Spot the recycled denial II – 60 Minutes crunch time

In this series, I aim to teach you to recognise the recycled denialism that is rife in the public arena these days.

I don’t refute this nonsense by constructing a new argument each time which, point-by-point, shows why their claims are not supported by the evidence. This is pointless, since the majority of non-greenhouse theorists (‘sceptics’) blithely ignore any such counterpoints and simply repeat the same arguments elsewhere. Instead I rebutt by hyperlinking to some of the wealth of explanatory material out there on the world wide web. For reasons of general accessibility, the articles l link to are predominantly pitched for a lay audience – but they are consistent in linking to the peer-reviewed primary scientific literature (sometimes I’ll link straight to the journal papers). I focus primarily on the science content of the piece, except where non-science arguments are clearly false and demand correction.

For this entry, I look at a television story ran by the Sixty Minutes current affairs programme, Channel 9, which was aired on Sunday 17 August 2008 in Australia. The reporter is Tara Brown. Her primary interviewee was none other than Dr David Evans, whose arguments I’ve considered in a previous posting. Now perhaps she was doing the standard journalistic thing and trying to provide ‘balanced’ statements, but Ms Brown also said a few rather strange and unsupported things, which I also look at.

Now I’ve only included the relevant parts of the programme’s transcript. You can watch it (brace yourself), or get the full transcript (including the smatterings of sensible stuff), by clicking here. So here goes:

TARA BROWN: So convinced is the Federal Government of the threat, it is about to introduce a controversial carbon tax [it is emissions trading, not a tax] that will not only change the way we live, but have a huge impact on our economy.


TARA BROWN: And what we should know, according to David Evans, is since 2001 temperatures around the world have stopped rising. And that’s despite increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the air. So statistically, in the last seven years, the flattening and perhaps even slight cooling of temperatures – is that significant?

DAVID EVANS: Yes, yes it is significant. Once it gets up to five years or so it’s really quite significant. Whatever was driving the temperatures up has taken a break for a while and meanwhile carbon emissions have continued and the level of carbon in the atmosphere has gone up about 5% since 2001, yet we see no more warming.

PM KEVIN RUDD: Here’s a measurement which people should just sit back and pay a bit of attention to – the 12 hottest years in human history have occurred in the last 13 years. That’s a fact.

TARA BROWN: It’s not my position to correct you Prime Minister but Ive been told that in fact during the middle ages the global temperatures were two to three degrees warmer than now. Certainly we’ve had the hottest 12 years in recent history but the planet’s been a lot hotter.

PM KEVIN RUDD: Well, I stand by what the International Panel of Climate Change Scientists have had to say. There will always be argy-bargy about elements of the detail.

PROF. RICHARD LINDZEN: We need CO-2. It’s not a poison, it’s not a pollutant. It’s essential for life on earth. I mean how much are we going to depend on people’s ignorance in order to produce panic?

TARA BROWN: Global Warming certainly attracts lots of argy-bargy. But one thing climate scientists agree on – if global warming is caused by CO-2 emissions then the CO-2 will leave a distinct signature their computer models predict a big red hotspot above the equator. The problem is thousands of weather balloons equipped with some very sophisticated thermometers have measured the temperatures in the atmosphere to test the theory, and guess what, no hotspots.

DAVID EVANS: There’s no hotspot, there’s no hotspot at all. [He just doesn’t give up on repeating this untruth, does he?] It’s not even a little hotspot and it’s missing. We couldn’t find it.

TARA BROWN: So, this is the crux for you, this is evidence?

DAVID EVANS: Yes. If this had come out the other way, if we’d measured it and we’d found a hotspot I’d be saying, “Cut back carbon emissions.”

TARA BROWN: A very simple question, is there any chance you’re looking in the wrong spot?

DAVID EVANS: No.

JEFF PRELL: The last 5.5 years of rainfall are 25% below the 100-year average, so this is not only a dry, it’s a big dry.

TARA BROWN: That was June 2005 and thankfully since then, much of Australia has received rain.

TARA BROWN: What to do is the megabillion-dollar question. There are alternatives to powering our world without the carbon fallout of coal and oil but all have their negatives. The great hope was to replace fossil fuels with biofuels like palm oil but the plantations are so vast in places like Indonesia entire jungles are being wiped out as are the precious orang-utans who live in them.

TARA BROWN: Then there’s wind power. It might make us feel good but there’s just not enough puff in it.

DR JAMES LOVELOCK: At the best, wind power cannot provide more than a tiny fraction of the energy needs of civilisation. I think it’s one of those things politicians like because it can be seen that they’re doing something.

TARA BROWN: And nuclear power may be embraced by France and Finland as a green and efficient energy source but who could ever forget Richard Carleton in the remnants of the Chernobyl reactor.

PM KEVIN RUDD: The key thing is, how do you bring carbon pollution down in an economically responsible fashion? And having looked at all the detail this is the best way forward.

TARA BROWN: But if you believe the sceptics, and carbon dioxide isn’t to blame for global warming then we face massive change for no good reason.

DAVID EVANS: Isn’t it a bit dopey to wreck the economy for a purely theoretical reason when the alleged symptom, warming, stopped six years ago.

TARA BROWN: They perhaps would use the word prudent as opposed to dopey, that the risk of not doing something is too great?

DAVID EVANS: I urge them to look at the modern science, the evidence isn’t there. There is no evidence that carbon emissions cause a significant amount of global warming.

PM KEVIN RUDD: I am not, myself, a qualified scientist. I’m elected as Prime Minister of Australia to act on the basis of the considered scientific advice.

TARA BROWN: But it’s never too late to continue the debate is it?

PM KEVIN RUDD: Look at your kids in the eye tonight and ask yourself this question – “If we have this much evidence available to us now “on climate change and just refuse to act, “then what are the consequences for them?” The alternative, however, is to just stick your head in the sand and hope it all goes away.

Deltoid has also worked this over. Newspapers, radio, TV – there is no doubt that this sort of smearing of the science isn’t going away any time soon, and it matters, because it’s the politicians – the ones who have to make the decisions to act – that are getting the blowtorch applied by this disinformation machine.

Oh, and it seems Andrew Bolt is happy to both embrace Tara Brown and denounce her – it really just depends on which side of the ‘pretend debate’ she happens to be covering…

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65 Comments

  1. Barry, great post indeed.

    Just a couple of things – the link under Prof Lindzen gives an error, the next link about the Prof’s comments that CO2 is essential and good does not seem to be directly refuted on the linked page (althouh I get the message). And lastly onle of your links is to Monbiot… If you know scpetics like I know sceptics you may be better off not linking to Monbiot…

    Can you provide a link to the following sceptic argument I am currently tackling on a few fronts… I think the concept of warring between the global unseen superpowers woulod much more suit 60 minutes than boring old chit chat about the science;)

    Sceptic argument: “Climate change is a subject usurped by the global elites to progress the establishment of one world government. It is primarily advocated by the same groups that control the fiat monetary system and control the entities we call the ‘Federal Reserve Banks’.

    The primary agenda is not to alter the worlds climate as the science overwhelmingly states that we have very little influence on the climate, the changes we have experienced are natural and primarily influenced by the Suns activity. The agenda is to establish a Carbon Market whereby they not only control the worlds monetary supply, they would also control the ability of a country to produce anything. They would do this by either releasing carbon permits, or withholding them, exactly the same way these ‘independent’ entities control interest rates and the supply of money into the economy.

    If you didn’t already know it the Federal Reserve Banks are owned and controlled by private entities. In reading the Australian governments white paper on this subject you will see the ‘carbon permits’ are to be controlled by a ‘independent body’ who will have the power to control the issuance of these permits to the market. The establishment of an open carbon market whereby these permits can be traded will be a disaster, those on the inside will reap huge profits by gaming the system, the general population however will suffer enormous financial consequences when these markets are manipulated and the cost of industry gets pushed higher and higher. Just look at the current turmoil in the financial markets and imagine what happens when the same thing happens in a carbon market, where if you can’t afford the carbon permit you can’t produce anything.”

  2. Thanks MattB, I fixed the Lindzen link. As for Monbiot – it’s all just Heat… Plus this post is not for the entrenched contrarians – it is for people who want to be more genuninely informed and wish to make sense of what is being put out there in the media.

    The key about CO2 being “good” is that it really depends how much, and requires the acknowledgement that this is extra fossil carbon that has been sequestered for millions of years.

    The elites plot sceptical argument smacks of LaRouche and the CEC:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Lyndon_LaRouche

    …as well as being popularised by Crichton’s book State of Fear…

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/michael-crichtons-state-of-confusion-ii-the-climatologists-return/

  3. Hi Barry,

    As per usual journalists will show/publish whatever will get them ratings and people talking about their article/segment. I did brace myself and watched the program, your post is very comprehensive and fantastic for a lay-person such as myself to make sense of the denial argument and so called “science” they quote.

    Great work, keep it up.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  4. Hi Barry,

    Thanks for answering my question the other day.

    My lay debunking of this argument that CO2 is essential, therefore implying that more is better is this;
    Try a eating gram of selenium or more simply two buckets of apples or 10 litres of water.

    I have also heard the argument that because CO2 is such a “small” percent of the total volume that it must be insignificant.
    My lay rebuttal to this argument is to tell the person using it to try that one on with a Judge when they are caught over the limit. Or to try half a gram of cyanide… surely such a small amount can’t hurt?!

    ;-)

  5. Barry …I have just spent 3 hours reading some of the links (and subsequent links) that you posted in your opening. I said to to myself before starting, ok lets do this with an open mind. Having just completed this I suggest you do the same. If you follow through the trail of comment and counter comment it really does not support your case.

    Your link to http://www.skepticalscience.com/Did-global-warming-stop-in-1998.html basically proves very little. What it does show is that there is a eagerness to “correct” data to try and get it to fit the model. Even so with the “corrected ENSO adjusted data” there is very little warming over the last eight years. In fact the corrected data show that global warming appears to have started in 1990 and stopped in 2000. Have a read of the comments on the site to what others think.

    As for the http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/tropical-tropopshere-ii/ link, once again read the comments. There appears to much discussion about trying to get the data to fit the models. As for radiosonde data versus satellite data, both RSS and UAH, well there is much cherry picking going on depending on what one wants to prove. The satellite data does not support the AGW theory and once again some clever calculations and windshear adjustments are made to get it to somewhat fit. You may see it differently but by reading the comments on the site their certainly appears to be alot of opinions. Who is right I do not know but the following post is typical.

    However, what he is missing is that even when seven of the top scientists try to explain why the models and why the data does not agree with the theory, they still cannot come to firm conclusion that the data is wrong!

    The obvious answer is that the models are wong!

    But Gavin is a modeller and he, like all other men, will not admit when he is wrong

    As an interested lay person with no agenda I would say that the jury is still out on AGW. One could spend a short lifetime reading all of the links that you have posted and come out the other side with doubt. I guess this is more of a faith issue than what we had previously thought :-)

  6. What it does show is that there is a eagerness to “correct” data to try and get it to fit the model.

    Statements like this are just wrong.

    And denialists have traditionally supported correcting data when it thinks it will help their cause, and to reject it when it does not. Just watch the bullpucky surrounding the GISS surface temp stuff.

  7. it’s the politicians – the ones who have to make the decisions to act – that are getting the blowtorch applied by this disinformation machine.

    So… it’s come to this! Perhaps Australians can write, or phone, or e-mail, etc. PM Rudd and their local politicians to expressly give their support for their climate regulation proposals. Every bit of opinion counts towards dispersing the fog of ‘dissent’ that the inactivists and the complicit media have tried to conjure up.

  8. Dhogaza, don’t despair: Kimbo has clearly learned something from this post, it’s just that the learning has the wrong polarity. Tara Brown says “I’ve been told that”, and Kimbo, observing the technique, says “there appears to much discussion about”. Both (probably) true facts, both attempting to legitimize rubbish without explicitly asserting it. Not a novel strategy, of course, but still worthwhile.

  9. Barry,

    I really like this approach to tackling the recycling of poor arguments. For a layman like me, it’s often very hard to counteract what seems to me to be obvious nonsense with peer-reviewed science as I’m not in a position to evaluate much of it myself. Simply googling the terms produces a lot of denialist rubbish and government sites that are so superficial as to be useless.

    Your links to sites that offer clear explanations that are in turn linked to peer-reviewed work are extraordinarily helpful and I plan to send my confused/genuinely skeptical friends here for educational purposes.

  10. I personally think you guys are a bit harsh on Kimbo. The internet is full of sites worded as eloquently as this one but with the completely opposite conclusions re: climate change.

    I know three of my closest mates are climate scpetics (I ran a poll)… in fact one of them is the source of the quote I posted above.

    So in short, Kimbo, yes to lay folk like us it certainly is a matter of “faith” at the end of the day, given that we honestly can;t say we understand all the scientific “argy bargy” as the PM likes to call it.

    To me the question comes down to “do you trust mainstream scientists”, or “do you believe there is a global conspiracy amongst scientists to usher in a new world order under the smokescreen of climate change.”

    And remember – just because no one believed galileo does not mean that everything that mainstream science believes and a minority opposes is wrong.

    Personally I think science craves breakthroughs and challenging ideas, and that folks like Barry would love nothing more than seeing over the next few years a weight of credible science demonstrating that there is nothing to worry about on the CO2 front. And if that science comes in the IPCC will jump for joy, as will I.

  11. Dhogaza… modern sceptics would say just the same. They are not denied because of the science, but because they speak against the modern equivalent of the Catholic church. Apparently;)

  12. That’s total bullshit, MattB.

    The modern equivalent of the Catholic Church might well be the Bush administration, which has tried to stifle scientific opinion which counters its predetermined policy. Hansen, the EPA, biologists within the USFS, USFW, etc.

    Are you saying that Modern Science is driven by slavish devotion to a text written a couple thousand years ago? Which of those couple thousand years old texts describes the physics? The world wonders …

  13. Barry, I’ll offer something for the dummy rote learners too. Just as it is people carrying umbrellas that cause rain so it is with human co2 emissions creating alarming climate. It’s just so obvious. lol

  14. Barry Brook says “The key about CO2 being “good” is that it really depends how much, and requires the acknowledgement that this is extra fossil carbon that has been sequestered for millions of years.”

    There has been a cooling bias operating over millions of years that is progressively sequestrating CO2 and depleting atmospheric CO2. If we really want to save the planet then let’s not in effect starve the biosphere of this beneficial gas. This assumption of depleting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is a bizarre, anti life bias with no hope of success. There should be no confusion on this point unless of course, your mind is detached from your own biology which is this myth of exceptionalism at its best.

  15. Keiran – 17

    Please do us all a favour and link to the peer reviewed research
    which demonstrates “a cooling bias over millions of years that is progressively sequestrating CO2 and depleting atmospheric CO2″
    Or is that your latest paper being considered for publication by NATURE or SCIENCE?

  16. There is a cooling over the last 50 million years due to geological drawdown of CO2. But why Keiran calls it a “bias” is unknown, unless he means biased compared to Mesozoic conditions when the world was, for most of the time, ice free with sea levels about 80m above the current level at temperatures of 4-5C higher than present.

    Keiran, the answer is not that more CO2 or temperature is axiomatically bad for life, although beyond about 5C there are risks of major climatic destablisation, as was seen in the end Permian. It is that the rate of change, from an icehouse to greenhouse world, occuring as it will over a mere 2 centuries rather than 50 millions years, that is the fundamental problem. In the past, this has been strongly implicated in the cause of mass extinction events:

    Mayhew, P.J. et al. (2008) A long-term association between global temperature and biodiversity, origination and extinction in the fossil
    record. Proc. Biol. Sci. 275, 47–53

  17. Re 17. Hi Keiran. I’ve looked all through this thread and I haven’t found anyone suggesting the atmosphere ought to be “starved” or “deprived” of CO2.

    What the heck are you talking about? Who is suggesting this?

    It truly would be bizarre if someone had that idea, but as far as I can tell the only bizarre thing here is the way you seem to be misrepresenting Prof. Brook and others who share his views and expecting people to take you seriously.

    What next? Are you going to demand CO2 should be liberated from its cruel captivity by evil scientists in dank dungeons deep under ground so it can once again roam free, bellowing in exultation as it thunders in mighty herds across the sun-drenched prairie, just as it did in the days of yore?

    I can’t wait.

  18. I’d like to second what Pipsqueak wrote earlier – thanks for running through these sorts of cheap tv spots and articles, providing the links to the debunking. I try to explain this stuff to my parents and friends, and you really help by gathering up the info into one place.

  19. “This is pointless, since the majority of non-greenhouse theorists (’sceptics’) blithely ignore any such counterpoints and simply repeat the same arguments elsewhere. Instead I rebutt by hyperlinking to some of the wealth of explanatory material out there on the world wide web…”

    If AGW is true then certainly its proponents are among the worst communicators I have ever come across. Sending us ‘non-experts’ onto links that don’t address the core criticisms of the theory being addressed. I don’t have this problem if I research Darwinian theory, or relativity, or anything else in other fields of science. Why is this so hard? Why so evasive?

    A good starting point please: a link to paleo reconstructions that independently support the Hockey Stick. Not articles, please, by the same small group of scientists. I’m told lots of independent studies exist. If so you must have studied them and have them at your fingertips. I’m not a member of greenpeace. I don’t get a cheque in the mail from Big Oil either. I just want some straight answers from both sides of the argument. Even if AGW is 100% true, you unfortunately come across as very evasive, dismissive and arrogant in your vague rebuttals of criticisms of AGW. That doesn’t mean that AGW is wrong. It may just be an issue of having poor communication skills…

  20. Will Nitschke – 24

    I see that you are all over the net repeating your tired refrain at many respectable science sites. Many times have you been rebutted and presented with the credible scientific answers. What do you do? Come back and repeat the same old nonsense elsewhere. You are the arrogant, evasive and dismissive one – and rude to boot! Just trolling the net putting in your tired, worthless opinion won’t help your cause. LISTEN to the answers and don’t dismiss the opinion of the vast majority of the scientific community. Most of us are here to learn the science not to make ad hominem attacks.

  21. Barry, a reasonable response. I take your point that the rate of change may be an issue but this adaptability is far more complex than perhaps we tend to assume. My use of cooling bias i’ll check up on but CO2 has been in a down trend over 100 million years …. so what’s the cause of this down cycle and the eventual effect if it continues? Also if you are relating temperature to CO2 levels what does this say to an AGWer if it is not a cooling bias over the last 100m years?

    Perps just read this Budyko, 1977 chart and see if you can find something for yourself.

    http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/acid2.htm

  22. Gaz, what does this mean? ….. “PROF. RICHARD LINDZEN: We need CO-2. It’s not a poison, it’s not a pollutant. It’s essential for life on earth. I mean how much are we going to depend on people’s ignorance in order to produce panic?”

    My take on this issue is that by collecting human CO2 emissions in a highly concentrated form and then sequestrating it down some underground mine shaft is bluddy dangerous as well as a seriously anti-life stooopidity.
    e.g. If this highly concentrated sequestrated gas belches out of the ground as has happened it will kill anyone in the near environment. How charming.

    Also substituting a natural fertilizer like atmospheric CO2 for this diabolical guano fertilizer whilst hilariously funny represents a world starved of commonsense.

  23. Keiran-26
    Thanks for the references – strange how this Dr Anthoni pops up all over the denialist sites. As for the Budyko chart – no-one is denying that CO2 concentrations have been higher in the past at various times but that can be explained by factors other than AGW (explained by Barry and his peers in many fora and in his seminars) and the time frames for the build ups of CO2 are MUCH longer than our 200 year experiment. Besides when the levels of CO2 were up in the ancient past it was a very different ice free world with sea levels up to 120m higher than now.Sorry but I think I will stick with the lucid explanations by Barry (who had already answered my query) and his fellow scientists.

  24. Thanks for sticking up for me MattB. As for trusting scientists, well I don’t really trust anyone automatically, I am a skeptic by nature and I like to look at the evidence and listen to the arguements. It comes back to how the idea is sold basically …and I must admit the evangelistic vibe of the AWG movement is rather concerning. I am reminded of the old encylopedia salesman who would come around to you house and preach that to be a good parent you had to provide his particular product and the sooner the better. In fact if you didn’t make a decision right away and take up his special offer then you would never be able to afford it.

    So with the AGW movement we have outragous claims that sound like a horror movie. This scale of the claims are sure to get our attention. Next we have the solution, but we have to act now as it may already be too late !! Yet when we look at what is happening around us there is little evidence that actually proves their claims. How can we be sure that remedial action is going to do anything except cost jobs and redistribute wealth?

    To cap it off whenever legitimate questions are asked, you are hailed down as some kind of blasphemer. Dhogaza (and to a lesser extent Barry) appear so keen to have us believe that they become angry and dismissive when someone questions. The encylopedia salesman would behave in the same way when he came up against a brick wall. His last ploy to have you believe was to become superior and arrogant.

    AGW has been sold very hard, some have bought it and others just want more proof. I am still waiting for real proof not scare tactics and expectations of faith. I guess I am sounding troll like huh ;-)

  25. “I see that you are all over the net repeating your tired refrain at many respectable science sites.”

    Something is very wrong when you ask basic questions at AGW sites and you are dismissed as a lunatic. I’m willing to accept the theory is true. I just need reasonable evidence. A dismissive hand wave to go read Wikipedia is not good enough.

    Imagine if the only reply to a Creationist from an Evolutionary Biologist is:

    (1) How dare you question the experts?
    (2) You are too stupid to understand the explanation so I won’t bother trying.
    (3) Go read Wikipedia or the IPPC ‘executive summary’

    It’s a joke, sorry. If I sound frustrated, it’s because at every AGW site I visit I ask perfectly reasonable questions. My questions are never answered and I’m insulted for daring to ask. Something is very wrong here. If that’s why I’m loosing patience with the AGW camp over this issue, then my apologies. However, all my points are perfectly reasonable. In fact, I’m not trying to make any point one way or another, other than to ask for specific information so I can continue to read and learn. I’ve gone past the basics. Now I want to look at specific scientific papers or intelligent assessments of them. I’m unlikely to find that information at a ‘sceptic’ site and may not get unbiased information from those sources, which is why I am posting here.

  26. Will Nitschke – 30

    My point is that you keep asking the same questions but when you don’t like the scientific answers you ignore them and keep repeating the same questions. If you are not willing to trust the answers given by climate scientists all around the globe on numerous websites then why do you bother visiting reputable scientific sites. “There are none so blind as those who will not see” I have found that Barry responds concisely but politely (unlike some in the other camp)but resists repeating what has been dealt with elsewhere,(no point reinventing the wheel) instead pointing us to relevant answers.Why don’t you download his Power Point presentation and podcast of the first seminar “Is the earth really warming” and do the same for the next 5 seminars. I think your questions will probably be answered (again).

  27. Keiran.

    If we really want to save the planet then let’s not in effect starve the biosphere of this beneficial gas. This assumption of depleting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is a bizarre, anti life bias with no hope of success.

    I would be extremely interested in how the biosphere managed to survive and thrive in the time before humanity ‘saved’ it by instigating the Industrial Revolution.

    I await your explanation with anticipation.

    There should be no confusion on this point unless of course, your mind is detached from your own biology which is this myth of exceptionalism at its best.

    It must be irony month.

    a natural fertilizer like atmospheric CO2

    You are biologically incorrect in calling it a fertiliser, as traditionally these are plant nutrients added to the soil to enhance growth. You’re basically confabulating, for autotrophs, what vitamins are to food, for heterotrophs.

    Tim Curtin had this same ignorance of photosynthetic biology. He grew quite cranky when several of us tried to learn him stuff:

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/03/remember_eg_becks_dodgy.php

  28. Slightly off topic but today at UWA I attended a lecture “Why People Believe in Weird Things: Science, pseudoscience, and the paranormal”
    Speaker: Dr. Michael Shermer…

    “Ever wonder why people believe in UFOs and alien abductions, mind-reading and psychics who talk to the dead, reincarnation and life after death, out-of-body and near-death experiences, urban legends and satanic panics, not to mention Intelligent Design creationism and the pernicious myth that the Holocaust never happened?

    Dr. Michael Shermer, the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and a monthly columnist for Scientific American, is a genuine ghost-buster, a relentless crusader against junk science, bad science, voodoo science, pathological science, pseudoscience, and plain old nonsense.

    Based on his best-selling book, Why People Believe Weird Things, Dr. Shermer’s lecture is filled with humour, insight, magic, illusions, and personal anecdotes, a highly entertaining wake-up call that has become a wildly popular presentation at hundreds of college campuses. Students and professors alike rave about Dr. Shermer’s show, calling it one of the best presentations ever.”

    And he dealt with the whole issue of our perceptions changing how we receive facts, and how we tend to scan for facts that back us up and dismiss those that don’t… leading to the situation of our mate Nitschke here.

    Now Shermer was positively elusive on the issue of climate change… the WA sceptic society were there and ranting on about how AGW is a load of rubbish, but Shermer pretty much did not commit (fair enough it was a high-school level lecture full of school kids I went to because I work at UWA and it was my lunch break). I got the feeling he is straying towards scepticism again but he didn’t really see it as a traditional area like 911, or Elvis, or paranormal etc, just a “science” disagreement.

    But it certainly is a strange situation climate change finds itself in, as it is not often that the mainstream scientific position is dealt with as though we are the loopy fringe clinging to the last vestages of our crumbling position… quite the opposite. It is almost as if thinking AGW is real gets portrayed as though we think ELvis lives next door, the moon landings were fake, and that 911 was a US/zionist conspiracy.

    Anyway I just thought it was an interesting lecture, and quite topical. Of course the WA sceptics were talking about the debunked Oregon petition etc… and came across as quite the nutters I have to say…

  29. Keiran Says:
    21 August 2008 at 18.26
    “Gaz, what does this mean? ….. “PROF. RICHARD LINDZEN: We need CO-2. It’s not a poison, it’s not a pollutant. It’s essential for life on earth. I mean how much are we going to depend on people’s ignorance in order to produce panic?””

    What it means is that Lindzen is obfuscating. Allow me to deconstruct…

    1. “We need CO-2.” Yes we do. Without it the Earth would be a ball of icy rock. That’s because of the greenhouse effect. You know about the greenhiouse effect? However we don’t need too much of it. Lindzen is trying to say, by implication, that proponents of the anthropogenic global warming thesis wish to eliminate all CO2 from the atmosphere, which is of course not true. In other words, this statement is misleading.

    2. “It’s not a poison, it’s not a pollutant.” Poison? Would you survive breathing an air mixture of 80% CO2 instead of 80% nitrogen? Let me know how the experiment goes. Pollutant? If a pollutant is something that, in excess, damages the environment then it doesn’t seem to be wrong to call it a pollutant.

    But that’s beside the point. Lindzen is trying to give the impression that because CO2 is essential to life (which it is) it is therefore safe in any concentration (which is obviously isn’t).

    He can’t actually come out and say it, because he would look like an idiot, but he’s trying hard here to foster that impression.

    It’s a pathetic, cheap debating trick. Surprisingly, it doesn’t appear to have worked on you: “If this highly concentrated sequestrated gas belches out of the ground as has happened it will kill anyone in the near environment,” you say. Oh really?

    3. “It’s essential for life on earth.” Well, yes, but so what? Vitamin A is a wonderful, life-giving substance, but too much of it will kill you, sure as eggs. Same with oxygen. Essential for life, but if there’s too much of it around things you have to be oh so very careful with matches. It’s all a matter of “how much?”

    The question is whether it’s safe to double CO2’s atmospheric concentration, then maybe double it again. Ridiculous platitudes that would not be out of place in a breakfast cereal commercial won’t help anyone’s understanding of the issues, which I suspect is why they’re being bandied around by the do-nothing brigade.

    4. “I mean how much are we going to depend on people’s ignorance in order to produce panic?” The irony of this statement is breathtaking. Aside from the fact that no-one is trying to induce panic, only the deniers are campaigning to discredit science and foster ignorance.

  30. MattB,

    My guess is that Shermer’s own ideological bias (he’s a “libertarian”, convinced that the blessed market can do no wrong) gets in the way of him appreciating the weight of evidence for AGW – since AGW proves conclusively that the market can do wrong.

  31. Well said, Gaz. Another analogy for future reference: We *need* magma. Even so the times when there has been a lot of it on the Earth’s surface have been problematic from the standpoint of the biosphere. See e.g. the Siberian Traps episode.

    Coming back to Lindzen, the question is why someone like him feels the need to use such obvious garbage arguments. Revenge against the atmosphere physics community for refuting the “adaptive iris” variants that Lindzen spent ~20 years pushing, perhaps?

    Will Nitschke, bear in mind that the argument for a relatively “flat” MWP and LIA favors low climate sensitivity.

  32. “My point is that you keep asking the same questions but when you don’t like the scientific answers you ignore them and keep repeating the same questions.”

    Sorry, Perps, who are you talking about? I’ve posted maybe 6 times in my life on different websites related to this topic.

    “If you are not willing to trust the answers given by climate scientists…”

    I asked a straightforward question for a research link. I realise, Perps, you seem to be some kind of robot with no independent thought processes of your own, but if you can’t provide a link, please reframe from posting insults. What is the point of that?

    “I have found that Barry responds concisely…”

    Not to me. I don’t even need an answer from Barry if he’s too important to provide a link. Anyone here who can help, I would appreciate it. All I am after is a link to a paper or review of a paper that is pretty fundamental to AGW. I’m not trying to play ‘tricks’. This situation is so bizarre…

    “Why don’t you download his Power Point presentation and podcast of the first seminar “Is the earth really warming””

    I don’t need to be convinced that the Earth has warmed. Not interested in spin-doctoring from ‘alarmists’ or ‘deniers’. Just want to do my own reading from the sources, please. No one can help? I am sincere…

  33. A good starting point please: a link to paleo reconstructions that independently support the Hockey Stick. Not articles, please, by the same small group of scientists.

    By who, then? Tennis players?

  34. Will Nitschke says:
    “All I am after is a link to a paper or review of a paper that is pretty fundamental to AGW.”

    Oh, I see. Sorry, I misunderstood you. Fine. There is a review on the topic don’t you know. It is a summary of all the most relevant climate science research published over the last 150 years. All that stuff that’s been peer reviewed. It even gets updated every 7 years by a dedicated international, multidisciplinary team of scientists. What more could you ask for!

    It’s called the IPCC Assessment Report. Version 4 is here: http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/index.htm. It’s free and every chapter is downloadable. It’s a couple of thousand pages long and reviews many thousands of papers, but hey, this is specifically what you wanted, isn’t it Will. After all, the science-referenced summaries for the lay person that I generally direct people to are inadequate for you. You wan’t the real thing.

    Or… is it that you don’t actually care for the science and are just trolling after all?

  35. Here are some examples of Will Nitschke’s open and sincere position statements (search for “Nitschke” in the comments):

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-global-warming.htm

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/weather-forecasts-vs-climate-models-predictions.htm

    http://climateprogress.org/2008/07/08/yes-the-globe-is-warming-but-how-fast/

    http://environment.newscientist.com/article/mg19225804.300

    http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2008/04/global-temperature-decrease-is-no-reason-to-stop-hysteria/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/how-to-cook-a-graph-in-three-easy-lessons/

    etc.

    And surprise, surprise, this is what happened at RealClimate (sci minds think alike, it seems):
    Will Nitschke:
    ““The IPCC, among others, nailed that, and nobody has demonstrated that natural variability can do the trick.”

    You can certainly bullshit with the best of them, I’ll give you that… Since your whole website is directed at ‘true believers’ and generally non-technical people, how about a straightforward and easy to understand article that unambiguously proves the above sentence (that you repeat like a mantra), yet never seem to provide comprehensible evidence for? if it’s so obviously true, this shouldn’t be too hard to do. While I find some of the ‘denier’ arguments dumb or disingenuous at best, what you dish up on this web site is hardly reassuring either.

    To which Mike replied:
    “[Response: Why don’t you save us all some time and inform yourself before spouting off. It really isn’t that difficult in this case. All you needed to do was go to our “Highlights” sidebar and select “The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report” for a summary of that report, and in particular, sourcing for the conclusion that human influences on climate are ‘very likely’ (> 90% chance) already detectable in observational record, which is what Ray was simply stating in less technical parlance. On a more general note, if you are willing to inform yourself adequately enough to contribute meaningfully and constructively to the discourse on this site, you are welcome to do so. However, uniformed and ill-mannered blather such as you have provided us with this comment is not welcome here from either you or any other similarly minded would-be participants. -mike]”

    So Will apparently knows about the IPCC report and yet choses to ignore it anyway.

    Ray Ladbury further adds, which I think makes the point rather well:
    Actually, Will, I work as a physicist and many other readers who comment regularly are technical as well. We appreciate the opportunity to learn about this important issue when we would not have time to read every technical paper AND keep up with our own technical field as well. How about you, Will? Are you serious about learning?

    Actually, technical folks are pretty convinced by the evidence. There is currently not a single technical society that has looked at the evidence and taken a position running against the consensus position that humans are behind the current warming epoch. The few contrarian manuscripts that are published in peer-reviewed journals are met with silence and go on to die quiet deaths as they provide no path to progress. So, really, there’s not much argument in technical circles.

  36. “By who, then? Tennis players?”

    If a group of scientists develop a new drug, I want to then look at a study evaluating that drug from another team not associated with the same group. Do I really need to explain science 101?

    Barry: “It’s a couple of thousand pages long and reviews many thousands of papers, but hey, this is specifically what you wanted, isn’t it Will.”

    Very evasive… the main problem with this site as per my first post. Oh come on, Barry… stuff like this must be posted somewhere and must even be at your fingertips? If someone wants a good review of paleo research and the state of the science then I’d recommend “Large-Scale Multiproxy Reconstruction Techniques”. Link here:

    http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11676&page=110

    Easy, done. Not so hard.

    Now, I’m after a few links to independent studies that support the Hockey Stick.

    I am working on the basis here that if anyone asks a reasonable question, the stock response is to assume that the person asking the question has a hidden agenda, hence insults, etc., follow. OK, understandable perhaps. I’m loosing patience too with the non-responses I get and the dismissive tones of the AGW scientists. Understandable also. This makes everyone frustrated and angry. Why go down that path? Why not provide the information? If people want to *then* dismiss it, then fine, people can reveal their *real* agendas at that point, perhaps.

  37. Right, fine, here you go:

    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11676

    Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years

    Blurb: In response to a request from Congress, Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years assesses the state of scientific efforts to reconstruct surface temperature records for Earth during approximately the last 2,000 years and the implications of these efforts for our understanding of global climate change. Because widespread, reliable temperature records are available only for the last 150 years, scientists estimate temperatures in the more distant past by analyzing “proxy evidence,” which includes tree rings, corals, ocean and lake sediments, cave deposits, ice cores, boreholes, and glaciers. Starting in the late 1990s, scientists began using sophisticated methods to combine proxy evidence from many different locations in an effort to estimate surface temperature changes during the last few hundred to few thousand years. This book is an important resource in helping to understand the intricacies of global climate change.

    National Academy of Science of the United States of America

  38. OK, I asked for a particular link on a particular topic, and now I get a set of puff-piece articles that don’t even address the subject of the question?

    I have even less kind thoughts in my head about this response than the dismissive and arrogant and rude responses that come out of the Realclimate site. But what would be achieved by posting more vitriol here, even if deserving of it?

    Anyway, if anyone *can* answer the question, please post link(s). I’m not prepared to conclude yet that such information is non-existent.

  39. Barry,

    Thank you anyway! That is the sort of *gold standard* study I am looking for. I did not find the information I am after in it, but I will wade through it again anyway… maybe I missed something the first time.

  40. > they still cannot come to firm conclusion
    > that the data is wrong!

    Yeah, but, but, that’s quoting _Alastair!_ — he’s not saying there’s no problem. Quite the opposite. He’s convinced things are going to be getting worse much, much faster than the climatologists think. No math, but great conviction. Nice guy.

  41. Oh, and Will, there’s a method you can use.

    Go to any study you dispute, find the journal’s website and abstract, or go to the library and look it up.

    Then look for “citing papers” or “related” or “cited by” and read the later work citing it. There are paper indexes for this as well as online compilations.

    That will get you _all_ the developments to date in published science on the subject.

    Ask your reference librarian for help.

  42. Hi Barry,

    Good post, but be carefull who you link too. The link for nuclear reactors goes to 21st Centruy Science and Technology. This isn’t a scientific journal or magazine, it’s part of Lyndon LaRouche’s propaganda macine:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/21st_Century_Science_and_Technology

    It’s published several (really bad) articles attacking the science behind AGW. Their about page list that:

    “21st Century Science & Technology magazine challenges the assumptions of modern scientific dogma, including quantum mechanics, relativity theory, biological reductionism, and the formalization and separation of mathematics from physics.”

    This is not a source I’d trust on any topic… let alone on nuclear reactor safety.

  43. If a group of scientists develop a new drug, I want to then look at a study evaluating that drug from another team not associated with the same group. Do I really need to explain science 101?

    Oh, Willi, Willi, not tennis players, then, but rather … computer scientists? geologists? field biologists? batting average statisticians?

    The point here, dumb[insert favorite adjective here], is that paleo reconstructions supporting the AGW hypothesis don’t all come from “the same group”.

    Simply put, you’re a liar.

    But we know that. You claim that you’re virtually an internet commentary virgin, and moments in Google prove you’re lying. Gosh.

  44. I didn’t realise the connection ChrisC, but the point they make about Gen 4 nuclear reactors is correct and one worth considering.

    Hansen has some interesting things to say about it in his recent “Trip Report”:

    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/20080804_TripReport.pdf

    This is based on the new book by Tom Blees: “Prescription for the Planet” (that is where the link now goes). Plausible? Yes. Possible in the right time frames? Who knows, perhaps not, but worth considering.

  45. Hi again Barry,

    Didn’t mean to dis generation 4 reactors (although I have my doubts, but I haven’t the time to go on a rant at the moment), I just meant to point out that a link to a magazine that thinks science is a branch of LaRouche’s made up disipline of “physical economics” is not likely to be well received.

    For an interesting perspective on future reactor technologies, I recommend the WNA’s fact sheet on thorium reactors:

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf62.html

  46. Will Nitscke – 40 Reply to me
    Seems others, like me, have found, on Google, more than your puported 6 posts!
    And don’t patronise me – how do you know what research I have done before reaching my conclusions that AGW is real and worrying. Actually I am a reference librarian and therefore have the necessary skills to do my own research. Skills which you appear to lack, otherwise you wouldn’t be asking the same questions ad infinitum, when you are directed to the correct information. According to you the references given are either too scientific for you to follow, or too populist being aimed at the intelligent lay person. What more do you want?

  47. Gaz, when people discuss any issue they are likely to do so through different ….. even mutually exclusive ….. a priori sets of assumptions or beliefs about the nature of reality and the human place in it. People in fact can live in quite different realities. With such species dissociation, it is not unusual for different groups to be psychologically unable to draw compatible conclusions from the same fact. How do people then cope with this situation? Democratically perhaps? Communicate more clearly? Offer better evidence? Get better control of your behaviour?

    This issue with climate, not unlike the all important cosmological issue, has for myself become such an interesting study in human behaviour. Both go deeply to all questions and the problems that really prepossess all others. As an unexceptional lifeform we need to know where we came from, what are the limits, what are our goals, to what do we tend to, to what do we have control over, to what are the possibilities, to what is determinable and to how much we desire the indeterminable. In this respect we need to be concerned about purposeful behaviour which is the control of input variables. Our behaviour does not come from the stimulus-response model nor the cognitive science model nor the rote learning model, because behaviour is the CONTROL of perceptions.

    As a young boy i was, for some reason, particularly sensitive to the concept of control … like was i in control of myself or was something/someone controlling me? It became pretty apparent that if i wanted to be good at anything i needed to control perception big time. … hence our control of the inputs we perceive, is our behaviour.

    It is our connected control of perception that creates purposeful behaviour like a will to truth driven by a curiosity as well as an altruism and the will to not allow ourselves to be deceived as well as the will not to deceive. My question is why should we allow some vested interest, or cult of high priests or some arrogant designer try to codify their domination by seeking to take over our control of perception and substitute their fake model of the world?

    The point is that it can so easily happen to many people and we need to ask why? As an example of how a fake model can take over, consider high priest Einstein who considered that empty space is a possibility, then postulated this “mystical matterless motion” oxymoron along with this next bit of nonsense called curved space. Like how can anyone, even myself as a child fifty years ago, be expected to believe that “nothingness” exists, that everything in the vast expanse of the known universe came from “nothingness” and the clincher, that this “nothingness” is curved even though it contains nothing at all. This major regressive philosophical move by Einstein has been detrimental to physics ever since. Very simply, if scientists are not interested in causality as with much of Einstein’s work, then they are not scientists. With alarmist AGW we see similar faulty, initial assumptions.

    Gaz, your paltry effort to deconstruct Lindzen’s simple statement of fact is pretty naive … much the same as your efforts to read a few temperature charts. I’ll just say it again … try to get control of YOUR perception, …. can you try to actually find something that is scientifically meaningful?

    ps Just see how these disgraceful wildlife officials/Priests have lost control of their perception with the poor whale calf and put her down this morning in order to end its suffering.

  48. Dear me,
    Kieran is not only cleverer than all the climate scientists, he’s cleverer than Einstein! We’d better listen to Kieran, folks. Oh great Kieran, we beseech thee to share thy infinite wisdom with us poor mortals!

  49. Gaz says …”What it means is that Lindzen is obfuscating. Allow me to deconstruct…”

    Barry Brook says … “Well said Gaz, well said.”

    Well, Keiran here says to Gaz or Barry “deconstruct this mind virus known as Algorian Science”.

    Nick Gotts, it just happens that I’ve always felt quite uncomfortable with people’s need for boundaries and frozen in mindsets. It is not hard for many people to imagine me to be seen as a transgressor and have some label in place like the need to use this politico/religious label “denier”. Worshippers love this label and i must say that Nick, you present as juicy fodder for a controlling hungry priest class because you are so easily impressed with all manner of golly gosh fiction. Personally i do not need a world full of insane people reduced from being responsible citizens to being infected hosts imprisoned by their fairytales and magic. If love means anything it is the love to find out for yourself with some initiative, observation, play, thought and reason. i.e. Have we ever seen any society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable?

    Probably as a child many years ago, perhaps as an eight year old stepping away from Sunday school, I felt I just unexceptionally hyperlinked to the 360 degrees of an infinite connected material environment that we call the universe. This universe is not a fictional cosmological model nor a closed system with a big bang orgasmic beginning and presumably a depressing end, and nor with perfect boundaries. System experts will only demand a pre-conceived, closed finite system or set of closed disconnected systems or even a minute closed sub system and force/fudge all data to fit because this mindset is all based on the now obsolete hypothesis of finite universal causality. So people like myself are environmentalists NOT some cosy exclusive member of a minute closed sub system like the Al-AGWers who selectively ignore the bigger picture out of fear and ignorance.

  50. Dhogaza, I view science to have its proper epistemological place as part of philosophy or the “why” and in this respect to be a posteriori … i.e. empirical or find and ye shall seek or inductive. This is most important with questions about the universe and indeed earth’s climate. I’m not sure you can understand this point because your mechanical attitude is quite the opposite and much that i see from proponents of AGW.

    By the way I am not this unscientific label .. denialist”. It’s unscientific and quite impossible to prove a negative. You can’t. i.e. I do not need to prove anything against AGW because it is the AGW bandwagon that NEED to constructively/positively prove it correct or abandon this perception as false. Good luck here because from what i’ve ever seen it doesn’t seem to be obeying your instructions.

    Dhogaza, just back to this set of graphs at …..

    Please just try a little harder to describe scientifically if possible, what you have found out about stratospheric cooling that is supposedly your validation for AGW instead of retreating to your cosy tiny playpen to avoid this request.

  51. 56. Keiran, thanks for slagging off both Einstein and me in the same post. It gave me a tingly feeling down the back of my neck.

    By the way, what made those atom bombs go off?

    Hey that gives me an idea!

    Maybe you could combine your critiques of both Einstein and anthropogenic global warming!

    How about this, using tried and true sceptic methodology:

    1. The atom bomb didn’t go off in Hiroshima, the heat was from natural variation due to sunspots.
    2. It was hotter in Hiroshima on one day in 1945 than it is now.
    3. Therefore Japan is cooling down.
    4. Therefore the world is cooling down.
    5. Therefore the IPCC is a bunch of alarmist frauds.

    Gaz.

    Or were the scietists misprepresenting their research to get more funding?

    Gaz.

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