In classical strategy, Sun Tzu designated as “environment” those things and/or events over which an individual has no control or even direct influence beyond his personal sphere – earthquake, weather, seasonal variation, temperature (and from this, the modern delineation of Natural Laws and concepts become included) and ocean tides, belief and even human nature are only some examples. The fundamental defining characteristic of this classification is that the event is effectively a fixed condition on a human time scale, however periodic it’s actual occurrence might appear. It should be recognised too, that some of these can also apply to other strategic classifications in a given context. Chinese being a multi-tonal language a word’s meaning varies by verbal inflection and enunciation. Similarly, a particular written character can have different and often entirely unrelated meaning depending upon the context within which it is being used. Given that “climate” is another classification Sun Tzu employed for more transitory or human influencable occurrences, it can be seen that sometimes actual weather can be either Environment or Climate. This is what occasionally passes for a less bloody example of strategic “humor”, as in: Confusion to the Enemy (since why should we be the only ones?)!
In the currently accepted meaning of the word climate, Eric S. Raymond notes that events appear to be building to a point of strategic upheaval. The classic formation of contesting positions allying together to advance toward some mutually advantageous objective seems, in the case of the AGW Global Warming theorists at least, to be entering the next – and fully predictable – phase of any such alliance; dissolution.
While it is theoretically possible for such alliances to end peacefully, as a practical matter, they come apart due to one or more members seeking individual advantage at the expense of an ally once continued general advancement of position begins to exact what is individually perceived as excess expense (or only just excessive potential for such):
“I can almost pity the poor AGW spinmeisters. Perhaps they still think they can put a political fix in to limit the damage from the CRU leak. But what’s happening now is that other scientists who have seen the business end of the hockey team’s fraud, stonewalling, and bullying are beginning to speak out. The rate of collapse is accelerating.”
A current example of this is cited by Anthony Watts in this post about Penn State investigating the actions of Prof. Michael Mann in regards to his involvement in the Hadley CRU revelations. Since the university is itself party to the events (it gained financially from Mann’s behavior), it remains to be seen whether or not the school’s self-interest makes it necessary to alter the terms of it’s alliance with Mr. Mann to his actual, as opposed to only his apparent, disadvantage. That determination will, in large part, be dependant upon the rate and extent of the collapse Eric remarked on.
A student of strategy must necessarily apply an historical viewpoint to his deliberations. This leads to a recognition of the transient nature of most of the positional distinctions we confront in life. It also leads to the conclusion that, most of the time, the people most enthusiastic or vehement about some position over some other, aren’t really the one’s best situated to achieve greatest advancement thereby. Maintaining the appearance of neutrality on a given issue or controversy adds value to one’s personal position as a potential ally.