dimwitted people get manipulated into getting angry, and this is where, one of the other counters is well how do you explain all of these scientists?
I don’t have to explain why people believe ridiculous things. All throughout human history people have believed all kinds of ridiculous things. It’s not my responsibility to get inside the mind of ridiculous people who believe ridiculous, hysterical things and provide you with a full accounting of why each one of them came to believe all of those things.
People burned witches before. People have done all kinds of insane things. They used to sacrifice children in order to make the crops work. These are the same human beings that, their own genetic material is passed on today to the people [01:13:02] that are deciding to mask two-year-olds and then two year olds need to stay in masks, even as the political leaders themselves are not masking.
It’s not up to me to justify it. The fact that they’re choosing to do insane things, it’s not an argument in favor of those insane things. And also, going back to the issue of the experts, a lot of these studies that look at it, what they do is they look at all the studies that are published with climate change in them.
And they see if that study has actively going out there and denying climate change. And then if not, even if it’s just this tiny little footnote that in which it mentions climate change, the fact that it’s not denying it, then they’ll say, oh yeah, you’ve got this right here. You’ve got the data, so tell us about this.
Tom Nelson: Yeah, here’s a, just where my cursor is here, they have close to 12,000 climate papers and only [01:14:02] 0.3% of them actually found 50% of the post 1950 warming was caused by humans. But a thing I like to mention here is that lately, or in recent years, if you’re doing butterfly research and you want to get funding.
You can get more funding if you mentioned, I’m working on the effects of climate change on butterflies. That will get you funding. So enormous amounts of papers have been written that mentioned climate change, but they just mentioned it, and certainly this butterfly researcher in the example is not actually looking at all the factors and trying to figure out how the Earth’s climate works.
Almosrt all of these papers, they just mentioned climate change and it’s by people who don’t They’re not trying to figure out the human influence. They’re just trying to figure out if warming happens, what will happen to my research subject?
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, exactly. And if you want to get published, you want to tie in climate change.
And there’s an amazing webpage, which I [01:15:02] also cite in my book, The Fiat Standard which says, the title of the page is everything is caused by climate change. And it collects press articles that link all kinds of things to climate change and it’s because, some study against somebody who is studying the population of butterflies in the Himalaya’s, and in order to get a research grant to go hang out in the Himalayas for a couple of months, they said a couple of sentences on studying the impact of climate change.
And that then is presented as a scientific paper that confirms that climate change is happening and also presented as an impact.
If you’re a denier, then you want the butterflies of the Himalaya’s to go extinct, right?
Tom Nelson: Exactly.
Saifedean Ammous: Okay. So these are the big six myths. I think this has been perfect and I’m, I look forward to seeing people try and poke holes in these. After that we get to the IPCC. I wanted to ask you, what do you think of the [01:16:02] IPCC? It’s a government agency, so clearly they would never have any kind of conflict of interest or they would never make dubious claims. It’s an international organization that’s part of the United Nations, how dare you, as our glorious leader Greta Thunberg says, how dare you question them?
Tom Nelson: It’s presented as the gold standard or whatever, but it’s the intergovernmental panel on climate change. So when they are producing the summary for policymakers, they get in a room, in a closed door room and they negotiate it, which is really an odd way to do science. That you’re in a closed door room, and then you don’t really negotiate what the scientific truth is, but that’s what they do.
They go through line by line, some government employees, and what’s supposed to come out of that process of scientific truth after they negotiate it. But I think that’s a total farce. There are a lot of good people, I’m sure, that work for the IPCC, [01:17:02] it’s not Truth, it’s just a bunch of people that are saying some stuff and some of it’s true and some of it isn’t.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think there’s an enormous difference between what the scientists say in these, and then what gets put in the executive summary and then what gets reported in the press. And a lot of scientists have had a lot of misgivings about their work being misrepresented in this stuff.
Tom Nelson: So it is like a game of telephone, the kids game telephone, where you have real scientists writing papers, and then there’s a level where they write the summary for policymakers, which may contradict possibly what’s in the basic level or the lower level, and then just recently, when they came out with one of their reports, I think it was the UN chief said it’s a code red for humanity.
So that was presented as an IPCC conclusion. And it’s just something that a guy which was António [01:18:02] Guterres, none of the scientists said code red as far as I know, but since he said code red, that’s what got in the headlines. And that was just again, not a scientific claim at all.
It’s just something that somebody said, totally not true as far as I’m concerned.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. The next thing I wanted to talk about is the hockey stick. This became pretty famous. I think the moment that the climate crisis narrative triumphed was probably around the mid two thousands, somewhere around 2004, 2005, 2006.
That’s when basically you became a pariah for questioning any of this stuff. And that’s when George Bush was running for reelection and then he basically bought into this. Even though I think, I may be inaccurate here, but I think when he ran for [01:19:02] elections first time, this was not a big deal, and then when he ran for reelection, he wasn’t much of a believer, but then when he ran for reelection, he basically switched into it. And I think that was the point where if you wanted to be taken seriously, if you didn’t want to get pointed at and laughed at, you had to admit that it was real.
And that happened largely I think, or a big part of it was because of the Al Gore movie that came out around that time, which was An Inconvenient Truth, and a big part of that movie, like the big main takeaway of that movie was when Al Gore got into that elevator, he was walking around showing you the temperatures and then he to show how the temperatures have risen recently, he got into an elevator that took him up and it showed how the temperatures were rising.
So the whole thing was very [01:20:02] dramatic. Also it was when the climate narrative had a very coherent single story, and I should add, I used to be a believer. I studied this stuff at a graduate level.
I have a PhD in this stuff, and I was a believer, and this was pretty convincing at that point. We’ve witnessed an enormous amount of increase in the temperatures, pretty coincidental with the beginning of industrialization. So as soon as we start pumping these fuels out of the Earth, we start putting out carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we witnessed temperatures rising massively in a way that was unprecedented.
And it’s very difficult to argue that this was a coincidence, but then things happened that showed that data had a lot of problems with it. So what happened with [01:21:02] this hockey stick?
Tom Nelson: Yeah, Steve McIntyre is the one that really investigated the hockey stick and how they try to use proxies to figure out what the global average temperature had done.
But the whole idea, I think, is pretty farcical to try to use tree rings to figure out what the global average temperature was. Cause there’s so many things that influence the width of tree rings like amount of rain, or there was even a, like a sheep may have a defecated near the tree, and that could make a big difference if there’s additional fertilization there, that could make you think that that was an extra warm year, et cetera.
But I put up the slide here just showing the way the temperatures have varied over the last few thousand years and the hockey stick throw away all of these warm periods, et cetera. And it’s just supposed to be replaced like a flat line that the, it was a flat line and then humans started burning fossil fuels, and then you got the blade of the hockey stick going straight up.
But it wrecks the whole narrative if you look at all the different warm [01:22:02] periods that occur just in the last few thousand years, when CO2 was supposed to be stable and we weren’t burning fossil fuels. So why did we get all of these fluctuations? And you can see that some of these rises of temperature, if this graph is correct, thousands of years ago from the European Dark Age, the medieval Warm Period, there’s quite a rate rise there that’s like the rise that we just saw after The Little Ice Age.
So the hockey stick in my mind is completely bogus and discredited, and there’s been tons of papers that have come up with temperature reconstructions that don’t look anything like a Michael Mann’s hockey stick. It’s not correct.
I think it got a lot of attention because it fit the narrative and it could be used, but it’s not correct. It’s not scientifically correct.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. And I think the the other thing that happened was that as it became very clear that this was data wasn’t very good, we witnessed a pivot in the messaging from global warming [01:23:02] to climate change.
So it used to be that it was a coherent narrative that CO2 rises, temperatures rise, and then the Earth boils and burns and we all die, and and it gets horrific, but then it became, first of all we didn’t witness the warming that they were predicting, and it became clear that the data, the idea that this was so unprecedented wasn’t really there.
And so they pivoted the marketing from warming to change. And now, once you move to change, that’s when we get into real proper witch doctor territory, because everything is changing in the climate at all times. We’re talking about a giant ball that is spinning in space at a speed of 30 kilometers per second, around a even far bigger, giant ball of fire, and nothing’s going to be constant.
Everything changes every day and [01:24:02] over the seasons and over the years, everything is constantly changing. And so of course our observed experience of temperature and weather and rainfall is going to constantly be changing. And any change that happens can be construed as evidence for this.
Interestingly enough, of course. There’s been quite a little bit of shenanigans involved in the construction of the hockey stick. Could you tell us a little bit more about that? I know Stephen McIntyre has done a lot of work on this. I’ve been trying to get him on the podcast and he promised he would join us in a few months.
His work was very influential in me breaking out of this. I was doing my PhD in this stuff when I came across his blog and it’s extremely challenging.
Tom Nelson: Yeah, super interesting. He is a very smart guy, I love to read his work. He found out that I believe if you take Mann’s algorithm and you put red noise through it, it’s just random red noise, and a hockey stick pops out from his [01:25:02] algorithm. And I believe also that there was some certain bristlecone pine tree that showed the hockey stick that Mann wanted, and that was weighted something like hundreds of times more than some other proxies.
It’s basically look around until you find something that gives the answer you want and just use that and throw out the other data. There was a lot of that type of thing. And there was also the hide the decline thing, where the data did not show, the tree ring data didn’t show what the temperatures showed from I think, 1960s, I forget when it was.
But there was a big divergent between what temperature showed and the tree rings, so they just threw that out. They hid the decline shown by the tree ring data, because if trees are not thermometers after 1960, how would we know what they are ever thermometers.
And they answer to me is they were never thermometers. None of that data makes any sense.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. And of course [01:26:02] Stephen McIntyre is an independent researcher. He’s not part of the accredited, approved priests of climate, so he shouldn’t be talking about this.
And of course, the interesting thing is he’s he spent years trying to look into the raw data for this, and people were stonewalling him and just refusing to give him the access to the data. And then one day somebody hacked into some servers and they managed to liberate that data.
And this is I think of course another one of the major blind spots, that people think there’s a real scientific process taking place, no, almost all of it is, well maybe not all of it, but a lot of it, particularly the most influential stuff, it’s done with proprietary data that you can’t verify.
You can read the science, which is the paper that gets published in a journal with the conclusions, but you can’t look at the raw data. And if you try and look at the raw [01:27:02] data, the scientist will just tell you, no you can’t do it. You have to be part of the Guild, you have to be publishing.
Basically you have to have your livelihood dependent on reaching the correct conclusion in order to access the data. And so that’s really how they prevent real scrutiny, but Steve McIntyre has done an incredible job doing that scrutiny after years of being turned down and being refused access to that data, some enterprising hackers liberated that data along with a trove of emails of some of those scientists involved, particularly associated with the East Anglia University.
And that showed a pretty blatant evidence of transparent data manipulation in order to arrive at the desired results, right?
Tom Nelson: Yeah. I [01:28:02] spent hundreds of hours reading those emails, it was super interesting to me. Hundreds of times I blogged about it, and it was very interesting to see what the scientists were saying to each other when they thought nobody else would be able to, these are private conversations, so what they were saying privately was very different from what they were saying publicly.
And I think there was one email in there where a guy said that a local kid did a project about tree rings that kind of evaluated invalidated the entire tree ring idea.
He used some tree rings from a local woods and it invalidated the idea that you can use tree rings to figure out temperatures, which you really can’t. But there was all sorts of very interesting stuff in there, and I’m very glad that we have access to those.
I still have a lot of those, if anybody wants to take a look at my blog, I have tons of posts on that. A lot of good stuff is in there. Lamenting cold weather, we can’t figure out why it’s so cold, that type of thing. Very interesting. I don’t know if [01:29:02] you’ve read some yourself, maybe?
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I’ve looked into this over the years. I’d urge the reader and listener to look into this stuff firsthand. I think if you’re not getting paid to arrive at these conclusions, the more you research, the more you head in the direction of yeah there’s no crisis, and we should stop freaking out about this. I think in general, people should just stop freaking out about things and start being a lot more reasonable about them.
All right, this has been great. I think we’ve covered a lot of ground. Now I want to open this up for questions from the seminar attendees, anybody here have any questions for Tom?
Peter Young: I could ask a question Saif, so I just wanted to ask the question about the global temperature records related to the first chart you showed on Greenland average temperatures.
There’s [01:30:02] quite a lot of contention around that particular graph because people who tried to debunk it by saying that this is only a local temperature change and that it was taken on the surface of Greenland rather than show a cross section of different temperatures.
And I just wondered how you respond to claims that this is only a regional change, and that actually in reality, the average global temperature was much lower?
Tom Nelson: Yeah. I would say that if CO2 is a climate control knob, it should have been able to heat Greenland over a thousand year period.
It would be odd if Greenland went one way and the rest of the world went the other way over 6,000, maybe 7,000 years or more. I have not seen a graph showing global average temperatures go on the other way in lockstep with carbon dioxide over that same period. So I think pretty much any temperature proxy is going to show you, if it was correct it would show you something locally.
And Yeah, I have seen a lot of that, particularly about [01:31:02] whether the Medieval Warm Period was global. That seems to be one of the biggest questions, but there’s a great website I would direct people to, I think it’s called the Medieval Warm Period project, where they spent enormous amounts of time looking at all sorts of data to find out was the Medieval Warm Period just a local thing, or was it a global thing?
And there’s tons of studies that indicate, they’ve looked at all sorts of local areas, and it seems like it occurred in most local areas, and it looks like it was about as warm as it is now. So the hockey stick would have you believe that the Medieval Warm Period was colder than now, and I see no evidence that it was colder than now.
Peter Young: Thank you.
Saifedean Ammous: Kiki, you want to ask a question?
Kiki: Sure. Thank you Saif. Yeah I have a question, Tom, and thank you for joining us today. What do you find is the best way to begin this conversation with typical climate people, especially around Bitcoin mining. If you know anything about that, or just how the best way is [01:32:02] to talk with people who might be new to this information.
Tom Nelson: Yeah. I’m not sure about the Bitcoin mining part, but for me, I like to just divide it up into parts. I really like to just look at one piece of it at a time. So I like to debunk one piece, like if they start talking about how a hurricane just happened and that must prove that there’s a crisis, then I just dive down right into that.
I don’t know if that helps any, but that’s just the way my mind works is I like to look at small pieces at a time and debunk the claims one at a time. I don’t know if you’re interested in any books you could read to get started on this, those are at the end, I wanted to throw that up here anyway.
Saifedean Ammous: We’ll put these up in the show notes.
Tom Nelson: Yeah. So if you’re a starting from zero and just starting to get into the topic, that very first one at the top, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change by Marc Morano, just got a ton of great information in it. So I would start with that one and then lower down there’s a couple of great websites, Watts Up with That, and Climate Depot are good. And [01:33:02] then follow me on Twitter if you want to see me try to debunk things one at a time on Twitter, and actually at the very bottom I’ve got notes for Climate Skeptics, I would direct you there too, I’d suggest look at data on polar bears, hurricanes, all sorts of things.
It’s just one big post that takes on lots of topics in one shot there.
Kiki: Thank you!
Saifedean Ammous: If anybody has more questions, please do raise your hand, but I did want to move on to a topic which I don’t see you usually discuss Tom, which is the kind of bigger picture politics that drive this hysteria around the weather and climate.
What are your thoughts about what is driving this? And I know initially we discussed this and we said, it’s not our job to have to explain why people believe ridiculous things in order to prove that they’re ridiculous. And I know you focus on just asking people why, and as you said, [01:34:02] focusing on the small details, which I think is extremely effective, but what do you see as the kind of bigger driver for why people end up believing these kinds of absurd things?
Tom Nelson: Yeah, so that’s good. I don’t know what’s going on at the very top level, what’s driving people, but I think within the climate debate here, I think most people that I’m dealing with sincerely believe that there is a climate crisis and it’s not like, climate scientists I think a lot of them sorta believe in it in that it’s not that they secretly know there’s no crisis, and they get up every day thinking I’m going to start lying to people again today to try to make money.
I think there’s so much group think. I think that is the key going on in most of their brains is that they think somebody else has already proven it.
They’re on the right side, and then they can think of themselves as, they’re heroes. They’re fighting against the bad guys and they’re doing something that might help save humanity. I think that’s a strong driver that they’re doing stuff that makes them feel heroic. And if they were to find out that [01:35:02] CO2 isn’t the climate control knob, then they would have to look back at all the years of work they did on this and realize that they were in the wrong scientifically.
That’s just too painful. But I see a lot more group think and I don’t really see conspiracy as much.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I tend to agree with you. And I think there’s the other aspect of it, which is my hobby horse is the monetary aspect that drives this. I think the reality is, the way that fiat money motivates science, and I discuss this in detail in The Fiat Standard, the way that science funding happens in a free society, ideally, what would happen is anybody’s free to write whatever they want and publish whatever they want, and then if your ideas end up being productive in that they help people have a better way of living, they help [01:36:02] people be more productive, then you find a way of monetizing that, your ideas spread, you get more funding, your university gets more funding.
And so we’d have a free open marketplace of ideas, which is, it’s not just a marketplace of ideas, it’s also a monetary marketplace where good ideas thrive and bad ideas die away.
And what happens when we have money that is controlled by the government is that it allows the government to take over the process of the marketplace of ideas. And instead of having ideas out there in free competition with one another, we have ideas being winners and losers in the marketplace of ideas, being determined top down by fiat, by government fiat. Literally by fiat and financially by fiat money.
So the government can print all the money that it wants, and so they can finance people and they decide the [01:37:02] agendas. I think this is a perfect recipe for group think. This is a perfect recipe for going down blind alleys and not having any kind of corrective to wake you up and tell you, hey, you’re going down a blind alley, turn around, go back to a better place.
Because we don’t have this open marketplace of ideas. What ends up happening is that you could continue to go down this blind alley, and the people who assign the funding are the same people who carry out the research. And so you just end up with more and more funding going toward the same kind of group think.
And the only way to get funded is to submit to the tenants of the group thing. And so that’s just a self-reinforcing cycle that keeps taking you deeper down the blind alleys. Now, I think we could get innocent wrong blind alleys [01:38:02] there, but then what I argue in The Fiat Standard is that there’s an agenda that is far more conducive to the financing, to the government that pays the bills, whoever pays the piper, calls the tunes. And you’re far more likely to end up getting lost and blind alleys that serve a certain purpose.
And so whether it is in nutrition science, and it’s something that we discuss frequently here in nutrition science, we see that the modern scientific method is constantly telling people to stay away from meat and to replace it with cheap industrial waste, essentially. Instead of having animal fats, you should try the cheap industrial fats that are produced in horrific forms, seed oils.
These things are cheaper, and these things help to hide inflation. And so the dietary guidelines came out in the 1970s, they told people that they should be eating 6 to 11 portions of [01:39:02] grains a day, and that they should cut down on meat and that as much as possible from the protein they should get it from plant sources and they should get fat from unsaturated fat because that’s better, so you end up buying the industrial fat. I don’t think that is just an entire coincidence. It’s obviously a broken pseudoscience, but it’s not a coincidence because the price of meat was going up a lot.
And so it’s very politically inconvenient for anybody in power to witness the price of meat rising and people being reliant on meat. So if you tell people to substitute, take out the meat and eat beans and lentils, as we’re seeing, when you see the central banks have been tweeting this, the US Federal Reserve has been telling people, hey replace your turkey with tofu this year, it contains more nutrients and more proteins per dollar.
And of course that’s nonsense because it’s infinitely [01:40:02] inferior and it creates all kinds of problems. But why does the Federal Reserve want to become Jamie Oliver? Why is it part of their mandate to tell people what to cook and how to eat?
The reason is they’re trying to tell people to eat the cheap things. Because the more you buy cheap things, the less the price of your basket of goods goes up, the less you feel the inflation. And I think something similar is at work with the climate hysteria. I think if you come up with conclusions that tell people you should not be consuming oil, you’re far more likely to get funded that somebody who says oil is actually very good for civilization.
This is an absolutely incontrovertible statement. We can’t have all the nice things that we have if it wasn’t for oil, gas, and coal, and yet you don’t have anybody in the mainstream of academia making this point.
You don’t have [01:41:02] anybody at Harvard or any of the major universities in the U. S. making this point. You don’t have any major energy scholars that are out there making the case for, we need more fossil fuels. The one person that I know of who’s making that case is an independent person, Alex Epstein. He’s out there actually bravely putting his name out and saying this is the moral case for fossil fuels.
He does not get university funding. The university funding goes to people being hysterical about how fossil fuels are going to burn the oceans and boil Earth and whatever. And I don’t think that’s entirely coincidental. It’s very difficult to argue that this is coincidental.
And this isn’t to say that there’s some giant conspiracy that’s out there, it’s just, this is the political agenda that is likely to get you funded. If you go out and you tell people you need to be buying more oil and more of these [01:42:02] energy sources that are very price sensitive, you are going to have a hard time getting funded.
Whereas if you find the reason why actually those energy sources are bad, you’re going to have an easier time getting funded. What do you think of that?
Tom Nelson: Yeah, I totally agree with that. And I was going to bring up actually the carbon credit markets themselves, that billions and billions of dollars are on the line there.
And of course, if CO2 isn’t the climate control knob, then all of that money goes to zero. Carbon credits would be worth nothing. And also green energy in general. There’s a lot of money to be made there and people are going to be a lot less likely to want to force governments to buy solar panels and wind turbines, et cetera, if we find out they actually don’t prevent bad weather.
So anyway, enormous amounts of money is on the line, as well as the other things we talked about.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think I agree with you entirely on that. And this is why I think this is such an important point because the birth of the anti-fossil [01:43:02] fuels science or pseudoscience if you want, came in the 1970s, initially it was overpopulation and over consumption, where we’re going to run out of all of those fuels because the prices were rising.
And so the way that they explained this was they put in all kinds of pseudoscience about Earth is running out, Earth is running out and that’s why the price is rising. Clearly it has nothing to do with going off gold and all of the money printing that’s taking place, it’s just we’ve hit the geological limits of Earth, we’ve tapped Earth dry of oil.
But here we are 50 years later and we are producing far more oil than ever. And we just continue to produce more and more every year. So clearly we’re not running out, we’re not tapping the Earth dry. So the conclusion has remained the same, and this is why this is just basically motivated reasoning, it’s not real science.
The conclusion has remained the same, we should stop consuming oil, oil is bad, but the rationale has completely shifted. It’s not that we have not enough oil is [01:44:02] that we have so much, too much, we’re burning the Earth with it. So the same people that were concerned about running out of oil in the 1970s are not concerned about having too much oil, but the conclusion is the same, we need to move away from oil.
And yeah, the same thing happened with food in the 1970s, we needed to move away because of heart disease and so on. It has been extremely catastrophic and has ruined so many millions and billions of lives really, all over the world. Now inflation is back and I think we’re likely going to see more and more inflation over the coming years.
And so we’re witnessing those narratives really pick up. We’re seeing every day, regime media, what I call the fiat media, the media that basically is financed by people who benefit from the inflation, is out there telling the peasants consume less oil, get on a bus, don’t drive your own car, live in a smaller house.
Stay [01:45:02] home, watch TV, get a VR set, don’t go out, don’t drive and eat lentils, and don’t eat beef, eat soy, eat all of these cheap industrial crops and don’t eat meat. And I think this is why I find this extremely important and fascinating and extremely relevant to monetary issues because that’s really what’s driving the scientific method in this regard.
There isn’t a consensus that’s born out of evidence that, oh really, we’ve looked at it, it’s pretty undeniable that an increase in CO2 is actually causing the Earth to have incredibly bad things happen to it. It’s different, it’s a set conclusion of we need to find ways to convince people to stay away from the things whose prices are rising and then we need to find a rationale for it. [01:46:02]
Tom Nelson: I agree.
Saifedean Ammous: All right. Thank you so much for joining us, Tom. This has been absolutely fascinating. I think this is going to be my go-to reference to send to people about why I am one of the heretics. I want to thank you again for all of the work you’ve done over the years, helping me and many people all over the world and I hope more and more people start speaking out about this, because I think over the last 5, 10 years or so, it’s gone way beyond just being a cute little side hobby.
I think we’re witnessing the destruction of critical energy infrastructure that the world needs and more people that can see that this is ridiculous need to start speaking out about it, I think.
Tom Nelson: Yeah. I think Jim Lakely said that you may not care about the climate agenda, but the climate agenda cares about you, and i think it’s a good quote because it [01:47:02] does, yeah.
Saifedean Ammous: Another great one is you are the CO2 they want to reduce. I think this is really, you may not care about it, but they care about you, they want to reduce you, basically. They want you to have fewer kids, they want you to live basically in a tiny little house, not have any mobility and not consume a lot of energy. They basically want you to go back to living like a medieval serf.
And the reason for that is, I think the ultimate reason is the inflation. The only way to keep this inflation thing going is if you get people to consume less and if you get people to live shittier lives. And so we need to keep coming up with all of these ridiculous narratives for why they need to do that, but we’ve got to get you on Bitcoin Tom!
I forgot about that, we have to show you on Bitcoin because Bitcoin fixes this! We always have to end almost every episode of The Bitcoin Standard Podcast with explaining why Bitcoin fixes all of this.
Tom Nelson: I got your book on Audible, so I’m starting to listen to your book. [01:48:02]
Saifedean Ammous: Great! In a nutshell, Bitcoin can reinstate a free market in science because Bitcoin basically takes away the government’s money printer, because people are using a real money that is hard to make that nobody can print, then there’s not going to be a lot of people willing to pay out of their own pocket for financing pseudoscience, and then we’d have a real free marketplace of ideas.
And then the other side of it is the fact that Bitcoin is really liberating the energy market from the insanity of the last couple of decades, where we’ve destroyed the energy sources that we need in favor of these primitive pre-industrial sources that are essentially superfluous and unreliable, and cannot be used, and extremely expensive in real terms. Bitcoin mining is the freest market in the world for energy.
It’ll buy energy from anybody anywhere in the world because you don’t need to build infrastructure to transport the energy that is produced [01:49:02] into any particular location where it is used. So you can have remote generation of energy. And it would be monetized through just a simple internet connection via satellite.
And so I think it’s going to revive the energy industry all over the world and it’s gonna allow us around the world to have more and more cheap energy, which is the exact opposite of what we’ve been experiencing over the last few decades. So hopefully one day, maybe next time we have you on, we’ll talk about Bitcoin more.
Tom Nelson: Sounds great! I got to get up to speed on that.
Saifedean Ammous: Excellent. All right, thank you again for joining us and thanks to everybody else for attending and for all the questions and I’ll see you next time. Take care!
Tom Nelson: Thank you very much!