Duffy and Carter on Counterpoint (updated)

Michael Duffy has run a second climate change show on Counterpoint, responding to critics of his SMH column and earlier show. His guest was Bob Carter, whom he described in his SMH column as an “environmental scientist”. The ABC site description is “Research Professor of Geology … geologist and environmental scientist, an adjunct research professor at James Cook University, and he specialises in climate change.” which is still an inaccurate description, as you can see here[1]. It would be more accurate to describe Carter as a prominent research geologist with a personal interest in the issue of climate change, and a strongly-held view that Kyoto is a bad idea.

As regards the major issues, I see little evidence to suggest that Carter is any better informed than I am. He claims, presumably relying on the increasingly absurd McKitrick and McIntyre, that “the hockey stick [showing rapidly rising temperatures over the last 100 years] is broken”, and then goes on to recycle long-exploded claims about urban heat islands and satellite data, all of which have been addressed in detail on this blog .

Duffy’s performance on this issue has been disgraceful. If he did the same thing pushing creationism[2] he would surely have been sacked, or at least pressured to put on some real experts.

Tim Lambert has more

fn1. A few of the papers listed for Carter are relevant to paleo-climate issues, and he’s well qualified to make the point, as he does in the show, that climate has varied over time. But since that’s not in dispute, it can only be used (as it is by Duffy) as a straw man to attack unnamed critics of his previous shows.

fn2. Fun Factoid: As I’ll argue in a bit more detail later on, the great majority of climate change sceptics, globally speaking, are also creationists – why doesn’t Duffy give them a go on his program?. Feel free to supply your own examples, counterexamples and statistical arguments in the meantime.

110 thoughts on “Duffy and Carter on Counterpoint (updated)

  1. The problem, Tim, is that while we can now read the questions (with some difficulty) the results don’t come up, at least on my computer.

    I think the relevant question may be number 40:

    Climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes.

    Respondents have to answer on a 7 point Likert scale from Strongly agree to Stongly disagree

    To me the question is too open-ended. Surely any rational, logical scientist would see that “climate change” has been going on a lot longer than we have been walking upright.

    It is also possible to think that anthropogenic causes are less than natural ones, but still a significant, indeed critical, influence.

    How does he count the fence-sitters who marked “4”?

    Indeed, you could argue that only those who marked “1” have no doubt.

    I think it is humbug.

    You may be interested to know that young Dennis has done a model on how people perceive and respond to climate change.

    So now we can argue about models of how we think about climate change. One problem, of course, is that these models are inevitably oversimplified, but when the are developed further they become entirely incomprehensible to all but their creators.

    I think some-one should find something useful for the lad to do!

  2. Brian & PrQ,
    I am yet to be convinced either way on climate change – the one thing we can be sure about is that the climate is changing, as it has always done in the history of our planet.
    What I find difficult to accept is those who ridicule those who do not agree with them. Brian, calling a survey ‘humbug’ while giving the appearance it is because it does not fit within your world view is probably inappropriate.
    To me, the question is fair, as are the possible responses, and I would tend to agree that only those who responded “1” have no doubt. Every one of the other respondents have at least some doubt.
    Doubt can be a healthy thing for an enquiring mind.

  3. AR, that’s a right and proper approach around here. However, for those in a position to take or influence action, it is often necessary to proceed on a basis of uncertain knowledge since opting to take no action is itself something with unclear consequences. Even calling for more research can lead to analysis paralysis.

  4. AR and PML

    I agree with you, AR, about the utility of doubt. One of the reasons I’d like to see the results is that I’d be interested in seeing whether any respondents marked the survey question as “1� Strongly agree. I think it likely that very few did, and find that unremarkable and of little significance as such.

    The survey item was:

    Climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes.

    Duffy’s SMH article said �A quarter doubted that the modest warming of the past 150 years is due to human activity.� And attributed the opinion to the wrong group.

    Duffy has now corrected this to �a survey of scientists… shows about a quarter of those polled were dubious that global warming is caused by human activity.�

    The authors of the report on Dennis Bray’s presentation at the February conference said â€?Nevertheless 25% of those questioned still have doubt about the human influence on climate change.â€? That’s all we have to go on so far.

    There is a lot of sloppiness around. Typically scientists are logical people. Logically the proposition was that all climate change at all times is mostly (what percentage exactly does that represent? 70%?) the result of anthropogenic causes.

    Nevertheless I suspect that 75% of the respondents marked the scale in the 1-3 range. If you saw that represented on a bar graph I’d suggest you’d be visually impressed by the weight of scientific opinion behind anthropogenically caused climate change. Most respondents would have had a nuanced view of the matter, I suspect. Yet the ‘25% doubt’ is given out as quantified information of great significance. I say it is humbug. I say this oversimplified result misleads and distorts as much as it informs.

    If Bray had addressed a number of items in the survey to this issue, instead of one, he may have come up with a more nuanced story. But I must admit I find the methodology used in the survey less than satisfactory. Issues are inevitably framed in certain preconceived ways and as a respondent I usually feel frustrated in that the survey doesn’t get at what I really think. The last one I did seemed designed to make me feel guilty for not carting mowing equipment around on the bus.

    The last comment about Bray finding something better to do may be a bit ad hominem, but it was prompted by his efforts at visual model building and by a particularly turgid description he gave of his work.

    I’m sorry if I came across as using ridicule, but I do honestly have a question about the value of Bray’s work in general (from what I’ve seen of it) and the methodology used in the survey in particular. And I’m irritated by the sloppy claims made on the basis of one inadequate survey item.

    PM, you encapsulate the dilemma we are facing very well, IMHO.

  5. John,
    Your doubts about the relevance of geology to climatology are unfounded. The latter is only an area of investigation not an established dicipline. Its practicioners come from a variety of diciplines including geology.

    As for Professor Carter’s background in climate change you might wish to refer to his recent publication in Science- New Zealand Maritime Glaciation: Millennial-Scale Southern Climate Change Since 3.9 Ma
    Robert M. Carter* and Paul Gammon, Science, Vol 304, Issue 5677, 1659-1662 , 11 June 2004

    Global Warming is simply a theory although many have made the leap of faith to belief. There are abundant references in the primary scientific literature that present findings inconsistent with various claims of the GW scenario. In short there is good basis in science for skepticism. For those not firmly comitted to belief in GW, the following references are a good entree to the contra arguments and supporting research:

    PREDICTING CLIMATE CHANGE – Global Temperature- William Kininmonth -Australasian Climate Research, Melbourne

    Click to access conf05kininmonth.pdf

    What is the ‘Hockey Stick’ Debate About?- Ross McKitrick- Department of Economics University of Guelph

    Click to access conf05mckitrick.pdf


    Click to access models.pdf

    Lessons & Limits of Climate History: Was the 20th Century Climate Unusual? – Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, Marshall Institute

    Click to access 136.pdf

    Scientific Alliance Statement on Climate Change, January 2005

    THE ICE AGE IS COMING! Solar Cycles, Not CO2, Determine Climate- Zbigniew Jaworowski, 21st Century Science & Technology, Winter 2003-2004, Issue Vol. 16, No. 4 http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles%202004/Winter2003-4/global_warming.pdf

    Celestial Climate Driver: A Perspective from Four Billion Years of the Carbon Cycle- Ján Veizer, Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, University of Ottawa- CEOSCIENCE CANADA Volume 32, Number 1, March 2005, pp.13-28
    (An excellent overview on decadal to billion year scales. Cites 86 references from primary sciuentific literature)

    CO2 Science at http://www.co2science.org contains hundreds of reviews of and references to primary scientific literature that presents findings contrary to various claims of the Global Warming scenario. This site contains an extensive index of hundreds of such references and is updated weekly. Subscription is required but at U.S. $7.95 its a a very affordable relief from ignorance regarding GW skepticism.

  6. The faith of the Global Warmers in a computer program that has never been calibrated against reality, probably because the cure is drastic social controls, is remarkably like the faith of creationists in the uncalibrated against reality bible. Tell us all about nuclear winter, Saganites and Suzuki suckers.

  7. “Global Warming is simply a theory”

    How does this statement differ from

    “Evolution is simply a theory”?

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