Home > Environment > Wouldn’t know if their a**e was on fire

Wouldn’t know if their a**e was on fire

October 28th, 2014

As I type this, it’s currently 35 degrees, at 9am on an October morning in Brisbane. And, while one day’s temperatures don’t prove anything, a string of studies have shown that the increasingly frequent heatwaves in Australia can be reliably attributed to global warming. We haven’t had an El Nino yet, but according to NOAA, the last 12 months have been the hottest such period on record.

It will be interesting to see what the denialists come up with in response to this combination of record breaking local and global warming. We can safely rule out anything along the lines of “as a sceptic, I like to wait for convincing evidence before accepting a new hypothesis. But, with the steady accumulation of evidence I’m now convinced”. I suspect we’ll get more along the lines of

* Graham Lloyd, reporting a new study by Jennifer Marohasy, showing that the communists at the Met Bureau are artificially pumping hot air through Australian cities to cover up the fact that they rigged the data to show exactly this warming

* The Telegraph, with a front-page story of an old codger saying something like “You think this is hot? Back in ’23, we had heat waves in July so bad that concrete footpaths melted”

* Andrew Bolt will readjust the start dates so he can continue to claim “no significant warming for the past x years”, omitting the crucial word “statistically”

Categories: Environment Tags:
  1. OzGamer
    October 28th, 2014 at 09:56 | #1

    It’s over. They’ve won. Climate change is going to continue and accelerate and at every point special pleading will be employed to show that simultaneously: 1) It’s not happening, 2) It’s not our fault and 3) it’s just not worth spending a single lousy dollar on avoiding it.

    Sorry – I’m feeling grumpy and depressed this morning.

  2. sunshine
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:00 | #2

    Logic dictates that at some time (soon?) things will become undeniable .It would be good if we could feel confident sceptics will pay some(big) price for their errors. I cant help feeling that somehow they wont. They must be nailed down now with public commitments so they cant weasel out later. If the full price is paid it would be a big shift in power -so I cant see it happening.

  3. bjb
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:05 | #3


    You’re right. It’s now a lost cause. The decades of “neo-liberalism” have made people more self-centred and selfish, and as Mr Abbott demonstrated with the demonisation of the carbon tax, many people would prefer the flat screen TV to doing something for their own future, and that of future generations.

    I used to be able to handle the Qld summers, but even allowing for getting older, it should be obvious to anyone over 40, it’s getting warmer.

  4. Hermit
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:22 | #4

    I’m in the middle of a sleet storm. I’ll have to rug up and check on some newborn calves. Mr Abbott might say it’s all averaging out.

  5. Crispin Bennett
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:23 | #5

    @OzGamer Exactly. And Peter Burdon has nailed the now all-but-inevitable institutional consequences over at New Matilda (“Militarism And Climate Activism”). This will all unfortunately remain true when you feel less grumpy.

  6. John Chapman
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:29 | #6

    Oh ye of little faith or heart. Join up with 350.org, and get active. !

  7. Fran Barlow
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:44 | #7

    @John Chapman

    Oh ye of little faith or heart. Join up with 350.org, and get active!

    Not bad advice in the short term, but really, there should be a 280.org. 350 is a reasonable start, and I’m certainly not against baby steps in preference to no steps at all, it’s not close to being good enough.

  8. October 28th, 2014 at 10:46 | #8

    My current research seems to be showing, depressingly but I guess not surprisingly, that there has been reduced action on climate change in the primary healthcare sector in Victoria since the election of LNP governments at state and federal level.

    But I am NOT giving up. The next Victorian election may be the start of change.

  9. wilful
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:47 | #9

    @Fran Barlow
    Oh Fran, you just called 350.org “baby steps”. Methinks you have rather unrealistic expectations.

    Moving on, yes I will remain extremely irate when, once yet more heat records are broken, the denialists retain some credibility somewhere. If Andrew Bolt is able to publish in ten years in a major newspaper and have at least some people consider him credible, well that will be even more disgusting than the fact that he can do it now.

  10. October 28th, 2014 at 10:48 | #10

    and PS for those of you who aren’t following the Victorian political scene, our next election is very soon – just over a month away. You may start seeing some change.

  11. John Chapman
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:48 | #11

    And while ye of the faint hearts squirm in your chairs there, things are actually happening, eg:

    “After years of opposition, hundreds of the world’s major companies and investment firms – including several oil giants – have agreed that there should be a charge for the damage done to the planet by greenhouse gases.
    This means that an international carbon market – in which companies buy and sell the right to produce harmful emissions – is now close to becoming a reality.
    So far, 74 countries, including the EU, China and Russia, but not the US, Canada, Japan or Australia, and 1,000 businesses – from oil firms BP and Statoil to giant corporations such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Unilever – have signed up to a UN declaration in support of carbon pricing.”

  12. Crispin Bennett
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:56 | #12

    John Chapman :
    Despite its sometimes being demotivating, I see no alternative to thinking with head rather than heart. While there’s not even a single realistically plausible scenario from where we are now to anything other than disaster, forgive me for considering such events as tactical wins on the way to strategic defeat.

  13. John Chapman
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:57 | #13

    And, eg …..

    On Monday, the foundation, known as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, will formally announce plans to begin divesting itself of fossil-fuel stocks, citing concerns about climate change. The symbolic cutting of ties to a key part of the family’s heritage is being timed with the start of another symbolism-laden event: a gathering of world leaders to grapple with the environmental consequences of decades of fossil-fuel burning.


  14. John Chapman
    October 28th, 2014 at 10:58 | #14

    And, as you know, even the US Military is riding to the help stations.

  15. wilful
    October 28th, 2014 at 11:03 | #15

    Val :
    and PS for those of you who aren’t following the Victorian political scene, our next election is very soon – just over a month away. You may start seeing some change.

    There’s a very real chance that the Greens will be required to support Labor in the Council. I wonder what concessions they will be able to extract? While the ALP profess strong theoretical support for climate change actions, they may be forced to actually do some good stuff.

    I really wish the idiotic Labor “hard-heads” would get over their hatred of the Greens in the inner city and not devote so many resources to defending against an attack from the left in about three seats, and would focus more on winning the dozens of outer suburban and regional seats.

  16. Garry Claridge
    October 28th, 2014 at 11:12 | #16

    Would Zombies be able to know if their a**e was on fire?

  17. John Chapman
    October 28th, 2014 at 11:13 | #17

    @Crispin Bennett

    You certainly appear to be doomed to negative thought patterns. Perhaps an extract of C. Sativa might assist.

  18. October 28th, 2014 at 11:16 | #18

    Of course, when climate change becomes undeniable to Bolt and co, they will claim that they weren’t given credible warnings.

  19. jungney
    October 28th, 2014 at 11:18 | #19

    While fear over climate disruption often spurs denial and ends in panic or mental paralysis, it may equally well give rise to samvega, a sense of urgency leading to wise decisions to avert the crisis. Everything depends on how we metabolize our fear.

    I think that is fair comment from One Earth Sangha.

    We can put forward a simple program: no more fossil fuel subsidies; complete shift to renewables, soon; make the polluter pay from production to end consumption; reclaim democracy.

    And when people howl and scream about disruption to the economy explain that this is the necessary cost of ensuring a future worth living. Displaced employees, for example, should be given a decent cost of living allowance, which would be generalised, paid for from taxes that corporations currently just avoid or minimise.

    From ’68: ‘be realistic, demand the impossible’.

  20. October 28th, 2014 at 11:20 | #20

    Just remembered such an instance. My wife was driving, and thought she was turning into a driveway, when in fact she was heading for a high curb. I said, “stop, stop, stop…”. On running into the curb, she complained that if I wanted her to stop I should have said it like I meant it 🙂

  21. rog
    October 28th, 2014 at 11:25 | #21

    For a period David Jones from the BOM used to post on Marohasys site explaining anomalies etc with data collection as well as other matters. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to make a single jot of difference (AFAIK Marohasy never debated the BOM directly).

  22. David Allen
    October 28th, 2014 at 11:26 | #22

    I wonder when denialists will start pleading to google for the right to be forgotten. It seems to me that any denial currently online (whether in name or pseudonym) will to traceable back to the perp. I’m sure the NSA has all the IP data already stored. I fully support a witch hunt to bring these morons to book. Transferring the lot to a prison farm in the Maldives would seem a suitably ironic punishment.

  23. Crispin Bennett
    October 28th, 2014 at 11:29 | #23

    @John Chapman
    If you’re suggesting I might need to get stoned in order to believe in the possibility of peacefully defeating our corporatocracy’s wilful ecocide, then … yes.

  24. October 28th, 2014 at 11:39 | #24

    JQ, you forgot to add:

    * OK, so even if we were wrong, it’s clearly too late to do anything about it now. The world must burn more carbon so as to raise enough global wealth to buy the airconditioning that people will die without.

  25. October 28th, 2014 at 11:44 | #25

    heartily agree

  26. Nick
    October 28th, 2014 at 11:52 | #26

    B-b-but Maurice Newman has identified the IPCC as a socialist plot. Seriously.

  27. Ken_L
    October 28th, 2014 at 12:42 | #27

    The way conservatives can shift principles is fascinating. With regard to climate change, as we all know, the stance has consistently been to oppose any significant action until the science is “settled” (presumably this means when the last sceptic finally concedes, but that’s by the by). When it comes to the Ebola virus, on the other hand, their position is the precise opposite. They want lots of urgent government action and new spending, even though “science” affirms it’s quite unnecessary, because faced with an unknowable risk it would be “prudent” to prepare for the worst.

    Thus the prudence principle persuades them to act in one case, but they sneeringly dismiss it in the other. Of course this puts them on the opposite side of the argument to the despised American liberals in both cases, so that might be the explanation. Or at a more fundamental level, the common theme might be “professional people, what would they know? Let’s rely on common sense” (which is a useful label for opportunistic rationalisation of what suits our personal interests).

  28. rog
    October 28th, 2014 at 12:43 | #28

    A good example of BOM response is here


    Marohasy never discusses or publically evaluates these responses, just moves on to another tangent.

  29. Fran Barlow
    October 28th, 2014 at 13:20 | #29


    Oh Fran, you just called 350.org “baby steps”. Methinks you have rather unrealistic expectations.

    My expectations have nothing to do with it. My evaluation is that a target of 350 is manifestly inadequate — the world will continue to accrete heat, albeit at a slower rate than at present. Since we’re already too warm and it will be some time before we get to 350, we will continue to warm at approximately our current rate, then warm more slowly after that, continuing to damage the biosphere during all that time.

    Less rapid damage is preferable to more rapid damage, but it’s still the road to ruin, albeit an elongated one.

    IOW, 350 is ‘baby steps’. I suspect it’s offered so as to avoid creating the impression that the challenge is too great and that we ought to surrender.

    If that is the politics, and it probably is, then 350 is supportable (since we will need to pass that on the way to 280 and maybe a little lower so as to cool the planet). Even 280 just gives us the equilibration at that time of course.

  30. jungney
    October 28th, 2014 at 13:33 | #30

    bjb (and less so OzGamer): while I am no great optimist about the ecological/political future, and I have in the past given voice to my dismay and pessimism, I’ve moved on from that for several reasons:

    * history provides surprises; conditions can change rapidly and in unexpected ways; the fact that real leadership on climate change is in the hands of peaceful people’s movements is a great tactical advantage at the moment that will pay off;

    * the young, who overwhelmingly constitute the core of the movement’s personnel are very much aware of the science and are under severe duress; therefore, I never give vent to ‘it’s over, they have won’ ideas because they need not just political mentors but people who are aware of their psychological fragility (which may not be apparent at first, given their often robust conduct,but is apparent over time);

    * if it is the case that ‘they’ve won’ then it is our job to think beyond the ecological crisis in order to put in place people with the skills and cultural attitudes to create something like a decent society from what is left of resources; it is no accident that the environment movement here and in the US and Europe have all incorporated the social justice agenda that was part of the German Greens’ agenda so that the movement is strengthening through radical inclusivity; there has been long range thinking about how to handle this crisis by the left which is now coming to some fruition;

    Finally, I reckon the best cure for pessimism is to get out and engage with direct action. There’s no shortage of options against coal mines or CSG or water/land issues. It may not achieve much except to identify yourself with like minded others who are, in my experience of NVDA, are often exemplary people and of all ages.

  31. Ikonoclast
    October 28th, 2014 at 15:39 | #31

    Herbert Stein was the formulator of “Stein’s Law.” – “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

    Some claim he meant that if a trend (balance of payments deficits in his example) cannot go on forever, there is no need for action or a program to make it stop, much less to make it stop immediately; it will stop of its own accord. It is often rephrased as: “Trends that can’t continue, won’t.”

    We see a number of trends now which will obey Stein’s Law sooner or later. Here are some of them;

    (a) endless growth in a finite world.
    (b) growth in human caused CO2 emissions.
    (c) decline of wages in real terms.
    (d) decline in wages as a share of national income compared to profits.

    None of these trends can continue indefinitely. Each will naturally or automatically self-limit even if no effective, proactive political-economic action is ever taken. However, to depart from Stein, it is far more preferable to take intentional, pro-active action than to wait for natural or automatic limiting factors to intervene.

    To take one example, growth in human caused CO2 emissions will cease at some point even if we do nothing considered, intentional and proactive. Climate disruption and sea-level rise will badly damage our current biosphere. This is turn will disrupt our economies, our reproduction and our survival strategies. These natural limiting events and outcomes will be far nastier and far closer to the catastrophic end of the spectrum than considered, intentional and proactive human action.

    However, our current political-economic power system is structurally and systemically incapable of taking the correct action. Thus catastrophe must intervene followed by radical political change or radical political change must occur before the impending catastrophe. The necessary changes will never occur under the current system, namely capitalism.

  32. jungney
    October 28th, 2014 at 16:13 | #32


    A slogan for the times then: “nihilism or barbarism”.

  33. October 28th, 2014 at 19:13 | #33

    @Fran Barlow

    Fran, 350 is really quite ambitious. We are currently at 400!

  34. October 28th, 2014 at 20:23 | #34

    Looking at my research, I could get really disappointed and embittered that my former colleagues in the primary healthcare sector seem to be bending with the wind of climate change denial. But I could also think that the tree that stands up to the wind might get broken, while the one who bends can stand up again when the wind has died down.

    So those of us who are not so buffeted by the wind, let’s work to ensure that it changes.

  35. Ikonoclast
    October 28th, 2014 at 20:46 | #35

    Didn’t you know?

    Whitehaven Coal chief, Paul Flynn, says coal will be crucial in fighting climate change. Improving efficiency, an increasing focus on higher quality coal, and use of clean coal technology, will cut emissions from coal-fired power generation considerably. Coal “may well be the only energy source” that can address man-made climate change.

    Fancy that! I am glad he has clarified it for us. Burning more coal will save the world from climate change! It’s so simple! C + O2 does not equal CO2… apparently.
    And clean coal technology (carbon capture and storage?) which has never worked anywhere yet on a significant commercial scale is going to magically save us too… apparently.

    I can only conclude that people who talk like this know they are bulldusting and not only do they not care, they are immensely proud of it. It’s how they semaphore to their peers. They all know it’s bull and there is pride and kudos in being the biggest bullduster on the corporate block.


    ““If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    No prizes for guessing who made the final quote above.

  36. Fran Barlow
    October 28th, 2014 at 22:11 | #36

    John Brookes

    Fran, 350 is really quite ambitious. We are currently at 400!

    Politically ambitious and not nearly good enough may seem to be contradictions, but in this case, they really aren’t. It’s possible because for a very long time those in charge have either been asleep at the wheel or driving hard into rough terrain and telling the passengers that this is what progress looks like.

    The passengers have an interest in believing them especially since they can’t see any other roads, the way back looks treacherous and they’ve largely accepted that they aren’t competent to drive. Stopping the vehicle and then turning it 120 degrees around is ambitious but we need 180 and that at full tilt. We are approaching an abyss after all.

    Sorry for the sustained metaphor.

  37. bjb
    October 29th, 2014 at 08:45 | #37

    Apropos JQ’s title of this blog entry, there’s a good article by David Dunning (of Dunning-Kruger effect) which explains why: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/confident-idiots-92793/

  38. October 29th, 2014 at 09:03 | #38

    “one day’s temperatures don’t prove anything”, but unlike the virtual data in the models and the homogenised data from bureaus like BOM, the satellite readings from the field don’t lie;


    No global warming for 17 years 6 months (No Warming for 210 Months)

    AGW is dead so now we are causing the climate to change. (as if it never has before)

    If my a**e was on fire I would know about, but unfortunately my b*lls are freezing.

  39. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    October 29th, 2014 at 09:56 | #39

    @John Chapman
    BP was calling themselves “Beyond Petroleum” and saying they were all about addressing climate change 20 years ago. This strikes me as more of the same corporate greenwash.

  40. Moz of Yarramulla
    October 29th, 2014 at 11:33 | #40

    Bah, you chicken-little so-called “reality-based” climate observers just need to harden up. As our esteemed hench-financier said, stop being economic girly-men and start supporting our new nation-building program, where we knock down previous achievements and replace them with tax cuts. Great Leader says this is the way that our Great Nation has always been. There have been bushfires, floods, droughts and heatwaves since men first arrived here in 1788.

    If we go on, as a world-leading nation, to break new records, that shows how impressive we are. Hottest year ever, well done Team Australia. We should celebrate that achievement, not sit round whining about how hard it will be to undo the work our fathers are forefathers did.

  41. Ikonoclast
    October 29th, 2014 at 11:53 | #41

    @Moz of Yarramulla

    Exactly mate! We can burn ALL the fossil fuels, make the world 6 to 8 degrees C hotter (on average… much hotter here in Australia) and then solar power really WILL work. Guffaw! Guffaw! It’s a win-win!

    (Scientific disclaimer: Solar PV probably will not work better unless it advances to utilise the infra-red spectrum. Other methods of utilising solar power may work better unless cloud cover increases or other force majeure events occur. The fossil fuel industry does not guarantee these or any outcomes. Please read the fine print of this contract which binds you and all your descendants forever but lets us oligarchs off scot-free for the rest of our natural lives which is all we care about.)

  42. Jim
    October 29th, 2014 at 13:02 | #42

    Even if the a**e of the average denialist was actually on fire (and scientifically proven), unless they actually BELIEVED their a**e was on fire, they wouldn’t do anything about it. That is the parallel universe they live in (or believe they live in).

  43. J-D
    October 29th, 2014 at 17:38 | #43


    John Quiggin writes ‘Andrew Bolt will readjust the start dates …’

    You then link to a website using data from RSS (Remote Sensing Systems) and using 1997 as its start date.

    A quick trip to the RSS website reveals a blog post saying this:
    ‘… The denialists really like to fit trends starting in 1997, so that the huge 1997-98 ENSO event is at the start of their time series, resulting in a linear fit with the smallest possible slope. …’

    I conclude that you may not be Andrew Bolt but John Quiggin still had your number.

  44. October 29th, 2014 at 22:02 | #44

    Thankyou for replying to me J-D,

    This is graph is JQs predicted number or should I say the pants on fire hockey stick (bs) prediction.


    And this is what is actually happening with the full time series of satellite data going back to 1979. It could be said that over the last 35 years since 1979 the temperature hasn’t moved much at all, except for maybe a little bit of natural variability.



    Kind regards,

  45. John Bentley
    October 30th, 2014 at 08:54 | #45

    As an amateur weather watcher here in sunny Tongala I can assure readers that we will bust the 2 degrees Celsius any time soon, we’re currently at 2 degrees above the average minimums and 1.5 degrees up on the maximums. Denialism equates to neoliberalism which is firmly entrenched in the wit family!

  46. John Quiggin
    October 30th, 2014 at 11:31 | #46


    “It could be said that over the last 35 years since 1979 the temperature hasn’t moved much at all, except for maybe a little bit of natural variability.”

    Equally it could be said that the sun is a fiery chariot pulled across the sky by magic horses. Doesn’t make it true.

    There’s a reason Lindzen, Spencer and others don’t talk about “no significant warming since 1979” namely that any plausible fit to the data involves a statistically significant time trend.

    To be even more delusional than the standard delusionist line is quite an achievement, phoenix. Well played!

  47. Donald Oats
    October 30th, 2014 at 12:03 | #47

    Walruses inhabit Antarctica, that’s a fact—Greg Hunt, Minister against the Environment.
    No, they sure wouldn’t know if their backsides were on fire.

  48. Nick
    October 30th, 2014 at 13:56 | #48

    George Christensen MP–who lists the bible as a favorite book on his Facebook page– is miffed you left him off your list…more Marohasian-style calls for BoM to be hauled over the coals for data-tampering…George claims that ‘homogenization’ is the method used for creating rising trends.

  49. zoot
    October 30th, 2014 at 14:24 | #49

    phoenix only posts here to make deniers look bad.

  50. Ikonoclast
    October 30th, 2014 at 14:41 | #50


    Maybe the Bible-reading cohort should consider this verse from Hosea;

    “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.”

    I mean how clear is this for Biblical literalists? We sow the wind with extra CO2 and reap the whirlwind of climate change. It will affect food production “the bud shall yield no meal” and what little is yielded will be swallowed by the many climate refugees; “the strangers shall swallow it up.”

    That is the message I would take if I was Christian and a Biblical literalist aware at the same time of the possibility of many-layered prophecy. Theologically, it is quite supportable that this is a prophetic warning about climate change. If one accepts Christian prophetic dogma (I do not) one could not consistently ignore the possibilty that this is a prophetic warning. Of course, these Sunday Christians worship Mammon on the other six days and pay no heed to their duty of stewardship to the earth let alone to their duty to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

  51. jungney
    October 30th, 2014 at 16:10 | #51

    Yep, the Old Testament provides innumerable opportunities to satirize rise the subjective, so called ‘private’ beliefs, of the loony hard right Xstian in Australia. My preference is to go to the apocrypha. For example, among the long expunged old texts is the Apocalypse of St Peter which offers detailed descriptions of hell in which the punishment fits the crime so that

    Blasphemers are hanged by the tongue.

    Women who “adorn” themselves for the purpose of adultery, are hung by the hair over a bubbling mire. The men that had adulterous relationships with them are hung by their feet, with their heads in the mire, next to them.

    Murderers and those that give consent to murder are set in a pit of creeping things that torment them.

    Men who take on the role of women in a sexual way, and lesbians, are “driven” up a great cliff by punishing angels, and are “cast off” to the bottom. Then they are forced up it, over and over again, ceaselessly, to their doom.

    It’s almost programmatic.

  52. J-D
    October 30th, 2014 at 17:02 | #52


    There’s nothing in that to give any reason for revising the view I expressed in my earlier comment — unsurprisingly, since you avoid discussing the view I expressed in my earlier comment. You posted yours as a response to me, but really it isn’t.

  53. John Quiggin
    October 30th, 2014 at 17:21 | #53


    I promise he’s not a false flag sock, at least not mine.

  54. jungney
    October 30th, 2014 at 20:27 | #54

    There will come a time, not so distant, in which a community AVO will shut people like you down.

    In the light of that, I suggest that you “run for the hills”, out Lightening Hill way, where you and your ilk can be rounded up, twice yearly, like the Oz Military coppers already do in a sweep. Oh, they’ll never thin to look for me in Kal…except they do!


  55. Donald Oats
    October 30th, 2014 at 20:51 | #55

    Once again, Lenore Taylor cuts through the thicket of weeds to find the truth…and it ain’t pretty, it never is. I am so over this current mob of jokers in power.

  56. John Goss
    October 30th, 2014 at 21:07 | #56

    There’s something poetic about ‘false flag sock’. I love some of the language the web gives us.

  57. October 31st, 2014 at 01:38 | #57

    Thankyou for letting my post through moderation.

    It is quite an ironical honour to be called more ‘delusional’ than the standard delusionist (especially considering delusion in the context of the pseudo-science of AGW/CC; a ‘belief’ in a pseudo-science that goes beyond the pinnacle of delusion)

    “any plausible fit to the data involves a statistically significant time trend.”

    It is a central tenet of the AGW/CC pseudo-scientific belief to “fit the data” , but unfortunately for AGW proponents the hockey stick prediction , based on homogenized virtual data, did not fit the real world data from observation and so the alarmist AGW theory is down the toilet.

    Just because the observed effect is larger than we would expect by chance (statistical significance) can we reject the null hypothesis that there is no effect. The truth is that in most situations, the null hypothesis is never true. An effect could be statistically significant, but that doesn’t in itself mean that it’s a good idea to spend money/time/resources into pursuing it in the real world. Tests of statistical significance say virtually nothing about the importance of a research result.

    What is important in the real world is ‘practical significance’ (something economists have very little experience of). Practical significance is about whether we should care/whether the effect is useful in an applied context.

    The virtual and homogenised data in the models made up from sparse patchwork of non-research quality instruments with huge data voids around the world, that are either ignored or in-filled with fictitious data might be ‘statistical significance’, but so what. It is a very small sample in the context of the atmosphere. At least with the satellite data it measures the bulk of atmosphere and is 100 fold more accurate than the virtual homogenised data, even if its time series is relatively short. The practical significance of the satellite data is we do not have much discernible warming thus far.

    It is delusional is to say science is settled because it never is.

    My post linked to the TOTAL satellite data that goes back to 1979; so I am not cherry picking the data and it does not seem to show much discernible warming thus far. This is in stark contrast to the alarmist hockey stick predictions linked in my previous post, that were bandied about by the true ‘believers’ in AGW. The ‘practical significance’(as opposed to statistical significance) of these flawed hockey stick predictions is that the credibility of the AGW in the real world is very low.


    Kind regards

  58. Ikonoclast
    October 31st, 2014 at 07:41 | #58

    A windsock out on the airfield is a flag sock.

    “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

  59. October 31st, 2014 at 07:42 | #59

    @John Goss
    Yeah I think it carries a kind of wind sock metaphor so you get a picture of a wind sock that is somehow blowing the wrong way, and also a false flag (being false and blowing the wrong way too) and a puppet in the mix – the language, it’s so good.

    But srsly as Senator whatsisname (senior moment excuse me, can’t google right now either) would say, I don’t get these people. I checked the link Phoenix posted and the guy who put up that graph (satellite temperatures from 70s to present) obviously thinks he is making some killer point against global warming, even though the graph shows an upward trend. And he says he has a PhD!

    I had a similar experience when deniers were putting up evidence about how we supposedly often get bushfire in September or October. I checked their evidence and it actually shows the opposite – they used to be rare but appear to be becoming more common (I wrote about this on my blog, can’t link here because moderation). In that case I think the person concerned was not very smart, but a person with supposedly a PhD posting evidence that contradicts his point, what is this?

    I know all about conservative white male effects and whatchamacallit cognition, etc, but I still don’t get this. I blame drugs 🙂

  60. October 31st, 2014 at 07:43 | #60

    Senator Ludlum, sorry, came back to me. The cognition one hadn’t yet though

  61. Ikonoclast
    October 31st, 2014 at 08:04 | #61

    Off topic. The Guardian has a segment “Gary Younge on a slice of America where democracy doesn’t work”

    I thought “Oh gee, this must be a map of the USA.”

  62. Nick
    October 31st, 2014 at 09:17 | #62

    It is a central tenet of the AGW/CC pseudo-scientific belief to “fit the data” , but unfortunately for AGW proponents the hockey stick prediction , based on homogenized virtual data, did not fit the real world data from observation and so the alarmist AGW theory is down the toilet.

    Really very silly stuff, only interesting for the fact that a few people are still clinging to such publicly debunked wrongness in 2014….

    Phoenix, the ‘Hockey Stick’ was a reconstruction of the past, not a prediction. As a reconstruction it comes with clear caveats on the limitations of proxies. The thing is, the hockey stick emerges from climate reconstructions using differing suites of proxies, with varying geographical distributions. And you and Sunday Christian George Christensen MP know not a jot why data homogenisation is a standard tool of statistical work…even though, in the case of climate data, BoM have dedicated public pages to explaining their methodology. Here is another good overview

  63. October 31st, 2014 at 10:46 | #63

    Just so people know, this is what no global warming since 1979 (or whenevah) looks like:


    I would include picutres of retreating glaciers and navigable North-west Passages, but multiple links tend to result in posts being put on hold.

  64. Ikonoclast
    October 31st, 2014 at 11:28 | #64

    @Ronald Brak

    Yes, I wonder if they would take a stock market graph that looked like that and say “Stock markets rises won’t occur any more”, Or would they take the opposite tack and say “You don’t look at short term fluctuations, you look at long term trends.”

    One would have to ask why use one principle to interpret warming trends and another principle to interpret stock market trends? Their fallacious approach is more than just about cherry-picking data its about cherry-picking (incorrect) data interpretation methods as well.

  65. David Irving (no relation)
    October 31st, 2014 at 12:01 | #65

    Shorter phoenix: “La, la, la, I can’t hear you, stop trying to introduce facts into the discussion.”

  66. Debbieanne
    October 31st, 2014 at 14:22 | #66

    Val, I think this might be what you were looking for ‘Cognitive dissonance’.

  67. Donald Oats
    October 31st, 2014 at 15:27 | #67

    Na, they just say there is a (30/60/100/140) year cycle, only it hasn’t quite crested…

  68. Nathan
    October 31st, 2014 at 15:57 | #68

    Val, that was my thought exactly! Leaving aside the fact that just eyeballing data is not a substitute for mathematically rigorous analysis, the graph phoenix produced clearly shows a warming to the naked eye. This seems to have reached a pinnacle of cognitive dissonance, where one can look at a graph that supports warming and blithely claim it falsifies it.

  69. Tim Macknay
    October 31st, 2014 at 16:20 | #69

    I thought perhaps “motivated cognition”, but cognitive dissonance certainly works too.

  70. Ootz
    October 31st, 2014 at 16:51 | #70

    Cognitive dissonance, motivated cognition, how about metaphysical solipsism?

  71. Julie Thomas
    October 31st, 2014 at 16:58 | #71

    I think that it is the case that we avoid cognitive dissonance by using motivated cognition to not go anywhere near the thoughts that cause us dissonance.

    Cognitive dissonance creates confusion and we humans need to feel that we are a consistent self entity; an individual. Avoiding the confusion provides us with the motivation to think – not reason – in ways that lessen the confusion, and we feel better.

    It seems that some people are better at self-criticism than others.

  72. chrisl
    October 31st, 2014 at 17:53 | #72

    Why won’t anybody debate phoenix? is it easier to sneer?

  73. Nathan
    October 31st, 2014 at 17:57 | #73

    The debate already happened. Phoenix posted a graph and claimed it didn’t show a warming trend, when in fact it does. Unless, he can answer that objection, what’s the point continuing?From what I can see, everything else he wrote was meaningless name-calling.

  74. chrisl
    October 31st, 2014 at 17:59 | #74

    Nathan: What is the warming?

  75. Nathan
    October 31st, 2014 at 18:17 | #75

    I don’t really know what you’re asking.
    As you’re presumably aware, there a several independent lines of empirical data that show the Earth is warming over the long term, but in this instance we’re talking about the satellite data for lower-tropospheric temperatures shown in the graph. Alternatively, you could have a look at some of the other data posted in the comments above.

  76. Julie Thomas
    October 31st, 2014 at 18:37 | #76


    I agree with Nathan about the graph issue being solved and so there is nothing really to debate about that.

    I would like to understand why you believe that you can see things that the scientists cannot see.

    Could we start a debate with you providing a list of the evidence and a rational argument that will explain to me why so many people working in this area of science are so wrong and what it is about you that means you can see this when I cannot?

  77. Fran Barlow
    October 31st, 2014 at 18:53 | #77


    There’s the old ‘wrestling with a pig’ and ‘playing chess with a pigeon’ analogies to explain it.

    Arguing with climate science deniers or other cranks is worse than a waste of time. It grants them a dignity to which they have no claim.

  78. chrisl
    October 31st, 2014 at 18:56 | #78

    Nathan : Again… Where is the warming?
    “, there a several independent lines of empirical data ”
    Ok That just sounds like nonsense!
    But you do have more don’t you?

  79. Nathan
    October 31st, 2014 at 19:10 | #79

    Well Chris, if you think data is nonsense then I guess I won’t be able to help you!

  80. chrisl
    October 31st, 2014 at 19:45 | #80

    Fair call Nathan! Somehow you have to convince people like me.There are no convincing arguments. This is how it always ends!

  81. Julie Thomas
    October 31st, 2014 at 20:09 | #81

    @Fran Barlow

    and arguing with them often leads to face-palming which is not fun if one forgets to take one’s glasses off.

  82. Chris O’Neill
    October 31st, 2014 at 20:19 | #82


    An effect could be statistically significant, but..

    Lost at one set of goal posts, move on to another… Global warming denial never ends.

  83. John Quiggin
    October 31st, 2014 at 20:22 | #83

    “Somehow you have to convince people like me.” As you say, an impossible task since there is no conceivable argument or evidence that will convince you (see title of OP).

    Fortunately, we don’t have to convince people like you, only outnumber you, as we already do.

  84. Chris O’Neill
    October 31st, 2014 at 20:42 | #84


    What is the warming?

    0.6 degrees C of global surface warming since the 1960s, for example: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1960/to:1970/trend/plot/gistemp/from:2002/trend/plot/gistemp/from:1960

  85. J-D
    November 1st, 2014 at 05:49 | #85


    If it’s terribly important to you to have somebody debate phoenix, you could always take on the job yourself. I don’t understand why it would be important to you, though.

  86. chrisl
    November 1st, 2014 at 09:34 | #86

    @Chris O’Neill
    It looks pretty flat at the top of that graph. Is that the hiatus they are talking about?

  87. J-D
    November 1st, 2014 at 10:08 | #87


    The top of the graph is objectively flatter than the middle, but how flat it looks depends on an arbitrary choice of how to scale the graph.

  88. Chris O’Neill
    November 1st, 2014 at 11:13 | #88


    There is no statistically significant slowdown at the top of that graph.

  89. Collin Street
    November 1st, 2014 at 12:02 | #89

    chrisl :
    @Chris O’Neill
    It looks pretty flat at the top of that graph.

    Looking for evidence that supports your hypothesis is what we call “confirmation bias”.

    [there’s a whole messy subthread here about the differences — some of them biological — between inductive and deductive reasoning and why certainty can only come through deduction: evidence for your hypothesis is not automatically evidence against other hypotheses, and stuff like that. Large swathes of thinking are learned skills, techniques, rather than being innate: how well do you trust your education?]

  90. chrisl
    November 1st, 2014 at 12:23 | #90

    Collin Street : It is chartmanship Pick your start and finish dates, Adjust the y-axis.Bingo
    As to how well I trust my education, well I was educated in Australia so it wasn’t very good!
    Sadly it has been dumbed down a lot since then!

  91. ZM
    November 1st, 2014 at 14:21 | #91


    There is a 100 years temperature chart here that is quite easy to read:


    The blog post explains the thoughts on the temperature trends. But you have to remember that weather naturally has some variation from year to year – so even climate change is not going to affect the weather in such a way as to take out all the variations and ups and downs. But you can see looking at the 100 years charts that temperature has been very much on an upwards trajectory.

  92. November 1st, 2014 at 14:57 | #92

    The term I was trying to think of above was “motivated cognition” but I agree there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance and probably some metaphysical solipsism (‘the world is what I think it is’?) going on!

    Motivated cognition is something we all can do. I have done it myself on a couple of embarrassing occasions when I was working in politics and I really, really wanted to think the government had done something wrong, so I misread the data. The difference is that normal people, when they realise what they’ve done or someone points it out, accept it, get very embarrassed, apologise, and try to be more careful in future. (I should say of course that it only happened a couple of times with me – would be more serious if it was happening all the time of course).

    The difference with denialists is that they don’t ever seem to admit they were wrong. I’m not trying to pick on Phoenix personally, but Phoenix is showing the typical pattern – when it’s clear that that you’ve been called out and you were wrong, you drop out of the discussion. Possibly you go somewhere else where people aren’t as well-informed.

    When you see this quite frequently, as I’ve done and I’m sure others here have, you have to start thinking this is not just motivated cognition, or stubbornness, and it’s not just trolling either – it looks like a campaign which is not about proving anything, but about trying to create doubt and confusion, and upset people (which is like trolling, except trolling is for the pleasure of seeing people upset, while this seems more calculated for a broader agenda).

    As I’ve seen in my research, if you can make an issue seem difficult, awkward and embarrassing – something that a lot of people get hot under the collar about – many people will start avoiding it. They may not know much about it, but they know it creates bad feelings, and I think that’s enough to make many people think there is something wrong, not just with the issue, but with those who try to talk about.

  93. chrisl
    November 1st, 2014 at 15:38 | #93

    ZM I had a look at it, Chartsmanship.one of the commenters picked it up. ” Do you know, for the NOAA graph, what is the vertical scale? It’s weird that it’s not shown on the graph.”
    Adjust the y-axis. Bingo
    On the graph itself it says the trend is .06 degrees C per decade!
    Is that what all the fuss is about?

  94. Julie Thomas
    November 1st, 2014 at 15:53 | #94


    Dan Kahan the researcher who does a lot of work on Motivated Cognition is at pains to explain that all humans do Motivated Cognition, all the time.

    This way of thinking is the default way that our brains work. Some people can learn to look for these patterns in their thinking and moderate the automatic thinking that is very efficient usually.

    It is the context now that has highlighted this tendency in one group of people.

    Dan Kahan goes to great lengths to explain that motivated cognition is not restricted to people on the right of politics; he is very much not in favour of the ‘asymmetry’ theory in which it is argued that people on the right are less intelligent or more fearful or whatever.

  95. November 1st, 2014 at 15:56 | #95

    Fifty Ways To Fudge Your Data

    The problem is all inside your ethics she said to me
    The answer is easy if you don’t take it logically
    I’d like to help you in your struggle to earn a fee
    There must be fifty ways to fudge your data

    She said it is my habit to intrude
    Furthermore, I hope my meaning will be lost and misconstrued
    But I’ll repeat myself until it sinks in, dude
    There must be fifty ways to fudge your data
    Fifty ways to fudge your data

    You just pick a new date, mate
    Cherry picking’s a plan, man
    Be arbitrary, Mary
    Get yourself a fee
    Become a hack, Mack
    Appear on radio that’s talkback
    Become like me, see
    And you’ll get a fee

    She said it grieves me so to see you use your brain
    Don’t you know a little mistruth will gently ease the strain
    And I said hypothetically speaking would please explain
    About the fifty ways

    She said why don’t you work all through the night
    And through fatigue make mistakes that you’ll claim are slight
    Then she paid me and I realised she probably was right
    There must be fifty ways to fudge your data
    Fifty ways to fudge your data

    Ignore fact, Jack
    Mis-scale a graph, Garth
    Don’t care who you destroy, boy
    Just get yourself a fee
    Claim conspiracy, Lee
    Ignore ice free arctic sea
    Lie like an Aussie PM, Sven,
    And get yourself a fee

    – not quite by Paul Simon

  96. Julie Thomas
    November 1st, 2014 at 16:00 | #96


    Explain what you mean by “all the fuss”?

    But why do you think that you are entitled to an explanation or any response from people here?

    Are you one of those entitled people that Hockey talked about?

  97. ZM
    November 1st, 2014 at 16:08 | #97


    The blogger responded to that comment, if you just read one comment further. The axis was labeled in Fahrenheit but we use Celsius in Australia, so he took away the label:

    “Sarah Webber
    Posted August 22, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink
    Great post – I love your break down of some of the dodgy ways numbers are used in this debate! Do you know, for the NOAA graph, what is the vertical scale? It’s weird that it’s not shown on the graph.

    Posted August 22, 2014 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Sarah – yeah sorry, there was a scale on the right in Fahrenheit but I removed it. The anomalies for the last 10-15 years are all in the +0.5-0.6 C range… The scale is in 1C increments so it doesn’t show up well unfortunately.”

    it says the trend is .06 degrees per decade – but if you think about this you can see it would add up over time, so in a century from 1914-2014 it would add up to .6 degrees.

    You then have to remember this rapidity of climate change started around 1750 with the industrial revolution – and as the world has become more and more industrialised the ghg emissions have increased. So that the trend for the last century is 0.06 degrees, doesn’t mean this 0.06 rate is constant because it will increase according to the rate of increase of ghg emissions.

    My understanding is there is around about a 30 year delay in ghg making the warming – so the increase in temperature from pre-industrial norms we have now is related to cumulative ghg emissions up to the 1970s or 1980s. The effects of the cumulative emissions up to 2014 won’t be seen for another 30 ish years.

    At the moment if I remember correctly we are at about 0.8 degrees of warming from pre-industrial norms. Then you would add on what is in the pipeline from cumulative emissions up to 2014 – and I think we would be at above 1 degrees of warming from pre-industrial norms in the pipeline.

    James Hansen a scientist from NASA thinks 350ppm co2 equivalent is about as far as it is possible to increase ghg in the atmosphere without causing too much destabilisation of the climate systems.

    At the moment we are hovering around 400 ppm.

    The government’s at Copenhagen agreed to stay within 2 degrees, which from memory is around 580ppm co2 equivalent.

    At the moment on current trends it looks like we are heading to 4-6 degrees of warming in the pipeline by the end of our century.

    There was a book published on Australia at 4 degrees of warming late last year, which is interesting but worrying reading. The climate is very complex, so the book gives possible scenarios for what might happen.

    In human written history we have not before now had this high level of ghg in the atmosphere. You have to go back and look at geological and fossil records to get an idea of what it was like. But the world was quite different in these long ago times. One problem with climate models is our data records (except for geological records) are reasonably recent – so it has been hard to back cast in the models say several million years ago and get results that align with the geological records. Although you might be concerned that this shows some inadequacy in the models – the problem is actually that the models are producing results too similar to our current climate, when the geological records show a vaster difference. This is quite a worry when you think about things like the Siberian permafrost starting to melt.

    This is a very basic summary, but I am not a scientist. You could find more information on these points on the Internet by scientists , and confirm if I have remembered the correct numbers.

  98. chrisl
    November 1st, 2014 at 16:28 | #98

    How do you even measure .06 degrees per decade?
    This is the actual warming that you referred me to … .06 degrees per decade.
    So how do you get to 2 degrees(Copenhagen) or 4-6 degrees in the “pipeline”?
    The actual data has flat-lined fot the past 18 years (see above)
    So the graph has to come out of it’s flatline and suddenly shoot up by 4-6 degrees
    Colour me sceptical

  99. Crispin Bennett
    November 1st, 2014 at 16:35 | #99

    Fortunately, the social and institutional processes of science are not subject to the biases of individual psychology (at least not systematically, and not over the medium term). That’s how and why science works.

    Efforts to persuade individuals suffering from strong counter-factual biases that science has found what science has, in fact, found are the stuff of politics (and blogs for that matter). As (probably more) significant in practical terms, certainly, but distinct and secondary.

    Personally I think anyone not convinced at this stage is entirely lost to reasonable discourse, and not worth engaging.

  100. Crispin Bennett
    November 1st, 2014 at 16:38 | #100

    (The only response making much sense: please write your revolutionary papers, win the inevitably consequent Nobels, but until then, go away)

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