Pons asinorum – CIS edition

The scientific debate regarding global warming has been over for some time, and the Australian policy debate has moved beyond the point where delusional pseudoscience has any impact. What remains of the scientific debate is a screening device in which individuals and institutions identify themselves as so lacking in intelligence, judgement or honesty as to cast doubt on their contributions on any topic. As with Euclid’s fifth proposition failure on this test distinguishes the donkeys.

The latest to self-identify as a donkey is Barry Maley of the Centre for Independent Studies whose latest piece in the Oz states, among other pieces of nonsense scooped up from teh intertubes

Beyond a relatively small concentration, the effect of additional carbon dioxide decreases logarithmically, almost to vanishing point.

As Wolfgang Pauli would have said, this is not even wrong, since “decreases logarithmically” is a contradiction in terms.

Maley identifies himself as a “former academic” and his CIS bio describes him as a former senior lecturer in Behavioural Science who has worked on family and social policy. It’s a safe bet that he wouldn’t know a logarithm if it bit him, and that the simple exercise in logarithmic differentiation required to convert the claim above into something that can be assessed and refuted (here’s a good post that covers several more of Maley’s talking points) would be utterly beyond him.

Clearly he’s scrambled together a bunch of nonsense from delusionist Internet sites, and published it along with his “research” on family issues. Since he invites us to treat the two as being equally credible, I’m happy to accept. And since the CIS invites us to treat Maley as a serious researcher, the same goes for them.

Since we’re on the CIS, a quick Google search finds Helen Hughes, in the course of defending detention camps for refugees, producing this gem:

If there is climate warming, in 50 years’ time, Northern India and Northern China will have such a favourable climate that their productivity will go up enormously and people may want to shift from Southern to Northern India and, particularly, from Southern to Northern China, where there is going to be an enormous shortage of labour, which is already emerging.

I’m reminded of Samuel Johnson’s famous jibe

Sir, your wife, under pretence of keeping a bawdy house, is a receiver of stolen goods

To promote global warming delusionism on the pretence defending authoritarian xenophobia is a similarly impressive feat.

95 thoughts on “Pons asinorum – CIS edition

  1. Presumably the lack of hysteria is due to the impeccable timing of slipping it in under the Chrissy radar. No doubt our intellectual elites will not be fooled by such covert sleaze and will be organising their usual protests and full page petitions,etc, just as soon as they’re back at their desks.

  2. Or it may be mugwump, that quiet background gurgling sound now, is the jackboot of the new orthodoxy, thinly disguised as a Santa boot, ramming the sanctimonious prior utterings of the usual suspects, right back down their hypocritical throats. We’ll see from the response.

  3. “quiet background gurgling sound now, is the jackboot of the new orthodoxy, ”

    Yeah it’s back to torture chambers and government critics being disappeared in the middle of night – just like back during the Whitlam, Hawke and Keating years.

    Given your prominent role in opposing this tyranny, I’m surprised you haven’t fled the country yet.

    Or have you bravely decided to stay on waging a solitary battle for freedom even though it’ll inevitably lead to your torture and murder?

  4. Oh and Observa have you ever worked in as government Department.

    I worked in both Goss administrations; the Borbridge administration and the first two Beattie administrations.

    Every time there was an election – or even a reshuffle – there was a near-total revision of the government’s structural plan. Portfolios got shifted around willie-nillie. Departments got created, erged or absorbed.

    Hell even if the same Minister got re-appointed he or she would have a new commission from the Governor which required the re-issue of a pile of formal orders and delegations because the old commission was no longer valid.

    The internal structure of departments changed all the time too – senior positions got amalgamated, abaolished, downgraded etc.

    The one thing that remained constant was that ALL press releases from every Department and agency were vetted by the relevant Minister’s staff.

    So you can either keep fantasising about being a lone freedom fighter struggling under the jackboot of Garrett’s Gestapo (if you swing that way) or you can accept that this busy as normal.

    Oh and considering that the Howard government was supposedly (according ot the Murdoch media) forced to vet CSIRO press releases because of the radical green left propaganda constantly being spewed forthe by the crypt-Khmer Rouge Stalinist Gaaia-worshippers at CSIRO, you have to wonder why the current governemnt feels the need to do the same.

    Is it that the CSIRO bods aren’t extreme ENOUGH or is this going to be a repeat of the “Rudd hasn’t even STARTED handing our the cyanide pills yet so he can’t be serious about global warming” nonsense?

  5. “Oh and Observa have you ever worked in a government Department.”
    Certainly did for a couple of years after finishing an Eco degree and so I agree with your summation. I don’t have a strong objection to new Govts introducing their particular company line or flavour, but we need to be careful about all singing from the same hymn book, particularly where science and research are involved. For mine that was the simple gist of Barry Maley’s message and those who were so critical of what they saw as some apparent Howardian jackboot, would do well to heed it. In their rush to be free from their Howardian chains, they need to be mindful of not simply becoming Rudd’s poodles. They have certainly been shown the leash and collar now.

  6. Make all the excuses you like Ian Gould. They don’t change the hypocrisy. To quote the SMH:

    Under the old regime no such restrictions were placed on statutory organisations. Media releases were always sent to the relevant minister as a courtesy but never for vetting or approval, unless the minister in person was directly quoted.

    One former Liberal minister was taken aback when he heard of the directive. “They really are control freaks,” he said. He said it was not unusual in the past for the CSIRO, for example, to issue a release on climate change that “was contrary to our position … We just gritted out teeth and wore it.”

  7. I wouldn’t worry though Chris, 99.999% of the hysterical AGW advocates (Al Gore included, and probably Tim Flannery) don’t understand this stuff either.

    A bit rich coming from the person who didn’t realise that atmospheric carbon dioxide is a gas.

  8. mugwump – “I wouldn’t worry though Chris, 99.999% of the hysterical AGW advocates (Al Gore included, and probably Tim Flannery) don’t understand this stuff either.”

    And neither do you properly. I suggest that you read Spencer Weart’s essays on the subject. It is not as obvious as this as the absorption of IR is dependent on pressure and water vapour content of the air.

  9. You lot didn’t appreciate just how much of a greenie I am now did you? http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,22978432-2682,00.html?from=public_rss
    Now if Ruddy can turn us all into public servants, preferably all in the PSU so we can all award ourselves those nice healthy ACT salaries, then we’ll have our Kyoto target licked in no time by the looks of things and not have to worry about food and petrol prices or housing affordability to boot. These things are all so simple when you sit down cooperatively and work them through together.

  10. Ken –

    A bit rich coming from the person who didn’t realise that atmospheric carbon dioxide is a gas


    And neither do you properly. I suggest that you read Spencer Weart’s essays on the subject. It is not as obvious as this as the absorption of IR is dependent on pressure and water vapour content of the air.

    Gee Ender, maybe that’s why I prefaced my calculation with “All other things being equal (which they are not, but since the global hysteria is almost universally focused on CO2, we can ignore those “other thingsâ€? for the purpose of this explanation)”.

    I find it interesting how greenies assume everyone else is at their IQ level.

  11. Mugs,

    The statement “There is no “plateauâ€?? What about the obvious one at 100%? Should we also guffaw at this technically false statement? Of course not.” is only true if you neglect that CO2 is a gas.

  12. Kenny,

    If we’re discussing what happens at 100% CO2 saturation, then you also have to consider extra leakage/ionization to space at higher pressures (or, equivalently, thicker atmosphere), and greater natural sequestration rates.

  13. Surely the plateau is achieved when all the processes that make the compound CO2 stop.

    That stops when:

    1. the earth runs out of unfixed oxygen or carbon.


    2. the processes that fix a carbon atom to two oxygen atoms cease.

    whichever comes first.

    A certain level of CO2 would kill all mammal life, including humans.

    At that point humans would stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

    At a certain point stromatolites would become the dominant terrestrial life form again, fixing carbon from the atmosphere and exhaling oxygen.

    The earth has seen this process before.

  14. Should read:

    2. the processes that fix a carbon atom to two oxygen atoms cease to add CO2 to the atmosphere faster than it is broken down into its constituent parts–carbon and oxygen.

  15. A Solar Grand Plan
    By 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse gas emissions

    * A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.
    * A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.
    * Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well.
    * A new direct-current power transmission backbone would deliver solar electricity across the country.
    * But $420 billion in subsidies from 2011 to 2050 would be required to fund the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive.




    Solar cheaper than coal and falling
    New developments in solar power make ‘clean coal’ look even dumber


    Now I wonder if we can think of a country that has plenty of open space with heaps of sunlight hitting it?

  16. Cheaper thin film CIGS solar panels sound great Simonjm, but I note there’s a fly in the ointment, particularly with the indium and gallium used http://www.science.org.au/nova/newscientist/027ns_005.htm

    Let’s talk about that other big fly in the ointment too. If we assume for one moment that the CFC air conditioned 10,000 at Bali had succeeded completely in turning the world into Al Gore disciples, the question for Australia is then how best to achieve our side of the bargain, assuming it’s that agreed nirvana of 60% reductions by 2050. MRETs and direct quantity controls aside for one moment, the broad brush solution (impetus) largely comes down to a choice between cap and trade, or a straight out carbon tax. In fact Kyoto signatories to date have largely relied on C&T and Australians are being cajoled into doing the same. Which should we choose?

    The carbon tax is easy. Do you fancy a new constitutional marketplace, where all taxation is based on carbon taxing? No more GST, payroll tax, stamp duties, income tax, etc, just pay as you emit(or more administratively sensibly as you extract at the mine or well head). That level of carbon taxing (ie the level needed to pay for all current govt expenditure purposes) is the maximum theoretical carbon tax we could pay. It can be easily quantified and the relative prices of such things as electricity and petrol calculated in the new constitutional marketplace it produces. In fact we should have done the sums by now, or certainly must for the Garnaut report. Well hang on a minute O meboy, that’s all a bit radical. We might be paying $5,6,7/litre for petrol and paying our electricity bills weekly like GST or PAYG tax and they could be pretty ugly, albeit we’d have our gross pay in our hands and prices of goods and services(not food) drop by one eleventh to compensate somewhat.

    So you think that’s all a bit drastic do you? Well if you do, you might have to consider that the alternative proposal of C&T might see you paying all of that to the new lucky corporate entities awarded the emission rights, plus the level of current taxation you already pay. The C&T fans can’t tell you what level of tax (actually economic rent) you’ll be paying to the China Investment Corps, or Macquarie Banks or whoever owns the emission rights in future. That’s because they don’t know what the theoretical maximum carbon price will be, when those caps are only 40% of what they are today. They’re really in blue sky country here, unlike any maximum theoretical carbon tax that you could pay to govt for the communal goodies you’ve come to expect. As such C&T is a potentially huge, unknown price gamble and should be rejected outright in preference to a finite carbon tax in the right hands. We should not give away the right to blue sky taxation to anyone other than our governments over whom we have democratic control. C&T is asking us to do just that and as such should be flatly rejected.

    As an aside here I should qualify the definition of C&T we’re talking about. It’s the giving away, or one off auction of emission caps to large emitters(although the latter will be a defacto carbon tax immediately). There is another way of overcoming that shortcoming (largely the information gap for players) and that is to have annual licensing of a reducing cap, which really becomes a tax anyway. It’s possible for the govt to issue a right to emit 1 tonne of CO2 pa, reducing by 2% pa over 30 years, which is tradeable between holders, but has an annual license fee attached, whereby the ownership effectively remains in communal hands. However it’s easy to see how this effectively becomes a carbon tax with an upper limit of the total need to fund the desired level of govt expenditure. It simply leads you back full circle to carbon taxing in the first place, presumably with offsetting tax cuts elsewhere

  17. If we’re discussing what happens at 100% CO2 saturation, then you also have to consider extra leakage/ionization to space at higher pressures (or, equivalently, thicker atmosphere), and greater natural sequestration rates.

    Nice try at weaseling out of your error.

    You do realise that your reasons are reasons why 100% CO2 saturation won’t be possible, not why real climate is wrong.

    I’m also guessing that you don’t realise that if you increase the pressure to the point where the change in leakage to space becomes important, then band broadening will increase the effect of CO2.

  18. No weasel or error here, Kenny. Realclimate stated that the radiative forcing increases by 4W per square meter for each doubling of CO2. That’s obviously wrong once you get enough CO2 in the atmosphere.

    It also doesn’t matter that their statement is wrong, because for all practical situations they are correct, just as Maley’s explanation is good enough for practical purposes.

  19. For people who understand what a log is, Maley’s statement is mathematical gibberish. For people who don’t understand what a log is, it’s gibberish. Given that his next statement about the IPCC not realising this is completely false, the most charitably thing is to assume that Maley simply has no clue about what he is talking about.

  20. ΔF = Ke/280

    So the derivative of the logarithm function is the inverse function. I would never have known if mugwump hadn’t shown it. I still can’t see the logarithm function in 1/x. Maybe I should say that the linear function is actually quadratic. mugwump might even bless us with a lesson that the derivative of the quadratic is linear.

    “inversely less influence�? Doesn’t parse for me

    while apparently,

    logarithmically less influence

    does parse. Must be the “defending the indefensible” parsing machine.

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