American Elephants

Panics, Crazes, Manias and Fads. by The Elephant's Child
November 19, 2008, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Liberalism | Tags: , , ,


The Wall Street Journal today reviewed a new book called Plumes about the fashion craze for ostrich feathers from roughly 1905 to 1914. Ostrich plumes adorned women’s hats, capes, gowns, gloves, shoes and more and it was thought (as in all crazes) that it would last forever.

The famous Tulip mania of 1634 didn’t last so long, but speculation reached dizzying heights.  One collector paid 1,000 pounds of cheese, four oxen, eight pigs, 12 sheep, a bed and a suit of clothes for a single Viceroy tulip bulb.

The demand for beaver hats in England led to our mountain men braving the dangers of the Rockies in the search for fur. The desire for warm beaver hats coincided with the Little Ice Age.  The greatest fur trading company received its charter in1670, just three years before there was a record of ice three feet thick on the Thames River in London.

There are little crazes too, that come and go fairly quickly. Do you remember pet rocks?  Or mood rings? Most of us have only to look back at our high school yearbooks to cringe and remember a few more fads.

Back in the 70s there was a fear that we were entering another ice age for the planet had cooled slightly.

On Monday, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring world temperatures, and is run by Al Gore’s chief scientific ally, Dr. James Hansen, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was astonishing.  It had snowed in Boise.  On the day that they were debating climate-change legislation in London, it snowed.  China reported that Tibet had suffered its “worst snowstorm ever”. NOAA had registered 115 lowest-ever temperatures in the US.

These temperature records are used by scientists all over the world in their work.  What happened?  The freak figures were not based on October readings at all, they had just repeated the figures from the previous month.  When that was promptly caught, GISS began hastily revising its figures, and claimed to have discovered a new “hotspot” in the Arctic. Then they said they did not have the resources to maintain proper quality control over their incoming data.

Dr. Hansen set the whole “global warming” scare going in 1988 with his summer testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore.  In 2007, he was forced to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures to show that the hottest decade was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.

Professor Bob Carter points out in Quadrant that:

Climate change knows three realities: science reality, which is what working scientists deal with every day; virtual reality, which is the wholly imaginary world inside computer climate models; and public reality which is the socio-political system within which politicians, business people and the general citizenry work.

The global warming scare is slowly coming apart. The science reality is negating the virtual reality, and the public is becoming dubious.

Fads, crazes and manias come and go. Some last far longer than they should and do far more damage because politicians get involved.

This particular craze has consumed vast funds, and promises to consume far, far more.

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