A conversation with Howard Bloom, for The Postil Magazine

Howard Bloom photo 2  Howard Bloom started in theoretical physics and microbiology at the age of ten and spent his early years in science. Then, driven by the desire to study mass human emotion through the lens of science, he went into a field he knew nothing about, popular culture. He founded the biggest PR firm in the music industry and worked with superstars like Prince, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Billy Joel, Queen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, Styx, Hall and Oates, Simon & Garfunkel, Run DMC, and Chaka Khan. Bloom went back to his formal science in 1988 and, since then, has published seven books on human and cosmic evolution, including The God Problem, Global Brain, and The Lucifer Principle. Called “next in a lineage of seminal thinkers that includes Newton, Darwin, Einstein, [and] Freud” by Britain’s Channel 4 TV, and “the next Stephen Hawking” by Gear magazine, he is the subject of BRIC TV’s documentary The Grand Unified Theory of Howard Bloom.

  Grégoire Canlorbe: As an entrepreneur in the public relations industry, you were particularly active under the Reagan era. How do you explain that the eighties saw both a return to some conservative values and an explosion of creativity and coolness in music and movies?

  Howard Bloom: That’s a very good question. I’ve never thought of that connection before. My wife had been a socialist when I met her in the 1960s. And then in the 1970s she became a conservative. So she was siphoning money out of our bank account and giving it to Ronald Reagan’s political campaigns—without telling me. She knew I hated Reagan. But I never connected Ronald Reagan with what was going on in popular music at that point. In the 1960s popular music was the music of rebellion. Rock music was about raising your fist and saying to adults: “I have a right to be an individual. I have a right to exist.” Rock was in tune with the hippie philosophy: “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” And, “We’re here to overturn the establishment.” In other words, rock and roll was part of a rebellion whose political activists were working to toss people our parent’s age out of power. That was the 1960s. But there was no overt philosophy—there was no ideology—of rebellion in the 1970s and the 1980s. However if you look at the attitude of the artists who emerged, it was sheer rebellion.

  Joan Jett got onstage and raised her fist. And the way she raised her fist was the strongest part of her message. She was a woman. And as a woman, you were expected to be like Grace Slick or Janis Joplin: the guys had the guitars, the power instruments, and you did not. You simply crooned into the microphone. But Joan was saying: “I’m going to take over the fucking guitar, myself. I have the power. I own the power on stage. And I am going to rebel as a self-contained entity not needing the “weapons” of “males with guitars.” My band? Hey, that’s just an extension of me.” Joan’s was the rebellion of girls who had been raised with working mothers. And for a middle class girl to be raised by a working mother was something brand new. It was a result of the invention of indoor plumbing, the washing machine, the drier, and the dishwasher. Women were no longer the slaves of water-hauling and clothes washing. And the women’s liberation movement had given them the freedom to compete with men in the workplace. Now the daughters of these liberated women had a very new experience of what it meant to be female. And that sense came to a head in Joan Jett. Or it came to a fist. But as for men, I mean, look at several of my other clients. Billy Idol also raised his fist in a gesture of rebellion. Did the anger of these fists have anything to do with the Reagan era? It’s hard to tell.

  John Mellencamp also came to the lip of the stage with his fist raised. If you were here, I could show you the difference between the raised fist of each of those three artists. Each made a slightly different muscular statement—a statement made with muscles. And then, there were bands that were already slipping into acceptance of a parent’s generation, and acceptance of an older generation. Not rebellion, but acceptance. And those were bands like Spandau Ballet, Berlin, which were both my bands, and a bunch of others. Later, the whole attitude of rebellion would disappear from popular music. At least, it would be minimized significantly. In fact, Michael Jackson would live with his mother, his father, and his brothers—an unthinkable act among the rock rebels. And that business of raising your fist on stage would no longer be part of the package, if you were a rock ‘n’ roller. In Michael Jackson it would be replaced by fierce pointing.

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A conversation with Peter Frost, for American Renaissance

Peter_Frost2  Peter Frost is a Canadian anthropologist. His main research interest has been the role of sexual selection in highly visible human traits, notably diverse hair and eye colors. Other interests include vitamin D metabolism in northern hunting peoples and gene-culture coevolution, such as genetic pacification due to the state monopoly on violence.

  Grégoire Canlorbe: You are notably known for your claim that the most plausible origin for the high frequency of light coloration of skin in European ethnicities lies in sexual selection (rather than in natural selection). Could you remind us of your argument?

  Peter Frost: It’s not just light skin. It’s also the extraordinary variety of hair and eye colors. I prefer to begin with them because they are much less explainable by anything other than sexual selection.

  Take hair color. Most humans have black hair and one allele for hair color. Europeans have over two hundred for colors ranging from black to blond. The conventional explanation is straightforward: as humans entered higher latitudes, with less solar radiation, there was less selection for dark skin and, consequently, an accumulation of defective alleles for pigmentation. So the number of hair colors grew as a side effect.

  That scenario has two problems. First, the genetic linkage between skin color and hair color is weak: if we took all humans with black hair, we would have a group with the full range of skin colors. Second, millions of years are needed to accumulate that many alleles through relaxation of selection. Yet modern humans have been in Europe for scarcely 45,000 years.

  Did Europeans get their hair colors from the Neanderthals? According to a study of five alleles for red hair, one of them seems to be an archaic introgression, but the others are of modern human origin. Even if we assume that all of the alleles for hair color had slowly accumulated during the long existence of the Neanderthals, the timeline is still too short — at most three quarters of a million years. Furthermore, even if they all had a Neanderthal origin, we would still need to explain how they reached their current prevalence. Europeans today are only 1 to 4% Neanderthal.

  That’s not all. Eye color, too, diversified during the same 45,000 years. So we have two color polymorphisms, with different genetic causes, developing in parallel within the same limits of time and space. There must have been a process of selection. Something helped preserve those new colors and pass them on to subsequent generations.

  That something, in my opinion, was sexual selection. It begins when too many of one sex have to compete for too few of the other. The latter are in a buyer’s market and can pick and choose among prospective mates. Conversely, the “sellers” are in a worse position and have to market themselves as best they can. The successful ones are those who can attract attention and hold it as long as possible, typically by means of bright colors.

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A conversation with Heiner Rindermann, for Man and the Economy

hrin_2019  Heiner Rindermann PhD, is Professor of Educational and Developmental Psychology at the Technical University of Chemnitz (Germany). He is psychologist (PhD University of Heidelberg). His work deals with education and ability development, intelligence and student achievement, economy and politics, evolution and culture, and their interplay at the level of individuals and societies. His recent major contribution is Cognitive capitalism: Human capital and the wellbeing of nations published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press.

  Grégoire Canlorbe: An early contribution on your part in establishing the connection between cognitive ability and human development (in the broadest sense) was to show how the spread of AIDS among ethnicities of different continents is greater as the cognitive ability is lower. Could you remind us of your analysis?

  Heiner Rindermann: In two publications from 2007 and 2009 with my German colleagues Georg W. Oesterdiekhoff, a sociologist, and Gerhard Meisenberg, a biologist, I showed that education (as a proxy for intelligence and knowledge) and cognitive ability (comprising intelligence and knowledge) reduce the impact of the HIV spread.[i] If wealth and modernity are added in analyses at the level of nations – comparing different countries – the effects of wealth and modernity even turned positive, increasing HIV rates! Disproving the usual theory, that AIDS is a disease of the poor, the data robustly showed that AIDS is a disease of the low intelligent. But why? Isn’t this result biased or mad?

  In closer consideration not at all: Studies from other authors on AIDS or on diabetes at the level of individuals also show that income and even education are not crucial for health. The crucial factor is intelligence. Again: Why? Here the Piagetian approach can help us as used by Georg W. Oesterdiekhoff and cognitive hermeneutics of everyday life as I tried to explain in my Cognitive capitalism book: People at lower levels of cognitive development and intelligence, especially if living in a social environment with a similar low level, tend to think and act irrationally, e.g. they believe in magic and behave in ineffective or even self-damaging ways. I.e., AIDS is not seen as being caused by HIV transmitted by unprotected sex but being caused by God, magical powers or sorcery and consequently can be cured by magical treatment, e.g. by having sex with a virgin. And these aren’t excuses for sexual abuse or own failings but people really believe this.

  For instance, a quote from a study by African researchers in Mali underscores this: “Accidents are never attributed to faults or incompetence of the people in charge or machine failure, they are always orchestrated by certain superstitious powers.”[ii] Such a mindset will not lead to more cautiousness or better maintenance reducing accidents.

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Five questions to James Flynn, for European Scientist

  maxresdefaultJames Robert Flynn is a political philosopher and an intelligence researcher based in New Zealand. He is most famous for his publications about the continued year-after-year increase of IQ scores throughout the world, which is now referred to as the Flynn Effect. His last manuscript, entitled “In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor,” and initially scheduled for publication in September 2019, was withdrawn by its own publisher.

  Grégoire Canlorbe: Besides your inquiries in intelligence research, you got involved in the exegesis of Aristotle’s philosophy… your very first published book developing “an Aristotelian view” on ideology in politics. What does your current polemical case for free speech owe to this Aristotelian background?

  James Flynn: I believe that I would defend free speech my debt to Aristotle aside. Any censorship turns what should be a contest of ideas into a test of strength—who has the power to shut their opponent up—and “might makes right” is hardly a principle that will maximize truth. But Aristotle was well aware that dialogue rather than authority was the proper method. He said: “Plato was a friend to us all, but an even better friend must be the truth.”

  Grégoire Canlorbe: While Aristotle’s pre-scientific physics attested to a kind of intelligence more empirical than imaginative, and more qualitative than measurement-oriented, Galilei’s intellect would exhibit qualities of speculation and inspiration, and mathematical and logico-experimental aptitudes, from which modern, properly scientific physics would spring. How would those two distinct sorts of intelligence translate into a contemporary IQ test?

  James Flynn: The current IQ tests are culturally relative in the sense that they try to measure skills appropriate in a modern scientific society. Look at the subtests of the Wechsler IQ test: (1) Vocabulary measures when you have a command of the language of a school-educated person; (2) Similarities measures whether you can use abstractions to classify and generalize as scientists do; (3) Arithmetic measures whether you are numerate; (4) Digit span measures whether you have a working memory for numbers; (5) Coding measures whether you note correlations between two systems of identification.

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A conversation with Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Yr., for Psych

1454590368-7168-0  Michael Anthony Woodley of Menie, Yr. (Younger), is a British ecologist and evolutionary psychologist, whose research on secular trends in different aspects of human intelligence has earned him considerable notability.

  Woodley of Menie received his Bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 2007 and received his Ph.D. from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2011, where he researched the molecular genetic and community ecology of Arabidopsis thaliana, a model organism used in plant science. Since then, the focus of his research has shifted to the evolution of human intelligence and personality, and the relation of these phenomena to life history strategy.

  Woodley of Menie holds a lifetime fellowship with the Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium, and sits on the editorial board of the journal Intelligence. He has authored over 100 papers covering a very wide range of subjects, including human intelligence and life history strategy (especially their genetic and evolutionary bases), personality psychology, comparative phylogenetic methods and primatology, cognitive epidemiology, secular trend analysis, macroeconomics, microbiology, plant science, theoretical ecology, and even cryptozoology.

  He has published four books, most recently a popular science work (co-authored with Dr. Edward Dutton) on secular trends in intelligence and their macro-social effects (At Our Wits End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What it Means for the Future, Imprint Academic, Exeter, UK). In 2015, the Association for Psychological Science awarded Woodley of Menie the Rising Star designation for his work on secular trends in intelligence. Part of this body of research inspired the coining of the term “Woodley effect,” which refers to any trend indicating a population-level decline in general cognitive ability. His work has been covered in diverse media, including the BBC, The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and RAI (Italian television).

  Grégoire Canlorbe: You have been involved in elaborating a “biological meta-theory” for the social sciences—from the perspective of “life history evolution.” Could you start by telling us more about it?

  Michael A. Woodley of Menie: First I should explain life history theory. This is a very powerful model in evolutionary ecology for explaining the covariance of anatomical, physiological, and behavioral traits within and across species. Its core idea is that environments pose particular sets of fitness challenges to organisms, which favor the evolution of coordinated suites of adaptations; these coherent adaptive packages can be understood as strategies through which organisms overcome obstacles to fitness (i.e. reproductive success). Species that tend towards very high rates of reproduction (i.e. high yields of offspring) typically have short life expectancies and their offspring tend to be precocial—meaning that they take relatively little time to mature into their adult forms. Their behaviors are also adapted to environments with generally high and unpredictable levels of extrinsic morbidity and mortality—sources of morbidity and mortality are “extrinsic” if adaptive features of organisms have little influence on them, and they are “unpredictable” if they exhibit high spatial and temporal variability that organisms cannot anticipate. The package of adaptations—behavioral, reproductive, and so on—that typically emerges in these environmental circumstances is usually called “r strategy” (where r denotes a species’ reproductive potential). Rabbits exemplify this ecological strategy—they are ready to reproduce within six weeks after birth, and the mother spends only a few minutes per day with her offspring investing resources in their growth. Rabbits also have relatively short lifespans, and in the wild have very high odds of succumbing to predation. The opposite strategy is usually called “K strategy” (where K denotes the carrying capacity of an environment). When a species is optimized for existence at the carrying capacity of its environment, its members exhibit high longevity, prolonged gestation, and extended postnatal development. The high-density populations in which K strategists live experience relatively little, or at least predictable, extrinsic morbidity and mortality. K strategists are typically long lived, in part because they invest heavily in somatic development and maintenance. With respect to behavior, K strategists are usually highly pro-social, investing in the fitness of their genetic kin via communitarian effort. Elephants exemplify this strategy, since they have relatively low rates of fertility, but invest substantially in their (small numbers of) offspring via extended gestation and multiple years of postnatal parental investment. Moreover, they are markedly herd oriented, with individual elephants exhibiting highly protective behaviors toward their entire herd when threatened by predators.

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A conversation with Michael H. Hart, for American Renaissance

d3f340_6daeb2af30d82d77142cc638c144a35d  Michael H. Hart is an American astrophysicist, historian, and white separatist militant. He is mostly known for the Fermi-Hart Paradox, and his books The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History and Understanding Human History. He was a speaker at the 1996 American Renaissance conference.

  Grégoire Canlorbe: You call for defending the “Judeo-Christian heritage” of American civilization against mass invasions from the Third-World. How do you sum up the values at the core of the Judeo-Christian Weltanschauung—and the outlines of your partition plan intended to preserve those?

  In the decades yet to come, do you see rather a Republican candidate or a Democrat one to run for the presidential elections under the banner of a racial-partition program?

  Michael H. Hart: I would have a hard time trying to sum up what are Judeo-Christian values. I believe our civilization’s uniqueness lies in the importance it gives to individual freedom.

  In my book Restoring America, I identified the three principal causes of our decline as follows: large-scale immigration from Latin America (in particular from Mexico), the decline of pride in our national heritage, and most importantly racial hostilities which are henceforth so great that we can no longer function effectively as a single unified country. Hence we must split into two countries.

  The partition would not be exactly a racial one. One of the two countries would be a “Red” one, consisting mostly of those regions in which conservatives make up the majority. The other would be a “Blue” country, consisting primarily of those regions in which “liberals” make up the majority.

  Hopefully secession will happen in a peaceful and voluntary manner. But I don’t believe that will be the case. I think that the partitioning will most likely occur in the context of a civil war. It will be implemented by an authoritarian figure. As for knowing whether the latter will be a Democrat or a Republican, I can make no prediction. Many of my conservative acquaintances are silently in favor of partition though.

  I should make it clear that I do not advocate dividing the USA long racial lines. (I once had that idea, but I no longer do.). In Restoring America, I suggest dividing the country between the conservatives and the leftists. I anticipate that most blacks—but not all—will choose to live in the leftist country. But I expect that a substantial number—perhaps about a million—will choose to live in the conservative country. They should be accepted by the conservative country without any reservations.

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A conversation with Deepak Lal, for Man and the Economy

Lal  Deepak Lal is the James S. Coleman Professor Emeritus of International Development Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, professor emeritus of political economy at University College London, and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He was a member of the Indian Foreign Service (1963-66) and has served as a consultant to the Indian Planning Commission, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, various UN agencies, South Korea, and Sri Lanka. From 1984 to 1987 he was research administrator at the World Bank.

  Lal is the author of a number of books, including The Poverty of Development Economics; The Hindu Equilibrium; Against Dirigisme; The Political Economy of Poverty, Equity and Growth; Unintended Consequences: The Impact of Factor Endowments, Culture, and Politics on Long-Run Economic Performance; and Reviving the Invisible Hand: The Case for Classical Liberalism in the 21st Century.

  Grégoire Canlorbe: From Gandhi’s point of view, in substance, Varanashram (caste system) is inherent in human nature and it was solely given a scientific expression through Hinduism. Similarly, can one contend that utility maximization and rational calculus are innate human traits that capitalism turned into a science?

  Deepak Lal: As I have shown in The Hindu Equilibrium, the caste system, far from being timeless and “inherent in human nature,” most likely arose as the Aryan response to the problem of securing a stable labor supply for the relatively labor-intensive agriculture they came to practice in the Indo-Gangetic plan. Given the ecological circumstances of this large plain (once the primeval forests had been cleared during the Aryan advance), and the primitive forms of transport then available, a major constraint on achieving a political solution for the provision of a stable labor supply, was the endemic political instability among the numerous feuding monarchies.

  This endemic political instability meant that various alternatives methods of tying down the scarce labor (relative to land) needed for the labor-intensive form of plow agriculture on the plains were not available, such as slavery, poll taxation, indenture, or limitations on migration. For these required the power of a centralized state and its attendant bureaucracy for enforcement. The caste system provided a more subtle and enduring answer to the Aryans’ problem of maintaining their rural labor supply. It established a decentralized system of control that did not require any overall (and larger) political community to exist for its survival, and it ensured that any attempt to start new settlements outside its framework would be difficult if not impossible. The division of labor by caste and its enforcement by local social ostracism were central to the schema.

  As for capitalism, understood as the natural “propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another,” it is hardly a new thing and must date back to the hunter-gatherer stage of our development in the Pleistocene. Given the time scale of Darwinian processes of “inclusive fitness”—it takes about ten thousand years to produce a new species—much of our current biological nature must have been determined in this distant past. Though, I should mention it was the creation of the whole legal cum administrative structure for enforcing property rights through the Church-State established by Gregory VII over Western Christendom which established capitalism as an institution, thus leading to the dynamic which began the Great Divergence in the economic fortunes of the West and the Rest.

  One essential component of the instincts that were determined thought evolutionary processes—during the millennia when we were hunter-gatherers—was to truck and barter. Another one was to behave morally. However, both appear to be underlying trade and “reciprocal altruism,” as our moral instincts were arguably fixed by repeated social interactions with one’s fellows on a “face to face” basis in the hunter-gatherer band. Indeed, the rise of settled agriculture and urban civilization seems to have enlarged the scope for opportunistic behavior, because of the relatively larger number of more anonymous social transactions entailed in civilized ways of living. Then, an internalized moral code must have been needed, as individuals came to deal with a host of anonymous “strangers” on an occasional basis.

  The cooperative gains that result from the increasing division of labor in a more complex civilization would not have been available without some mechanism (either inborn or cultural) for dealing with the increased potential for defection when social interactions became anonymous and sporadic. Thus, our moral instincts must have emerged as fruitful strategies to curb, detect, and punish defection in the strategic non-zero sum game of genetic competition with one’s fellows, with whom cooperation in various tasks of fields direct benefits; but even greater benefits accrue if one can cheat and be a free rider. The cosmologies of the ancient civilizations also created internalized moral codes to prevent such defection (through, for example, moral prohibitions against our basic instincts to lie and cheat).

  Grégoire Canlorbe: You have extensively written in praise of empires. How do you sum up the own assets and handicaps of the former British Empire—and of the present Commonwealth—to unfetter trade, to enforce order, and to sustain intensive and robust growth over a large economic space?

  Deepak Lal: Empires—which for our purposes can be simply defined as multiethnic conglomerates held together by transnational organizational and cultural ties—have historically both maintained peace and promoted prosperity. This is because the imperial pax or order has been associated with globalization—which is not a new phenomenon—and the prosperity it breeds. In the language of institutional economics, transaction costs were reduced by these transnational organizations through their extension of metropolitan property rights to other countries. And in integrating previously loosely linked or even autarkic countries and regions—through free flows of goods, capital, and people—into a common economic space, they promote those gains from trade and specialization emphasized by Adam Smith.

  Thus the Graeco-Roman empires linked the areas around the Mediterranean, the Abbasid empire of the Arabs linked the worlds of the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, and the Mongol empire linked China with the Near East. Similarly, the various Indian empires created a common economic space in the sub-continent, while the expanding Chinese empire linked the economic spaces of the Yellow River with those of the Yangtze. It was the British who for the first time knit the whole world through their empire. But most of these empires have ultimately declined. Given the existing technology and the inevitable predatoriness of the state, most of them overextended themselves.

  As for the colonial impact on Indian polity and society the Mutiny of 1857 provides a convenient dividing line for two distinct phases. These phases in turn can be identified with two distinct lines of thought which emerged at the turn of the nineteenth century. These concerned the means for promoting the welfare of the Indian people which had explicitly been made the Company’s charge by the English Parliament in the late eighteenth century. The Mutiny also roughly marks the transition of the British in India from “nabobs” to “sahibs.” The nabobs sought to assimilate and to become a traditional Indian power; the sahibs set themselves apart and above their subjects.

  The notions of racial exclusiveness and the “White Man’s Burden,” so characteristic of the late imperial phase, were alien to India’s early British rulers, who exhibited a more robust delight in both the country’s mores and its women. Like the Moghuls and other past imperial rulers of India, they would have been satisfied to maintain law and order in the countryside in return for the land revenue which had so for long been the loadstone of imperial ambitions. When it comes to evaluating retrospectively the record of the British empire I think the glass is, like for most empires, either half-full or half-empty. One of the best things the rulers did was to implement a series of social reforms which substantially modernized the Indian society. The most important was the suppression of suttee or burning of widows on their husband’s funeral pyre. This was made illegal in 1828.

  In the previous fifteen years, recorded suttees alone had varied annually from 500 to 820. The second major measure was the suppression of infanticide, particularly of female children, whilst the most dramatic was the suppression of “thuggee,” which had involved ritual murder and robbery in the name of the goddess Kali. The reform of education is also worth mentioning. From 1835, an elitist system of providing secondary and higher education in English to the Indian upper classes was implemented. And three non-teaching universities (which were primarily examining bodies for the affiliated colleges) were established in 1857 at Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. Given their need for Indians to man the intermediate and lower levels of the bureaucracy, the British encouraged literary and philosophical studies in the new schools and colleges. By contrast, both primary and technical education languished.

  However, another positive thing that the British empire achieved was the institution of property rights in the major asset of Indians—land—and that of the rule of law to enforce these rights. By separating the judiciary from the executive, anglicizing the British administration, and separating the commercial from the political interests of the British in India, it sought to erect an impersonal government. The task of enshrining this rule of law in a fully-fledged codification of Indian public law was not completed until 1861. As British law came to cover the most important areas of Indian lives, it was inevitable that there was a vast growth of indigenous lawyers, trained and skilled in operating in the new-style Western courts. They were to provide the backbone of the middle-classes, which were to emerge as a significant factor in India’s nationalist movement and post-Independence politics.

  The worst thing that the British empire did was to implement labor laws and protectionist measures in the late nineteenth century. Instead of promoting infant industries much of this protection shielded established ones against technical changes elsewhere (cotton textiles against Japanese imports) or fostered industries (such as sugar) in which India had no long-run comparative advantage. The ensuing waste of resources imposed lower growth in both employment and industrial output than was feasible. The Indian textile industry, which under laissez-faire and free trade had so triumphantly turned the tables against Lancashire in the second half of the nineteenth century, started declining with the introduction in 1881—soon after similar rights had been granted to workers in Britain—of legislation to protect industrial labor from perceived abuses.

  The British empire’s abandonment of the twin policies of free trade and laissez faire which had led India to be a pioneer of Third World industrialization, based on domestic capital and entrepreneurship and imported technology, led to a near century of creeping and after Independence galloping dirigisme, which damaged India’s growth prospects and the hopes of alleviating its ancient scourge of mass poverty. The breakdown of the global economy for the half-century from the First World War further eroded the incipient integration of India in the world economy, which had occurred during the British Raj. Beginning with the economic reforms of 1991 India, at last, seems to have turned its back on these near century of “inward looking” policies, so that on a long view it seems to back at where it left off at the end of the nineteenth century.

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A conversation with Richard Lindzen, for Association des Climato-réalistes

lindzen-cato_1  Richard Siegmund Lindzen is an American atmospheric physicist known for his work in the dynamics of the atmosphere, atmospheric tides, and ozone photochemistry. He has published more than 200 scientific papers and books. From 1983 until his retirement in 2013, he was Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a lead author of Chapter 7, “Physical Climate Processes and Feedbacks,” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Third Assessment Report on climate change. He has criticized the scientific consensus about climate change and what he has called “climate alarmism.”

  In May 2018, Prof. Lindzen had a conversation with Mr. Grégoire Canlorbe, who interviewed him on behalf on the French Association des climato-réalistes—the only climate-realist organization in France.

  Grégoire Canlorbe: Your early work dealt with ozone photochemistry, the aerodynamics of the middle atmosphere, the theory of atmospheric tides, and planetary waves. How do you present to the layman the several scientific discoveries you were responsible for in these areas?

  Richard Lindzen: My work is mostly about ‘explaining’ rather than ‘discovering’, and I doubt that my achievements would mean much to laymen. With respect to my early work, I provided the explanation for the Quasi-biennial Oscillation of the tropical stratosphere. This phenomenon refers to the fact that the wind between 16 and about 30 km in the tropics blows from east to west for approximately a year, and then reverses and blows from west to east for about another year.

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A conversation with István Markó, for Watts Up With That

  20604491_527762360889101_3787449182197163589_nIstván Markó (1956 – 2017) was a professor and researcher in organic chemistry at the Université catholique de Louvain. Prof. Dr. Marko was an outspoken defender of the skeptical view on the issue of human-caused/anthropogenic global warming, appearing in numerous French-language media on the Internet, in public debates and diverse English-language blog postings. He also joined with Anglo-Saxon climate skeptics, publishing several articles together on Breitbart News.

  Grégoire Canlorbe: Climate activism is thought of as Marxism’s Trojan horse, a way for its followers to proceed with their face masked, in the never-ending holy war that Marxism claims will be necessary to establish communist totalitarianism. Yet it was actually Margaret Thatcher, the muse of conservative libertarianism, who kick-started the IPCC. How do you make sense of this?

  István Markó: More precisely, Margaret Thatcher, although a trained chemist and therefore aware of the mendacious character of such an allegation about carbon dioxide (CO2), was the first proponent to use the excuse of climate implications posed by CO2 to achieve her political ends. At the time, that is, in the mid-1980s, Thatcher was waging war with the almighty coal union. In those days, the UK coal unions were remunerating themselves with public monies and by lobbying via the Labour Party had managed to pass an enormous number of laws and subsidies to keep an industry afloat that was no longer profitable on its own.

  While facing a strike by the British miners, chaired by Arthur Scargill, (nick-named “Arthur the Red”) who was later to found and lead the Socialist Labor Party, Thatcher thought it worthwhile to enshrine the thesis of warming linked to CO2 emissions to wind up the trade unionists holding her country hostage. But she was not really the initiator of the IPCC. The “kick-off,” as you call it, came more from personalities who were involved in hard ecologism,[1] such as Norwegian Gro Harlem Brundtland, who chaired the UN Commission responsible for the famous 1987’s report “Our Common Future,” or Canadian Maurice Strong, who ranks among the founding members of the IPCC.

  The belief in a catastrophic greenhouse effect due to CO2 emissions provided Thatcher with an additional asset, in her arm wrestling with the union, to set up the United Kingdom to get out of coal and to transition to nuclear energy. It was a belief she knew to be unfounded, but one she largely helped to entrench and popularize. One can, admittedly, deplore Thatcher’s strategy based on a perversion of science. The fact remains that, at that time, the electric power generation industries, notably that from coal, did not do so under very clean conditions. Even though CO2 has absolutely nothing to do with a poison, there existed then a real pollution associated with coal burning due to a lack of modern emission control technology.

  Indeed, the combustion of coal not only produces innocuous CO2 emissions, it is accompanied by sulfurous and nitrogenous waste, produces SO2 emissions, SO3 emissions, and NOx emissions, ejects fine particles, and leaves nominally radioactive ashes (despite the fact that the epidemiological evidence and data for any serious health harms are still very controversial and hard to come by). Since the 1980s, the treatment of industrial pollution has however evolved. Today an electrical utility power generation plant that uses coal as a raw material now results in very little environmental pollution.

  Grégoire Canlorbe: According to you, a person sensitive to pastoral charms, smitten with lounges of greenery and variegated grass beds, can only celebrate the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air. Could you come back to the necessity to stop demonizing CO2 as a “Satanic gas” in view of the objective data of chemistry?

  István Markó: Again, CO2 is not, and has never been, a poison. Each of our exhalations, each of our breaths, emits an astronomical quantity of CO2 proportionate to that in the atmosphere (some >40,000 ppm); and it is very clear that the air we expire does not kill anyone standing in front of us. What must be understood, besides, is that CO2 is the elementary food of plants. Without CO2 there would be no plants, and without plants there would be no oxygen and therefore no humans. The equation is as simple as that.

Capture d’écran 2017-10-28 à 15.09.05

  Plants need CO2, water, and daylight. These are the mechanisms of photosynthesis, to generate the sugars that will provide them with staple food and building blocks. That fundamental fact of botany is one of the primary reasons why anyone who is sincerely committed to the preservation of the “natural world” should abstain from demonizing CO2. Over the last 30 years, there has been a gradual increase in the CO2 level. But what is also observed is that despite deforestation, the planet’s vegetation has grown by about 20%. This expansion of vegetation on the planet, nature lovers largely owe it to the increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

  If we study, however, what has been happening at the geological level for several million years, we realize that the present period is characterized by an extraordinarily low CO2 level. During the Jurassic, Triassic, and so on, the CO2 level rose to values sometimes of the order of 7000, 8000, 9000 ppm, which considerably exceeds the paltry 400 ppm that we have today. Not only did life exist, in those far-off times when CO2 was so present in large concentration in the atmosphere, but plants such as ferns commonly attained heights of 25 meters. Reciprocally, far from benefiting the current vegetation, the reduction of the presence of CO2 in the atmosphere would be likely to compromise the health, and even the survival, of numerous plants. To fall below the threshold of 280 or 240 ppm would plainly lead to the extinction of a large variety of our vegetal species.

  In addition, our relentless crusade to reduce CO2 could be more harmful to nature as plants are not the only organisms to base their nutrition on CO2. Phytoplankton species also feed on CO2, using carbon from CO2 as a building unit and releasing oxygen. By the way, it is worth remembering that ~70% of the oxygen present today in the atmosphere comes from phytoplankton, not trees: contrary to common belief, it is not the forests, but the oceans, that constitute the “lungs” of the earth.

  About the supposed link between global warming and CO2 emissions, it is simply not true that CO2 has a major greenhouse effect. It is worth remembering, here too, that CO2 is a minor gas. Today it represents only 0.04% of the composition of the air; and its greenhouse effect is attributed the value of 1. The major greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is water vapor which is ten times more potent than CO2 in its greenhouse effect. Water vapor is present in a proportion of 2% in the atmosphere. Those facts are, in principle, taught at school and at university, but one still manages to incriminate CO2 alongside this learning, in using a dirty trick that presents the warming effect of CO2 as minor but exacerbated, through feedback loops, by the other greenhouse effects.

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