the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Climategate Emails Search Count Drops

Posted by Jeff Id on January 10, 2010

Please be careful with this post, it seems that only the search estimate may have changed. It may also be that the preferred articles have changed but we can’t tell without study. I’ve changed the title from past experience so people who don’t read the article don’t get the wrong idea.

At this point, there is no evidence that google mislaid anything.


Can anyone find any example of a site Bing finds that Google doesn’t? If not, I may just delete this post because the estimated number is not the same as the actual search. So far, I’ve had no luck.


When I first heard about this, I didn’t think much of it. Dr. Leonard Weinstein formerly of NASA pointed out that Google seemed to be loosing links to climategate at a tremendous rate. He wrote early this morning to point out that Googles tens of millions of links were shrinking rapidly. Of course websites on climategate may go off line over time which would explain some of the change, but we’ve lost a minimum of 2o million sites in the last few days and it’s more likely to have been 50 million.

This morning Leonard Weinstein said the total number of found sites for the term “climategate” had dropped below 3 million. When I searched Google on climategate myself – hours later – I got only 2.2 million hits compared with 50 million from Bing and 30 million from Yahoo. What’s more, about 1 in 5 times I got 2.22 millon or 20,000 more sites – a rounding error – Figure 1.

Figure 1 2.2 million views - click to view

Later this afternoon, Google dropped again to 2.19 million links for climategate.

Figure 2 - click to view

I noted that Anthony Watts had them at 10 million very early in the climate gate process here:

Figure 3

But Figure 3 isn’t proof of any untowardness in progress. Unfortunately there is other evidence, the Holland version of Google has over one million more links than the US.


Figure 4

The final nail in Googles cheating coffin is the Germany site. Germany has failed to delete the links to climategate at the same rate as the rest.

Figure 5

21,500,000 sites still active!!

Don’t be evil” is the informal corporate motto (or slogan) of Google,[1] originally suggested by Google employees Paul Buchheit[2] and Amit Patel[3] at a meeting. Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, said he “wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out,” adding that the slogan was “also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent.”

“Don’t be evil” is said to recognize that large corporations often maximize short-term profits with actions that destroy long-term brand image and competitive position. Supposedly, by instilling a Don’t Be Evil culture the corporation establishes a baseline for decision making that can enhance the trust and image of the corporation that outweighs short-term gains from violating the Don’t Be Evil principles.

While many companies have ethical codes to govern their conduct, Google claims to have made “Don’t Be Evil” a central pillar of their identity, and part of their self-proclaimed core values.[4] In 2006, when Google declared their self-censorship move into China, their “Don’t be evil” motto was somewhat replaced with an “evil scale” balancing system, allowing smaller evils for a greater good, as explained by CEO Eric Schmidt at the time.[5]

And to finish this whole story, Google, my very #1 favorite search engine has decided to crawl under the sheets with GE. My personal least favorite, and one of the top ten most politically corrupting global companies. Some details of this deal were revealed at this link here:

‘Google Energy’ subsidiary considers clean power”.

H/T Olda K.

Links are Googles business, links are money, links are the power of the search engine. When a company visibly cut’s it’s lifeblood for one product, another has more appeal. The truth is under attack again, this time by young leftists with the motto – don’t be evil. Are we seeing a pattern yet?

Update: H/T Geoff Sherrington

Geoff Sherrington said

January 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm e

From (the Australian branch). There is an option to search the world or search Australian pages.

World hits then the Australian pages hits:
Climategate 2,960,000 20,300,000 (yes, the order is not reversed).
Climategate tAV 26,700 2,500,000
Air vent 9,930,000 1,470,000 (might including plumbing) 548,000 574,000
What’s Up With That? 177,000,000 177,000,000

65 Responses to “Climategate Emails Search Count Drops”

  1. SEO said

    These numbers shown by google always have been not exact numbers. They are estimates and always changing. See

    Your suspicion about google have less proof than the hockey stick

  2. Le Messurier said

    Bing has 51,400,000 views.

  3. Jeff Id said

    #1, More than 20 million links have disappeared in the US. I don’t know what happened to them but an estimate does not cover the difference.

    It’s hard to imagine a 10 X error in estimate anyway.

  4. Jeff Id said

    Hide the decline has more hits than climategate.

  5. Dwayne said

    I went to Bing and got over 51,000,000 hits. Google is known to do this kind of crap. If you have suggestions turned on try this:

    Type “Christianity is”, or “Hinduism is”, and then try “Islam is” and see what happens.

    Intellectually dishonest at Google. I think I will use Bing from now on.

  6. Jeff Id said

    I don’t think Google is missing any search items. I’ve checked several and all in bing are in google.

  7. […] So it should be disturbing for everyone who uses Google to search the internet, to learn via the Air Vent blog that Google appears to be deleting millions of links that are returned when a search for […]

  8. SEO said

    Jeff, no link has disappeared, as you later corrected yourself. Just the estimate of how many articles there are, which hasn’t much meaning at all, changed. Even if you think that was done on purpose, than you still don’t know which figure is wrong, as never shows the raw numbers.

    Just a few numbers from to compare:

    00,653,000 pauchari
    02,960,000 florida marlins
    02,960,000 climategate (now)
    03,911,000 eiffel tower
    04,160,000 IPCC
    04,660,000 vladimir putin
    05,860,000 madoff
    12,000,000 tallahassee
    21,500,000 climategate (earlier)
    21,900,000 Bill Clinton

    It seems to me that google has the numbers on climategate right today compared to other search terms.

    And even with the the lowered number it still looks pretty impressive.

  9. JimB said

    Something very similar was first covered in a comment to a post on WUWT (maybe someone with better search skills over there can find it?) back in Nov, right after the term hit the street.
    A poster on WUWT contacted Google Help with the same question, as he had noted that within 8hrs, the “autosuggest” feature stopped suggesting “climategate” even when everything but the final “e” was typed. He had several email exchanges with the “help” person, and then sent an email to I believe, the CIO or CEO…
    Anyway…it was more than enough to show that Google is far from an innocent search engine.


  10. […] in silent war on climategate, Rewriting history google style, […]

  11. tarpon said

    goggle has been doing this for some time.

  12. Vinny Burgoo said

    Cough! Gore. GIM. GE. Google. Cough!

    It’s huge, I tell you!

  13. R Dunn said

    This is a level of almost-math I can understand. – reading simple numbers.

    Google searches:

    climategate – 2,390,000
    climate gate – 13,900,000
    climate-gate – 7,730,000

    Safari on on Mac OS 10.6.2 if that matters

  14. PeterS said

    If Google is fudging the numbers as they appear to be doing, I’m starting to wonder if they are doing something illegal and can be proven in a court of law under some legislation in some countries. It’s worth getting a lawyer to look into this. I love to see this busted for all to see.

  15. Raven said

    Analyzing google’s algorithms is like reading tea leaves – you may think you see something but the most rational explaination is the algorithm is so complex that even google can’t explain why it does what it does. This site illusrates the point:

  16. Rod said

    Stop the witch hunt, guys.
    “Climategate” is not a hot search engine issue any more. The great bulk of the general public has moved on to other hot topics, as they do. The Climategate event took place way back in November.

  17. D said

    “climategate” search results from 31 different Google servers, in descending order. Portugal 1st, USA last.

    All numbers were retrieved during the last 30 minutes:

    Google (PT) 20,800,000
    Google (CO) 20,400,000
    Google (ES) 20,300,000
    Google (AR) 20,300,000
    Google (SE) 20,200,000
    Google (DE) 20,100,000
    Google (IT) 20,100,000
    Google (RU) 19,800,000
    Google (UK) 19,100,000
    Google (FR) 16,700,000
    Google (PL) 15,400,000
    Google (NO) 15,300,000
    Google (GR) 15,100,000
    Google (JP) 15,000,000
    Google (TW) 14,100,000
    Google (IL) 14,000,000
    Google (AU) 3,430,000
    Google (BR) 3,110,000
    Google (CL) 3,090,000
    Google (MX) 3,080,000
    Google (NL) 3,050,000
    Google (IN) 3,020,000
    Google (TR) 3,020,000
    Google (ZA) 2,990,000
    Google (NZ) 2,940,000
    Google (KR) 2,340,000
    Google (CN) 2,310,000
    Google (CA) 2,070,000
    Google (FI) 1,990,000
    Google (DK) 1,990,000
    Google (US) 1,960,000

  18. Jeff Id said

    #15, I agree, there’s nothing here.

  19. While it appears that Google is not providing what is available there is one small consolation for “the Air Vent”.

    I did a Google Blog search for Climate Gate… note the first result..

  20. D said

    On the other hand, searches of “climate gate” yield a much different distribution:

    7,010,000 – nl
    14,100,000 – ar,au,ca,cn,co,de,es,nz,tw,uk,
    14,200,000 – br,cl,dk,fi,gr,il,in,it,jp,mx,no,pl,pt,ru,us,za
    14,300,000 – kr
    16,000,000 – tr,fr
    35,100,000 – se

    I doubt it’s nefarious. But it is sort of interesting.

  21. Ayrdale said

    WTF. Is this a code, something to baffle/intrigue readers ?

    “Climategate emials Search Count Drops
    Posted by Jeff Id on January 10, 2010”

    Anything look wrong there ?

  22. Ric Werme said

    Search engine estimates have always been fiction, especially for a site like Google with their distributed search system. It may be that their servers are updating common databases of who has what. Worse, search engine estimates are marketing ploys because people actually expect them to be accurate. Bing vs. Google.

    Early into Climategate Google was reporting over a million links, but by telling Google where to start, I came up with only 970 or so. There was no way that people could have written that many stories and for Google to have found that many.

    I get 1,960,000 for climategate which matches more than just the compound word. Interesting – I get 1,990,000 for “climategate” which matches for just climategate! That’s the first time I’ve seen that, normally the former gets many, many more.

    Oh, let me try something. Searching for “climategate” jeff yields 136,000 hits, but if I set the URL to start with match 900 ( ), I get a screen that lists a far more believable 681 – 689. (See the “&start=900”? that’s what I added, well, adjusted after clicking “Next”.)

    Why oh why oh why does a group of skeptical citizen scientists accept Google’s number with no skepticism, no attempts at verifying them, and no cosideration of what it means to have 50,000,000 hits? Heck WUWT has had only 30,000,000 page views in its entire lifetime – can you imagine the effort and the number of people it would take to write 50,000,000 pages and believe that the search engines will find them all in a matter of days?

    Why oh why oh why does the same group start spouting coverup and conspiracy when the only evidence is a bogus count getting adjusted in the truthful direction?

    And why the heck am I up past 0100 writing a post where simllar ones ath WUWT hasn’t helped?

    With a name like Werme, I can confidently say I am one of two Werme’s interested in this stuff (the other is my brother). Searching for “climategate” werme yields “1 – 20 of about 2,890” but at the bottom of the screen all it offers is “1 2 3 4 5 Next” Clicking on Next yields “1 2 3 4 Next” at the bottom, clicking Next again yields “41 – 59 of 59”. And some of those are blog reports where Werme and climategate are from separate posts and aren’t my brother or me!

    At any rate, the moral of the story is:

    Don’t believe search engines’ hit counts.
    Don’t believe search engines’ hit counts.
    Don’t believe search engines’ hit counts.

  23. BillT said

    No problem at all with Google Tanzania:

    climategate 18,200,000
    climategate emails 20,300,000
    climate gate wiki 970,000
    climate gate scandal 6,080,000
    climate gate copenhagen 3,020,000
    climategate cnn 269,000
    climategate bbc 297,000
    climategate news 18,000,000
    climategate code 2,730,000
    *and* 3,180

    I’m in Iraq, the satellite’s over Tanzania, and the server’s in Italy.

    Don’t ask…

  24. BillT said

    Oooop — almost forgot. Got the screenshot, if you’re curious.

  25. Climate Gate gives 14,200,000 on Google. Bing gives over 50,000, 000 on Climategate alone. I have heard many rumors that google reduces references to sites it doesn’t approve of. Watts Up with that on bing– 26,200,000 google, 11,200,000. Real Climate, 33,000,000; Bias? I think so.

  26. George Barwood said

    I don’t think there is anything unusual here with Google.

    The system is complicated, but it’s well known that “fresh” items get boosted a lot, and then later things settle down once the Google algorithm has decided what’s really important.

    The page counts are somewhat fictional estimates in any case.

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  28. Tony Hansen said

    21.Ayrdale said
    …..Anything look wrong there ?

    Wahts worng?

  29. JimB said

    My earlier reference was to a set of searches done within a period of 24hrs. The number trended up, up, up, and then all but disappeared, and autosuggest STOPPED, completely.
    At one point, if you typed “c l ” it was at the top of suggestions, and then nothing, nadda, zip, bupkus.
    And after several exchanges with the helpdesk, it was the same. Then one email exchange with an executive, and VIOLA…a few minutes later, and autosuggest is back to working.

    Take from that what you will…but I do believe that google attempts to manipulate information. I also believe that they have no reason NOT to…in other words, it’s their engine, they can do with what they wish. But people who blindly trust it I think would be surprised. I have many friends that believe anything written in wiki, at least that has been there long enough, is completely accurate and unbiased. I’ve given them examples…makes no difference.
    Somehow, for them to believe otherwise, would shatter their faith in pure technology.


  30. mikiwud said

    Google search in UK at 11.25 am GMT, Jan 11.
    web 18,800,000
    UK 145,000


  31. Hi All

    A bit of background for you.

    Google uses many hundreds of factors to come up with search responses in response to a specific search term. Google gives additional weighting to sites based upon on content, relevance, popularity, etc. Importantly, Google gives initial high priority to “news”. This means that sites that report news are visited regular and often by the Google spyders to find content ready to report back in response to a search. Logically, Google “ages” news items so that an item that is number one in a search response one day – will gradually fall down the rankings, and may disappear over time – and will totally disappear if the news site actually deletes the articles at some point.

    This is different to sites like this which act as a constantly updated archive that forever grows.

    This could therefore be an understandable reason why Climategate links reduce over time.

  32. Anand Rajan KD said

    The title reads ’emials’…

  33. John Wright said

    What do you expect from people who willingly colluded in the setting up of the “Great Firewall of China” a few years ago? Keep away from them, I say.

  34. Ric Werme said

    An old parable came to mind this morning. The problem is that
    all of us, including myself, are discovering that Google is an

    It was six men of Indostan
     To learning much inclined,
    Who went to see the Elephant
     (Though all of them were blind),
    That each by observation
     Might satisfy his mind.

    The First approach’d the Elephant,
     And happening to fall
    Against his broad and sturdy side,
     At once began to bawl:
    “God bless me! but the Elephant
     Is very like a wall!”

    The Second, feeling of the tusk,
     Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
    So very round and smooth and sharp?
     To me ’tis mighty clear
    This wonder of an Elephant
     Is very like a spear!”

    The Third approached the animal,
     And happening to take
    The squirming trunk within his hands,
     Thus boldly up and spake:
    “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
     Is very like a snake!”

    The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
     And felt about the knee.
    “What most this wondrous beast is like
     Is mighty plain,” quoth he,
    “‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
     Is very like a tree!”

    The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
     Said: “E’en the blindest man
    Can tell what this resembles most;
     Deny the fact who can,
    This marvel of an Elephant
     Is very like a fan!”

    The Sixth no sooner had begun
     About the beast to grope,
    Then, seizing on the swinging tail
     That fell within his scope,
    “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
     Is very like a rope!”

    And so these men of Indostan
     Disputed loud and long,
    Each in his own opinion
     Exceeding stiff and strong,
    Though each was partly in the right,
     And all were in the wrong!


    So oft in theologic wars,
     The disputants, I ween,
    Rail on in utter ignorance
     Of what each other mean,
    And prate about an Elephant
     Not one of them has seen!

    – John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

    I’m not surprised to see the poem used in other teachings about scientific method, see

  35. hunter said

    Google is deeply influenced by Gore.

  36. Kriek said

    I don’t know if I’m repeating what other people said, but there’s no way to claim google is manipulating results for evil reasons unless you fully understand how their searches work, which no one really does. Here are a few things that are worth noting:

    1. Since Google can’t download the entire web in one day, it has large periodic updates for much of the content that only kicks in every couple of weeks. In other words sometimes for certain things there will be certain days where the number of results and the search rank for certain results will change dramatically.
    2. Apart from that, Google also other mechanisms in place to make sure new trends make it into the search results quickly, like details about new events in the news. This will cause some things to be quite visible when there’s a lot of updates for these keywords and then when the hype on the web dies down it will fade away again.
    3. The number of results found a bit of a fudge, I don’t know the reason but it might simply be that it’s an estimation since counting every single result takes too long and you normally want the result and not the exact count, other factors like similar and duplicate results can also skew it all sorts of ways.

    I believe we had a spike in numbers regarding climategate on google because it was a new/current event, that time has passed and now it’s dominated by the slower updates but I believe this number should slowly increase.

    At the same time, Google might actually have a green bias, since Al Gore is a senior adviser to them.

  37. Steve McIntyre said

    Here’s another possibility: maybe the Google hits isn’t a real count, but an estimate from principal components or something like that. (And mentioning principal components here isn’t a joke.) If it’s an algorithm and not a count, maybe the huge early rush of climategate entries made the Google algorithm think that there were more climategate entries than there really were.

    Realistically, it is hardly possible that there could have been so many (33 million+) climategate entries in a week or so. As the story has aged, if it is an algorithm, maybe the algorithm is producing more realistic estimates. PErhaps the algorithms in smaller countries are slower to respond.

  38. Leonard Weinstein said

    The dropping numbers are occurring several times a day, not every two weeks. Early this morning the count was over 2,000,000. the latest, which changed in only a few hours, is 1,200,000!! Yesterday it was 3,000,000+. A few days ago it was 50,000,000+

    Steve Mc,
    I would consider what you said as possible, except it only seems to be applying to climategate and not any other entry, at the speed and level happening. I don’t care what the correct number is, I am only concerned that this seems directed and totally unique.

  39. At 7:50am, pacific time, from San Diego, Google shows:
    1,910,000 for “climategate”;
    3,160,000 for “climate emails”;
    4,260,000 for “climate emails hacked”.

    I’d think category 2 is wider than 3 and therefore 2 would show more entries, but apparently it doesn’t work that way.

  40. DeWitt Payne said

    What we need for a test is another hot news story like the Tiger Woods fiasco and follow the hit count over time.

  41. Jeff Id said

    #39 You’re counting on Tiger to change his ways. 😀

  42. VideoNighmares said

    Search results 16.55 UK 11.01.10

    Google UK – 2,900,000 – 18,200,000

    Altavista – 29,300,000

    Yahoo – 29,900,000

    Bing – 51,300,000

  43. greg2213 said

    Google Censors!!!
    Bing Censors Air Vent!!

    Using this command: site:domain in the search engines results in proof of their censorship.

    Google shows: [] 942 pages
    WUWT 5960
    RC 2,990

    Bing shows: – 176 – 17,800
    RC – 21,800

    Y! shows:
    WUWT 7417 – 1251
    RC – 13,979

    So why is google censoring RC????
    Why does Bing hate The Air Vent???
    Why is Y! the only honest search engine???
    Why is WUWT loved by all of them???


    The point, of course, is to point out Google’s corruption here. Since they obviously don’t care for RC they index a lot fewer pages from that site.

    Steve McIntyre (36)
    Kriek (35)
    Phil Westerman (31)

    I think you guys are on the right track (and apologies to similar commenters that I missed.)
    In the other AV post on this topic I mentioned G’s various filters and a duplicate content filter.

    If you look at the URLs listed with the site: command you will see lots of category pages and tag pages. Depending on how these pages are set up, and how close to real duplicates of the original post they happen to be, they may or may not hit the dup. filter.

    Leftward/AGW tilting as Google is the explanations of the filters and algorithms explains the situation better than the censorship argument.

    So I am still sticking with my original point. the results are artifacts of G’s algorithms, not censorship.

    I also say you’ll see the same for any new viral term that pops up. If “Watergate” was a new term (and if it referred to a Democrat pres) I think you’d see the same results (because the media would not be covering it.)

  44. OldOne said

    I followed the Google “Results” numbers shortly after the climategate story broke. Watched it go up to 31,500,000 in early Dec. Not saying that was the max, just the most I saw. Then saw it at 28,500,000 on 5-Dec-2009.

    I saved a screencapture of of the 28,500,000 (in the US)to document that number. My observations are consistent with the ‘trend’ chart found on the link from post 16. It shows the 7-Dec ‘A’ event on the decline after the peak.

  45. b.poli said

    Only minutes ago: Ergebnisse 1 – 10 von ungefähr 3.060.000 für climategate.
    No access to for Germany 1-10 von 51.600.000 Ergebnissen


  46. greg2213 said

    Heh. Yep, Bing is cool. Now if only it wasn’t censoring tAV.

  47. jeroen said

    When I pressed it, 5 min ago, there where 2,9 mil hits. So that’s a big rise.

  48. George Barwood said

    Just to make a point about the Google results.

    Searching for ClimateGate, it actually only has 672 results currently, or
    you can get it up to 977 by asking for similar results.

    Even though it says “about 2,900,000”.

    When it says “about”, it really means “within about 5 orders of magnitude”… 🙂

    Seriously, I don’t believe Google has the time or inclination to fiddle with the algorithm to make political points. It would be too risky at many levels.

  49. DeWitt Payne said

    Mark McGwire has just admitted using steroids when he set his home run record. Google has 216,000 hits as of a few seconds ago.

  50. DeWitt Payne said

    Bing has 521,000.

  51. Ric Werme said

    Leonard Weinstein said
    January 11, 2010 at 11:41 am

    The dropping numbers are occurring several times a day, not every two weeks. Early this morning the count was over 2,000,000. the latest, which changed in only a few hours, is 1,200,000!! Yesterday it was 3,000,000+. A few days ago it was 50,000,000+

    This should be easy to verify – if you had a random Google URL from a few days ago, then there should be only a 6% chance that Google still has it. A reference that was at position 100 should now be #6.

    Also, with Bing’s 50+ Mhits if you pick one at random, then there’s a 94% chance that you can’t find a corresponding Google match. (Actually, that need not be true, we don’t know what sort of overlap we have between Bing and Google.)

    For example, Google’s 666 and 667th hits are:

    Are they on Bing?
    For the first, I search on the lead line and the title (titles are given goos match scores. Bing came up with two matches:

    Prescient, that Pielke character! 🙂

    The second is more recent and quite plausibly hasn’t been found by Bing.

    Trying its title, Climategate – What’s Happening On Twitter, there were 11 hits, the first being the target.

    Not bad. However, we could expect that a recent Google link should be on Bing. Unfortunately I don’t have an old Google link handy.

    The real test is “are Bing hits on Google?”

    The 666th and 667th Bing hits for climategate are:,420629003

    The salon article has an uninteresting title, let’s try “Climate skeptics claim hacked e-mails prove, once and for all, that global warming is a hoax”. The first hit is for , yuck, a search string. The third is also salon, doesn’t have an obvious link, but the 7th, is a printer-friendly version. Close enough for people looking for information.

    The CafePress one only has one phrase worth searching for, “Climategate Small Pet Bowl“, but at least it has a decent chance of being unique. Indeed, there are only four hits (hey – the estimate is an exact match!), and the first is umm, not the right page, but,418849175 but it goes to something that looks the same.

    So, links that Google has, Bing has. Links that Bing has, Google has.

    My prediction based on your hypothesis is falsified, albeit for fairly highly rated matches. Please test your hypothesis further.

  52. it’s too complicated
    link climategate with the alogritm of a search engine machine.
    I don’t think there’s any interest to hide of climategate article or else

    nice oberserv

  53. Inge said

    13.00 CET 14,100,000 hits 1,850,000 hits

  54. Jeff Id said

    Another hundred thousand gone, I’m down to 2.11 on google now from 2.22 million.

  55. DeWitt Payne said

    One day later on the Mark McGwire steroids search:

    Google: 3,190,000 up from 216,000

    Bing: 426,000 down from 521,000

    Aha, Bing must be in the pocket of the illegal steroids trade.

  56. a.n. ditchfield said

    My environmental awareness was aroused in mid 1971, when I was invited to a meeting of the Club of Rome in Rio de Janeiro. It first struck me as a constructive publicity move of FIAT, the sponsor. At intervals of a few months the Club of Rome invited noted scientists and intellectuals to meetings at tourist attractions like Rio de Janeiro, with all expenses paid. They were asked to meditate about the predicament of mankind and to listen to progress reports of a team of young MIT engineers who were using a computer model to project the impact on the planet of expanding economic activity. The results of the study were stated in the 1972 book, Limits to Growth, of which some 12 million copies were printed. The launching of the book was a masterpiece by editorial standards and its contents still remain central to such thought, including that of John Holdren, science adviser of Obama.
    One of the new tools used in the study was the feed-back algorithm developed by Prof. Jay Forrester, of MIT, to portray the unfolding of complex systems over long timelines. All relevant factors are displayed in elaborate flowcharts and their interplay shown in a succession of stages like snapshots, in which the end of one stage is the beginning of the next. The idea is much like that of cinema, in which the rapid display of successive photos creates the optical illusion of movement. Forrester used his feedback innovation to the study of location problems of industry (Industrial Dynamics) and to explain the decay of metropolitan cities in America (Urban Dynamics). The new effort applied Forrester’s technique to demonstrate the Club of Rome proposition that a finite planet cannot support growth of population and economic activity at the pace seen for two decades after World War II. The conclusion was ready; it needed rationalization with a computer model to give a scientific look to what was the belief of the sponsors, FIAT chairman Aurelio Peccei and the renowned scientist Alexander King.
    Limits to Growth had a large number of gloomy forecasts, speculative thought as such, but not science, and time rejected their validity. The earliest of the kind, the Malthus Essay on the Principle of Population published in 1798, foretold a grim 19th century. The population of Britain, stable at 5 million until the middle of the 18th century, had grown to 8 million and was expanding at a geometrical rate, while the supply of food expanded at a lower arithmetical rate. As Malthus saw it, population was bound to collapse to a sustainable level through famine, disease and war. But during the 19th century the population of Britain became four times larger and the economy sixteen times greater, an expansion supported by the Industrial Revolution. Most Britons entered the 20th century well fed, clothed and healthy, housed in cities with good sanitation. Gone were the days of the “dark satanic mills” of the early 19th century. The technology that had expanded industrial output also provided the means to end squalor.
    Malthusian thought was discredited but remained dormant until the 1968, when resurrected by Paul Erlich with his equally grim Population Bomb. This time world population was bound to collapse on a planet that was running out of arable land to feed it; he reckoned that over the next two decades hundreds of millions would die of famine. The reasoning was crude and was superseded by the more sophisticated approach of the Club of Rome that put in motion the PAT idea, a formula that summarizes the impact of human activity on the environment I = P×A×T. In words: Human Impact (I) on the environment equals the product of population (P), affluence (A): consumption per capita; and technology (T): environmental impact per unit of consumption. Population was still at the root of coming doomsday, and its impact on the planet is multiplied by growing demand for non-renewable resources (fuel and minerals) to sustain better living standards. Food scarcity was only one factor among many driving mankind to destruction.
    I made three objections to the assumptions underpinning the Club of Rome study.
    • Population forecasts are uncertain. What had come about in mid 20th century was the dramatic fall of mortality while fertility remained the same. I held this to be exceptional. Nothing warranted the assumption that this imbalance would persist indefinitely as projected in the study. Indeed, UN world population forecasts now show stability to be reached in the 21st century.
    • Given the vast land area of the planet the idea of an excessive population is farfetched. Overcrowding is a local problem. It is evil in Calcutta and has been successfully coped with in many metropolitan cites.
    • The concept of non-renewable resources was untenable. Most of the crust of the earth remains unknown. The Club of Rome assumption was that mineral reserves stated in sources like the Minerals Yearbook of the U.S, Bureau of Mines were all that remained and, given the naïve arithmetic, most would be depleted by the end of the 20th century.
    Dennis Meadows, the project team leader, conceded that simplifications were made to make the World Model fit into the humble IBM 1130 computer, but these did not invalidate the axiomatic idea that a finite planet cannot support infinite growth. I challenged the axiom too. If Meadows reasoned at limits, I had equal right. I claim that all human consumption does not subtract one ounce from the mass of a planet subject to the Law of Conservation of Mass. Theoretically, everything can be recycled. The limitation is one of energy, and fusion energy reactors will make it available in practically unlimited quantities. It may be argued that we cannot count on technology not yet developed, but we must not discount it either. That is the flaw of Malthusian thought: the assumption that technological development will cease and stagnate forever at current levels.
    What amazed me was the sight of the elderly sages of the Club of Rome accepting the computer printouts and graphs as sayings of a pagan oracle. To my mind they just illustrated the truth of the adage: [garbage in] = [garage out]. I know the content of the Forrester programs in the intimacy of FORTRAN statements, so I was not awed by the mathematics or by the computer of the MIT team. As an engineer, I had a professional interest in the Forrester programs because I was then engaged in location studies for large industries.
    Eight weeks after the Rio de Janeiro Club of Rome meeting I traveled to New York on a business mission, after an absence of five years, and felt that I had landed on a different planet. On the ride from airport to Manhattan I was surprised by the sight of leafless trees in full summer. The cab driver explained that a pest was killing the trees and a court order had banned the use of pesticides; New Yorkers were exchanging their trees for a collection of insects. I found fleas in the subway, cockroaches in my hotel room and flies galore everywhere. I learned that the new Environmental Protection Agency, in one of its first acts, had banned the use of DDT with no scientific evidence to back the claim that it was harmful to human health. Over the previous decade the Silent Spring book of Rachel Carson had demonized it to the American public until it became politically correct to curse all chemical products used by modern farming. The anti-scientific ban was to have consequences beyond the discomfort I was experiencing. It stopped a world wide drive to eradicate malaria, as was done with polio and smallpox. Over four decades 40 to 50 million preventable deaths can be laid at the door of the promoters of this environmental cause. One of them was Alexander King, leader of the scientific team at the time of World War II that gave the world large scale availability of DDT, and the hope of eradicating insect-transmitted diseases. In his memoirs King let slip a senile remark: “my chief quarrel with DDT in hindsight is that it greatly added to the population problem.”
    I realized the strength of the grip of this new misanthropic attitude when I strolled down Lexington Avenue and stopped at a grocery that displayed boxes of worm-infested peaches on the sidewalk – sold at premium price! I entered for a word with the grocer. He claimed that he sold what the customers wanted: the presence of worms was taken as proof of legitimate “natural” fruit. To me it proved that fruit flies had sat on the peaches. I laughed. Someone with the wits to sell rotten peaches at high prices has the talent to sell anything at any price. I advised him to sell the grocery and move a few blocks west, to Madison Avenue, the hub of the advertising business, where he would earn a fortune as a gifted liar.
    The mindset of America, and indeed of the Western world, was being shaken by a tectonic shift. For two centuries the Industrial Revolution had bestowed bounty on much of the world and was fast banishing the specter of dire want everywhere. Industrialization was fostered everywhere, and a national steel mill and national airline were emblematic of newly independent countries. Progress, once a universal aspiration, was now being challenged by contrarians of a new breed, not by the reactionaries of some failed Ancien Regime, of which the world still has plenty. The picturesque hippies of San Francisco who rejected progress and aspired to a life of idleness and poverty were only an echo of a wider movement that was engulfing the academic sphere and especially social studies. It was postmodern doctrine with its rejection of science, progress and of rational thought itself.
    Prof. Alan Sokal, a physicist of New York University saw through it and concluded that there ain’t no thing called a social science. Anything goes, provided it is well written, scholarly-looking, in tune with the prejudices of the editor, and proved his point with publication of his paper, titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”. The paper would have been perceived as a hoax by an engineering student, but was published as serious in Social Text. In one statement the number PI had a value of 3.141592… because it was arbitrated by the current social context; future generations in a different context would give it another value, because all is relative. Sokal didn’t invent such postmodernist nonsense; it is supported by more than 100 references to what had been published about hard science by social “scientists”. Engineers and scientists stopped being pinup boys and were vilified as robots mindlessly herding mankind to the cliff edge. It was claimed that the higher knowledge of postmodernist government was needed to avert disaster.
    During the decades dominated by Thatcher and Reagan a limit was put to the politics of envy that exploited the cynical saying that “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul”. This was laid to rest by market economy reforms that returned power to Victorian values that rewarded hard work, enterprise and ingenuity instead of political craftiness. Neither Blair nor Clinton dared tamper with reforms that worked well. The market economy was accepted all over the world because it was more efficient in meeting the needs of mankind than any alternative.
    In the shadow of that time Environmentalism became a big business with a myriad of non-governmental organizations that evolved into a huge extortion racket, protected by law and supported by ample funds and publicity. With the turn of the political tide the racket is out for its own grab for power.
    • Its objective is to place energy production under control of governments, and ultimately of an international body. Energy consumption would be rationed. Taxing the air you breathe will no longer be a figure of speech; it will be world wide policy to submit the acts of every human being to central control.
    • Its technique is the one of the Club of Rome: rationalization with computer models to give a scientific look to what is an unproved and non provable belief: that anthropogenic global warming would end civilization (no longer attributed to overcrowding and exhausted resources). One finds the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change In the old role of the Club of Rome, with vastly expanded propaganda resources.
    • Its instrument is the postmodern Precautionary Principle: where there is a deadlock in understanding, bureaucratic whim trumps science.
    The instrument carries the threat of being lethal to democratic institutions. Its first notable use was ushered in by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the tenure of Carol Browner, during the Clinton years, to implement her anti-tobacco project with the justification that second hand smoke caused cancer in non-smokers. Numerous medical studies commissioned by the Agency failed to deliver the justification. The studies had been done under the stern rules of Food and Drug Administration with double-blind reviews. Big Tobacco hired lawyers to state their case and these resorted to expert testimony of scientists – exactly what the other side did. This is litigation, not science, with the pot calling the kettle black. Carol Browner circumvented the deadlock with a legal dodge of the Precautionary Principle: “if an action or policy has suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action.” This opened the gates to endless mischief. On December 7th 2009, the day that lives in infamy, Obama decreed that carbon dioxide a pollutant dangerous to health, when it is the nutrient that sustains the food chain of all that lives on the planet. EPA rulings, not acts of Congress, are now the law of the land. America was turned into a Bobama Republic ruled by decree. Carol Browner is now energy adviser to Obama, not for her knowledge of the field but for her expertise in chicanery. Her achievement in the field was banning the drilling for oil on the continental shelf of Florida.
    At the Copenhagen Climate Conference Hugo Chavez blamed global warming on capitalism and got a standing ovation from delegates of 191 sovereign states. Evo Morales blames Americans for the summer floods of Bolivia. They have the support of the Castro brothers, Amhadinejad, Kim Jong-il and of Osama Bin Laden. With friends like these, does Obama really need enemies?
    In November 2009, three thousand documents with FORTRAN source codes and one thousand private e-mails were placed in the public domain, revealing peer-reviewed climate science as a joke on which rests the proposed expenditure of trillions of dollars. Climategate may come to rank with the climacteric events of World War II, as an event that changed the course of world history.

  57. jessica said

    great site. Great information. helped me alot thank you very much

  58. Ric Werme said

    DeWitt Payne said
    January 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    One day later on the Mark McGwire steroids search:

    Google: 3,190,000 up from 216,000

    Bing: 426,000 down from 521,000

    Aha, Bing must be in the pocket of the illegal steroids trade.

    No, the estimated number of hits is what’s on steroids.

  59. DeWitt Payne said

    Mark McGwire steroids today

    Google: 3,440,000

    Bing: 372,000

  60. DeWitt Payne said

    Mark McGwire steroids today

    Google: 32,500,000

    Bing: 933,000

    Not close to peaking yet.

  61. DeWitt Payne said

    Mark McGwire steroids today:

    Google: 2,650,000

    Bing: 853,000

    Up and down an order of magnitude in hits over just three days at Google.

  62. I just want to say, Good article , thanx for all the great posts!

  63. GrahamF said

    Googling from the UK on 17th Dec, I had 111,000,000 (yup, one hundred & eleven Million) hits reported! Every day since Climategate Ground Zero, I noticed the hits climbing then going down, then climbing again, sometimes by millions in a day.

    Got a screenshot of this too, but don’t know how to upload!

    Keep up the good work.

  64. DeWitt Payne said

    Mark McGwire steroids
    Google: 2,040,000
    Bing: 854,000

  65. DeWitt Payne said

    mark mcgwire steroids

    Google: 1,840,000

    Bing: 471,000

    Artifact of the algorithm still seems like the best explanation.

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