Saturday, August 18, 2007

Advice to academic squatters

Many teachers in North America and around the world are considering academic squatting and are contacting Activist Teacher for advice and solidarity. Here’s the advice.

Do it! Stop grading and squat. Anarchism works. It’s not about alternative schools. It’s about taking charge of your life to transform society. Change necessitates confrontation.

Can you do it within a logical/legal framework of system legitimacy? Or are you prepared to risk the lot for sanity’s sake?

It’s not about educating with information.

Critical pedagogy is not about the message. All that info about war, economics, etc. is just a MASSAGE for those who think rather than do, if it's not accompanied by action that involves confrontation and personal risk.

Critical pedagogy is praxis. Its practitioners need to be fighting oppression, not just becoming "informed" about it. And the battle needs to be local and against one's own oppression rather than transferred in order to avoid immediate risk. The backlash is what informs you and your resistance is what builds you. What is your oppression?

Take the plunge. Don’t do it halfway or gradually. Others will join you.

Student’s version: Practice academic hijacking.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Survival 101

Letter to U of O students, September 2007
by Denis Rancourt

I am fascinated by U of O – the administrative institution and social structure. I have also been most perplexed by its students themselves.

I mean students are a special breed. They are educated and privileged adults who pay large tuition fees (amounting to half of the operating costs of the university, the rest coming from the public purse) yet they accept being told in every detail how their academic lives will be run.

I mean adult paying clients of a public service, in any other sector of the economy, would normally be defining what that service is: The students should be running the place, in consultation with the public (e.g., an elected school board of community members).

Instead, we have an unelected (self-preserving and self-named) corporate executive, decorated with a necklace of congratulatory committees, making every decision about student campus lives.

That’s right; the university is a legal corporation, administratively independent from the Ministry of Education, run by corporate executives. All committees are purely consultative. The Senate is mainly staffed by subservient (and amazingly silent) professors and the Board of Governors (the BOG) is mainly populated by representatives of the university’s corporate allies. Both chambers simply vote yes to the President’s recommendations. To my knowledge, no executive recommendation has ever been overturned or even consequentially delayed in my 21 years here.

Go and see for yourselves. Senate and BOG meetings are public. It is an educational experience. (The BOG free food is better than cafeteria fare.)

OK, so how can we understand this remarkable phenomenon of adult students who agree to pay in order to be tortured with curricula that are aimed at creating obedient employees rather than at education? Unending deadlines, regurgitation on command, no say in content or methods, carrot and stick grading, imposed schedules…

How is this possible?

I have researched this question for years and interviewed many students and professors. I have concluded that there is one overriding reason. It’s called “a deal with the devil.”

Most students agree to give up their independence of thought and enquiry and to serve the insane system of due dates and senseless assignments in exchange for the certificate (the degree). Most students give up four vital years of their lives in order to be certified persistently obedient. This certificate, in turn, gives students access to a privileged position in the wage hierarchy and professional social status.

It’s a trade. But the certificate is not just a certificate. It requires survival and that, in turn, requires both adopting the ideology of the profession (for professional, science, and engineering degrees) and self-indoctrination to drive out the natural impulse to learn (often called setting priorities or time management). Your soul for a place in the sun.

But I have good news. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can survive with your personality, interests, motivations, morals, and principles intact. More and more students are doing it. Just stand up. Speak out. Confront. Others will join you. You will discover inner strengths and self-reliance.

The first step for many is to even notice that it’s all wrong. The next step is often death: Acceptance, cynicism, compliance, finding it interesting… Consider the alternative that is exploring and exerting your influence to change things.

You’ll know you’re changing things if there’s a backlash from those who have constructed and benefit from the status quo. When a prof or chairperson or dean balls you out for expressing your criticisms or demeans you or intimidates you, then you will know that you were saying something that matters. You will learn things that cannot be learned any other way.

Join the activists and enjoy your trouble.

Academic Squatting
Activism and Risk - Life beyond altruism
Disciplined Minds - a book about surviving university
Ottawa's Exile Infoshop
IWW - a union like no other!
Ottawa Cinema Politica

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

All the dirt on the Activism Course...

Today's Ottawa Sun has a feature article on Professor Denis Rancourt's activism course struggle. The Sun published the link to this ActivistTeacher site but all the most relevant posts on the activism course battle are at THIS UofOWatch site. Enjoy.

To get email updates or to join the next activism course class contact the Freedom of Expression Committee (FEC).

To learn about and sign the FEC petition calling for the resignations of U of O President Gilles Patry, VP-Academic Robert Major, and the dean of the Faculty of Science: Go to THIS on-line petition site.

To be added to the email list of the free weekly Ottawa Cinema Politica Friday evening documentary film and discussion series: Send an email to

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Corporate Climate Coup

The Corporate Climate Coup
By David F. Noble
(guest blogger)

Don't breathe. There's a total war on against CO2 emissions, and you are releasing CO2 with every breath. The multi-media campaign against global warming now saturating our senses, which insists that an increasing CO2 component of greenhouse gases is the enemy, takes no prisoners: you are either with us or you are with the "deniers." No one can question the new orthodoxy or dare risk the sin of emission. If Bill Clinton were running for president today he would swear he didn't exhale.

How did we get here? How did such an arcane subject only yesterday of interest merely to a handful of scientific specialists so suddenly come to dominate our discourse? How did scientific speculation so swiftly erupt into ubiquitous intimations of apocalypse? These are not hypothetical questions but historical questions, and they have answers. Such events as these do not just happen; they are made to happen. On the whole our ideas tend not to be our own ideas; rarely do we come up with them ourselves but rather imbibe them from the world around us. This is especially obvious when our ideas turn out to be the same as nearly everyone else's, even people we've never met or communicated with. Where did this idea about the urgent crisis of global warming and CO2 emissions come from and get into our heads, given that so few of us have ever read, or even tried to read, a single scientific paper about greenhouse gases? Answering such a question is not as difficult as it might seem, for the simple reason that it takes a great amount of reach and resources to place so alien an idea in so many minds simultaneously so quickly, and the only possessors of such capacity and means are the government and the corporations, together with their multi-media machinery. To effect such a significant shift in attention, perception, and belief requires a substantial, and hence visible and demonstrable, effort.

Until quite recently most people were either unaware of or confused and relatively unconcerned about this issue, despite a growing consensus among scientists and environmentalists about the possible dangers of climate change. Global warming activists, such as AI Gore, were quick to place the blame for that popular ignorance, confusion, and lack of concern on a well-financed corporate propaganda campaign by oil and gas companies and their front organizations, political cronies, advertising and public relations agencies, and media minions, which lulled people into complacency by sowing doubt and skepticism about worrisome scientific claims. And, of course, they were right; there was such a corporate campaign, which has by now been amply documented. What global warming activists conveniently failed to point out, however, is that their own, alarmist, message has been drummed into our minds by the very same means, albeit by different corporate hands. This campaign, which might well prove the far more significant, has heretofore received scant notice.

Over the last decade and a half we have been subjected to two competing corporate campaigns, echoing different time-honored corporate strategies and reflecting a split within elite circles. The issue of climate change has been framed from both sides of this elite divide, giving the appearance that there are only these two sides. The first campaign, which took shape in the late 1980's as part of the triumphalist “globalization" offensive, sought to confront speculation about climate change head-on by denying, doubting, deriding, and dismissing distressing scientific claims which might put a damper on enthusiasm for expansive capitalist enterprise. It was modelled after and to some extent built upon the earlier campaign by the tobacco industry to sow skepticism about mounting evidence of the deleterious health-effects of smoking. In the wake of this "negative" propaganda effort, any and all critics of climate change and global warming have been immediately identified with this side of the debate.

The second -“positive”- campaign, which emerged a decade later, in the wake of Kyoto and at the height of the anti-globalization movement, sought to get out ahead of the environmental issue by affirming it only to hijack it and turn it to corporate advantage. Modelled on a century of corporate liberal cooptation of popular reform movements and regulatory regimes, it aimed to appropriate the issue in order to moderate its political implications, thereby rendering it compatible with corporate economic, geopolitical, and ideological interests. The corporate climate campaign thus emphasized the primacy of "market-based” solutions while insisting upon uniformity and predictability in mandated rules and regulations. At the same time it hyped the global climate issue into an obsession, a totalistic preoccupation with which to divert attention from the radical challenges of the global-justice movement. In the wake of this campaign, any and all opponents of the “deniers” have been identified – and, most importantly, have wittingly or unwittingly identified themselves – with the corporate climate crusaders.

The first campaign, dominant throughout the 1990's, suffered somewhat from exposure and became relatively moribund early in the Bush II era, albeit without losing influence within the White House (and the Prime Minister's Office). The second, having contributed to the diffusion of a radical movement, has succeeded in generating the current hysteria about global warming, now safely channeled into corporate-friendly agendas at the expense of any serious confrontations with corporate power. Its media success has aroused the electorate and compelled even die-hard deniers to disingenuously cultivate a greener image. Meanwhile, and most important, the two opposing campaigns have together effectively obliterated any space for rejecting them both.

In the late 1980's the world's most powerful corporations launched their "globalization" revolution, incessantly invoking the inevitable beneficence of free trade and, in the process, relegating environmental issues to the margins and reducing the environmentalist movement to rearguard actions. Interest in climate change nevertheless continued to grow. In 1988, climate scientists and policy-makers established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) to keep abreast of the matter and issue periodic reports. At a meeting in Toronto three hundred scientists and policy-makers from forty-eight countries issued a “call for action” on the reduction of CO2 emissions. The following year fifty oil, gas, coal, and automobile and chemical manufacturing companies and their trade associations formed the Global Change Coalition (GCC), with the help of public relations giant Burson-Marsteller. Its stated purpose was to sow doubt about scientific claims and forestall political efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The GCC gave millions of dollars in political contributions and in support of a public relations campaign warning that misguided efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions through restrictions on the burning of fossil fuels would undermine the promise of globalization and cause economic ruin. GCC efforts effectively put the climate change issue on hold.

Meanwhile, following an indigenous uprising in Chiapas in January, 1994, set for the first day of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the anti-globalization movement erupted in world-wide protest against market capitalism and corporate depredation, including the despoiling of the environment. Within five years the movement had grown in cohesion, numbers, momentum and militancy and coalesced in designated “global days of action" around the world, particularly in direct actions at G8 summits and meetings of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the new World Trade Organization, reaching its peak in the shutting down the WTO meetings in Seattle in November, 1999. The movement, which consisted of a wide range of diverse grass-roots organizations united in opposition to the global "corporate agenda,” shook the elite globalization campaign to its roots. It was in this charged context that the signatories of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which had been formulated by representatives from 155 nations at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, met at the end of 1997 in Kyoto and established the so-called Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through carbon targets and trading. The Kyoto treaty, belatedly ratified only in late 2004, was the sole international agreement on climate change and immediately became the bellwether of political debate about global warming.

Corporate opposition anticipated Kyoto. In the summer of 1997 the U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution demanding that any such treaty must include the participation and compliance of developing countries, particularly emerging economic powers like China, India, and Brazil, which were nevertheless excluded in the first round of the Kyoto Protocol. Corporate opponents of Kyoto in the GCC, with the swelling global justice movement as a back-drop, condemned the treaty as a “socialist" or "third-world” plot against the developed countries of the West.

The convergence of the global justice movement and Kyoto, however, prompted some of the elite to rethink and regroup, which created a split in corporate ranks regarding the issue of climate change. Defections from the GCC began in 1997 and within three years had come to include such major players as Dupont, BP, Shell, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, and Texaco. Among the last GCC hold-outs were Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, and General Motors. (In 2000, the GCC finally went out of business but other like-minded corporate front organizations were created to carry on the "negative” campaign, which continues.)

Those who split off from the GCC quickly coalesced in new organizations. Among the first of these was the Pew Center for Global Climate Change. funded by the philanthropic offering of the Sun Oil/Sunoco fortune. The board of the new Center was chaired by Theodore Roosevelt IV, great grandson of the Progressive Era president (and conservation icon) and managing director of the Lehman Brothers investment banking firm. Joining him on the board were the managing director of the Castle-Harlan investment firm and the former CEO of Northeast Utilities, as well as veteran corporate lawyer Frank E. Loy, who had been the Clinton administration's chief negotiator on trade and climate change.

At its inception the Pew Center established the Business Environmental Leadership Council, chaired by Loy. Early council members included Sunoco, Dupont, Duke Energy, BP, Royal Dutch/Shell, Duke Energy, Ontario Power Generation, DTE (Detroit Edison), and Alcan. Marking their distance from the GCC, the Council declared “we accept the views of most scientists that enough is known about the science and environmental impacts of climate change for us to take actions to address the consequences;” “Businesses can and should take concrete steps now in the U.S. and abroad to assess opportunities for emission reductions. . . and invest in new, more efficient products, practices, and technologies." The Council emphasized that climate change should be dealt with through "market-based mechanisms” and by adopting “reasonable policies,” and expressed the belief “that companies taking early action on climate strategies and policy will gain sustained competitive advantage over their peers."

Early in 2000, “world business leaders" convening at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland declared that “climate change is the greatest threat facing the world.” That fall, many of the same players, including Dupont, BP, Shell, Suncor, Alcan, and Ontario Power Generation, as well as the French aluminum manufacturer Pechiney, joined forces with the U.S. advocacy group Environmental Defense to form the Partnership for Climate Action. Like-minded Environmental Defense directors included the Pew Center's Frank Loy and principals from the Carlyle Group, Berkshire Partners, and Morgan Stanley and the CEO of Carbon Investments. Echoing the Pew Center mission, and barely a year after the “battle of Seattle" had shut down the World Trade Organization in opposition to the corporate globalization regime, the new organization reaffirmed its belief in the beneficence of market capitalism. “The primary purpose of the Partnership is to champion market-based mechanisms as a means of achieving early and credible action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that is efficient and cost-effective." Throughout its initial announcement this message was repeated like a mantra: “the benefits of market mechanisms," “market-oriented rules," “market-based programs can provide the means to simultaneously achieve both environmental protection and economic development goals,” "the power of market mechanisms to contribute to climate change solutions.” In the spring of 2002, the Partnership's first report proudly stated that “the companies of the PCA are in the vanguard of the new field of greenhouse gas management.” “The PCA is not only achieving real reductions in global warming emissions,” the report noted, "but also providing a body of practical experience, demonstrating how to reduce pollution while continuing to profit.”

This potential for profit-making from climate change gained the avid attention of investment bankers, some of whom were central participants in the PCA through their connections with the boards of the Pew Center and Environmental Defense. Goldman Sachs became the leader of the pack; with its ownership of power plants through Cogentrix and clients like BP and Shell, the Wall Street firm was most attuned to the opportunities. In 2004 the company began to explore the “market-making” possibilities and the following year established its Center for Environmental Markets, with the announcement that “Goldman Sachs will aggressively seek market-making and investment opportunities in environmental markets;" The firm indicated that the Center would engage in research to develop public policy options for establishing markets around climate change, including the design and promotion of regulatory solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The firm also indicated that Goldman Sachs would “take the lead in identifying investment opportunities in renewable energy;” that year the investment banking firm acquired Horizon Wind Energy, invested in photovoltaics with Sun Edison, arranged financing for Northeast Biofuels, and purchased a stake in logen Corporation, which pioneered the conversion of straw, corn stalks, and switchgrass into ethanol. The company also dedicated itself “to act as a market maker in emissions trading” of CO2 (and SO2) as well as in such areas as “weather derivatives,” "renewable energy credits," and other “climate-related commodities.” “We believe," Goldman Sachs proclaimed, “that the management of risks and opportunities arising from climate change and its regulation will be particularly significant and will garner increasing attention from capital market participants.”

Among those capital market participants was former U.S. Vice President AI Gore. Gore had a long-standing interest in environmental issues and had represented the U.S. in Kyoto. He also had equally long-standing family ties with the energy industry through his father's friendship with Armand Hammer and his financial interest in Hammer’s company Occidental Petroleum, which the son inherited. In 2004, as Goldman Sachs was gearing up its climate-change market-making initiatives in quest of green profits, Gore teamed up with Goldman Sachs executives David Blood, Peter Harris, and Mark Ferguson to establish the London-based environment investment firm Generation Investment Management (GIM), with Gore and Blood at its helm. In May, 2005 Gore, representing GIM, addressed the Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk and emphasized the need for investors to think in the long term and to integrate environmental issues into their equity analyses. "I believe that integrating the issues relating to climate change into your analysis of what stocks are worth investing in, how much, and for how long, is simply good business,” Gore explained to the assembled investors. Applauding a decision to move in this direction announced the day before by General Electric's CEO Jeff Immelt, Gore declared that “we are here at an extraordinarily hopeful moment. . .when the leaders in the business sector begin to make their moves.” By that time Gore was already at work on his book about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, and that same spring he began preparations to make a film about it.

The book and the film of the same name both appeared in 2006, with enormous promotion and immediate success in the corporate entertainment industry (the film eventually garnering an Academy Award). Both vehicles vastly extended the reach of the climate change market-makers, whose efforts they explicitly extolled. “More and more U.S. business executives are beginning to lead us in the right direction," Gore exulted, adding “there is also a big change underway in the investment community.” The book and film faithfully reflected and magnified the central messages of the corporate campaign. Like his colleagues at the Pew Center and the Partnership for Climate Action, Gore stressed the importance of using market mechanisms to meet the challenge of global warming. "One of the keys to solving the climate crisis," he wrote, “involves finding ways to use the powerful force of market capitalism as an ally.” Gore repeated his admonition to investors about the need for long-term investment strategies and for integrating environmental factors into business calculations, proudly pointing out how business leaders had begun “taking a broader view of how business can sustain their profitability over time.” The one corporate executive actually quoted in the book, in a two-page spread, was General Electric's CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who succinctly explained the timing and overriding purpose of the exercise: “This is a time period where environmental improvement is going to lead to profitability.”

By the beginning of 2007 the corporate campaign had significantly scaled up its activity, with the creation of several new organizations. The Pew Center and Partnership for Climate Action now created a political lobbying entity, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). USCAP membership included the key players in the initial effort, such as BP, Dupont, the Pew Center, and Environmental Defense, and added others, including GE, Alcoa, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, Florida Power and Light, and PNM, the New Mexico and Texas utilities holding company. PNM had recently joined with Microsoft's Bill Gates' Cascade Investments to form a new unregulated energy company focused on growth opportunities in Texas and the western U.S. PNM's CEO Jeff Sterba also chaired the Climate Change Task Force of the Edison Electric Institute. Also joining USCAP was the Natural Resources Defense Council, the World Resources Institute, and the investment banking firm Lehman Brothers whose managing director Theodore Roosevelt IV chaired the board of the Pew Center and was soon also to chair Lehman's new Global Center on Climate Change. As Newsweek now noted (March 12, 2007). “Wall Street is experiencing a climate change," with the recognition that “the way to get the green is to go green.”

In January, 2007, USCAP issued “A Call for Action," a “non-partisan effort driven by the top executives from member organizations.” The "Call” declared the "urgent need for a policy framework on climate change;" stressing that "a mandatory system is needed that sets clear, predictable, market-based requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” USCAP laved out a “blueprint for a mandatory economy-wide market-driven approach to climate protection,” which recommended a "cap and trade" program as its "cornerstone,” combining the setting of targets with a global carbon market for trading emission allowances and credits. Long condemned by developing countries as “carbon colonialism,” carbon trading had become the new orthodoxy. The blueprint also called for a "national program to accelerate technology, research, development, and deployment” and measures to encourage the participation of developing countries Iike China, India, and Brazil, insisting that “ultimately the solution must be global.” According to USCAP spokesperson General Electric's CEO Jeff Immelt, “these recommendations should catalyze legislative action that encourages innovation and fosters economic growth while enhancing energy security and balance of trade."

The following month yet another corporate climate organization made its appearance, this one specifically dedicated to spreading the new global warming gospel. Chaired by AI Gore of Generation Investment Management, the Alliance for Climate Protection included among its members the now familiar Theodore Roosevelt IV from Lehman Brothers and the Pew Center, former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, Owen Kramer from Boston Provident, representatives from Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Wildlife Federation, and three former Environmental Protection Agency Administrators. Using “innovative and far-reaching communication techniques,” Gore explained, “the Alliance for Climate Protection is undertaking an unprecedented mass persuasion exercise” – the multi-media campaign against global warming now saturating our senses. Don’t breathe.

If the corporate climate change campaign has fuelled a fevered popular preoccupation with global warming, it has also accomplished much more. Having arisen in the midst of the world-wide global justice movement, it has restored confidence in those very faiths and forces which that movement had worked so hard to expose and challenge: globe-straddling profit-maximizing corporations end their myriad agencies and agendas; the unquestioned authority of science and the corollary belief in deliverance through technology, and the beneficence of the self-regulating market with its panacea of prosperity through free trade, and its magical powers which transforms into commodities all that it touches, even life. All the glaring truths revealed by that movement about the injustices, injuries, and inequalities sowed and sustained by these powers and beliefs have now been buried, brushed aside in the apocalyptic rush to fight global warming. Explicitly likened to a war, this epic challenge requires single-minded attention and total commitment, without any such distractions. Now is not the time, nor is there any need, to question a deformed society or re-examine its underlying myths. The blame and the burden has been shifted back again to the individual, awash in primordial guilt, the familiar sinner facing punishment for his sins, his excesses, predisposed by his pious culture and primed now for discipline and sacrifice. On opening day of the 2007 baseball season, the owner of the Toronto Blue Jays stood in front of the giant jumbotron, an electronic extravaganza, encircled by a ring of dancing corporate logos and advertising, and exhorted every person in the crowd, preposterously, to go out and buy an energy-efficient light bulb. They applauded.

In his bestselling 2005 book the Weather Makers, Tim Flannery called his readers to battle in “our war on climate change." With a forward for the Canadian edition written by Mike Russill, former CEO of the energy giant Suncor and now head of World Wildlife Fund/Canada, the book well reflected the corporate campaign. Each of us "must believe that the fight is winnable in social and economic terms,” Russill insists, “and that we do not have to dramatically change the way we live," "The most important thing to realize," Flannery echoes, “is that we can all make a difference and help combat climate change at almost no cost to our lifestyle." “The transition to a carbon-free economy is eminently achievable,” he exults, "because we have all the technology we need to do so.” "One great potential pitfall on the road to climate stability," he warns, however, "is the propensity for groups to hitch their ideological wagon to the push for sustainability.” "When facing a grave emergency,” he advises, “it's best to be single-minded." The book is inspiring, rallying the reader to battle against this global threat with ingenuity, enthusiasm, and hopefulness, except for one small aside, buried in the text, that gnaws at the attentive reader: “because concern about climate change is so new, and the issue is so multi-disciplinary," Flannery notes, “there are few true experts in the field and even fewer who can articulate what the problem might mean to the general public and what we should do about it.”

The corporate campaign has done more than merely create market opportunities for mainstream popular science writers like Flannery. By constructing an exclusively Manichean contest between mean and mindless deniers, on the one hand, and enlightened global warming advocates, on the other, it has also disposed otherwise politically-astute journalists on the left to uncharacteristic credulity. Heat, George Monbiot's impassioned 2006 manifesto on the matter, is embarrassing in its funneled focus and its naive deference to the authority of science, "Curtailing climate change,” he declaims, “must become the project we put before all others. If we fail in this task, we fail in everything else." “We need a cut of the magnitude science demands,” he declares; we must adopt "the position determined by science rather than the position determined by politics," as if there was such a thing as science that was not also politics.

Monbiot pulls no punches against the “denial industry," excoriating the negative corporate campaigners for their "idiocy” and bitingly suggesting that some day soon “climate-change denial will look as stupid as Holocaust denial, or the insistence that AIDS can be cured with beetroot.” Yet he has not a word of acknowledgement much less criticism for the campaigners on the other side whose message he perhaps unwittingly peddles with such passion. And here too, oddly, a brief paragraph buried in the text, seemingly unconnected to the rest, disturbs the otherwise inspired reader. “None of this is to suggest," Monbiot notes in passing, "that the science should not be subject to constant skepticism and review, or that environmentalists should not be held to account. . . .Climate-change campaigners have no greater right to be wrong than anyone else." “If we mislead the public,” he allows, “we should expect to be exposed,” adding that “we also need to know that we are not wasting our time: there is no point in devoting your life to fighting a problem that does not exist." Here perhaps some remnants of truth seep between the managed lines, hinting yet at the opening of another space and another moment.

Historian David Noble teaches at York University in Toronto, Canada. He is the author, most recently, of Beyond the Promised Land (2005). More of his articles are posted at ACTIVIST CLIMATE GUY.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


This article was printed in the spring 2007 issue of "Our Schools / Our Selves," published quarterly by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

David F. Noble
(guest blogger)

Critical pedagogy has long condemned grading as an impediment to genuine education, but critical pedagogues continue to grade, as a presumed condition of employment. “I hate it but I have to do it” is their lame lament.

But they no longer have to do it. Throughout the thirty-odd years of my university teaching career I have always found ways around grading, primarily by giving all A’s, thereby eliminating grades de facto if not de jure. Last year for the first time, after long bemoaning my “anomalous” practice, York University officials formally prevailed upon me henceforth to designate my courses “ungraded” (a pass/fail option without the fail), thereby taking them off the radar and perhaps unintentionally establishing a promising academic precedent.

As a tenured full professor, of course, I do enjoy an unusual degree of job security, a privilege provided by a paying public in need of some truth and thus some unshackled, socially responsible scholars. Moreover, as a unionized employee I am protected by a collective agreement which requires only that I submit evaluations on time without specifying what they “should” be. Thus I am indeed in a good position to challenge the grading regime, but so too are many others who continue to grade.

Why? Typically, as already indicated, colleagues express a fear of administrative reprisal. But they embrace grades also for other, unspoken, reasons, perhaps unacknowledged even to themselves.

Grades offer teachers a convenient device for allaying their anxieties about their own abilities by shifting them onto their students, through an endless round of tests, examinations and evaluations. Grades get teachers off the hook; they preserve professorial authority and are indifferent to professorial incompetence. Bad faith protestations about administration requirements can mask the fact that grades serve the teacher at the expense of the students, and at the sacrifice of education.

But in all this the primary reason for the existence of grades—publicly-subsidized pre-employment screening—is rarely acknowledged. Grades appear to be a matter between teacher and student—until they are “submitted.” At that point those for whom grades are really given—those who have perhaps never even stepped into a classroom—gain access to the measurements of their prospective labour force. Here is the silent third party in the halls of academia, the so-called elephant in the room, to whom academia has too long been hostage. Eliminating grades eliminates the elephant from the room, emancipates academia and reintroduces education.

The elimination of grades at a stroke shifts academic attention from evaluation to education, where it belongs. When skeptical colleagues protest that it is not fair for me to give the same grade both to people who work hard and to people who fail even to show up, I remind them that these people are not getting the same reward because the people who work hard also get an education. “Oh, yeah,” they say, remembering as an afterthought what should be at the forefront of their profession.

Students themselves have collectively never resisted my refusal to grade them, and our experiences have been mutually rewarding beyond measure, and all measurement. With grades no longer a matter of concern, no time is ever wasted on discussions about evaluation—heretofore students’ primary preoccupation. Without having to fear or defer to professors or peers, students are freed for forthright and authentic engagement, an essential ingredient of genuine education, and discover that they are not alone, despite the rituals of competitive individualism enforced everywhere else around them.

With the substitution of encouragement for evaluation, intellectual excitement becomes the defining element in the educational ethos, replacing anxiety--which, as every parent knows, is lethal to learning. Abandoning grades annuls alienation: students no longer depend on others for a sense of their own worth.

Without grades, students do not have to try to read the professor’s mind—an impossible task anyway, so philosophers tell us—and can instead concentrate upon reading their own minds, self-knowledge being the grail of education. With grades gone, and having thus side-stepped the institutionally routinized regime of infantilization so corrosive of self-respect, self-confidence and self-worth, students can now begin to take themselves and their own thoughts seriously—for too many an altogether novel experience. This is the only true end of education.

The elimination of grades is no longer merely a theoretical proposition. It is an actuality, and a precedent, given my experience at York University. I now teach officially-designated “ungraded” courses with the formal sanction of the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and in full recognition of the Vice President/Academic. From this fertile ground, I advise my colleagues across the country: Try it; you are bound to like it. And so, I suspect, are your students, who will at last start receiving what they have been presumably been paying for and what we have been professing to provide.

Historian David F. Noble is a professor at York University in Toronto.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Afghanistan: Guerre humanitaire ou criminelle? (in French)

Critique de la guerre canadienne en Afghanistan

Conference du professeur Denis G. Rancourt
(Universite du Quebec en Outaouais, 6 mars 2007 - in French.)


[Radical analysis of Canada's crime of war in Afghanistan (in French).]

Friday, April 13, 2007

ACADEMIC SQUATTING - A democratic method of curriculum development

This article was printed in the spring 2007 issue of "Our Schools / Our Selves," published quarterly by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives It was also printed in the September/October 2007 issue of "DESIGNER / builder" magazine.

Denis G. Rancourt

I teach an activism course at the University of Ottawa.

Not a course about altruism, volunteerism, charity, international aid or civic duty and building community within the confines of the status quo. But an activism course, about confronting authority and hierarchical structures directly or through defiant or non-subordinate assertion in order to democratize power in the workplace, at school, and in society.

As is often the case with effective activism, this course is itself direct, overt, and defiant. I have chosen to adopt a style consistent with this stance in writing this article, as an illustration of my pedagogical posture. Teachers need to show what they stand for and more and more we need to stand for something beyond doctrinal platitudes.

The underlying working premise of all other courses on my campus is that our societal structures are mostly beneficial and just – that the schools and other private and public institutions, government institutions, corporations, and financial institutions all work together to generate wealth and distribute services and resources. The underlying assumption of all other courses is that societal structures may perhaps need to be adjusted but are necessary in some form and mostly benefit society.

In contrast, the underlying premise of the activism course is that our societal structures, taken together, represent the most formidable instrument of oppression and exploitation ever to occupy the planet– that the reality of these structures is one of continental-scale pillaging enforced by the greatest military and coercion machines ever assembled. In this paradigm, the observed generalized criminal disregard for local inhabitants and indigenous peoples is no accident; the environment, workers and inhabitants are structurally expendable liabilities in a profit-driven debt-based global financial enterprise that must be characterized as insane, not to mention unsustainable; and the schools and universities supply the obedient workers and managers and professionals that adopt and apply this system’s doctrine--knowingly or unknowingly, according to need.

This is the outlook that informs the speakers I invite, the readings I suggest, the way I position science and all the disciplines, the way I guide whole class discussions, and the one-on-one interactions I have with students.

I think there should be room for at least one such course on my campus.

The university administration and many of my colleagues do not share my zeal for this diversity of perspective--as has been amply demonstrated and documented over the last few years. Their attacks on the activism course experiment are strong testaments to the uncompromised position and moral and intellectual rigour that the students and I have chosen to apply and defend.


It all started with a modest experiment in pedagogy and social relevance in the fall of 2005. In response to twenty years of observing classes that both delivered soulless material and served mainly to prepare students to be obedient and indoctrinated employees, I felt I had to do something more than give a “better” physics course. I realized that it is activists, not obedient employees, who make a difference, who make the world a better place.

I decided that the course would itself be a realization of activism. I decided to squat the Physics and the Environment course that had been assigned to me that fall. This may have been the first example of overt academic squatting, where one openly takes an existing course and does with it something different.

For a squat to succeed, the occupants have to be on board, and at the first class the students embraced the project with more enthusiasm than I could have imagined. I had simply suggested that maybe the greatest societal problems around were as important as physics, that the students themselves could be in charge of their own learning, and that I saw no need for grading or any institutional evaluation.

The experiment encountered immediate and explosive resistance. After the VP-Academic choked on the course web site, we were treated to a tantrum from the Dean of Science at the second class. What followed was a textbook example of successful activism, to the point that several students asked if the administration’s response had been completely staged, and some thanked the dean for providing a laboratory component to the physics course.

At the third class, the dean was back to announce a negotiated agreement “to the benefit of all” that would have us – the students and I – run the course exactly as we had intended. But we knew the victory would be short lived if we did not get an activism course on the books, and so we fought our way through 11 months and 16 committee meetings to have SCI 1101 approved, as a credited Faculty of Science course with no prerequisites. Despite official recognition of this first multidisciplinary Science (SCI)-code course on our campus, in the words of an enlightened Science Faculty Executive, SCI 1101 "does not count as a science course."

The activism course exists because hundreds of students and community members fought for it against committee normalcy, unprecedented administrative barriers, disciplinal ghettoism, and regressive opinion echoed by the mainstream media. It has received unequalled praise from both its paying “clients” (as the administration calls students) and “freeloading” community participants. Many attest to a life-changing experience, like only discovering one’s agency and place in the world can produce.

At the very least, the students of the activism course were exposed to speakers and issues that they did not encounter in other courses, often had their first university encounter with intrinsic motivation, deeply questioned the pedagogical methods of other courses, and often became leading campus activists. In the words of one student: “Everything else is the same but this course is real.”

The more activists there are, the more democracy there is.

In contrast and true to character, the university executive has consistently attempted to block the course over the past two years: From the dean’s failed in-class intervention, to deflected attempts to censor the course web site, to ad hoc rules and evaluation committees, to forbidding community member participation, to failed disciplinary campaigns based on ridiculous premises, to withholding academic resources, to the upper executives re-writing the course description themselves, and most recently to expelling students on the basis of age.

The opposite atmosphere reigns in the classroom, where hundreds of students of all ages (10 to 70+) and backgrounds interact with intricate and compelling material of direct relevance to their place in the world. Principal actors, experts, and readings present vital issues including: war, terrorism, the armament industry, monetary economics, poverty, professional ethics, environmental issues, societal and institutional structures, human rights, science funding, the non-profit sector, the agri-food industry, the pharmaceutical industry, animal rights, democracy, foreign policy, and others. Self-motivation and unrestrained exploration and expression are enabled by the absence of grades and by individually designed progress reports.

Academic squatting works! Academic squatting is needed because universities are dictatorships, devoid of real democracy, run by self-appointed executives who serve private capital interests. Producing obedient employees and publicly funded intellectual property transfers are in fact the university’s only business, as is evident from its research, programs, curricula, and coercive methods. Of course, there are accidental side benefits that may be realized by individual students, just as friendships can develop in a labour camp, and one can marry a prison guard one met on the inside, or write a good book while in exile, but the point is that the university is an instrument of power as it has always been, period. Only activism – resistance – can change that.

One antidote to the university as boot camp in the service of capital is for tenured professors to use their tenure. This would turn tenure on its head, as it is free society’s coercive tool of choice for fabricating aligned and docile academics. Not the job security in itself, which should be available to all, but the filtering and moulding process known as the tenure track. But why not turn tenure on its head? Tenure is death, risk is life, and collaboration is criminal. Collaborating in an institutionalized system of resource looting, labour exploitation, and genocidal demographic engineering is criminal, especially when its ultimate weapon is the foremost crime known as war, such as the present Canadian war in Afghanistan.

Tenure – use it or lose it.

Alternatively, the next step is academic hijacking, where students tell a professor that she can stay or leave but that this is what they are going to do and these are the speakers they are going to invite… Here, academic freedom would apply to students, not just professors.
Now that would be taking responsibility for one’s education.

Denis G. Rancourt is a physics professor and environmental science researcher at the University of Ottawa.


*Two activism course classes reported on at YaYaCanada:

*The original activism course web site:

*My blog the “Activist Teacher”:

*del Moral, Andrea, 2002, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded.

*Malatesta, Errico, 1891, Anarchy. New translation from the Italian by Vernon Richards, Freedom Press, 1974, 1994.

*Mitchell, Peter R. and Schoeffel, John (editors), 2002, Understanding Power – The indispensable Chomsky. The New Press, NY.

*Noble, David F., 2005, Beyond the Promised Land, The Movement and the Myth. Between the Lines, Toronto.

*Rancourt, Denis G., 2006, Gradual Change Is Not Progress.

*Rancourt, Denis G., 2007, Activism and Risk – Life beyond altruism.

*Said, Edward W., 1994, Representations of the Intellectual. Vintage Books, NY.
*Schmidt, Jeff, 2000, Disciplined Minds. Rowman & Littlefield.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Global Warming: Truth or Dare?

This article was reviewed on YaYaCanada before it was published.
It was also reviewed in the April 2007 issue of The Dominion magazine (Alternate LINK).
It inspired David Noble to write The Corporate Climate Coup.

Alexander Cockburn writing in The Nation called it "one of the best essays on greenhouse myth-making from a left perspective" ("Dissidents Against Dogma", The Nation, 25 June 2007). 
See several related articles at ACTIVIST CLIMATE GUY.

Most downloaded radiation physics of planetary warming free-access article (June 2011): HERE.]

[2015 essay: Climate Stupidity and Human Survival: HERE.] 

Global Warming: Truth or Dare?
Denis G. Rancourt
February 2007.

Global warming is often presented as the greatest potential threat to humankind and as the greatest environmental and ecological threat on the planet. It is also presented as a problem that could be solved or contained by determined international collaboration - by political will if it were present.

I argue: (1) that global warming (climate change, climate chaos, etc.) will not become humankind’s greatest threat until the sun has its next hiccup in a billion years or more (in the very unlikely scenario that we are still around), (2) that global warming is presently nowhere near being the planet’s most deadly environmental scourge, and (3) that government action and political will cannot measurably or significantly ameliorate global climate in the present world.

I also advance that there are strong societal, institutional, and psychological motivations for having constructed and for continuing to maintain the myth of a global warming dominant threat (global warming myth, for short). I describe these motivations in terms of the workings of the scientific profession and of the global corporate and finance network and its government shadows.

I argue that by far the most destructive force on the planet is power-driven financiers and profit-driven corporations and their cartels backed by military might; and that the global warming myth is a red herring that contributes to hiding this truth. In my opinion, activists who, using any justification, feed the global warming myth have effectively been co-opted, or at best neutralized.

Since the global warming myth is presently the dominant environmental paradigm in the First World middleclass mainstream, let us put it into the relevant perspective of planetary warming mechanisms.

One should first recognise that the atmospheric greenhouse effect is a well known natural phenomenon, mostly caused by atmospheric water vapour, that keeps our planet warm and habitable whereas (anthropogenic = human-made) global warming refers to a small extra greenhouse warming (0.5-1 C/33 C; 1-5 %) allegedly arising from an increase in atmospheric concentration of the minority greenhouse effect gas CO2 (carbon dioxide) – the later increase in turn possibly arising from fossil fuel burning (see below).

This means that the global greenhouse effect gives earthlings a needed and much appreciated base warming of 33 C (degrees Celsius), whereas the alleged “global warming” would contribute an extra 0.5 to 1 C of warming (a 1 to 5 % increase), on a planet that has seen a dozen or so ice ages since human kind has appeared.

The most often cited reconstructed global average temperature curves (themselves somewhat tenuous, see below) show increases in global mean temperature of approximately 0.5-1 C in the last 100 years. Let us compare this to the extremes of temperature to which humans routinely adapt. Humans have thrived in every possible ecological niche on the planet, from deserts to tropical forests to the North Polar Regions, since well before present technological advances. These environments show mean temperature differences of as much as 50 C or more. Many of these environments also show day to night and seasonal differences of as much as 20-50 C. A sudden 0.5-1 C increase in mean annual temperature (not spread over 100 years) would be imperceptible to any human and indeed could barely be detected using all of the methods of the modern scientific enterprise.

In addition, whereas there is evidence of negative consequences to populations from sustained regional cooling (e.g., Europe’s Little Ice Age, 1300-1850 AD) and whereas global ice ages (occurring every 40-100 thousand years or so) clearly have significantly affected human populations, there is no known case of a sustained warming alone having negatively impacted an entire population. If it where not for the global greenhouse effect, the planet would on average be 33 C colder and inhabitable. As a general rule, all life on Earth does better when it’s hotter: Compare ecological diversity and biotic density (or biomass) at the poles and at the equator.

Humans have already adapted to dramatically different regional climates occurring in every corner of the planet and the alleged future global changes are very small compared to these existing variations. There are more displaced refugees from wars and from economic aggression than there will ever be displaced inhabitants from rapid climate-induced habitat transformations. In both cases, the solution is to accommodate those loosing their homes and communities, not to attempt to control planetary processes and unpredictable events.

Before ‘climate chaos’ became cliché, many scientists advanced evidence for detected amounts of global average Earth surface temperature increases occurring in the post-industrial age. These reports, taken as a whole, were the main original catalysts towards constructing the global warming myth, so it is useful to critically examine their validity.

It was no easy task to arrive at the most cited original estimated rate of increase of the mean global surface temperature of 0.5 C in 100 years. As with any evaluation of a global spatio-temporal average, it involved elaborate and unreliable grid size dependent averages. In addition, it involved removal of outlying data, complex corrections for historical differences in measurement methods, measurement distributions, and measurement frequencies, and complex normalisations of different data sets – for example, land based and sea based measurements and the use of different temperature proxies that are in turn dependent on approximate calibration models. Even for modern thermometer readings in a given year, the very real problem of defining a robust and useful global spatio-temporal average Earth-surface temperature is not solved, and is itself an active area of research.

This means that determining an average of a quantity (Earth surface temperature) that is everywhere different and continuously changing with time at every point, using measurements at discrete times and places (weather stations), is virtually impossible; in that the resulting number is highly sensitive to the chosen extrapolation method(s) needed to calculate (or rather approximate) the average.

Averaging problems aside, many tenuous approximations must be made in order to arrive at any of the reported final global average temperature curves. For example, air temperature thermometers on ocean-going ships have been positioned at increasing heights as the sizes of ships have increased in recent history. Since temperature decreases with increasing altitude, this altitude effect must be corrected. The estimates are uncertain and can change the calculated global warming by as much as 0.5 C, thereby removing the originally reported effect entirely.

Similarly, surface ocean temperatures were first measured by drawing water up to the ship decks in cloth buckets and later in wooden buckets. Such buckets allow heat exchange in different amounts, thereby changing the measured temperature. This must be corrected by various estimates of sizes and types of buckets. These estimates are uncertain and can again change the resulting final calculated global warming value by an amount comparable to the 0.5 C value. There are a dozen or so similar corrections that must be applied, each one able to significantly alter the outcome.

In wanting to go further back in time, the technical problems are magnified. For example, when one uses a temperature proxy, such as the most popular tree ring proxy, instead of a physical thermometer, one has the significant problem of calibrating the proxy. With tree rings from a given preferred species of tree, there are all kinds of unavoidable artefacts related to wood density, wood water content, wood petrifaction processes, season duration effects, forest fire effects, extra-temperature biotic stress effects (such as recurring insect infestations), etc. Each proxy has its own calibration and preservation problems that are not fully understood.

The reported temperature curves should therefore be seen as tentative suggestions that the authors hope will catalyze more study and debate, not reliable results that one should use in guiding management practice or in deducing actual planetary trends. In addition, the original temperature or proxy data is usually not available to other research scientists who could critically examine the data treatment methods; nor are the data treatment methods spelled out in enough detail. Instead, the same massaged data is reproduced from report to report rather than re-examined.

The most recent thermometer measurements have their own special problems, not the least of which is urban warming, due to urban sprawl, which locally affects weather station mean temperatures and wind patterns: Temperatures locally change because local surroundings change. Most weather monitoring stations are located, for example, near airports which, in turn, are near expanding cities.

As a general rule in science, if an effect is barely detectable, requires dubious data treatment methods, and is sensitive to those data treatment methods and to other approximations, then it is not worth arguing over or interpreting and should not be used in further deductions or extrapolations. The same is true in attempting to establish causal relationships. This is in contrast to the precautionary principle which, in this context, would dictate that humans should reduce their fossil fuel burning because a resulting increase in atmospheric CO2 **might** cause serious environmental harm. I argue that we should stick to known consequences rather than potential ones – displacing people displaces people, clearing forests clears forests, etc. – and that we can apply universally accepted norms of human justice and respect for nature in limiting exploiters’ impulses.

Global warming myth advocates emphasize that the alleged extra-CO2-driven warming does not occur uniformly, in that some regions are warmed more than others while other regions are cooled below their pre-warming averages. They claim that many regions therefore already suffer significant departures from their pre-warming average temperatures, by as much as 5 C, even though the overall global average increase is difficult to detect.

Whereas regional changes in average temperature (e.g., warmer poles and cooler tropics) are not in themselves bad, global warming myth advocates argue that such changes have significant negative ecological consequences. They argue that when regional climate changes occur, rather than simply causing geographical redistributions of ecosystems and niche creation, they instead cause permanent damages in the form of habitat loss and species loss.

Global warming myth advocates also argue that global warming drives increased climate chaos. That is, overall increases in extreme weather events, such as more frequent and more intense tropical hurricanes, more frequent and more intense heat waves, more frequent and more intense droughts and floods, etc.

The available data does not support these claims and does not allow one to conclude that we have entered into a period of greater climate chaos, let alone that any perceived increase in climate chaos would be caused by extra-CO2-driven planetary warming. Similarly, it is impossible to reliably establish (see below) that inferred regional warmings in the Polar Regions are caused by an extra-CO2-driven global greenhouse effect increase.

Weather is by its nature chaotic and unpredictable. Every year weather events occur and will always occur that have never occurred before in recorded history. A given July heat spell in North Bay, Ontario, will last longer than any other such heat spell that has also had more than three consecutive day-time highs of more than 35 C, for example. For the first time in recorded history, three selectively chosen Canadian northern towns of more than 50,000 inhabitants will not have snow at Christmas. One hundred year old trees will be uprooted by a hurricane in some locality in Northern Quebec in September, etc.

Regional weather (including regional air current patterns) is well known by climatologists to have measurable variations over a broad range of magnitudes and on every time scale, from decadal, to centennial, to millennial and beyond, as documented in climate and weather event records such as historical documents, tree rings, lake sediments, soil profiles, geological weathering patterns, etc. Climatologists have, for over one hundred years, studied these variations occurring on all continents and have always attempted to relate them to potential causal factors, with little success. Modern satellite observations and recent global circulation models have provided few significant advances, despite the hype.

Media sensationalism notwithstanding, none of the recent reports of weather events step outside of the statistical samples gathered by climatologists, as they have often informed us. Among other things, climatologists, environmental scientists, and statisticians have pointed out that: (1) North America has less frequent but more intense forest fires because foresters manage forests, (2) insurance companies pay out more natural catastrophe claims because there are more people living in more precarious areas with more expensive installations, (3) more people suffer the consequences of flooding because more people live in flood plains, (4) more urban elderly die in heat waves because they are older and live in isolation and in high rises, (5) water tables fall because of deforestation and watershed management practices, and so on.

Although weather is business as usual, there are significant changes occurring on the planet and some of these appear at first sight to be regional climate related.

For example, many high altitude glaciers are receding. Some glaciers are growing but it appears that more studied glaciers are receding than growing. The next question is why? There are no reports of average air temperature increases in the vicinities of these glaciers. To melt or sublimate ice one must supply a large amount of energy, far beyond what could be supplied by thermal conduction driven by an undetected temperature increase.

The required energy clearly comes from the sun, just as spring sunlight melts snow in temperate climates much more than the increase in air temperature ever could. More radiant energy must be deposited on the receding glaciers. Either there is more incident radiant energy or the glaciers are more able to absorb rather than reflect the incident radiation or both.

The causes of increased incident radiation can be one or a combination of the following: (1) there is more solar radiation because the sun itself is putting out more energy, the solar “constant” has increased, (2) more solar radiation directly comes through the atmosphere because the atmosphere is more transparent rather than reflective (e.g., less cloudy, less ozone), (3) more infra-red is sent back to the glaciers rather than escaping to outer space because the atmosphere is more greenhouse active (e.g., higher water vapour content), and (4) more ambient infra-red radiation is sent towards the glaciers via atmospheric greenhouse scattering because there is more ambient infra-red radiation originating from neighbouring ice-free cover that has become more incident-solar-radiation absorbent. The latter ice-free surfaces could have become more absorbent by changes in their surface properties (i.e., surface coverings). For example, deforested soil is more incident radiation absorbent than a forest cover, bare rock is much more absorbent than snow-covered rock, etc.

The glaciers themselves could have become more absorbent for incident radiation by various mechanisms. For example, mineral or organic or pollution atmospheric dust loads (e.g., fossil fuel burning soot) could have increased leading to dust delivery to the glaciers. Such microscopic deposited dust in turn makes a glacier surface more radiation absorbent. The type of snow that can cover a glacier will also affect its radiation (light) absorption and reflection properties and snow type (granularity, dendrite structure, etc.) is in turn dependent on several atmospheric properties. Volcanic activity, large scale forest or grassland fires, dominant wind patterns, large scale changes in soil humidity and other conditions arising from changes in agricultural practices, can all significantly alter atmospheric dust loads and the latter are known to affect regional scale solar radiation budgets.

We see therefore that receding glaciers are not even most directly a sign of global warming and that the actual mechanism(s) can include a host of other causes. Indeed, paleoclimatologists studying global climate and ice age cycles believe the opposite causal direction: Radiative loading and water cycle factors change snow and ice cover which in turn change global radiation balance (planetary surface albedo) which then provides a positive feedback for further warming (resulting from increased radiative loading) or cooling (resulting from decreased radiative loading). Indeed, the accepted theory of ice age cycles is based on solar radiation forcing arising from cyclical Sun-Earth orbital variations.

As another example, let us accept, for the sake of argument; that Polar Region warming is occurring beyond statistical variations of the last 100 years, say; that permafrost (permanently frozen subsoil) is less extensive; and that polar ocean ice coverages are less prominent. The next question is why? Ocean currents have not dramatically changed, nor have measured sea level air temperatures.

These changes can again be due to solar radiative effects, along the same lines as explained above for receding glaciers. For ocean glaciers the above discussion of mechanisms for receding high altitude glaciers applies exactly whereas minor modifications are needed for receding permafrost.

In the case of permafrost, the seasonal duration of direct solar radiation loading to the soil is probably the dominant factor. This duration is inversely related to the duration of soil snow and ice cover which in turn can be controlled by the same factors discussed above that control high altitude glacier recession.

In conclusion, all the main easily observable and most cited regional warming effects are probably driven by radiative mechanisms having nothing to do with (i.e., not being caused by) global warming or increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. More likely causal factors include: soot from coal-powered plants, mineral, soil, and organic matter dust from changes in agricultural practices, fires from changes in water and land management practices, increased high-altitude and polar atmospheric transparency, changes in the solar constant, etc.

This is not to say that these local and regional warming phenomena are not important and do not affect ecosystems and people’s lives. But then if we want to help these people (mostly Polar Region and high altitude aboriginal people) then we need only help them! For example, we could ask what help they most need rather than continuing to pollute their environment and destroy their lands by resource exploitation. If we want to stop destroying habitat, we could stop destroying habitat.

Environmental scientists and government agencies get funding to study and monitor problems that do not threaten corporate and financial interests. It is therefore no surprise that they would attack continental-scale devastation from resource extraction via the CO2 back door. The main drawback with this strategy is that you cannot control a hungry monster by asking it not to shit as much.

Somewhere First World middleclassers will need to abandon the lies that we live in democracies, that the corporate profit motive guarantees environmental protection, that servicing manufactured debt advances society, that corporate agri-business is the best way to feed people, that making a mess everywhere to serve share holders is the best way to generate well being, and that exploiting others is a good way to help them, not to mention that war is an acceptable method to bring justice and freedom to enslaved populations.

The planet will continue to change, adapt and evolve, with or without us. Recurring episodes of increased volcanic activity will continue to alter our climate. Ice ages will continue to come and go. Meteorites will continue to impact our planetary home. Disease and insect outbursts, wild fires, floods, and earthquakes will continue to wash over us as we adapt and respond. The sun will continue to vary its output and will eventually burn out. The atmosphere will continue to change as it always has under the influence of life and of geology. We can’t control these things. We can barely perceive them correctly. But we can take control of how we treat each other.

The best we can do for the environment and for the planet is to learn not to let undemocratic power structures run our lives. The best we can do is to reject exploitation and domination and to embrace cooperation and solidarity. The best we can do is to not trust subservient scientists and to become active agents for change beyond head-in-the-sand personal lifestyle choices.

We need to get political, beyond corporate-controlled shadow governments and co-opted political parties. We need to take charge more than we need to recycle. Concentrated power and capital are not about to give up their practices or their imperative for profit. Resistance to the insane return-on-investments hydra that inhabits our planet is our main responsibility if we are concerned about future generations.

There are real environmental problems on the planet. Agriculture, especially large-scale corporate chemical fertilizer and pesticide-based agriculture, is the main human force that has transformed the planet. Resource extraction and use is a close second, including energy, minerals, building materials, etc. Toxic substance pollution vies for an important place, with everything from persistent organic pollutants, to heavy metals, to radioactive substances, to pharmaceutical metabolites, all the way to industrially prepared food products. The industrial food-animal cycle is another wonderful experiment in attempted mass suicide, not to mention its grotesque inanimality.

All in all, the best way to not pollute and destroy the environment is to not pollute and destroy the environment. The best way to not exploit others is to not exploit others. I am not talking only about personal lifestyle choices, alternative information sources, and volunteer work. I am talking about taking back control from undemocratically run corporations and illegitimate concentrations of power, by all the effective means we can muster and as though our survival depended on it. I am talking about activism.

Global warming is strictly an imaginary problem of the First World middleclass. Nobody else cares about global warming. Exploited factory workers in the Third World don’t care about global warming. Depleted uranium genetically mutilated children in Iraq don’t care about global warming. Devastated aboriginal populations the world over also can’t relate to global warming, except maybe as representing the only solidarity that we might volunteer.

If we want to help island dwellers threatened by a predicted sea level rise then let’s help those island dwellers. If we are worried about victims of weather events then let us help those victims. The poorest Hurricane Katrina victims are still waiting.

It’s not about limited resources. [“The amount of money spent on pet food in the US and Europe each year equals the additional amount needed to provide basic food and health care for all the people in poor countries, with a sizeable amount left over.” (UN Human Development Report, 1999)] It’s about exploitation, oppression, racism, power, and greed. Economic, human, and animal justice brings economic sustainability which in turn is always based on renewable practices. Recognizing the basic rights of native people automatically moderates resource extraction and preserves natural habitats. Not permitting imperialist wars and interventions automatically quenches nation-scale exploitation. True democratic control over monetary policy goes a long way in removing debt-based extortion. Etc.

Regarding planetary greenhouse warming, by far the most important greenhouse active atmospheric gas is water vapour – it is a major constituent of the atmosphere whereas CO2 is a trace atmospheric gas. This is well known and it is established, for example, that even doubling the present atmospheric CO2 concentration, to the unattainable value of 800 ppm (parts per million) say, without changing anything else in the atmosphere, would have little discernable effect on global temperature or climate.

All of the climate models that relate CO2 concentrations to climate effects do so by arbitrarily linking a model increase in CO2 to an induced and larger increase in atmospheric water vapour. In other words, all the climate models postulate a large and positive feedback between CO2 and water vapour.

Several scientists have argued that these models are computer realizations of the tail wagging the dog. Water vapour is the dominant greenhouse factor and the behaviour of water in the atmosphere is far more complex than that of CO2 (clouds, rain, snow, evaporation, etc.) yet CO2 is taken to drive the water cycle rather than water taken to drive CO2 dynamics; using a fictitious multiplicative feedback factor.

On the contrary, for example: Water is often the determining factor in vegetation growth. Vegetation growth in turn consumes CO2 and is the greatest active bound-carbon (C) pool on the planet. Therefore, it is more correct to say that water drives the carbon cycle. Atmospheric CO2 concentration is only a remote witness to all the natural and anthropogenic processes that consume and produce CO2.

There is no known mechanism whereby an increase in CO2 concentration could directly cause an increase in water vapour concentration in the amount required by climate computer models. On the other hand, there are many known mechanisms whereby water vapour concentration can be dramatically affected by various external agents. Some examples are as follows: (1) solar input drives convection and winds which in turn largely determine atmospheric evaporation loading, (2) deforestation and agriculture expose soils which are sources of mineral and organic dust which in turn can induce precipitation or can affect solar radiation balances, (3) solar winds of cosmic rays can induce high altitude cloud formation thereby reducing solar radiation penetration, etc.

Ice core data shows strong temporal correlations between average global temperature (as recorded by the water oxygen isotope proxy) and atmospheric CO2 (as recorded in trapped gas bubbles) yet these correlations do not show causal relations. CO2 increases may accompany temperature increases rather than causing them. Indeed, some high resolution studies have suggested that the temperature increases precede the CO2 increases. Interestingly, also, ice core data shows strong temporal correlations between inferred temperature and amount of dust preserved in the ice core. Finally, the older geological record shows several dramatic examples of where CO2 concentration and global average temperature were either unrelated or even anti-correlated.

Just as solar radiation intensity and inclination determines our seasons and the differences between day and night, so too solar radiation variations related to solar winds, magnetic shielding, and solar intensity cycles (e.g., sunspots) probably have a greater impact on the water cycle than changes in any greenhouse active trace gas.
There is of course much more wrong with state-of-the-art global circulation models (climate models) than the assumption and implementation of CO2-H2O feedback. Although these models are among the most elaborate predictive models of complex non-linear phenomena, they are nonetheless sweeping oversimplifications of the global climate system and its mechanistic intricacies.

Disregarding the above objections, if we take CO2 to be the pivotal quantity, then even this CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is not easy for scientists to understand. While the value of the CO2 concentration can be measured reliably and accurately and while it is increasing, possibly in response to fossil fuel burning, the measured increase is not proportional to the known increase in fossil fuel consumption. There is not a simple relation between fossil fuel burning and atmospheric CO2 in two key respects: (1) the temporal variations of burning and of atmospheric CO2 concentration do not follow each other – the curves do not match, they do not have the same shape, and (2) the net extra (post-industrial) amount of CO2 in the atmosphere cannot be reconciled with the amount of CO2 produced by fossil fuel burning.

Regarding the latter point, the resulting amount of CO2 in the atmosphere depends on many processes that either produce CO2 (that are sources) or consume CO2 (that are sinks). Growth of plants is a sink. Degradation of soil or sediment organic matter is a source. Burying and preserving sedimentary or soil organic matter from oxidation is a sink. Breathing is a form of combustion and is a source. Photosynthesis is a sink. Fossil fuels are preserved organic matter not yet degraded by oxidation (or combustion). Deforestation is a net source since forests are larger repositories of bound carbon than are agricultural or grazing lands. The weathering of rocks and the erosion of mountains is a source, as is mining. Etc. As it turns out, when all the known sources and sinks are added up, scientists are not able to account for half of the CO2 produced by fossil fuel burning.

In other words, there is a “missing sink” that is taking up approximately half of the CO2 produced by fossil fuel burning; that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere. This is a massive amount that scientists simply cannot account for. Clearly, the complex source and sink mechanisms of the bio and geospheres are far from completely understood, as are the myriad of feedback mechanisms that can dramatically either slow or intensify the rates of sinking and sourcing.

The point here is that CO2 concentration itself, even if we stubbornly cling to it as a holly grail of climate mediation, most probably cannot be controlled by controlling anthropogenic CO2 emissions. There are more unknown and unforeseeable CO2 evolution feedback mechanisms then there are climate research institutes on the planet.

Even among human activities, there are many practices that can potentially affect atmospheric CO2 fluxes more than direct mitigation of fossil fuel burning. These include: distribution-of-wealth practices; world investment, trading and lending practices; democratic versus corporate control over the media, over marketing and over the mental environment in general; military intervention and intimidation practices; and so on. Each of the above areas of societal behaviour and organization can be shown to significantly alter or moderate global CO2 fluxes between the atmosphere and other compartments.

Excluding direct human activities (land and water use, etc.), there are major natural factors that affect CO2 atmospheric loading. These are only partially understood and include: geological weathering, ocean sedimentation, land plant growth, soil evolution, sediment diagenesis, ecological niche invasion, volcanic activity, continental subduction, and many others. Indeed, there is no accepted model that quantitatively explains atmospheric CO2 concentration, given our limited knowledge of these factors.

The atmosphere is one of the smallest pools or compartments for carbon (as CO2) and it responds quickly to any flux changes with the other compartments. These flux routes are varied and largely unknown, as are the mechanisms that control flux magnitudes. To believe that we could control atmospheric CO2 concentration by controlling only the flux from anthropogenic fossil fuel burning is naive. Burning mitigation or carbon sequestration practices could easily have no effect or opposite effects, even if significant societal efforts were dedicated to such efforts.

What is more naïve than believing that humankind could control atmospheric CO2 levels by direct interventions, however, is the belief that the financial and corporate interests that benefit from fossil fuel burning and still have gargantuan profits to be made from the remaining fossil fuels of increasing value could in this world be convinced by law or agreement to voluntarily reduce production and to not exercise their clout in creating demand for the resource that they control.

Fossil fuel is the main economic commodity on the planet. Cheap fossil fuel equals cheap transportation equals globalized trade and globalized exploitation of labour and of natural resources. Cheap fossil fuel drives the automobile industry, the largest manufactured goods growth area in the developing world. Cheap fossil fuel is the raw material of the petro-chemical industry, including fertilizers, and drives agri-business. Cheap fossil fuel allows rapid military deployments. The entire planetary web of corporate and finance exploitation is presently reliant on fossil fuels. To think that governments of media-created stand-ins could negotiate restraints on a remote side effect (CO2) of the present day exercise of power, without ever addressing the real issues, is to be delusional. Optimism of the will in needed but let us start with pessimism of the intellect. Let us be realistic.

In this world, before renewable sources become the new basis of global economic extortion, oil exploration will be extended to every sensitive ecosystem on the globe and the world’s massive coal reserves will be liquefied and gasified. There are enough coal reserves to keep the wheels of corporate exploitation turning for another 1000 years or so at the present rate. This will happen unless citizens force democratic control over the major planetary economic instruments – private banking cartels, multinational corporations, and their government extensions that are the World Bank and the IMF. In this sense, anti-globalization activists are at the forefront of environmental activism.

Even if CO2 emissions could be controlled in actual practice, this would not impact CO2 concentration in a predictable way, and CO2 in turn does not control global climate. People, corporations, financial webs, and ecosystems all adapt to climate change. A global corporate and finance machine of profit and interest extraction based on renewable energy resources (that it would control) would not be less devastating than the present system and would continue to cause irreparable damage.

Climate is not an effectual lever for controlling the corporate and finance madness that is destroying human communities and natural habitats. Indeed, it is the kind of lever that is guaranteed to be ineffectual: It avoids the root causes, it does not challenge the relevant power structures, it entices us into collaboration, it seduces us into personal consumption responsibility as a substitute for effective political action, it turns our attention towards learning about atmospheric chemistry rather than about the relevant major human-controlled planetary forces, and it gives us something we relate to (the weather) rather than sensitizing us to real world problems. The global warming myth isolates us from the people of the Third World and from all exploited people outside of our class, rather than creating meaningful occasions for empathy and solidarity.

Precisely because it is ineffectual… and deflects our attention away from the necessary confrontations with established power.

If you accept my critique that the global warming threat is a myth then the next question is why are so many resources being spent to keep the myth alive? Why is it so important to keep global warming at the forefront of our mental environment? Why have scientists and First World environmentalists bought into it with such conviction and dedication? Why are mainstream politicians allowed by their bosses to use it in their platforms?

Scientists are simple beings. In general, they have not studied politics or sociology or human history. They have had to specialize and to confine their methods and questions to those that are specific to their chosen fields. Outside of their disciplines, they construct a world view largely from the same sources as most middleclass citizens; the mainstream media and popular culture. Their main comparison points are colleagues just like themselves that they meet at specialized conferences and in staff lounges.

At the same time, scientists, like the rest of working people, often search for a sense of doing something meaningful at work. They look for ways that their work might have broader societal implications, even though it is most often very specialized and has narrow applications. Ecologists and environmental scientists like to consider that they might help society to better treat the environment.

Science is a social construction and scientists must be seen by their peers as contributing “positively” to their fields and must mainly cooperate in order to get along and get ahead. This has the effect of creating an impetus for scientific consensus. Contrary positions are rarely deep or long lived and a lot of mileage is extracted from going along and echoing the dominant paradigms or opinions. Once something becomes popular, a scientist can repeat it without new supporting evidence comfortably and without awakening the ire of reviewers. Such statements are made in the introductions of scientific articles in order to motivate the specialized work or are made in giving broader (and more tenuous) interpretations or are made in the conclusions of papers to suggest possible implications of the specialized work.

Global warming has now become just such a popular theme among ecologists and environmental scientists. As a result, whereas specialized researchers in climate change itself continue to debate global warming and its many facets and continue to critique each others’ methods, data, and conclusions, most articles in scientific journals that mention global warming do so gratuitously – in a non-critical, superficial and self-serving way. Observers of science must therefore be careful in simply counting opinions expressed in the introductions and conclusions of scientific articles.

In addition, there are the international commissions mandated to sort out the scientific literature on topics that could have public relevance. A main relevant example is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These bodies are mostly composed of scientists but have political missions.

The board members typically study thousands of scientific papers written by climate change experts and others. These papers use different methods and report different types of data and sometimes come to contradictory conclusions. Most published papers, however, report inconclusive results and tenuous extrapolations, given the difficulty of the area of study. The authors of the original publications are usually careful and often do not overstate their conclusions. They also often qualify their interpretations and spell out the limits of their work and the most tenuous parts of their arguments.

Faced with this massive array of inconclusive or tentative or contradictory and incomplete results, the international (or national) commission must prepare a report that will be useful to governments and policy makers. They must attempt to identify the dominant or most likely trends, while keeping in mind that scientific truth cannot be established by a democratic vote or a popularity contest.

Having then identified the main trends and having extensively documented the pitfalls and limits of the reviewed papers, the international commission must also write an executive summary, for executives that want definitive statements. The executive summary is the only part of the report that has a chance of being read by the top decision makers and it is probably the only part of the report from which the media will cite. Few of the players who will read only the executive summary have the knowledge to appreciate its careful language and all the sacrifices of content and accuracy that have been made to produce it.

The international commission’s report then becomes a milestone that the commission itself, for political reasons of perceived legitimacy, cannot easily contradict in future reports. There is also a tendency for most scientists to accept the commission report’s main conclusions or proposed trends.

The environmental activists, on their side, are trying to reduce negative human impact on the natural world by whatever means they can. Many of them are astute political activists but more of them are simply environmentally responsible citizens who are mainly concerned with personal lifestyle choices to minimize personal ecological footprints. Environmentalists generally see global warming as a bonanza in public opinion outreach that has the potential to transform a majority of citizens into bicycle-riding anti-air-conditioning energy saving zealots that will also be sensitized to other and deeper issues.

Environmentalists also have an urgent sense that humankind is destroying the planet (which is true) and therefore do not have too hard a time believing that fossil fuel burning could directly cause the globe to burn up in a violent last tempest of floods and hurricanes that would destroy the last natural habitats and make civilization as we would like it virtually impossible. Besides, it makes sense, CO2 is a greenhouse effect gas and it is a product of organic matter combustion.

The main arguments I hear from environmentalists are: (1) that even if we are not attacking a root cause, forcing all to burn less fossil fuels will slow down humankind’s otherwise unimpeded destruction of the planet and (2) concentrating on this issue has much educational value and will help sensitize members of the public who may then later go a further step.

I don’t agree with either of the latter positions.

Finance-driven exploitation is creative and nimble and will always maximize short-term gain by whatever method it can get away with, whether limited (on paper) in its CO2 emissions or not, and all such exploitations of humans and of nature are always destructive beyond what should be tolerated in a democratic society.

On the “global warming issue as education” front, I again argue the opposite: That promoting the global warming myth trains people to accept unverified, remote, and abstract dangers in the place of true problems that they can discover for themselves by becoming directly engaged in their workplace and by doing their own research and observations. It trains people to think lifestyle choices (in relation to CO2 emission) rather than to think activism in the sense of exerting an influence to change societal structures. The first involves finding a comfort zone consistent with one’s values whereas the latter involves accepting confrontation and risk in order to challenge power structures. The first is needed for welfare, as are community, friendship, etc., while the second is needed to create sanity and justice in an insane world.

In that sense, the global warming myth is a powerful tool of co-optation that has even eroded one of the most fertile grounds of political activism: the environmental movement.

I find that those who defend the global warming myth most strenuously are also those who cling most to the notion that the best way to solve these problems is to somehow (“through awareness and education”) get everyone (or the majority) to minimize their footprints and consume responsibly. They usually also argue that corporate bosses and bank managers are people too and that we just need to reach out to them. They are allergic even to the notion of organized confrontation.

The beliefs of mainstream environmentalists are beliefs of the First World liberal middleclass. As such, the global warming myth fits right in.

The global warming myth, as propagated by the mainstream media, also works wonders on the general population: A global problem that we can solve by just changing our light bulbs to the energy saving kind or by voting for the Democrats or by trusting our scientists to come up with a carbon sequestration plan or by going nuclear for our electricity…

The media are allowed to talk global warming because it does not threaten power in any significant way. Indeed, it deflects attention away from real world issues. It’s perfect. The scientists can debate it. The environmental activists are largely neutralized. Everyone thinks it’s about CO2. The economists can work out the carbon credits. The politicians can talk environment without actually saying anything. Those who want to do something can change their consumer habits. The others can just ignore it and continue chatting about the weather.

The fact that the global warming myth has now attained this degree of media promotion and entertainment industry integration means not only that the issue is not threatening to power but that it has also come to be understood by power to be quite useful. In this regard, the global warming myth has joined the other useful media-supported myths that include: increasing crime rates, the terrorist threat, the American dream, that we live in a democracy, that greed and selfishness are unavoidable overriding consequences of human nature, that we all attain the economic status that fits our talents and efforts, that we help developing and Third World countries (that would be worse off without us), etc.

I hope that this essay will convert a few myth consumers into temporarily disoriented environmentalists who will eventually become dedicated and effective social justice activists. The global warming myth will then have been useful for something of value.

Denis G. Rancourt is a professor of physics and an environmental science researcher at the University of Ottawa. His scientific research has been concentrated in the areas of spectroscopic and diffraction measurement methods, magnetism, reactive environmental nanoparticles, aquatic sediments and nutrients, and boreal forest lakes.Many related articles are collected and posted at ACTIVIST CLIMATE GUY.

Selected Supporting References
Balling Jr, RC, Cerveny, RS. 2003. Compilation and discussion of trends in severe storms in the United States: Popular perception v. climate reality. Natural Hazards 29: 103-12
Berner, RA, Caldeira, K. 1997. The need for mass balance and feedback in the geochemical carbon cycle. Geology 955-56
Betts, RA. 2000. Offset of the potential carbon sink from boreal forestation by decreases in surface albedo. Nature 408: 187-90
Caillon, N, Severinghaus, JP, Jouzel, J, Barnola, J-M, Kang, J, Lipenkov, VY. 2003. Timing of atomospheric CO2 and Antarctic temperature changes across termination III. Science 299: 1728-31
Caldeira, K, Jain, AK, Hoffert, MI. 2003. Climate sensitivity uncertainty and the need for energy without CO2 emission. Science 299: 2052-54
Calvo, E, Pelejero, C, Logan, GA, De Dekker, P. 2004. Dust-induced changes in phytoplankton composition in the Tasman Sea during the last four glacial cycles. Paleoceanography 19 (PA2020): 1-10
Changnon, SA. 2003. Shifting economic impacts from weather extremes in the United States: A result of societal changes, not global warming. Natural Hazards 29: 273-90
Conley, DJ. 2002. Terrestrial ecosystems and the global biogeochemical silica cycle. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 16: 68-1-68/8
Cox, PM, Betts, RA, Jones, CD, Spall, SA, Totterdell, IJ. 2000. Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model. Nature 408: 184-87
Davidson, EA, Trumbore, SE, Amundson, R. 2000. Soil warming and organic carbon content. Nature 408: 789-90
Davis, CH, Li, Y, McConnell, JR, Frey, MM, Hanna, E. 2005. Snowfall-driven growth in East Antarctic ice sheet mitigates recent sea-level rise. Science 308: 1898-901
Diaz, HF. 1996. Temperature changes on long time and large spatial scales: Inferences from instrumental and proxy records. In Climatic variations and forcing mechanisms of the last 2000 years, ed. Jones, P. D., Bradley, R. S., and Jouzel, J.pp. 585-601. Berlin: Springer.
Dufresne, J-L, Friedlingstein, P, Berthelot, M, Bopp, L, Ciais, P et al. 2002. On the magnitude of positive feedback between future climate change and the carbon cycle. Geophysical Research Letters 29: 43-1-43/4
Esper, J, Frank, DC, Wilson, RJS. 2004. Climate reconstructions: Low frequency ambition and high-frequency ratification. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 85: 113-20
Hall, MCG, Cacuci, DG. 1984. Systematic analysis of climatic model sensitivity to parameters and processes. In Climate processes and climate sensitivity, ed. Hansen, J. E. and Takahashi, T.pp. 171-79. Washington, D.C.: American Geophysical Union.
Hansen, J, Lacis, A, Rind, D, Russell, G, Stone, P et al. 1984. Climate sensitivity: Analysis of feedback mechanism. In Climate processes and climate sensitivity, ed. Hansen, J. E. and Takahashi, T.pp. 130-63. Washington, D.C.: American Geophysical Union.
Hansen, J, Nazarenko, L. 2004. Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101: 423-28
Hansen, J, Sato, M, Ruedy, R, Lacis, A, oinas, V. 2000. Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 97: 9875-80
Hansen, JE, Lacis, AA. 1990. Sun and dust versus greenhouse gases: an assessment of their relative roles in global climate change. Nature 346: 713-19
Hasselmann, K, Latif, M, Hooss, G, Azar, C, Edenhofer, O et al. 2003. The challenge of long-term climate change. Science 302: 1923-25
Houghton, JT, Ding, Y, Griggs, DJ, Noguer, M, van der Linden, PJ et al. 2001. Climate change 2001: The scientific basis. USA: Cambridge University Press.
Janssens, IA, Freibauer, A, Ciais, P, Smith, P, Nabuurs, G-J et al. 2003. Europe's terrestrial biosphere absorbs 7 to 12% of European anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Science 300: 1538-42
Jenkinson, DS, Adams, DE, Wild, A. 1991. Model estimates of CO2 emissions from soil in response to global warming. Nature 351: 304-06
Johnsen, SJ, Dansgaard, W, Clausen, HB, Langway, CC. 1970. Climatic oscillations 1200-2000 AD. Nature 227: 482-83
Jones, PD, Bradley, RS, Jouzel, J. 1996. Climatic variations and forcing mechanisms of the last 2000 years. Berlin: Springer.
Jones, PD, Osborn, TJ, Briffa, KR. 2001. The evolution of climate over the last Millennium. Science 292: 662-67
Kalnay, E, Cai, M. 2003. Impact of urbanization and land-use change on cllimate. Nature 423: 528-31
Karl, TR, Trenberth, KE. 2003. Modern global climate change. Science 302: 1719-23
Karoly, DJ, Braganza, K, Stott, PA, Arblaster, JM, Meehl, GA et al. 2003. Detection of a human influence on North American climate. Science 302: 1200-03
Kelly, PM, Wigley, TML. 1992. Solar cycle length, greenhouse forcing and global climate. Nature 360: 328-30
Kerr, RA. 1991. Could the sun be warming the climate. A new correlation between solar variations and climate change hints, yet again, at a sun-climate connection. Science 254: 652-53
Khandekar, ML, Murty, TS, Chittibabu, P. 2005. The global warming debate: A review of the state of science. Pure Appl. Geophys. 162: 1557-86
Kirschbaum, MUF. 2000. Will changes in soil organic carbon act as a positive or negative feedback on global warming? Biogeochemistry 48: 21-51
Klironomos, JN, Allen, MF, Rillig, MC, Piotrowski, J, Makvandi-Nejad, S et al. 2005. Abrupt rise in atmospheric CO2 overestimates community response in a model plant-soil system. Nature 433: 621-24
Knorr, W, Scholze, M, Gobron, N, Pinty, B, Kaminski, T. 2005. Global-scale drought caused atmospheric CO2 increase. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 86: 178-81
Kump, LR. 2002. Reducing uncertainty about carbon dioxide as a climate driver. Nature 419: 188-90
Kump, LR. 2000. What drives climate? Nature 408: 651-52
Kump, LR, Arthur, MA, Patzkowsky, ME, Gibbs, MT, Pinkus, DS, Sheehan, PM. 1999. A weathering hypothesis for glaciation at high atmospheric pCO2 during the late Ordovician. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaoecology 152: 173-87
Kurz, WA, Apps, MJ, Stocks, BJ, Volney, WJA. 1995. Global climate change: Disturbance regimes and biospheric feedbacks of temperate and boreal forests. In Biotic feedbacks in the global climatic system. Will the warming feed the warming?, ed. Woodwell, G. M. and Mackenzie, F. T.pp. 119-33 (Chapter 6). New York: Oxford University Press.
Lamb, HH. 1982-1995. Climate, history and the modern world. London: Methuen/ Routledge.
Laxon, S, Peacock, N, Smith, D. 2003. High interannual variability of sea ice thickness in the Arctic region. Nature 425: 947-50
Levitus, S, Antonov, JI, Wang, J, Delworth, TL, Dixon, KW, Broccoli, AJ. 2001. Anthropogenic warming of Earth's climate system. Science 292: 267-74
Lovelock, JE, Whitfield, M. 1982. Life span of the biosphere. Nature 296: 561-63
Luterbacher, J, Dietrich, D, Xoplaki, E, Grosjean, M, Wanner, H. 2004. European seasonal and annual temperature variability, trends, and extremes since 1500. Science 303: 1499-503
Mann, M, Amman, C, Bradley, R, Briffa, K, Jones, P et al. 2003. On past temperatures and anomalous late-20th century warmth. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 84: 256-57
Maria, SF, Russell, LM, Gilles, MK, Myneni, SCB. 2004. Organic aerosol growth mechanisms and their climate-forcing implications. Science 306: 1921-24
Mastandrea, MD, Schneider, SH. 2004. Probalistic integrated assessment of "dangerous" climate change. Science 304: 571-75
Meehl. G.A., Tebaldi, C. 2004. More intense, more frequent, and longer lasting heat waves n the 21st Century. Science 305: 994-97
Meehl, GA, Washington, WM, Collins, WD, Arblaster, JM, Hu, A et al. 2005. How much more global warming and sea level raise? Science 307: 1769-72
Melillo, JM, Steudler, PA, Aber, JD, Newkirk, K, Lux, H et al. 2002. Soil warming and carbon-cycle feedbacks to the climate system. Science 298: 2173-76
Menon, S, Hansen, J, Nazarenko, L, Luo, Y. 2002. Climate effects of black carbon aerosols in China and India. Science 297: 2250-53
Michaels, PJ, Knappenberger, PC, Frauenfeld, OW, Davis, RE. 2002. Revised 21st century temperature projections. Climate Research 23: 1-9
Mitchell, JFB, Johns, TC, Gregory, JM, Tett, SFB. 1995. Climate response to increasing levels of greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols. Nature 376: 501-376
Molnar, P, England, P. 1990. Late Cenozoic uplift of mountain ranges and global climate change: Chicken or egg? Nature 346: 29-34
Mooney, HA, Drake, BG, Luxmoore, RJ, Oechel, WC, Pitelka, LF. 1991. Predicting ecosystem responses to elevated CO2 concentrations. Bioscience 41: 96-104
Mopper, K, Zhou, X, Kieber, RJ, Kieber, DJ, Sikorski, RJ, Jones, RD. 1991. Photochemical degradation of dissolved organic carbon and its impact on the oceanic carbon cycle. Nature 353: 60-62
Morin, PJ. 2000. Biodiversity's ups and downs. Nature 406: 463-64
Mudelsee, M, Börngen, M, Tetziaff, G, Grünewald, U. 2003. No upward trends in the occurrence of extreme floods in central Europe. Nature 425: 166-69
Murphy, JM, Sexton, DMH, Barnett, DN, Jones, GS, Webb, MJ et al. 2004. Quantification of modelling uncertainties in a large ensemble of climate change simulations. Nature 430: 768-72
Myers, N, Mittermeier, RA, Mittermeier, CG, da Fonseca, GAB, Kent, J. 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853-58
Neff, U, Burns, SJ, Mangini, A, Mudelsee, M, Fleitmann, D, Matter, A. 2001. Strong coherence between solar variability and the monsoon in Oman between 9 and 6 kyr ago. Nature 411: 290-93
Nemani, RR, Keeling, CD, Hashimoto, H, Jolly, WM, Piper, SC et al. 2003. Climate-driven increases in global terrestrial net primary production from 1982 to 1999. Science 300: 1560-63
O'Dowd, CD, Facchini, MC, Cavalli, F, Ceburnis, D, Mircea, M et al. 2004. Biogenically driven organic contribution to marine aerosol. Nature 431: 676-80
Oechel, WC, Vourlitis, GL, Hastings, SJ, Zulueta, RC, Hinzman, L, Kane, D. 2000. Acclimation of ecosystem CO2 exchange in the Alaskan Arctic in response to decadal climate warming. Nature 406: 978-81
Oerlemans, J. 2005. Extracting a climate signal from 169 glacier records. Science 308: 675-77
Pagani, M, Zachos, JC, Freeman, KH, Tipple, B, Bohaty, S. 2005. Marked decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations during the Paleogene. Science 309: 600-03
Parker, DE, Jones, PD, Folland, CK, Bevan, A. 1994. Interdecadal changes of surface temperature since the late nineteenth century. Journal of Geophysical Research 99: 14373-99
Parmesan, C, Yohe, G. 2003. A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature 421: 37-42
Penner, JE, Dong, X, Chen, Y. 2004. Observational evidence of a change in radiative forcing due to the indirect aerosol effect. Nature 427: 231-34
Penner, JE, Zhang, SY, Chuang, CC. 2003. Soot and smoke aerosol may not warm climate. Journal of Geophysical Research 108 : 1-1-1/9
Petit, JR, Jouzel, J, Raynaud, D, Barkov, NI, Barnola, J-M et al. 1999. Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica. Nature 399: 429-36
Piechota, T, Timilsena, J, Tootle, G, Hidalgo, H. 2004. The western U.S. drought: How bad is it? EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 85: 301-04
Pierrehumbert, RT. 2004. High levels of atmosphere carbon dioxide necessary for the termination of global glaciation. Nature 429: 646-49
Pinker, RT, Zhang, B, Dutton, EG. 2005. Do satellites detect trends in surface solar radiation? Science 308: 850-54
Rahmstorf, S, Archer, D, Ebel, DS, Eugster, O, Jouzel, J et al. 2004. Cosmic rays, carbon dioxide, and climate. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 85: 38-41
Ramanathan, V, Cess, RD, Harrison, EF, Minnis, P, Barkstrom, BR et al. 1989. Cloud-radiative forcing and climate: Results from the Earth radiation budget experiment. Science 243: 57-63
Ramanathan, V, Crutzen, PJ, Kiehl, JT, Rosenfeld, D. 2001. Aerosols, climate, and the hydrological cycle. Science 294: 2119-24
Raymo, ME, Ruddiman, WF. 1992. Tectonic forcing of late Cenozoic climate. Nature 359: 117-22
Root, TL, Price, JT, Hall, KR, Schneider, SH, Rosenzweig, C, Pounds, JA. 2003. Fingerprints of global warming on wild animals and plants. Nature 421: 57-60
Sabine, CL, Feely, RA, Gruber, N, Key, RM, Lee, K et al. 2004. The oceanic sink for anthropogenic CO2. Science 305: 367-71
Santer, BD, Wigley, TML, Meehl, GA, Wehner, MF, Mears, C et al. 2003. Influence of satellite data uncertainties on the detection of externally forced climate change. Science 300: 1280-84
Sarmiento, JL, Le Quéré, C. 1996. Oceanic carbon dioxide uptake in a model of century-scale global warming. Science 274: 1346-50
Schär, C, Vidale, PL, Lüthi, D, Frei, C, Häberli, C et al. 2004. The role of increasing temperature variability in European summer heatwaves. Nature 427: 332-36
Schlesinger, ME, Ramankutty, N. 1992. Implications for global warming of intercycle solar irradiance variations. Nature 360: 330-33
Schwartzman, DW, Volk, T. 1989. Biotic enhancement of weathering and the habitability of Earth. Nature 340: 457-60
Sigman, DM, Boyle, EA. 2000. Glacial/interglacial variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Nature 407: 859-69
Smith, SD, Huxman, TE, Zitzer, SF, Charlet, TN, Housman, DC et al. 2000. Elevated CO2 increases productivity and invasive species success in an arid ecosystem. Nature 408: 79-82
Solanki, SK, Usoskin, IG, Kromer, B, Schüssler, M, Beer, J. 2004. Unusual activity of the Sun during recent decades compared to the previous 11,000 years. Nature 431: 1084-87
Stainforth, DA, Alna, T, Christensen, C, Collins, M, Pauli, N et al. 2005. Uncertainty in preditions of the climate response to rising levels of greenhouse gases. Nature 433: 403-06
Stommel, H, Stommel, E. 1979. The year without a summer. Scientific American 240: 176-86
Sun, S, Hansen, JE. 2003. Climate simulations for 1951-2050 with a coupled atmosphere-ocean model. Journal of Climate 16: 2807-26
Tans, PP, Fung, IY, Enting, IG. 1995. Storage versus flux budgets: The terrestrial uptake of CO2 during the 1980s. In Biotic feedbacks in the global climatic system. Will the warming feed the warming?, ed. Woodwell, G. M. and Mackenzie, F. T.pp. 351-66 (Chapter 20). New York: Oxford University Press.
Vaughan, DG, Doake, CSM. 1996. Recent atmospheric warming and retreat of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula. Nature 379: 328-31
Veizer, J, Godderis, Y, François, LM. 2000. Evidence for decoupling of atmospheric CO2 and global climate during the phanerozoic eon. Nature 408: 698-701
Velbel, MA. 1993. Temperature dependence of silicate weathering in nature: How strong a negative feedback on long-term accumulation of atmospheric CO2 and global greenhouse warming? Geology 21: 1059-62
Venkataraman, C, Habib, G, Eiguren-Fernandez, A, Miguel, AH, Friedlander, SK. 2005. Residential biofuels in South Asia: Carbonaceous aerosol emissions and climate impacts. Science 307: 1454-56
Vitousek, PM, Mooney, HA, Lubchenco, J, Melillo, JM. 1997. Human domination of Earth's ecosystems. Science 277: 494-99
von Storch, H, Zorita, E, Jones, JM, Dimitriev, Y, González-Rouco, F, Tett, SFB. 2004. Reconstructing past climate from noisy data. Science 306: 679-81
Watson, RT. 2003. Climate change: The political situation. Science 302: 1925-26
Wigley, TML. 2005. The climate change commitment. Science 307: 1766-69
Wigley, TML, Raper, SCB. 2001. Interpretation of high projections for global-mean warming. Science 293: 451-54
Wild, M, Gilgen, H, Roesch, A, Ohmura, A, Long, CN et al. 2005. From dimming to brightening: Decadal changes in solar radiation at Earth's surface. Science 308: 847-50