Welcome ter the first, and possibly last, edition of the Serf Under_ ground Journal

a repost of comments from Climate Etc. hosted by Professor Judith Curry, chair of  the School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Serf Under _ ground Journal seeks ter emulate Professor Curry’s forum pertaining ter open society values of inclusive discussion between experts and non-experts and her recognition that on all fronts of human investigation, uncertainty prevails. Serfs have had it up ter here with exclusion and siege mentality certainties.

It is well known that serfs, living as they do on the littoral, subject ter too much control and subject ter the vicissitudes and variability of weather and trade cycles, possibilities of famine and pestilence, tsk, favour policies by government that foster productivity and adaptability ter what ever tsunami comes ter land. The following article illustrates the policies serfs like.


Faustino, @ JC 16/05/13, 10.25. pm.

As a policy economist, I’ve often said that we can’t sensibly make long-term  economic forecasts or projections, and that it is not sensible to base policy on them.

A speech by Bank of England economist, Ben Broadbent, a former Treasury forecaster, strongly supports this stance. Ben Broadbent notes that “even when we look only a year ahead, the unpredicted component in annual GDP growth – the

‘noise’ – has been significantly greater than the signal … the economy has always been volatile.”

(16/05/13 11.45am. I have been an economic and policy adviser to UK, Australian and Queensland governments, with a focus on drivers of economic growth and I have seen, time and time again, the dangers of high-spending, long-term government projects …A system which allows decentralized decision-making by those with skin in the game and relevant knowledge and expertise is likely to produce far better results and will be more adaptable when forecasts inevitably prove wrong.


Western guvmints,’ responding ter apocalyptic scenarios of CO2 induced climate warming, have succumbed ter high spending projects such as subsidizing  in-efficient and inter-mittant  renewable energy wind turbines and solar panels.

Peter Lang, a geologist and engineer with 40 years experience on a wide range of energy end use management projects throughout the world, reviewed the paper, ‘Simulations of Scenarios with 100% Renewable Electricity in the Australian National Electricity Market.’ by Elliston et al 2011. JC 17/12/12.

Using baseline simulations and costs derived from the Federal Department of Resources, Peter Lang estimates the costs of renewables would be seven times more   

than now, with an abatement cost that is thirteen times the starting price of the Australian carbon tax and thirty times the European carbon price.He finds that the Elliston scenario ‘does not have sufficient capacity to meet peak winter demand, has no capacity reserve and is dependent on a technology – ‘gas turbines running on biofuels’ – that exist only at small scale and at high cost.’ 

Bjorn Lomberg . Testimony to the US Congress. JC 24/04/13

Lomberg sees global warming as an issue that needs to be tackled but is not in favour of introducing a carbon tax or corresponding cap and trade because as renewable energy has much higher costs than fossil fuels, this would curb economic growth.  Instead he suggests:

‘Don’t continue with old fashioned failed policies of the past 20 years When green energy isn’t ready, we’re likely to spend vast amounts of money on cutting CO2 only marginally. Instead we should focus on investing more in R&D of green energy…likely to bring about green technologies over the next 20-40 years that will be cheaper than fossil fuels.

In short, the solution is not to make fossil fuels so expensive that nobody wants them – because that will never work – but to make green energy so cheap that eveyone wants them.’

Green-politics-activists  seekin’ ter impose …ahem … ‘progressive’ renewable policies on developing nations do not know what they do. Poor indigenous serfs livin’ under kleptocrat guvmints already suffer from the controls and corruption of centralist elites, if yer can call them that.

Herewith the prescient comment of one of our European serfs. Max Anacker JC05/05/13 3.46am.

‘Tin pot dictators and abject poverty often go hand in hand …just as universal access goes hand in hand with quality of life.

But tin pot dictators are not interested in improving the quality of life of their populations, so they cut deals with Western companies and pocket large sums of private money in the process, some of which ends up right here in Switzerland ( in private accounts under the Buhnhofstrasse in Zurich.)

So even if power plants are built, the general population does not get access to electrical power, so they still burn (renewable but highly polluting ) wood and dung (and die early from respiratory illnesses) The key to improving quality of life in these countries is to make sure that everyone has access to a reliable source of low- cost energy. Without it life is brutal and short.’


On Progressives. Gary M . JC 04/05/13 6.55pm.

‘Progressive green policies are working through the world …to centralize power over more and more of the energy economy in the hands of progressive governments.

It is a huge mistake to analyse their policies based on what are their stated goals. If you forget what they say, and watch what they do, it is all clear.

A Serf on the Open Society and its Enemies.

A humble serf who yet wished ter understand something of the world she lived in, came upon a book in two volumes by Karl Raimund Popper, a philosopher investigating the problem of powerful dogmas and certainty of our knowledge. Popper’s book,  ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies,’ was written just before the outbreak of theSecond World War and German anschluss of Austria, say, yer’ll know about it if yer’ve seen the Musicale, ‘The Sound of Music.’

Karl Popper’s investigation of the knowledge-problem led him ter the issue of free enquiry and ter its perceived critical roots in  Athens at the time of Pericles and Socrates. He saw this period and the historical clash between Athens and Sparta. as a breakthrough from tribal closed societies with their institutionalised magical taboos, ter the democratic society of 6th century BC Athens, with its intellectual questioning, that he calls the”open society.’

Popper’s quest for answers brought him ter recognise, as did Socrates back at the Agora in Athens, that our knowledge is uncertain, and this led him ter propose

a critical methodology that presupposes constant activity on our part, a process of schema and correction, of making guesses and modifying them in the light of experience and the obstacles they meet. Our theories are provisional, in their turn likely ter be replaced  … perhaps a kind of tentative evolution towards knowledge.

The book’s take home message is that if the open society of civilisation, of modern democracies, won at great cost, is ter survive we must break the habit of uncritical deference ter great men. For it is in this cult of the great leader propounded by Plato

in ‘The Republic’ and influencing later thinkers, that Popper traces the evolution of modern totalitarian thinking.

Plato’s focus on strong leadership relates ter the idea of change developed by an other  Greek philosopher, Heraclitus. This idea was unfamiliar ter tribal societies in which  social customs were regarded as immutable regularities. In Heraclitus’ time, however, as Athen’s population expanded leading to colonization and commerce, new social  contacts and the development of a new sea-faring class began to weaken the old tribal certainties.

 Popper calls the generation in Athens that marks a turning point in the history of Western civilisation, the ‘Great Generation.’ It included the political leader, Pericles                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and philosophers Democritus, who formulated the doctrine that human institutions, language, customs, laws, are man made, and Socrates, who taught that we are

responsible fer our individual actions and argued that in the spirit of scientific criticism, we should have faith in human reason but avoid dogmatism.

Plato rejected this faith in the open society. Born into a period of political instability, the period of the Peloponnesian Wars and aftermath of civil war and epidemics, he sought ter arrest all change, the  perceived cause of human misery. In his theory of essences that do not change, Plato was able ter extract something permanent  from Heraclitus process of flux and historical corruption, an immutable law of eternal ideas. But then, hey… did not these essences have their origin in reality? As primogeniture models, they must have existed originally in space and time. From this Plato was able ter argue in  ‘The Republic’ fer a return to this tribal golden-age state where no change was possible. To return ter this Utopia, however, against the tide of history, would require the guidance and super – human effort of a great leader … Say, who do yer think that could be?  

The exclusive political program that Plato advocated was a long way from the system described in the famous Funeral Oration, delivered half a century before Plato wrote The Republic by Pericles: ‘Our administration favours the many instead of the few: that is why it is called a democracy. The laws afford equal justice to all alike in their private disputes, but we do not ignore the claims of excellence ‘  and  ‘While only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge it’… How different from Plato’s Utopia in which  ‘the wise shall lead and rule, and the ignorant shall follow.’

So where do Plato’s wise leaders come from?  They come from a hereditary ruling class based on Plato’s Myth of the Metals in Man, his ‘necessary’ lie … but it’s alright because its a ‘noble’ lie for ‘noble’ ends. Plato’s Utopian society is a rigid caste system, of men separated into  ‘gold,’ silver’ and ‘bronze’ categories in which only the gold may rule. It entailed an exclusive upper class education system based on the Spartan model and tailored exclusively fer class rule. So much fer individual freedom.

To argue his case in The Republic fer his back-ter-the-golden-age program, Plato needed ter substitute fer the concepts of freedom justice, and human happiness apposite ter the open society, concepts of freedom, justice and human happiness that were their opposite, more suited ter closed society constraints on individual action … all of course fer the ‘good ‘ of society. Using sophistry and verbal fireworks from his mouthpiece Socrates, but not the real Socrates who was an advocate of individual responsibility, Plato argues that justice is synonymous with the interest of the ‘best’ state, and the happiness of its populace.

And what is this best state and happiness ? Why, it’s the hierarchical state and it’s allowing no one to take what is yours’ by right. And what is ‘yours’ by right is yer place within the hierarchy and, well, yer  must be happy because yer doing what is natural like ruling or working hard in the fields.

So there it is, the culmination of the grand edifice of Plato’s argument, a hereditary  Utopia of rigid class division and class rule, first of many Utopias down the ages, none of which turned out well. …

Max the Serf. JC 30/04/12 9.12pm.

‘I want a government that provides infra structure and services that I want, defends

me from attack and arrests those who commit crimes …but I don’t think I want a

government enforcing everyone to do things  I liked …in general, ‘government should leave people alone.’ Does that make me a “libertarian?” ‘


Serfs find wealth hard ter come by and view with suss-pishun, even trepi-dishun, calls fer more taxes ter save us from  the globull warming of the late 1970’s to 1990’s and which is still hidden in the pipeline or perhaps the oceans . Serfs are told that there’s a CON-SENSUS that this warming is due ter one thing, and one thing only and that’s CO2, and espesh – ally man – made CO2.

There’s been a hole lotta advocacy goin’ on, not jest from Science dissem-in-ashun  organiz-ashuns like the IPCC but from the UN and guvmints and scientists as well. And some of us  serfs got a bit worried there fer a while …what with Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick , and  apocalyptic warnings of climate tipping points and death trains and little childers never seeing snow agin. But yer know, yer can fool some of the serfs some of the time but not all at the same time … 🙂

Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit did forensic analysis that showed flaws in the bristle cone tree ring data and methodology which produced the Hockey Stick graph of alarm, the basis of the IPCC assessment of AGW climate change, and used by green groups in their apocalyptic public pronouncements. We’ve all heard ’em.

Exposure of the leaked or purloined CRU emails, Climategate, exposed inappropriate behaviours of data ‘hide the decline,’ peer – group – cronyism, and gate-keeping , that

changed the views of some members of the scientific community, and some of the public too. Serfs in particular were moved ter deplore that old, authoritarian, closed society of inclusion fer some but the rest jest scrabble fer scraps on the slopes outside the monastery, (castle) (enclave) walls.    

“Wage, wage war against

  the lying and

  the fright.”


It’s not easy imposing and maintain’ homogeneity on science. Data gets in the way …

new studies gainsay single linear expla-nay-shuns of climate change and  all of a sudden yer have climate controversy                                                                                                                      

Climate is now viewed as a complex non-linear system that seems ter be closely intererlated with ENSO oscillations.  (Anastasios Tsonis , University of Wisconsin.)

Models don’t do clouds well.

Chief Hydrologist .  “Decadal variability of Clouds.’

‘The theory and estimation of the role of cloud in changing Earth’s dynamic energy balance is an area of fundamental weakness in climate science….

.A number of studies have demonstrated the connection of ENSO to radiative flux and therefore to cloud. In an analysis of global warming cloud feedbacks, Dessler (2010) used short term variations in surface temperature and CERES data to determine that cloud cover was negatively correlated with temperature. Dessler also plotted ENSO against surface temperature leaving no doubt that ENSO was a primary cause of the short term temperature variations. Leaving aside anthropogenic global warming – the findings of a positive feedback here is in the first instance an ENSO feedback …

Zhu et al (20070 found that cloud formation for ENSO and for global warming have different characteristics and are the result of different mechanisms. The change in low cloud cover in the 1997-1998 El Nino came mainly as a decrease in optically thick stratocumulus and stratus cloud. The decrease is negatively correlated to local SST anomalies especially in the eastern tropical Pacific, and is associated with a change in convective activity. ‘During the 1997-1998 El Nino observations indicate that the SST increase in the eastern tropical Pacific enhances atmospheric convection, which shifts the upward motion to further south and breaks down low stratiform clouds, leading to a decrease in low cloud amount in this region. Taking into account the obscuring effects of high cloud, it was found that the low thick clouds decreased by more than 20% in the eastern tropical Pacific …In contrast, most increase in low cloud amount due to doubled CO2 simulated by the NCAR and GFD models occur in the sub tropical subsidence regimes associated with a strong atmospheric stability…

All global warming in the past 50 years, the period in which the IPCC say most warming occurred because of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, happened between 1977 and 1998. This is exactly the same period as the last warm El Nino dominated Pacific Decadal mode…Multiple satellite data sources show that over most of the period of warming there was planetary cooling in the infra red band where greenhouse gases were expected to result in warming – and strong planetary warming as a result of less cloud.’

tallbloke JC 10/02/11  5.19 pm cites ‘the additional evidence for the increased cloud after 98 noted by the Earthshine Project,* Palle et al. ‘

* This project measures the amount of sunlight reflected from earth to the dark part of the face of the moon and back to earth, ‘earth shine.’ Clouds have the greatest potential fer changing albedo in a short time. 

“I think I never heard so loud

The quiet message in a cloud.

Hear it now, what were the odds?

The raucous laughter of the Gods”  


Out in all weathers, serfs jest knew … that the lo – ong shaft of Mann’s hockey stick

Couldn’t be true ….  and it ain’t…

Climate is variable, a see-saw of ups and downs, medieval warming period, little ice age and more, are shown in a historical study by Tony Brown, ‘ The Long Slow Thaw’ based on the CET records, cross referenced by detailed primary evidence instead of computer models and correlating well with Craig Loehle ( 2007) multi proxy studies.

‘A warming trend can be observed from 1659, the start date of Central England Temperature CET the oldest instrumental record in the world today.The purpose of this paper is to reconstruct from its current start point, through the use of dense historical records, to 1538, in order to see if the commencement of this centuries long warming trend can be identified from within this time frame….

Retracing our climate steps provides an opportunity to revisit the respective works of Hubert Lamb and Dr Michael Mann – both famous for their reconstructions of temperature records  Dr Mann’s view of our past climate – epitomised by the iconic 1998 ‘Hockey Stick-‘ contradicted in substantial part, the work of Hubert Lamb, the founder of CRU …  who produced a number of books and papers of which the most influential was probably “The Early Medieval Warm  Epoch & Its Sequal “(1965)’

As Tony Brown comments at Climate Audi the English were obsessive about’ weather and record keeping, we know what the climate was doing from Tacitus – a Roman general, through the Anglo Saxon Chronicles, (495 -1154 ) the Venerable Bede, the Domesday book, Chaucer, Pepys’ Diary, plus extensive church and state records.’

A lot of us serfs agree. We think stuff not thrown down the memory hole is a whole lot more reliable than computer models by modellers in cloud towers, wiling away the tenured hours, trying out hind-casts of the complex coupled system of interacting  feedbacks that we call climate … and projecting these inter the fuchur.

mosomoso JC 16/05/13 7.06 pm.

‘Arctic melt after WW1? Hotter world for a bit? Arctic temps plunge in the sixties,

big advance of ice in the  seventies? Arctic goes all melty again after the abnormal “norm” of the 70’s, yet not nearly so much SLR as a couple of centuries ago? Nobody knows why, and because it’s not a favourite subject, nobody is trying to find out why.

How is it we are so ignorant and uncertain about past events yet so knowledgeable about what is going to happen? Is it because the future does not have a voice to contradict our theories, unlike that pesky past?

Stop predicting. Just stop. Straight out. Don’t predict. What you don’t know, you don’t know. As for gang-review and Publish-or-Perish, why not get in early and disbelieve today? You’re going to do that anyway, right? Before the warranty runs out on your cheap Hyundai, that solemnly announced “paper” or “article” is one with Nineveh and Tyre. So disbelieve now and beat the rush.’



Pokerguy JC 16/05 /13   10.25pm. Musings on Tolstoy

‘At times Leo Tolstoy sings the praises of peasants and their way of life so loudly and spends such long hours working in the fields that his wife Sophia feels threatened by their influence. She hates seeing Asinya Bazkin, the mother of Tolstoy’s love child, and is paranoid about how many other women on the estate he has slept with.

Back in 1848 Tolstoy opened schools for the children of his serfs, closing them down when he joined the military. On his return in 1855, he reopens one on his home. Eventually there are 14 in the district although the students have no obligation to attend, and are not expected to do homework, are not punished for wrong doing.

Tolstoy wants them to learn out of interest, not in an authoritarian environment where they have to learn facts by rote- The teachers are students from the city paid per month per pupil. In 1859 an estimated 14% of Russia’s 70 million people are literate.

(p56, ‘Tolstoy’ Simmons.)’

‘Now that’s my kind of school. I read “Death of Ivan Ilych” for the first time in my late teens and I have never forgotten the image of Gerasin taking the tormented Ivan’s legs on his shoulders.


Ragged message-tee-shirt  “Free the Serfs” designed by pokerguy are now available at a Serf Under  -ground office, if you can locate it, in your  nearest capital city. Colour grey. Choice of sizes, large, medium, small. $10.

Proceeds to go to “Climate Reason Tomato Stem Research Study.


Poem fer serf appreciation, Robert Frost’s “Mending the Wall.”

‘Something there is that does not love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on stone

 But they would have the rabbit out of hiding

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go,

To each the boulders that have fallen to each,

And some are loaves and some are nearly balls,

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines I tell him.

He only says,’Good fences make good neighbors.’

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or out,

And to whom I was like to give offense.

Something there is that doesn’t like a wall,

That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,

But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather

He said it for himself. I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old stone-savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shades of trees.

He will not go beyond his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Frank Kuppner, a poet from Glascow.

‘A Bad Day for the Sung Dynasty’.

Observe in the casements behind which lights are shining,

It looks as if the whole city is pre-occupied

On this gloomy, nondescript autumnal evening.

Why is confused humanity wasting so much light?

So … thank you serfs and good – night. 🙂


  1. The Serf Underground Journal,
    Whether weekly or diurnal
    Will thrash with force infernal
    And send to flames eternal
    What reeks of the paternal
    In cockroach cliques nocturnal.

    SERF’S UP!

  2. Well done Beth!

    We demand our rights! There’s a lad called Wat Tyler who likely will want to join your crusade. Well not exactly Crusade, we have toffs like Richard the Lionheart for that sort of stuff, but you know what I mean. A bit of stringing up of the gentry from their battlements will soon make them see that we serfs are not to be trifled with. Not THAT sort of trifle obviously, but you know what I mean. All the best

    tonyb (kingmaker)

    • Well Tony, ahem …’kingmaker?’ We serfs hav learned a lot from you.
      Knowledge, however provisional, is valuable fer action. “Educate (but
      not indoctrinate) us serfs!

  3. Hey Beth,

    This is great. And thanks for linking to the paper with estimate of the 100% renewables for Australia. The follow up paper with the nuclear option added is here:

    I hope it is not out of place to include here the answer I gave to your question you direct to me on Climate Etc.. I’ll take a risk I am not breaking Serf etiquette by posting it here.


    Regarding your question:

    movin’ of plate tectonics,
    shiftin’ of continents…
    Say, yer a geologist,
    mebbe yer can tell mmmme
    how I shood live?

    This is what I suggest you should focus on for the good of humanity.

    Just to get the background clear for all:

    1. You recognise we are in a cold house phase
    2. You recognise that cold is bad for life and warm is good
    3. You recognise that climate changes are more rapid when the planet is cold, as it is now, than when it is warmer.
    4. So you recognise that life on Earth would be better off if the climate was warmer and more stable – as it has been for most of the time multi-cell life has existed on Planet Earth
    5. You recognise that the joining of North and South America has prevented equatorial currents flowing around the world unhindered and this is a part cause of the Planet being in a cold house phase and in a period of periodic descents into ice ages.
    6. You conclude correctly of course, (as everyone would expect from a Serf) that if North and South America were separated so that the equatorial currents could circulate as they would like to do, we’d get out of the cold house phase and get a more stable climate. And life on Earth would be better off (recognising of course that, as in everything, there are some winners and some losers)
    8. Plate tectonics controls where the continents go. You might even refer non-Serfs (Serfs would already know of course) to this few seconds animation of where the plates have been and how they have moved over the past 150 My (p.s. watch India depart Antarctica and crash into Asia – like a naughty teenager steeling the parents car):

    That is the background. Now, to answer your question. I’d suggest, for the good of humanity and the benefit of life on Planet Earth, and given your ability to control plate tectonics, I would suggest you focus on turning South America anti-clockwise about 10 to 20 degrees so that the equatorial currents can once again pass between North and South America.

    Then we can all live happily ever after, without Coldhouse Phases, for many tens of millions of years.

    • Peter Lang +100… and also fer yer Jennifer M arohasy post
      (30/06/12) on ‘What the Carbon Tax and ETS will Really Cost.’
      Pertaining ter suss -tain -ability and re -sill -iance yer analysis
      suggests that their contribution will be of negative value.

  4. Looks like my first comment was taken out onto the littoral and shot. Hope it was provided a blindfold Beth, and offered a smoke. In any case, hope you’re not too disappointed in me….

    Is chronic loutishness a legal defense?


  5. Dear Beth,

    I’m sure we all hope that there will be a continuing series of beththeserf blogs. Welcome to the blogosp[here!


  6. Don thank you for yr kind message and for yr own blog of
    insightful posts and comments. Serfs don’t do insight so I’m
    banking on a few insightful comments occasionally, as above..
    Beth the serf.

  7. Thx Peter. What if I post a thread on Renewable energy?
    Say, whose posts do yer think I’d be drawing on fer that?}

    • Beth,

      I’ve been thinking about your question since you wrote it but not sure how to answer it. not even sure if it was meant to be seeking a sensible answer from me.

      First step would be to define what point you want to get across. I think the main points about renewables are;

      1. very expensive, not economically viable, probably never will be.

      2. the constraints are physical (low energy density of the primary energy source)

      3. Require huge amounts of materials per unit of energy generated over the life of a plant. this means: more mining, materials processing, manufacturing, fabrication, construction, decomissioning, waste disposal, with transport between every step and toxic emissions from some steps (much more toxic emissions released to the environment than with the nuclear fuel life cycle).

      4. Enormous land area required per unit of energy supplied, so considerable environmental impact

      5. No health or safety advantage over nuclear (nuclear is about as safe or safer than renewables).

      So, why go with renewables?

  8. Beth, have just realised that you have set up this blog! Have fun with it and best wishes for the serf underground movement. Sounds like a mole but you’re far from short-sighted!

  9. Peter,
    Thank you fer yer best wishes. Adaptable humans’ll find conduits
    ter communication, come what may. )
    Brth the serf.

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