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Reading Terry McCrann

July 9th, 2009

Terry McCrann has responded to the call for a new inquiry into the financial system with a snark-filled piece which is of sociological, if not intellectual, interest. Let’s jump to his last para.

What next then? Setting up a government-owned home-buying service at the Post Office? Presumably two others among the ‘six-pac’, Nicholas Gruen and John Quiggin, would love that, provided it directed the trusting unsophisticated only into carbon neutral homes.

The most charitable interpretation of McCrann’s reference to carbon-neutral homes is that he is indicating a tribal affiliation. He knows that the typical reader of the Herald-Sun business pages has delusional beliefs about climate change, and is assuring his readers that he shares these beliefs. This alone would be enough reason to dismiss the rest of the column. If McCrann is prepared to dismiss a vast amount of scientific evidence on a topic on which he has no particular expertise, simply because members of his social group don’t like the conclusions, his judgements are worthless. In the absence of any new factual evidence (and, all the facts mentioned in his column are well-known), his arguments have no evidentiary weight. In essence, they amount to the statement “if you’re on my team, you shouldn’t agree with these guys, because they are on the other team”

But that, as I observed, is the charitable interpretation. The less charitable view is that McCrann rejects climate science because his world view is incompatible with the existence of the atmosphere, or any kind of global public good. There’s plenty of evidence for this interpretation in his column. On McCrann’s apparent view, the fact that Australia is not in a deep recession proves that there is, and can be, no such thing as a global recession. Since we haven’t been affected, there’s no need to worry. To quote his column

For their call for a massive, Campbell-and-Wallis type inquiry into the financial system actually lacks ‘a problem’ that has been exposed and thereby needs fixing. … global financial crisis. Not many dead or even injured in Australia. From any systemic fault, that’s to say.

There is a real problem here. McCrann is significantly less ignorant and wilfully stupid than the average defender of economic liberalism in Australia (compare for example, Andrew Bolt or the Institute of Public Affairs). But he can’t allow himself to be much smarter than his readers, and stupidity and ignorance (whether endowed by nature or acquired by effort) are essential if you are to be a full member of the tribe. In a period when social democracy is on the rise, we need better opponents than this.Deranged film

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  1. Tony G
    July 14th, 2009 at 20:05 | #1

    Chris, I’m glad you agree that concluding that the world has warmed (or cooled) for 15 years is crap and anyone who votes in parliament on this basis is making a crap vote.

    BTW,
    It doesn’t take the vast majority of scientists to disprove a conspiracy theory, it takes a ‘single fact’.

  2. Oldskeptic
    July 15th, 2009 at 18:34 | #2

    Tony G: We are pretty weel served now with satellites, ground stations, etc.

    There are ‘holes’ in the coverage, but importantly where the most people are, the Northern Hemisphere, is where the greatest warming is occurring (the south is largely ocean so naturaly it warms less). Where we have the greatest accuracy is recording the greatest increases.

    This is a re-post from another thread.

    The temperature numbers are worse than most people think. A lot depends on where you are and all areas are up from baseline.

    We have a whopping great La Nina going that is bringing down sea temps in a large part of the Southern Hemisphere and various land parts of the World (inc the North Western coast of North America).

    But using the 2008 GISS data and looking at regions the north is roaring along:

    64N-90N: 3rd highest temp on record a whopping +1.48C above base line.
    44N-64N: again 3rd highest, +1.01C.
    24N-44N: 6th highest, +0.53C
    24N-Equ: 19th, +.23C
    Equ-24S: 16th, +.28C
    44S-24S: 1st, +.39
    64S-44S: 34th, +.03

    The deep south, 64S-90S is incredibly variable, ranging from +1.32 to -.36 over the last 20 years.

    You see the pattern, the sourthern hemisphere shows lower increases and greater variability because of the huge sea mass and is affected strongly by the El Nino/La Nina cycle (ENSO).

    Taking the northern Hemisphere as a whole, 2005, 2006 and 2007 were higher than 1998 (+.82, +.74 & +.77). 2008 is the 7th highest on record (+.6C), down from the record 2005, but well within normal variability and there is some contribution from La Nina.

    Global cooling from 1998 as some people claim? Well the global temp peak was in 2005 (+.62) and 2008 is still the 8th highest year at +.44 even with a solar minimum and a strong La Nina.

    God knows what it is going to be as we move into a El Nino (or even just neutral) and solar radiance climbs up again.

  3. Tony G
    July 15th, 2009 at 21:54 | #3

    “We are pretty weel served now with satellites, ground stations, etc.”

    No we are not.
    Only a microfraction of 1% of the worlds atmosphere is actually monitored and a figure is then extrapolated to give a fictional reading for the balance.

    It is akin to sticking a single thermometer in the water at Bondi beach for 3 days and stating I know the average temperature for the whole ocean for every day for the last three million years.(And you have to trust my extrapolations, because they were run on a program utilising Bill Gates’ codes so they are definitly realistic)

    Oldskeptic, if people keep freezing their balls of you can tell them it is getting warmer until you get hot under the collar, but their balls are as accurate barometer as anything else at the moment.

  4. Chris O’Neill
    July 15th, 2009 at 22:05 | #4

    Tony, I’m glad you agree that concluding that the world has not warmed (or cooled) for 15 years is crap and anyone who votes in parliament on this basis is making a crap vote.

    BTW, I’m glad you believe the biggest conspiracy theory of all time. It makes it easier to realize you’re an idiot.

  5. Chris O’Neill
    July 15th, 2009 at 22:13 | #5

    God knows what it is going to be as we move into a El Nino (or even just neutral) and solar radiance climbs up again.

    It’s obvious what will happen when the next El Nino occurs. The climate science conspiracy theorists will suddenly become the leading experts on El Nino, even though they know nothing about it now.

  6. Tony G
    July 15th, 2009 at 22:15 | #6

    Chris,

    No arguments on your last sentence, the world is full of them.

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