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The Lessons Of Lysenko

November 29, 2016

By Paul Homewood




An excellent post by Roger Helmer, who is, for those who don’t know, UKIP MEP for East Midlands:




Following the death of Fidel Castro, it’s perhaps a good time to think about the malign impacts of totalitarian government, and the damage that political agendas can do to science.

I was recently discussing Lysenko with a friend (as you do), and naturally we turned to Wikipedia to clarify a point.  And I came across a quote that hit me between the eyes (figuratively speaking);

“The term Lysenkoism can also be used metaphorically to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives”.

Dear Reader, you’re way ahead of me.  Yes of course, I was struck immediately by the read-across to climate science.  The parallels are remarkable.

You’ll be familiar with the story of Lysenko.  He was a Russian biologist and agronomist who rejected Darwinian evolution and the rôle of genes, and preferred instead the Lamarckian concept of “inheritance of acquired characteristics”.   Of course that concept is difficult to accept – especially when you reflect that a man who has lost a leg is perfectly capable of fathering a child with two legs.  With the benefit of hindsight, it is difficult to believe that Lamarckism was once regarded as a credible alternative to Darwinian theory – but so it was.

And Lysenko, in the late 1920s, took that view, and built a whole theory of plant breeding on it.  More than that, he had the ear of Stalin, and Lysenkoism became official Soviet doctrine.  The theory was imposed rigidly.  More than 3000 mainstream biologists were fired, imprisoned or executed for challenging it.

Lysenkoism held sway in the USSR until the sixties, with dire consequences for Soviet agriculture.  Again with hindsight it is difficult to credit the fact that it survived so long, when plainly it did not work.  But worse than that, not only did it fail in the field (literally), it also totally blocked proper academic study and research in Russia in the area of plant breeding and Mendelian genetics for decades.

So how close are the parallels with climate theory?  Of course Lysenkoism was restricted to the USSR.  And it was imposed by a totalitarian régime that could, and did, shoot dissenters.  Climate alarmism, on the other hand is broadly speaking global (even if some countries merely pay lip-service to the orthodoxy).  It is imposed not by a violent autocracy, but by an intolerant and often vindictive establishment – scientific, media and political.  It threatens not imprisonment and murder, but the destruction of careers.  Scientists who dare to challenge the prevailing view are denied tenure, and publication, and perhaps worst of all, grant funding.  As a result, those who do dare to challenge the orthodoxy tend to be older scientists secure in their careers (and their pension funds).

In fact the parallels with the Soviet Union go further.  On the outer fringes of the Warmism movement we see demands for “Nuremberg-style trials” of “climate deniers” and the imprisonment of directors of fossil fuel companies.

Nor is it just scientists and company directors in the firing line.  The BBC, for example (always achingly, painfully “on message”) seeks to exclude climate sceptics, and it famously dropped David Bellamy, who was once nearly as popular a presenter on nature and wildlife issues as Attenborough, merely because he dared to express doubts about Global Warming.

We saw with the ClimateGate scandal how leading IPCC scientists engaged in “the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias”, just as Lysenkoism does.

We see that their prescriptions are utterly failing.  Björn Lomborg famously demonstrated (for example) that all the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in solar panels by Germany would have the effect (on the IPCC’s own estimates) of delaying the trajectory of global warming by only a few hours — by 2100. An utter waste of money and misallocation of resources.

Now, of course Warmism has become a multi-billion dollar industry, with money flooding in from governments, think tanks, academia and the capital markets.  The vested interests are huge.  It is both comical and pathetic to hear green apologists still complaining about “fossil fuel funding for climate denial” when any spending of that kind is utterly dwarfed by funding for the Green Blob.

And just as Lysenkoism prevented Russian agronomy from doing the right things, so Warmism, by focussing on mitigation, blinds us to the possible need for adaptation (in the unlikely event that warming becomes a significant problem).

Wealthy economies and societies are far more resilient to adverse conditions.  But prosperity depends critically on the availability of secure and affordable energy – which mitigation and greenery militate against.  Warmism prescribes vast up-front investment to guard against highly speculative and uncertain long-term outcomes.  By the time you realise you’re wrong, you’ve blown billions.  Adaptation on the other hand is proportionate, and involves spending money on targeted projects only as and when (and if) circumstances justify it.

The main difference between Lysenkoism and Warmism, as I see it, is that the damage done by Warmism is on a far larger scale and will be far more difficult to reverse.

  1. November 29, 2016 7:55 pm

    Roger I like this insight applying the Lysenko metaphor to “warmism” the latest after Y2K misuse of science by aggressive politicians. The erroneous demonizing of carbon dioxide is at the heart of the scam and it is like rejecting Darwinian evolution. Dr. Patrick Moore puts the science of CO2 back in order as follows –

    “So we are told CO2 is a “toxic” “pollutant” that must be curtailed when in fact it is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, gas present at 400 parts per million of the global atmosphere and the most important food for life on earth. Without CO2 above 150 parts per million, all plants would die.

    Over the past 150 million years, CO2 had been drawn down steadily (by plants) from about 3000 parts per million to about 280 parts per million before the industrial revolution. If this trend had continued, CO2 would have become too low to support life on Earth. Human use of fossil fuels and clearing land for crops have boosted CO2 from its lowest level in the history of the Earth back to 400 parts per million today.

    At 400 parts per million, all our food crops, forests, and natural ecosystems are still on a starvation diet for CO2. While one wing of CSIRO promotes the IPCC line, another is demonstrating the positive impact of the small increase in CO2 over the past 50 years due primarily to fossil fuel use — a 10 per cent to 30 per cent increase in plant growth in many regions. Australia is benefiting more than most because its vegetation evolved for dry conditions. Increased CO2 means plants don’t need as much water, so our deserts are lusher.

    The optimum level of CO2 for plant growth, given enough water and nutrients, is about 1500 parts per million, nearly four times higher than today. Glasshouse growers inject CO2 to increase yields of 50 to 100 per cent. Farms and forests will be much more productive if CO2 keeps rising.

    We have no proof increased CO2 is responsible for the slight warming over the past 300 years. There has been no significant warming for 18 years while we have emitted 25 per cent of all the CO2 ever emitted. Yet we have absolute proof CO2 is vital for life on Earth and plants would like more of it. Which should we emphasise to our children?”

  2. November 29, 2016 7:57 pm

    Hear, hear. Basic truths may be the answer: how to get this published in a mainstream paper is the issue. Perhaps the BBC……..

  3. tom0mason permalink
    November 29, 2016 8:03 pm

    It was not called Scientific Socialism for nothing. (
    Utterly theory driven, it borrowed heavily from science all the technical procedural ideas but left out all the verification and validation steps — exactly like modern consensus ‘climate science’.

    With No checks and balances = nonscience!

  4. AlecM permalink
    November 29, 2016 8:27 pm

    Lysenko got away with it because it pleased his technologically and scientifically-ignorant political masters.

    Not much has changed since then except our Samizdat literature is based on the internet. That’s why there has been in the last week a determined attempt in the USA and the EU (which means Merkel) to eliminate ‘fake news’.

    If you want to evade going to jail, visit;

    • HotScot permalink
      November 29, 2016 10:20 pm

      The first authorisation I need to provide for is:

      “More info
      View your email messages Search your email messages View your settings (e.g. filters and labels)”

      Is that a good idea? To have and Google trawl through my emails?

      This is a genuine question.

      • AlecM permalink
        November 30, 2016 9:48 am

        Good you analysed this, like me. We need feedback.

  5. November 29, 2016 8:33 pm

    Roger Helmer always talks a lot of sense. His STRAIGHT TALKING electronic newsletters from Strasbourg are always a good read.

    • CheshireRed permalink
      November 30, 2016 9:24 am

      Indeed. Always good value on Question Time where his no nonsense style just cuts straight to the heart of the matter, often leaving his opponents looking very silly indeed. An under-rated chap is Roger.

      • November 30, 2016 2:02 pm

        Maybe he’s a related to Donald Trump?
        If he can get publicity for his strong opinions you guys might be able to push him to the top.
        You’ll need to get your MSM to hate him enough to talk about his ideas and how crazy he and his followers are.

  6. Harry Passfield permalink
    November 29, 2016 9:03 pm

    Missed a bit in the round-robin graphic: Scientists make outrageous statements -> advocates & media translate statements -> NGOs write them up -> scientists re-quote them as ‘papers’ -> politicians respond even more -> scientists double down.

  7. Kevin McArdle permalink
    November 29, 2016 9:12 pm

    As a side bar, two interesting items on the news tonight. One on Ch 4 news discussing energy poverty during the current cold snap. The second, on Sky News, discussing damage to the interconnector reducing ‘surplus’ electricity supplies to the UK from France by 50%. No mention of the elephant in the room i.e. in the first case, towering price hikes on electricity bills due to penal taxes/forced shut downs on fossil fuel providers and ludicrous subsidies on renewables; in the second, no discussion as to why, as a so-called advanced economy, we are forced to import electricity on what is only the first nationwide cold day of the winter. Lysenko would have loved the media poodles at his disposal if he were still alive today. And not even a firing squad required as a veiled threat. Brilliant.

  8. Athelstan permalink
    November 29, 2016 9:34 pm

    An erudite and scathingly written precis, Mr Helmer neatly encapsulates the preposterous, egregious waste – for heavens sake conservative guestimates put the sum at $1.6 trillion p/a – yeah Trillion! wasted on and via the great scam and mythology which has grown up around presupposed computer driven……man made warming.

    no one but no one ever questions this circus in Westminster and the green scammers are are robbing us all blind.

    Our only hope is, Donald Trump. Shariza May is part of the problem.

  9. Tony McKenna permalink
    November 29, 2016 9:45 pm

    Since we are relying on DT to pull us out of this mess, it is worrying to think how excited we were when several skeptics came to the fore after the Brexit vote only to seemingly disappear under the suffocating control of the real seat of power – the civil service.
    DECC has seemingly scarcely missed a beat and barrages are back in the plan.
    The new Head Girl seems to be doing what she is told by her Masters.
    At least DT does not have a background in politics so he may be more resilient than our mob were.
    Fingers crossed.

  10. Curious George permalink
    November 29, 2016 11:24 pm


    Lysenkoism, 1958

    a. Agricultural constitution, 1958

    Trofim Lysenko was a Soviet agricultural expert who in 1958 drafted an eight-point agricultural ‘constitution’ for China, which every farmer had to follow.

    Communes: results

    a. Grain and meat production fell

    1958-60, grain production fell from 200-143m tonnes, meat production from 4-1m tonnes – whilst terrified officials reported huge increases!

    b. Three Bitter Years, 1959-61

    The result was widespread famine which killed perhaps 30 million Chinese.

  11. November 29, 2016 11:54 pm

    The one thing missing is extrajudicial executions, show trials and exile to Siberia.

    That said – there seem plenty of enthusiasts within the ranks of the Green Blob for all those add-ins to climatological rectitude.

  12. November 29, 2016 11:56 pm

    edit >> one thing missing is = things missing are …

    it’s late.

    • Athelstan permalink
      November 30, 2016 1:13 am

      Ne’er mind TomO, we got the drift mate…………………… and if they thought that, they could get away with it: “extrajudicial executions, show trials and exile to”………

      Cuba or some such Socialist paradise they’d be rounding us up now, without a moments hesitation. Think on about the Miliband bros, their reptilian smiles, all teeth and ravenous eyed, callous calculation – ever looked eye to eye – at a salty?
      The Miliband terrors were inculcated at the feet of Eric Hobsbawm, a man who never recanted his love for the Communist Soviet Empire and Stalin’s death purge of the Kulaks, and think Corbyns recent eulogy to, that hirsute grunt who ran Cuba into the ground.

  13. November 30, 2016 2:14 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  14. November 30, 2016 10:36 am

    Also, we should not rule out the possibility that Lysenko’s work persuaded Stalin that humans could be vernalised by hardship to make them fit for the Soviet system.

    • AlecM permalink
      November 30, 2016 11:42 am

      Not a possibility, but a fact (i have worked in Russia).

      Lysenko cleverly persuaded Stalin that like vernalisation, human character could be changed by the State. The Climate fascists are using exactly the same tactic on us; an extension of Communist influence funded by Putin and his Western allies like Soros.

  15. Max Sawyer permalink
    November 30, 2016 11:34 am

    Many years ago I read “Death of a Science in Russia” – still worth reading today:

  16. December 1, 2016 2:04 pm

    Interesting change in the “I” today. Their Lysenko-in-chief, Tom Bawden, is now turning his attention from publishing any drivel he can find to support his climate fear campaign, to “pollution caused 40,000 UK deaths” another semi-science based on meta-analysis by statisticians who know no better.

    If the carbon dioxide don’t get you we’ll find something that will!

  17. December 2, 2016 5:58 pm

    If warmists really believed their own propaganda, there wouldn’t be any of the annual climate jamborees that pull in tens of thousands of ‘believers’ every year like some sort of religious festival.

    They would stay at home to ‘save the climate’ and have conference calls. No sign of that happening any time soon. Once again it’s ‘do as we say not as we do.’ But hardly anyone does because it’s futile anyway.

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