The Death of the Expert

Most days, I google a lot looking for news on issues as wide as traceability to biomass. Unfortunately, much of the time what I find actually is ‘false news’ and utter dross. Opinions of people who plainly know not a thing about the commodities business delivered as fact. No discussion, no contrary opinions, no sources. Journalism has truly gone to the dogs and to those with a political axe to grind. We live in an era where anyone with any kind of opinion and few brain cells is able to utter their version of the truth moronically across all manner of social media and beyond. Frankly, I’m sick of it already.

Increasingly over the last few years, I have noticed that ‘expert’ is becoming a term of derision. Qualifications, it seems, count for little. Experience? not at all.

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On the other hand, perhaps there is a reason for this. The word ‘expert’, or its surrogate ‘scientists’, have been quoted over the course of my lifetime routinely to tell us things like,

  • A new ice age is coming/ooops, we meant the ice caps are melting
  • Butter is bad for you/Butter is good for you
  • Margarine is good for you/Margarine is bad for you
  • These foods are good for you/Actually, we meant these

and so on – I know you too have read these articles. They have done the ‘expert’ no real favors have they. Meanwhile, social media simply encourages anyone and everyone to grind their personal axes while building a group of ‘friends’ that simply reflect back to them their own naive worldview. Any one who dares to argue that, in fact, inoculations are safe and desired, the world is indeed a globe and most certainly not flat, and so on, is simply unfriended so that such disturbing alternative facts can be ignored.

Today, I was googling the term biomass. There is a bit of a debate going on right now in the UK about biomass. Is it really environmentally friendly? Should it be subsidized? and so on. The UK Government have put some effort into using biomass to meet its 2020 EU goals and now it might prove to be that biomass is not quite as environmental as first thought in replacing coal. One of the first articles that pops up in google is a rather pompously written letter regarding Drax use of biomass and its impact on ‘global warming’. The letter writer tells us all that Drax (and all other power stations) ought to be closed and the UK should rely on wind and solar only going forward. I will say nothing more other than why did the paper print this tripe and what happened to editors?

In some news outlets, they are not content to write articles telling us the science is proven (not possible and based on an incorrect perception of the basis of scientific method), that 97% of all scientists agree (untrue and increasingly so), and that we are all doomed to extinction by a changing climate (which by the way is our fault and that of that nasty polluting gas – CO2), but routinely also manage to drop these statements in to news articles ranging from the price of coffee to the Queen’s pets. The very term ‘climate change denier’ makes me want to giggle like a schoolboy who just heard someone make a rude noise. After all, if you actually believe that the Earth’s climate is static, ignore 4.5 billion years of geological record that shows otherwise, and truly believe a few ppm of plant food is responsible, then surely – it is you that denies climate change? As a PhD geologist, I know that climate changes and has changed throughout the history of the planet. I know that for 85% of this planet’s history there were no polar ice caps and much, much more.

In the last two weeks, I have read scientific articles about how the amount of man-emitted CO2 in the atmosphere has been massively over- estimated – it is perhaps 15% of 400ppm apparently, that the climate models are based on a massive assumption that any change in temperature is due to CO2 ignoring cloud cover and water vapor altogether (which is why the models routinely massively overstate the supposed temperature increase), and that the Sun has now entered a sunspot minimum – the last time it did so we experienced a mini- ice age. These articles don’t seem to have been commented on the mainstream media and you have to google rather hard to find them too……..

For me, the issue is this. Expert is such an over used term as to be meaningless these days and yet ‘expert’ politicians and environmentalists are now dictating terms to the oil industry and the power industry – amongst others. These experts are ignorant of the costs – financial and otherwise of some of the crazy decisions that follow. Case in point – biomass. One minute its the best thing since sliced bread and comes with a really nice subsidy and the next – its the devil incarnate and you are penalized for using it.

How anyone can plan a business in such a world is beyond me.

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