Hilton Ratcliffe




Darwin by Foster

From Why We Bite the Invisible Hand by Peter Foster
That species could be deliberately modified was clear from the selective breeding of dogs and other animals, as well as plants, that had been carried on for thousands of years. Promise of an evolutionary theory was also seen in common embryonic forms of many species. There were also vestigial features, such as male nipples, which suggest a biological purpose made redundant over time. To these observations were added, thanks to Darwin’s travels, questions about the geographical distribution of, and environmental influence on, species: that is, how similar species appeared in similar environments in far distant parts of the world.
Darwin spent more than twenty years mulling over these issues in the bucolic surroundings of his Kent estate, going for thrice-daily walks along his “thinking path.” Then in 1859, he was shocked when another naturalist, the self-taught Alfred Russel Wallace, sent him a letter outlining a theory almost identical to his own. Darwin was forced to produce The Origin of the Species in a relatively short time, and to present it beside that of Wallace, who generously deferred to Darwin’s superior scientific status.
Darwin’s theory of natural selection states that life forms evolve–and split into different species–by a process of mutation between generations. Those mutations that make a life form more “fit” to survive and procreate within its relevant environment are more likely to be passed on, further mutated, tested once more for fitness and on and on. The creation of new species occurs when life forms branch off via mutation and can no longer interbreed with those on the home branch. Darwin noted how, in such a process of evolution and speciation, the natural selection of adaptive random variations could give the appearance of intentional design.
Genes, as we now know, carry the design specification for living creatures. Genes split during reproduction. Mutation comes via “transcription error.” Most mutations are maladaptive, but occasionally one increases its organism’s chance of reproduction. Hence, “useful” adaptions–which marginally increase speed or strength or reaction times or smell or eyesight, or any of a multiplicity of interrelated characteristics or tendencies–are more likely to be passed on.
The notion of an evolved–and thus limited and potentially biased–mind tends to be inconceivable. Alfred Russel Wallace, for example, couldn’t bring himself to countenance the mind as merely a function of an evolved organ. To ask what kind of thing the mind is, we start by asking how, and in response to what challenges, it evolved. Our mental apparatus evolved to help us survive in our immediate environment, but it wasn’t just a physical world of colours, odours, shapes, distances, masses, velocities, trajectories, poisons and predators; it was also a social world. Man formed society, and society formed man. The key issue was the nature of that chicken-and-egg relationship.
Our minds–defined as what our brains do–developed along with, and as a computing and guiding mechanism for, our physical and social interactions. The key insight of evolutionary psychology is that as much as 99% of that evolution may have taken place while we were hunter-gatherers. Thus our brains and minds were overwhelmingly formed when we lived in small, closely related tribal groups, whose existence revolved around hunting, food gathering, sex, fighting, and “local politics.”
There is a huge and growing literature on humans’ often unconscious sexual attitudes, preferences and strategies, and how they differ between men and women. For example, males tend to be more concerned about sexual infidelity, women about emotional infidelity. That’s because it’s more adaptive for males to be concerned with paternity (whether a child is likely to have their genes), while women tend to be more concerned about male “commitment,” which goes with protection and access to resources for their children (whether those children are the progeny of the committed man or not).
The fact that contraceptive technology has made men’s jealousy “rationally” redundant doesn’t make much difference to our moral sentiments. As journalist Robert Wright wryly points out in his book The Moral Animal, “For the average husband, the fact that his wife inserted a diaphragm before copulating with her tennis instructor will not be a major source of consolation.” Similarly, Ayn Rand’s reaction to Nathaniel Branden’s emotional desertion was certainly not related to any concerns that he wasn’t going to be around to look after the babies she was never going to have. Both these examples indicate how emotions evolved to serve genetically “rational” ends, while driving us, their vehicles, crazy.


In very nearly every police shooting we see on American TV, the victim is black. Those are the only cases that are widely reported, and the only cases acted upon by the Black Lives Matter movement. Does either the media reporting or the public activism in the streets reflect the reality of the situation? Are black people being deliberately killed by police in preference to killing white people?
Actually, it is the diametric opposite of reality on the ground.
Police in the USA shoot and kill twice as many white people as black.
In 2015, The Washington Post launched a real-time database to track fatal police shootings, and the project continues this year. As of Sunday, 1,502 people have been shot and killed by on-duty police officers since Jan. 1, 2015. Of them, 732 were white, and 381 were black.
An attempt is made to obfuscate the actual figures by invoking the ratio of blacks to whites in the general population, as if that bears on the matter. It does not; the argument is statistically invalid. The correct statistical base is the ratio of blacks to whites amongst those who were confronted by armed police. You’ll find that it is the reverse of the ratio in general population (the statistics vary considerably with time, type of situation, and geographic location, but at worst, there is numerical equality of blacks, whites, and Hispanics).
That in itself is cause for concern, but that is not the point. Where more blacks than whites were confronted, yet more whites than blacks were killed, the argument that blacks are killed by police more frequently and more preferentially than whites fails completely.
In all situations in the USA in the last decade where police officers are looking at a suspect over the barrel of a gun, they are more likely to pull the trigger if the target suspect is white and restrain themselves if the target is black.
And then look at the ratio of whites to blacks amongst the shooters compared with whites and blacks in the police generally, and you have another statistical nuance. Both white and black police officers show a tendency to shoot whites rather than blacks in any given confrontation.
If we look at homicides in the USA generally, yet another nuanced picture emerges. From 2010 to 2014, the total number of murders and non-negligent homicides remained at more or less 14,000 per annum, so I’ll take 2013 as reasonably representative year for our purposes here. According to FBI statistics, in 2013, 3005 white people were murdered; they were killed by, inter alia, 2509 white people and 409 black people. In the same year, 2491 black people were murdered, and the racial breakdown of the offenders was 189 white and 2245 black. In other words, in society at large, excluding police action, it is clear that people tend by a great margin to murder their own, so the racial argument raised in the police shooting case is absent in the bigger picture. It can be seen as tacit support for Darwin’s assertion that competition for dominance occurs mostly within groups and not between them.
Be that as it may, if we now look at the homicides in general society, and express the number of murders by race we find that a disproportionately high number of blacks commit murders. This far exceed their portion of the general population, so if the police act fairly in arresting murderers, they will be found to be restraining blacks more frequently than the numbers of blacks presenting in wider society. It’s important to note that in this example, there is no racial bias; the police are reacting post hoc to crimes that have been committed without reference to the race of the perpetrator. However, it is equally important to note that given the statistics available to law enforcement, they would be foolish and misguided if they were to ignore the race of the victim in profiling the probable murderer.
There are multiple layers to this problem, and we can’t look to political activists for the right answers I’m afraid.
1. My observations in the US lead me to think that blacks particularly (but not only) have an attitude towards civil discipline and the police which tends to get them noticed for the wrong reasons. Then, because of this attitude, police overreact, and then the attitude gets even worse. Catch 22.
2. The numbers show us that policemen of all races in the US restrain their trigger fingers when the target is black. I guess this is a direct result of the socio-political pressure they feel. Somehow, to level the playing field, we have to get the police to be more rational when they have the power of life and death over a suspect, but that’s also a tough one because the suspect is perceived to have the same power over the police officer. Everything happens in split seconds in a highly charged atmosphere. No easy answers when it comes to human nature…
Now we come to the real issue: Media bias. During the time that the US media have been so graphically reporting homicide by police on black victims, more than twice as many whites were killed by the same police forces. None was reported in the media. They were completely ignored as if white lives are less important than black lives.
That is racial bias of the worst, most insidious kind.

Each of my books in a paragraph, by Hilton Ratcliffe

My books:

1. The Virtue of Heresy – Confessions of a Dissident Astronomer (AuthorHouse, 2006). The mission of this book was to make the conflicting results in science accessible to the average enquiring reader. Written in a conversational style, employing a fictional space taxi driver named Haquar as a guide, my Heresy takes the reader on a journey from the basics of natural philosophy, through cosmology and Big Bang theory, and on to the structure of the Solar System, the wonders of chemistry and the basic elements, electric universe theory, mathematical philosophy, Einstein’s Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and String theory – all in ordinary English with no mathematics at all! It’s a must read for anyone seeking the big answers. The Virtue of Heresy was nominated for the London School of Economics’ prestigious Lakatos Award for literature of outstanding service to the understanding of science.

2. The Static Universe – Exploding the Myth of Universal Expansion (C. Roy Keys, Montreal, 2008). Following on the success of Heresy, and a glowing review by BBC’s Sky at Night, I visited Sir Patrick Moore at his home in Sussex, and as one of his nurses put it, I became “part of the family”. During one of my visits, Sir Patrick insisted that I write a book called The Static Universe, which was to expose the lack of real evidence favouring the prevailing Big Bang theory. He could see the situation more clearly than I, and I am now very glad I listened to him (not that I had much choice, mind you!). Although the style is still fairly conversational with very little mathematics, The Static Universe is written for a more qualified readership. I assumed that readers interested in universal expansion would have a fairly good grasp of astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology, and even though the jargon is kept constrained, there is a glossary of terms at the back to help readers that might stick on some the terms being used. This book was very well received by both amateurs and professionals in space science, and led to my being invited to guest lecture on astrophysics at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, one of the world’s finest universities.

3. Stephen Hawking Smoked My Socks – How Beliefs Contaminate Our Opinions: An Astrophysicist’s Perspective Muse Harbor Publishing (MHP), 2014). Socks, as it is affectionately referred to, is my magnum opus, quite likely the last book I’ll write. With that sobering thought in mind, and with the persistent encouragement from my good friend Ian Campbell-Gillies, I fought through debilitating illness and misfortune to put my all into this book. I realised that it had to be written in everyday language to reach as wide a readership as possible, yet I had to achieve that without dumbing it down. From the reviews I’ve received so far, I seem to have achieved that goal. This is a how-to book that is applicable to every single rational person on planet Earth, so the target of 160,000 sales is not hopelessly optimistic. Socks has had not one bad review so far, so why not give it a whirl? :)http://smile.amazon.com/l/B001JS1GJQ/ref=smi_www_rco2_go_smi_2072677762?ie=UTF8&%252AVersion%252A=1&%252Aentries%252A=0

Paleface Speak With Forked Tongue

It’s going on 6am, I’m on my third cup of tea spiced with, shall we say, analgesia naturalis, while we – the civilised world, that is – wait patiently for the cricket ODI against New Zealand to commence (the match in Hamilton is delayed by rain, as if nobody saw THAT coming, hahahaha). I had no electricity, no Telkom connectivity, and quarter-pressure water yesterday, so I’ve been channel-hopping this morning, catching up on current affairs through the thick haze of TV channels’ partisan persuasions. I’m kinda getting used to to the partisanship of just about everyone who’s got anything to say, so I’m developing neural filters to get the information elephant to lean my way so that I can deal with things rationally. One of the global effects of Trumpalism is an intense exaggeration of partisan brinkmanship – let’s face it, hardly a soul on Earth is neutral about geopolitics these days.

I’ve got some time on my hands, so I’d like to comment on the speeches that have dominated the Northern hemisphere news in the last few days. I listened to Mike Pence’s speech, and I was, I found, way more impressed than I suppose I should have been. He said all the right things, clearly and without fear, and he sounded to me as if he really understood what he was saying and meant it. It occurred to me that I was admiring Pence’s oratory rather too much, simply because I am always drawing mental comparison with the unhinged diatribes of Donald Trump.


When President Trump makes a speech, I am quite frankly embarrassed for him and for the American people. I belong to that sub-group of political animals who hold unashamed conservative values, think the political left is dangerously idealistic, who like to promote many of the policies being put to the people by the Trump administration, but who think that Trump is not a president’s arse. His media briefing the other other day was even worse than usual. What did he say about the pressing political issues that landed on his desk and our tvs recently? Nothing. He just rambled on about one thing – Donald Trump and the media. His overwhelming concern, it appears to me, is ratings. He takes political showbusiness to a whole new level. Good grief, how did the free world end up with this? Is Trump the price we have to pay to swing the world towards natural conservatism? All I can hope for, I suppose is that Trump will let his cabinet actually run the show while he develops narcissism as “finely-tuned” as his coiffure.


Back to Vice President Pence. I think a great many people who heard his speech yesterday breathed a collective sigh of relief. We really needed to hear that, Mike, thank you. Our lingering uneasiness though stems from uncertainty about whether what Pence says truly represents Trump’s political policies. That’s what worries me more than anything about the 2017 US presidency.


From Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate:
“Until recently the intuitive concept of the soul served us pretty well. Living people had souls, which come into existence at the moment of conception and leave their bodies when they die. Animals, plants, and inanimate objects do not have souls at all. But science is showing that what we call the soul – the locus of sentience, reason, and will – consists of the information-processing activity of the brain, an organ governed by the laws of biology. In an individual person it comes into being gradually through the differentiation of tissues growing from a single cell. In species it came into existence gradually as the forces of evolution modified the brains of simpler animals. And though our concept of souls used to fit pretty well with natural phenomena – a woman was either pregnant or not, a person was either dead or alive – biomedical research is now presenting us with cases where the two are out of register. These cases are not just scientific curiosities but are intertwined with pressing issues such as contraception, abortion, infanticide, animal rights, cloning, euthanasia, and research involving human embryos, especially the harvesting of stem cells.”

DEMOCRACY IN THE MARKETPLACE (c Hilton Ratcliffe, 2016)


Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. — Lord Acton

Thus is born the idea of the “philosopher-king”, the wise person who accepts the power thrust upon him by people who are wise enough to choose a good master. This is the main thesis of Socrates in the Republic, that the most wisdom the masses can muster is the wise choice of a ruler. — Wikipedia, Plato.

Let’s start at the beginning. What are the first principles? We are trying to put together a template of democratic governance for which we pinched a 17th century title: Political economy. The successful economic system must best meet the population’s realistic expectations and aspirations. It’s all about people.

The essential principle of democracy is this: It is a systematic reflection of the will of an identifiable group of people in a particular territory. Democracy comes in a variety of flavours, but they all start from there. Ideally, the ballot should inform rulers, and their style of government should reflect the aggregate opinion of citizens.

If a leader imposes on his people that which they desire, it is not tyranny; it is the opposite. If a system provides infrastructure for the electorate to sell their labour so that they can in return improve their lot in life, it is not slavery; it is the opposite. If an enterprise employs people for two dollars a day who prior to that employment had only one dollar a day, it is not a pittance; it is a 100% improvement in their material circumstances.

All good so far. Then we factor in human nature and it starts to go haywire.

If we were to devolve power down to grass roots, the corruption unfortunately passes with it. When human nature has the muscle to unilaterally impose its will, the result is seldom pretty. We are in that age right now; disproportionately effective power vests in the hands of mere individuals, commoners in the herd. It’s just a short hop from zealous activism to über-violent terrorism, where deadly forces that formerly belonged exclusively to the leaders of nations now empower ordinary citizens. The anonymous, skulking ideological foot soldier is now master of all he surveys, and he makes mockery of our dearest democratic principles.

Trump’s Secret Weapon To Reverse Obama’s Climate Policy


This calculation, known as the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC), serves as the linchpin for much of the climate-related rules imposed by the White House over the past eight years. From capping the carbon emissions of power plants to cutting down on the amount of electricity used by the digital clock on a microwave, the SCC has given the Obama administration the legal justification to argue that the benefits these rules provide to society outweigh the costs they impose on industry. It turns out that the same calculation used to justify so much of Obama’s climate agenda could be used by President-elect Donald Trump to undo a significant portion of it. As Trump nominates people who favor fossil fuels and oppose climate regulation to top positions in his cabinet, he already appears to be focusing on the SCC. —Bloomberg, 15 December 2016

December 12, 2016Catherine Rolfe

The First Word Energy team draws on Bloomberg’s worldwide resources to cover all aspects of energy policy. Learn how Bloomberg Government can help your energy lobbying or policy analysis—contact Peter Hsu at yhsu24@bloomberg.net or 202-416-3035.

If this all holds, the oil business is going to be well represented in the administration of President-elect Donald Trump. Exxon’s Rex Tillerson at State. Texas’ Rick Perry at Energy. Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt at the EPA.

Each of these candidates has deep, long-lasting ties to the industry. Each can rattle off the benefits of the U.S. production boom without a moments delay. And each is going to bring that bone-deep understanding to their job. What exactly that will mean for policy, will not always be straightforward. We discuss one aspect below in a section about the always entertaining Social Cost of Carbon.

But here’s one other thing to think about:

Much is being made in the initial news stories about Tillerson’s ties to Russia. But, Tillerson is also an evangelist for fracking, horizontal drilling and U.S. production. And the U.S. fracking boom is not something beloved in Russia; Russian media has invested a lot of time investigating problems blamed on fracking. Low prices brought about by the U.S. shale gale is bad news for Moscow — and this talk at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2012 shows that Tillerson has a nuanced view of the foreign policy impacts of the U.S. production boom.

For more on how success in Russia helped make Tillerson’s career, see Joe Carroll’s story.


Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is Trump’s top choice to head the Energy Department, Jennifer Jacobs and Jennifer Dlouhy reported. Two Democratic senators from energy-producing states — Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — are also in the mix, along with Ray Washburne, a Dallas investor and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, according to people familiar with his decision making. (Heitkamp also in the mix for Agriculture. Ahem.)

Jay Martin Cohen, a retired Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy, is said to be Trump’s choice for under secretary for nuclear security, a position within the Energy Department.


As one of the top Republicans in the House, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, and supported efforts to expand offshore drilling. Now, as Trump’s likely choice to head the Interior Department, McMorris Rodgers would be in charge of those issues which are crucial to the oil and gas industry.

Under the Obama administration, the Interior Department has sought to further block the prospect of oil and gas drilling in ANWR, by making all of ANWR a wilderness area, a move that automatically classifies the land as a wildness study area and thereby off limits to oil and gas exploration. By some estimates ANWR contains nearly 15 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil.

The Trump administration could likely undo that, but undoing a ban on drilling there would take an act of Congress. Congress is gearing up to do just that, Alaska Rep. Don Young said in an interview earlier this month. “It’s a number one priority,” he said.

Fake News

Fake news – a new buzz term in a cowardly new world.
Aka acting on headlines.

Fake news – designed to deceive.

Real news is factual reporting; opinions are checked.

Facts do not depend on authority or consensus.

Fake news is not limited to social media. Both the current US President and the President-elect have spread fake news. In my experience, so have CNN, Sky News, and BBC World News. The President saying, “97% of scientists agree…” is fake news (they do not); CNN or someone on FB reporting that “The President said that 97% of scientists agree…” is technically not fake news (he did say that) but the spreaders share culpability for propagating the fake news meme.

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Alex Epstein
I’ve had this book in my to-read stack for about a year now, and I’m reading it seriously only now. I was put off by the title—“the moral case for fossil fuels” sounds as absurd as “the benefits of cutting” or “the virtue of selfishness.” Despite the entire hoo-ha surrounding climate, surely there couldn’t be a moral case for fossil fuels? It turns out there can be; a very strong one. But first I had to get off the pulpit.

I’ve selected the following piece as a representative sample of the stream of thought behind Epstein’s thesis. As ever, there is an inherent trip wire in doing this: You don’t get the wider context of his arguments. Please read the book if you want to find out more about the world we live in; if you’re happy to stick where you are, then don’t. No skin off my back.

I have inserted in square brackets […] my own comments on Epstein’s text.
Alex Epstein: The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Chapter 4: The Greenhouse Effect and the Fertiliser Effect

A huge source of confusion in our public discussion is the separation of people (including scientists) into “climate change believers” and “climate change deniers”—the latter a not-so-subtle comparison to Holocaust deniers. “Deniers” are ridiculed for denying the existence of the greenhouse effect, an effect by which certain molecules, including CO2, take infrared light waves that the Earth reflects back towards space and then reflect them back toward the Earth, creating a warming effect. But this is a straw man. Every “climate change denier” I know of recognizes the existence of the greenhouse effect, and many if not most think that man has had some noticeable impact on climate. What they deny is that there is evidence of a catastrophic impact from CO2’s warming effect. That is, they are expressing a different opinion about how fossil fuels affect climate—particularly about the nature and magnitude of their impact.

[Note: Certain questions need to be asked, including whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and more importantly, how an open gaseous system like the Earth’s atmosphere can act as a greenhouse, analogous to artificial glass greenhouses. I believe that heat can be trapped, and that our atmosphere can do this, but not in the way that is being postulated by the standard climate model. When we stop asking questions, and say “the science is settled”, we depart from science and enter politics.]

Once I was clear on how unclear the questions we were asking were, I could ask better questions and get better answers. And once I got clearer on how to use experts as advisors, not authorities, and how to always keep in mind the big picture, I had a much better chance of getting the right answers to the right questions.

Here’s how I put the right questions now, from a human standard of value.

The first is: How does fossil fuel use affect climate livability? When we burn fossil fuels, what are all the climate-related risks and all the benefits that result?

Given that our standard is human life—we want the climate we live in to be as liveable as possible—there are two types of impacts we need to study and weigh. The first is the impact of CO2 on climate itself. CO2 affects climate in at least two ways: as a greenhouse gas with warming impact, but also as plant food with a fertilizing impact (plants are a major part of the climate system as well as a benefit of a liveable climate)…The second impact of CO2, which is rarely mentioned, is the tendency of cheap, plentiful, reliable energy from fossil fuels to amplify our ability to adapt to climate—to maximize the benefits we get from good weather and ample rainfall and minimize the risks from heat waves, cold snaps, and droughts…

[Note: (i) The selected excerpts are necessarily brief; environmental impacts and sustainability are dealt with elsewhere in this book and the other books I have referred to. (ii) That alternative energy sources may become economically viable and practicable in the future cannot be a morally justified as a reason to deprive the needy of the cheapest source of energy now. This is especially true if we, the arbiters of who gets what, use fossil fuels and their associated benefits for ourselves. It is a shameful hypocrisy if we do.]

Discussion of climate change often assumes that any man-made climate change is large if not catastrophic and that our ability to adapt is not all that important. This is unacceptable. It is prejudicial to assume that anything is big or small, positive or negative, before we see the evidence. We have to actually investigate the facts. It might be that the greenhouse effect leads to a tiny, beneficial amount of warming or that having or not having fossil fuels to build sturdy infrastructure is the difference between two hundred and two hundred thousand people dying in a hurricane.

[Note: There are currently seven billion people sharing the terrestrial biosphere. In the wink of an eye there will be twenty billion people. That’s what all social models have to deal with. It is a well established and demonstrable fact that the higher people are on the socio-economic ladder, the fewer children they tend to have. It is part of the moral case for fossil fuels that the basis of raising the standard of living of any people is cheap energy. I do not discuss genocide, although I think about it a lot.]

Granted, acquiring evidence is often hard because of so many conflicting reports, which is why it’s so important to get experts to explain what they know and what they don’t know clearly and precisely.

The bottom line: For the three major climate impacts of fossil fuels—the greenhouse, fertilizer, and energy effects—we want to know how they work and how they affect us, all the while asking, “How do we know?”

Climate Morals Tuesday 13 December 2016

My exposure on Facebook these days is restrained; just a few minutes when I get to work each morning, during which I must publish whatever I’ve put onto a flash drive the night before, and also answer the serious comments and questions from my friends on previous threads.

This morning, a statement from an old mate on climate change challenged me. This friend seldom uses FB, and had clearly not been following the development of ideas from the earliest stages of the debate. The post was so basic, so go-directly-to-jail that I was stymied. What to do? I wasn’t having difficulty because I had no facts readily at hand, but rather because there were so many!

Regurgitating the whole story from the beginning was out of the question. Ignoring the post would have been rude to a dear friend. This dilemma has ridden on my back the entire day, and now it’s time for me to sleep. But I am compelled to say something first because it such an important principle.

I don’t have to retell the story or trot out all the evidence for the umpteenth time. Both pro- and anti-AGW stances are moral defences of a belief paradigm, shaped by which of one’s moral receptors is being pinged by the overall “feel” or “taste” or ‘smell” of the climate change issue. All the evidence is out there, just a Google click away. But remember, we are beholden to the Google Effect, all of us.

It occurs to me that in an expression of Left-Right conflict, which is what climate change really is, the net result of arguing the case in abbreviated snaps of online chat will just lose me friends, and convince not one person whose elephant leans the other way.

The AGW model is a political construct, managed and shaped by the IPCC and its sponsors and provosts; the IPCC is an agency of the United Nations; the United Nations is a left wing phenomenon, part of the globalisation tide which tries by all means fair and foul to erase the territorial imperative and national identities, and establish itself as a kind of consensual world government.

If we listen to the intelligentsia, the universities and their academics, the poets, the painters, politicians desperately seeking votes, and Hollywood celebrities on their glittering podia, we are all too easily seduced by the strident moral flavour they bring to their arguments. They are people gifted with expression after all. And what’s more, they are going to save the world. DiCaprio and Affleck are going to redesign society for our benefit.

These artless, clueless showbiz heroes think that their time has come, but the news broadcasts are piddling on their batteries, I’m afraid. Cloaked in progressively-cut moral suits, they have held sway for decades. What they refuse to countenance is that nature works in cycles, and we are part of nature. It is a primary polarity in our societies, a pendulum that balances the vocal moral Left with the restless moral Right.

What is happening now in the world is straight out of the Socks dream – people are moving back into line with their instincts and realising, at last, that one man’s moral is another man’s poison. The shackle of liberal idealism is breaking, falling away, and we, the ones who lived this history, are rubbing our eyes and wondering what comes next.

All this gives me hope and grim satisfaction; for many of my friends it’s a nightmare. What is clear now is that the world doesn’t need me on a soap box trying to convince anyone that reverting to our deeper selves is a good thing. Nature will have her way no matter what I do, and I think many of us will be left bleeding in the Great Google War.

Amen. So be it.