Ignorant, out of touch, crazy

Those are the terms chosen by young American voters to describe climate change deniers in a poll conducted for the League of Conservation Voters. LCV is obviously pro-environment, but historically nonpartisan, and they used both a Democratic and a Republican pollster.

The fact that, to be accepted in Republican circles, its necessary to be ignorant, out of touch or crazy or, at the very least, deferential to the crazies who dominate that side of politics, is being recognised as a problem for the Republicans and an opportunity for the Democrats, going well beyond the specific issue of climate change.

The climate denial issue came up again in Andrew Bolt’s interview with Kevin Rudd, and I’ve been reminded of his repeated claim that I got estimates of the climate impact of the government’s emission target wrong. In fact, it was Bolt who was wrong, as on almost every topic he touches, in this case, out by a factor of 100.

Motes and beams (repost)

The Oz and Andrew Bolt have a tag team attack on me today (Google it if you want). Most of it consists of quotations, with lots of ellipses, that are meant to show me as a dangerous radical. I can’t say I’m too upset by that – from their perspective, it’s a fair assessment. But Bolt also repeats his claim that I made a factor-of-5 error in my estimate of the impact of Australia’s current 2020 target on global temperatures.

This is a striking piece of chutzpah, given that this estimate was made in the process of correcting a calculation by Bolt, which was out by two orders of magnitude. But it has finally provoked me to clear up some of the confusion on this. The starting point was this post by Bolt who used a calculation by Damon Matthews that each tonne of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere changes the equilibrium temperature by 0.000 000 000 0015 degrees, that is 1.5*10^-12 in scientific notation. Noting that the carbon price is expected to reduce emissions by 160 million tonnes per year by 2020, Bolt made the calculation that the emissions avoided in the year 2020 will reduce equilibrium temperature by 2.4*10^-4 or 0.00024 degrees, and treats this as an estimate of the impact of the policy.

This is an amazing howler on Bolt’s part. He’s only counted one year of emissions reductions for a policy that is supposed to permanently reduce emissions. I made the very quick calculation that, if the policy stays in place until 2100 and that the 2020 reduction in emissions was maintained over this period, the number used by Bolt would imply a reduction of 0.02 degrees. I did another rough calculation that came out the same way.

Bolt came back with a lower estimate by Roger Jones, who suggest that the policy would reduce temperature by only 0.004 degrees, lower by a factor of 5 than my estimate, but higher by a factor of 20 than Bolt’s silly calculation.

At this point I slipped up. As a result of a misunderstood conversation with Roger, I gave an incorrect explanation for the discrepancy. Roger subsequently advised that he had made his calculation using a standard modelling tool called MAGICC. I finally got around to downloading MAGICC, and trying it out, so I can now give an explanation for why our estimates differ. There are three main points

(1) The most important factor is that we are estimating two different things. MAGICC produces estimates of the temperature change by 2100, but the atmosphere takes a long time to reach equilibrium. For reductions in CO2 emissions spread out over the rest of this century, the change by 2100 is only about half the long run equilibrium change.

(2) Estimates of the sensitivity of the global climate to changes in CO2 concentrations vary. The most common measure is the equilibrium temperature change for a doubling in atmospheric CO2. Until recently MAGICC used 2.6 degrees as the default, on the low side of most estimates. I used 3.5, which gives a value around 30 per cent higher

(3) Finally, while it’s obviously silly to assume, like Bolt, that the policy is in effect for only one year, it’s not entirely clear how we should project its impact into the future. That depends on baseline projections of emissions from which to calculate percentage reductions. My simple estimate takes a constant reduction over 80 years, which is probably a bit on the high side. If you assumed that emissions were going to decline anyway over the second half of this century, the effect of the policy would be reduced, perhaps by half.

Those three factors, taken together, would account for the discrepancy in the two estimates. I don’t claim that I’ve got them exactly right and there may be points I’ve missed. But for someone like Bolt to pontificate on a subject like this, when he is incapable of avoiding or correcting even the most absurd errors, brings to mind Matthew 7:3-5.

A couple of minor points

First, Bolt’s behavior in crowing about a minor mistake on my part, while ignoring his own total absurdity, is par for the course among delusionists. A while back, there was a major scandal (it even got a “Gate”) over the fact that the thousand-page IPCC volume on the impact of climate change included an erroneous claim about Himalayan glaciers. But delusionists get away with far sillier stuff on a daily basis. For example, Christopher Monckton, until recently Bolt’s favorite source of scientific evidence[1] used Gavin Menzies 1421 to argue that the retreat of polar icecaps was nothing new, since the great Chinese fleet had taken the Arctic route on the return journey from discovering America.

Second, as Cut and Paste notes, I said when I took up the Climate Commission position that I’d try to refrain from polemics with people like Bolt. I haven’t stuck to that as well as I might have, and now I think it’s totally pointless. So, from now on, I plan to give as good as I get and, if possible, a bit more.

fn1. He was, after all, Thatcher’s science adviser, if only in bizarro world.

99 thoughts on “Ignorant, out of touch, crazy

  1. I’m troubled by the fact that the likely seat winner in my federal electorate is a climate change denier. I don’t really want an ignoramus as my local member.

  2. I guess you’ve seen the silly triumphalism in the latest Quadrant? I hasten to add, I didn’t buy it, just skim-read it at the newsagents!

  3. He was, after all, Thatcher’s science adviser, if only in bizarro world.

    That claim too was apparently bogus too. He was some minor personal assistant, whom one presumes she ultimately ignored in concluding that action on climate change was indeed necessary.

  4. He everybody,

    “it’s not entirely clear how we should project its impact into the future.”

    Well you can guess that like they guess the average global temperature. (somewhere between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius depending how you measure it, according to the scientists).

    The great AGW fraud continues.

    Kind regards,

    phoenix

  5. Those three factors, taken together, would account for the discrepancy in the two estimates. I don’t claim that I’ve got them exactly right and there may be points I’ve missed.

    Another way to compare a mitigation strategy with BAU is to calculate how many years warming is deferred by at the end of the century. Perhaps this is less messy than specifying a temperature difference.

    First, Bolt’s behavior in crowing about a minor mistake on my part, while ignoring his own total absurdity, is par for the course among delusionists.

    Perhaps but your rant about the “anti science” in the IPA 2009 paper by Alan Moran seemed totally absurd to me. He made a hyped remark about the history of civilisation but otherwise I could not locate any “anti science” in the paper. You did a lot of crowing with no substance. Anybody would swear it was election season.

  6. To be fair, “independent” and “commonsense” were ranked above “crazy”.

    A key thing is; 53% of republicans said “ignorant” or “out of touch” or “crazy”.

    If this was extrapolated to Australia, it would mean the majority of people, under 35, wanting to vote right wing, think (at some level) that Abbott is “ignorant” or “out of touch” or “crazy”.

    Hard to see how Rudd can lose, actually.

  7. Rather than blaming vast right-wing conspiracies, use Google searches for “unemployment” and “global warming” as in http://www.voxeu.org/article/concern-environment-luxury-good-evidence-google-searches where Kahn and Kotchen’s find:

    • Recessions increase concerns about unemployment at the expense of public interest in climate change.
    • the decline in global-warming searches is larger in more Democratic leaning states.
    • An increase in a state’s unemployment rate decreases in the probability that Americans think global warming is happening, and reduces the certainty of those who think it is.

    As Geoff Brennan has argued, CO reduction actions will be limited to modest unilateral reductions of a largely token character.

    There are many expressive voting concerns that politicians must balance to stay in office and the environment is but one of these. Once climate change policies start to actually become costly, expressive voting support for these policies will fall.

    In January 2010, the Pew Research Center asked Americans to rank the importance of twenty-one issues. Climate change came in last. That ranking will rise back when the economy recovers to trend.

    p.s. there were 5 republican senators who would have voted for cap and trade in April 2010: Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, and George LeMieux. Obama could have fought harder to get the House Bill though the Senate but he did not. Blame Obama, no one else. He is supposed to make change happen. He lacked the political skills to build coalitions even within his own party to deliver on action of global warming.

    p.p.s. The 2008 Republican Party presidential nominee supported cap-and-trade. McCain and many others soften or reversed positions on action on global warming as middle-of-the-road voter support waned as the great recession deepened.

  8. @TerjeP ‘rant about the “anti science” in the IPA 2009 paper by Alan Moran’

    This is a figment of your imagination. I never mentioned this paper. The IPA is anti-science on all issues, but that doesn’t mean every single thing they write is explicitly anti-science. Only some like this
    http://www.ipa.org.au/publications/523/smokescreen-%27passive-smoking%27-and-public-policy
    and this
    http://www.ipa.org.au/publications/1957/climate-change-the-facts
    and this
    http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/10801698?versionId=12611427

  9. This article:-

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/23/abbott-wind-turbines-health-effects

    which was written by you, expends a lot of energy linking everybody and everything to the IPA and talks about “anti-science alarmists”. Yet the only actual IPA paper that relates to the topic of renewable energy and is linked to in your article is this paper 2009 paper by Alan Moran:-

    Click to access 1248224976_document_the_costs_to_australia_of_renewable_energy-1.pdf

    Your article reads like a political hatchet job. Was that the intention?

  10. This is an issue like no other as it indicates massive ongoing market failures . It seems to fairly neatly divide people left and right politically. Im no scientist so I choose to believe the clear majority of experts on this issue as I do in hundreds of other ways every day. Australia is a democracy with a dash of post-modern culture (mainly allowed for the purpose of selling stuff) , but that doesnt mean public opinion necessarily = truth .

  11. Most of it consists of quotations, with lots of ellipses

    Oh, they love that stuff. The science stubbornly contradicts the claims of denialists, so the Oz simply reads the research, which it understands, then moves the words around so that the meaning is reversed.

  12. @Terje My apologies. That link was added in editing by the Guardian which is why I had no idea what you were talking about. But, the link merely pointed out the general claim of the IPA to base its position on rational economic analysis rather than the lunatic scaremongering the IPA promotes through front groups, or the general anti-science position it takes on climate chang. A better link for the latter purpose would be the Moran-edited volume I linked to here

    http://www.ipa.org.au/publications/1957/climate-change-the-facts

    Care to defend that?

  13. That link was added in editing by the Guardian which is why I had no idea what you were talking about.

    Apology accepted. I’m glad you cleared that issue up. What a strange thing for an editor to do. Does the Guardian often do this? I feel like a mug for expending time checking sources if the editor is in the habit of inserting things the author did not intend. Plus I expended energy pursuing you for an answer. Naughty editor.

    However it does leave me wondering why your article about renewable energy technology spends so many words on the IPA being the hub of anti science but then offers nothing from the IPA on this topic of renewable energy that is anti science. You do mention other organisations besides the IPA but in fact the only quoted statements in your entire article are by those that support your position, or by members of the Liberal Party. So whilst the vibe of the article is clear there isn’t a lot of substance to the argument. At least not the argument as presented within the article. Perhaps you have anti science quotes that you chose not to include for some reason.

    I acknowledge the IPA paper you now offer in your comment above. It’s 144 pages. I have not read it yet. If you or anybody else wants to actually cite and quote some specific anti science statements from this paper that might expedite things.

  14. @TerjeP

    If you or anybody else wants to actually cite and quote some specific anti science statements from this paper that might expedite things.

    The contribution list reads like a who’s who of dissemblers, disinformationists and spivs on this matter. All such an exercise could do would be to turn this topic into one giant delusionist <em<Gish Gallop.

    Nobody in their right mind would want that. The question has been asked. Do you endorse the tract in question? Yes it’s 140 pages, but browse a few pages. Are there any scientific claims in the piece about the provenance of the industrial era temperature trend that are scientifically robust?

  15. The IPA is anti-science on all issues,

    John, why be anti-science on issues where the science favours you?

    The contribution list reads like a who’s who of dissemblers, disinformationists and spivs on this matter.

    fran, is richard Tol a dissembler, disinformationist and spiv on this matter?

  16. @Jim Rose

    Tol is not a climate scientist, but a policy advocate. He trivialises the costs of climate change as evidenced by his participation in the Lomborg-led Copenhagen Consensus which discounted the costs of suffering or poor people so as to minimise the value of abatement. Despite this radically anti-populist position, he punctuates his advocacy with populist memes — “climocrats”; “climate change as new religion” — and works alongside others impugning the underlying science.

    This conduct amply qualifies him for the descriptors I used.

  17. Fran – I have now read the section by Ian Plimer. I couldn’t find any claim to fact that I could fault. However there was quite a bit of detail so I may have missed something. On the basis of that section alone I’d be inclined to say it seemed reasonable. There was no railing against science nor claims that were at odds with reasonable scientific opinion.

    If you can find a particular claim or set of claims that are anti-science or unscientific and which should lead me to conclude otherwise then please direct me accordingly. A quote along with a page number would be best.

  18. @TerjeP
    Ha. Ian Plimer ends his section with:

    The notion that climate change is tied only to human activity with known atmospheric and ocean feedbacks is a simple and erroneous explanation of modern and ancient climates. To argue that modern climate is driven by slight changes in a trace gas in the atmosphere (CO 2 ) requires many non-scientific leaps of faith.

    You have no problem with such an obvious straw man/non sequitur argument (which is, in fact, what his entire chapter consists of: “Look!, the climate has always changed! That means we aren’t changing it now!”)?

  19. Well a little rides on what you mean by “driven” but as I read it there is nothing I object to in the statement. I would say that accusing AGW advocates of making “non scientific leaps of faith” could be interpreted as bad form. It’s a bit like JQ accusing the other side of the debate as being “anti science” although JQ has chosen a harsher form of words in my view.

  20. Terje, when you’re in a deep hole, you should stop digging.

    Plimer is as delusional (at least on AGW, and probably a lot of other things) as any of the flat-earthers at the IPA. If you think there is nothing to object to in the statement steve from brisbane quotes above, then there’s no hope for you. (Hint: there are at least two Big Fat Lies in there. I leave finding them as an exercise for the reader.)

  21. Science is not subject to the post modernist notion that all points of view are equally valid. It is necessary to have verifiable evidence consisting of either experimental or observational data and theory grounded in a history of such evidence. It seems incredible that it should be necessary to constantly repeat this to people who seem otherwise intelligent but from this discussion it would appear to be necessary. Defending scientific method deniers like Plimer makes someone seem absurd from my perspective, although I don’t usually join in discussions like this. I decided give up discussing denialism with people I know because it is like believing in fairies. You want it to be true so it must be. It is a belief. It is not science. I deplore this infantilisation of our intellectual lives.

  22. For Plimer to say;

    “To argue that modern climate is driven by slight changes in a trace gas in the atmosphere (CO2) requires many non-scientific leaps of faith.” is quite absurb.

    It illustrates he doesn’t understand basic thermodynamics, basic climatology and basic CO2 spectrometry. For a geologist to not understand spectrometry is bizarre. Does he really not understand or is he dissembling?

    And sure if a large volcano belches CO2 it can affect our climate. And we are belching many ordinary volcanos worth of CO2 right now. “Humans emit 100 times more CO2 than volcanoes.” – SkepticalScience.

  23. In the (probably vain) hope that TerjeP might be persuaded that a lack of complete understanding of relatively brief short changes in climate in the past (such as Roman warm period) is no bar to making reasonable forecasts of what will happen long term to the climate now, I refer him to this article by the pretty conservative Texas State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon:

    The Strange Question of the Roman Warm Period

    I have always felt this post dealt with this line of argument (which, as I say, is at the core of Plimer’s approach) succinctly and well.

  24. @David Irving (no relation)
    Challenge accepted!

    climate change is tied only to human activity with known atmospheric and ocean feedbacks is a simple and erroneous explanation of modern and ancient climates

    Straw man. And such a crude one that even someone ideologically blinkered but possessed of medium level logical skills should spot it. Climate science is about working out which of the myriad causal factors is the most significant at any point in time. Right here in 2013, it’s human activity. At other times, it’s been anything from the Earth’s angle of tilt to variations in solar radiation to cosmic bombardment to volcanic activity to continental drift etc etc. Plimer is being knowingly deceitful in peddling this mischaracterisation.

    slight changes in a trace gas

    Er, very large changes in a very important gas. Big Lie 1.

    requires many non-scientific leaps of faith

    Er, no. It merely requires a grade 10 level understanding of the physics as revealed over a century ago. Big Lie 2.
    A crude fallacy and two Big Lies in the two concluding sentences is a bit worse than bad form – more like bad faith.

  25. Going back to the initial topic of JQ’s quote, and seeing the wall to wall anti-climate change action contents of Quadrant that doug referred to above, it is really remarkable how this issue has come to represent a major fracture line in the Right in the US and here. Turnbull cannot be made leader of the Coalition, and give them the best chance against Rudd, for example, because he is serious about climate change. (See the recent, hilarious, threads at Catallaxy on this topic.)

    Christie in the US will have the same problem with the Tea Party wing; although to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if health issues related to his weight turned out to the major reason why he can’t run.

  26. Talking about “ignorant out of touch and crazy”, (that might have been me) it was David Caygill in your photo that I ran against in his electorate of St Albans in 1992. His campaign manager, who I still keep in touch with, Gary Moore later became the Mayor of Christchurch. It was not a serious attempt to get elected, more of a statement that even an individual could come up with more policies than the Labour party went to the pols with in that year with Mike Moore as leader on zero policies “trust us” ticket.

    I put forward a number of policies including a proposal for a carbon tax.

    As a small business operator running against an ex Minister of Finance in a safe Labour seat with a zero dollar budget campaign I did not get many votes, but I did make my point, it was registered.

    I hope to be able to make another point with an announcement of progress for GenIIPV shortly but we will see what happens in the next few days.

    His fellow running mate Richard Prebble earlier as minister for every thing including railways was responsible for firing more people from the rail company than there were constituents in his electorate. While minister for energy and resources I challenged his knowledge publicly on the carbon cycle with the question “a solid tree standing in a paddock where did its substance come from?” he did not know. This was the person making the decisions on new Zealands energy future and the management of its fossil fuel assets, which he sold to the lowest bidder. He also sold the railways for less than the value of its rolling stock having spent a billion dollars getting it ready for sale. The only saving grace being that he sold the optic fibre cable which ran the length of the country seperately.

    As I racall it to have been.

  27. At first blush Terje sees nothing wrong, apparently, with Steve’s quote of Plimer from a text Terje has read. Have you Terje any thanks, now, to several commenters for their clear, high school level of comprehension refutations of what is undeniably anti-scientific nonsense from Plimer?

  28. @Ikonoclast

    And sure if a large volcano belches CO2 it can affect our climate.

    True(ish). A perturbation in the climate will ensue, but, as it was weith Pinatubo a couple of decades back, it will be trivial and temporary. Volcanoes also emit SO2 which knocks gthe edge off the CO2 forcing.

    In the past — the pre-human past — the impact of volcanoes was relatively more significant, precisely because there was no anthropogenic forcing and there was a lower base from which to start.

    Strictly speaking, changes in climate are those that alter climate patterns over periods of 30 years or more, while the perturbation from Pinatubo lasted perhaps half a decade before being lost amongst other factors.

    One last point …

    If volcanoes were a significant variable in climate change, that would narrow our margin for error significantly, meaning more conservative targets would be needed, since, unlike human emissions, one could not reliably predict their eruptions. That’s something people like Plimer never acknowledge, for obvious reasons.

  29. I’ll start with page 1:

    We don’t believe ‘the science is settled’. As a think tank committed
    to the ideals of free and open enquiry and debate we are not afraid to
    stand against the mainstream of prevailing elite opinion. Time and time
    again, the mainstream of elite opinion has been proved wrong.

    Then page 2:

    The IPA has published this selection of ‘sceptical’ viewpoints in
    Climate Change: The Facts because there has been so little debate about
    the science of climate change

    Page 3 only has one word on it:

    CLIMATEGATE

    A chapter on “climategate” follows. The main thrust is that there is something wrong with “peer review” (if it tends to support climate change), here’s one excerpt:

    Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt asked ‘Is that the
    truth, or were you peer-reviewed?’ after yet another study predicted the disappearance of the Arctic ice cap…

    There’s a bit of Flannery bashing etc…

    Maybe I’ll come back later with more. Maybe I won’t, I had no idea that book was so bad. I never bothered with it when it came out.

  30. As regards Plimer, there’s a partial list of his ludicrous errors here

    It seems to me we get a lot of bait and switch around here. First the IPA is anti science. Then a paper is offered that isn’t anti science nor unreasonable although obviously a number here disagree with the vibe and substance of it. Then we are referred elsewhere. It’s like wrestling with an eel.

  31. Hal9000 – CO2 is mostly transparent to visible light and mostly opaque for infrared light. If you put more in the atmosphere it is like putting on a thicker blanket. We can calculate the warming effect using basic physics. It sounds to me that this is where your understanding of the AGW tale stops.

    The size of the raw CO2 warming effect is real but it is not substantial. To get a substantial effect the AGW tale requires some leaps of faith. I would not be so uncharitable as to call those leaps unscientific but they are a leap.

    Whilst it is uncharitable of Plimer to refer to these leaps as unscientific it is also uncharitable to call his position anti-science.

  32. @TerjeP
    TerjeP, whatever leaps there are, they are reliant on science and not faith. Plimer knows this to be true, and so his denial of it is a lie and a slander. I would have thought telling deliberate falsehoods in order to diminish the reputation of others is rather more malicious than merely being ‘uncharitable’. I’d also have thought that being caught out doing this removes any shreds of credibility Plimer has in mounting an argumentum ad auctoritatem. At any event, denying evidence is surely the essence of anti-science.

  33. So it seems the answer to my question about thanks from Terje to commenters for corrections would be “no”.

    If Ian Plimer has published effectively nothing in the literature of climate science, and has written shamelessly anti-scientific gibberish in books, to what extent is he a “climate scientist”?

    Am I correct in thinking Terje you’ve said here before that you’re an engineer? Would that imply that you’ve undertaken at least some maths and science in first year uni? Would you care to share with me the pithiest insight you may have into the nature of “science”?

  34. This one is from page 34:

    Or is the danger being oversold? Three indisputable facts point
    to the latter:
    1. Recent climate characteristics have been neither unusual nor unprecedented.
    2. Increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will have little
    additional impact on the Earth’s radiation characteristics (the so-
    called radiative forcing of climate).
    3. There are fundamental deficiencies in how computer models
    represent the climate system and these exaggerate the temperature
    predictions.

    “Indisputable factoids”.

  35. Arguing climate with Terje “It’s like wrestling with an eel.”

    Indeed

  36. In light of the Australian Coal Association’s admission that carbon emissions and climate change are linked it seems ludicrous that Terje, IPA and all the other hangers on maintain their unscientific position.

  37. There are some standouts, starting with this on page 57:

    Even accepting for the sake of argument that some significant
    degree of global warming may be observed in the future, it is certainly
    not the consensus of the majority of scientists that the actual impact
    on humans will be significant—or indeed that it will be detrimental.
    The bottom line here is that computer models have no provable skill
    at forecasting the change of regional and local climate even if we
    accept that they may say something sensible about global averages.
    In particular it may be that things like the continental, regional, and
    local averages of rainfall are inherently unpredictable. Therefore the
    models are in no position to tell us anything of the impact of climate
    change on any particular aspect of human endeavour. Instead, one
    must resort to all sorts of ‘what if ’ scenarios, virtually all of which
    have no justification other than that they are easy enough to sell as
    doomsday forecasts to politicians and to the public.

    Or this, in answer to the question “Why has the scientific community become so one-eyed on climate change?” (page 58):

    Perhaps more to the point, the story is complex enough to be virtually unarguable by anyone or anything other than a fully-fledged research institution
    specifically assigned to make that argument. Thus it is unlikely—not
    impossible, but unlikely—that an individual somewhere will produce
    a single scientific result powerful enough to blow the idea of disastrous
    global warming out of the water. It is even less likely that a national
    government would risk the anger of its scientific establishment by
    creating a research institution—it would have to be a very large research
    institution—designed solely to perform a large-scale critical audit of the
    scientific bases of the forecasts of climatic doom.

    There’s some great stuff in there, but surely that qualifies as “anti-science”?

  38. If you don’t believe in the PC-Police, Ferarri-driving, grant-thieving, Cult-Leader thesis – don’t turn to page 59:

    As to the ‘why’ of the business, there are a fair number of very strong
    forces at work to encourage the interpreters of climate science to
    overstate their case. To a large extent, the forces are at work also on the
    scientists themselves. As with all religions, woe betide those demented
    souls, scientists or not, who are so deluded as to question the beliefs
    of the politically correct.

    and

    There are a number of pragmatic reasons for a sub-conscious bias
    by the ordinary bench scientist towards the politically correct. Basically,
    they boil down to the need to eat. Fame and fortune in the research
    profession depend largely on artificial measures of success related to the
    quantity rather than the quality of research publications and of funding
    grants. Undoubtedly the system rewards conformity to the popular view
    when outcomes are determined by consensus rather than proof.

    Maybe someone could just find the bits that are NOT anti-science??

  39. Terje, it is not about what you think, I think, or Plimer thinks, it is about what is actually happening.

    Hundreds of billions of dollars of publicly funded research is consistently quantifying a dramatic change to the Earth’s Climate. As it is our money paying for this research authorised by our government is it not reasonable, even responsible, to accept that there could be a risk, and to consider evasive action. In fact don’t Politicians have a duty of care to the public to consider such a threat seriously and take a precautionary course of action?

    If this were a military operation and these scientists were in fact inteligence agents reporting an imminent threat to the public, of perhaps a nuclear attack sufficient to destroy whole cities, do you think that it would be responsible for the government to override all of the advice from the military intelligence on the say so of a security guard working in the parliament building who declared “those military people are all fools and they don’t know anything about threats and risk”? As an aspiring politician would that be a responsible course of action for someone acting on the public’s behalf to take?

    It is quite interesting how many end of the line geologists have become instant experts on every thing to do with climate. Even more interesting how many politicians suddenly know more on Global Warming and future risk than the many thousands of professionals engaged by government to study and quantify these matters.

    Would you be one of those politicians who would ignore all of the intelligence and to risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of people on a gamble, on the say so of a bystander, that the information was incorrect? and do so just to save the cost of an inconvenient search?

    Is that the sort of politician you would be, Terje?

    None of us here are qualified or even appropriately exposed to the full body of knowledge to make a conclusive absolutely certain safe judgement on the future course of climate over the next 60 years, and yet our opinions do have a bearing on what action is taken in anticipation of the calamatous consequences projected by those people who as a unified force are exposed to the most up to date Climate and Environment intelligence. But whereas it is forgiveable for any individual to have a contrary opinion to that of the force of knowledge, it is not acceptable for a politician to ignore the full body of scientific knowledge and act recklessly and put the public at risk particularly as this risk is projected to be permanent and for all imaginable future times.

    So if a completely preventable nuclear explosion occurred and action to prevent it was intentionally disrupted by politicians on the say so of and arbitrary individual, do you think that those politicians could or should avoid punishment for the hundreds of thousands of deaths?

    Of course if there was no explosion everyone would be inconvenienced, but …..alive….. to hear the outcome of the investigation.

    So it is acceptable for all of us to have various opinions and ultimately be right or wrong, but for our politicians, those people we pay to act on our behalf it is not acceptable for them to ignore the global body of knowledge and informed opinion and act unilaterally to save some money or protect the interests of some influential individuals.

    The projected consequences as determined by the body of scientific informed opinion is that Global Warming will, if no action is take to reduce its advance, cause hundreds of millions of deaths of humans and many other species, and cause global economic collapse sooner rather than at some distant time.

    Which course of action would you take, Terje…and for that matter anyone else, were you an elected official vested with acting for and on behalf of the public? Would you go with Mr Plimer’s individual opinion, or would you accept the amalgamated body of knowledge and take precautionary action? Just in case?

  40. TerjeP, whatever leaps there are, they are reliant on science and not faith. Plimer knows this to be true, and so his denial of it is a lie and a slander. I would have thought telling deliberate falsehoods in order to diminish the reputation of others is rather more malicious than merely being ‘uncharitable’.

    Hal9000,

    There is a degree of faith in assuming the percentage of recent warming that can be attributed to the positive feedback process of AGW.

    As for the name calling of opponents I think Plimer and his ilk would be best off avoiding it. However the opposite side of the debate (your side) turned to nasty tactics long ago so I can’t really blame him much for sticking the boot in. JQ dismisses his opponents as “crazy” so insults just seem to be an unfortunate part of the scene.

  41. BilB – I agree that a government is somewhat beholden to following orthodox expert opinion. However only to an extent. And even if a government takes as given the orthodox expert opinion on climate change they should then subject any policy response to a rigorous cost benefit analysis. In practice there are issues of cost and time preference that are ultimately political value judgements.

    As an example if an expert told us that the earth would split in two and disintegrate in the year 2150 unless we burn down every second house on the planet before this Christmas then science doesn’t tell us how we should respond. Personally I’d keep the houses and hope the expert was wrong. No doubt some people would reach for the matches.

  42. re: IPA

    And the standard, hopelessly wrong, HS-bashing;

    “In spite of strenuous efforts to prevent the hockey stick data being
    scrutinised,”

    – no, it had been available for years.

    “the ‘hockey stick’ was a fictitious depiction of the climate trends over
    the past millennium—they showed the apparent anomalously rising
    temperature during the twentieth century was the outcome of the
    hockey stick model itself and that the same result emerged even when
    random data were fed into the model.”

    – no, they critiqued (incorrectly) a particular aspect of the statisitical methodology. Even when using their preferred method, the data still produces a HS, ie the HS is in the data, not in a specific stats approach.

    Then we have Plimer forgetting that there are these things called satellites;

    “Such calculations can be misleading since the
    distribution of observation points over land and ocean is uneven and
    there are large areas of the Earth that have few measurements.”

    And some silly stuff about grapes in England.

    It’s astonishingly bad.

    Try this nonsense from William Kininmonth

    “Two essential claims underpin these stories[AGW]:
    1. Climate was unvarying prior to industrialisation…”

    – really???

    “Increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will have little
    additional impact on the Earth’s radiation characteristics (the socalled
    radiative forcing of climate).”

    – !! Evidence provided for this assertion? – ZERO.

    “During much of the present Holocene period—the last 10,000
    years—temperatures were generally slightly warmer than now…”

    – now he’s just making stuff up.

    “The advocates of human-caused global warming claim that the
    Earth’s climate had been continually mild and equable over the past
    10,000 years before the onset of industrialisation.”

    – what! Who, where, when??

  43. JQ dismisses his opponents as “crazy” so insults just seem to be an unfortunate part of the scene.

    – terje

    To be fair, this is what the survey reports.

    As an example if an expert told us that the earth would split in two and disintegrate in the year 2150 unless we burn down every second house on the planet before this Christmas then science doesn’t tell us how we should respond. Personally I’d keep the houses and hope the expert was wrong. No doubt some people would reach for the matches

    .
    Whta this babbling nonsense has to do with anything is a mystery.

  44. @TerjeP

    That’s an interestingly absurd example.

    Putting it back into the current context, what you are saying is:

    As an example if [all the science and experts] told us that the earth would [suffer extreme and deadly changes to its biosphere many of which will be felt well before] 2150 unless we [dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially those from fossil fuels, in the very near future] then science doesn’t tell us how we should respond. Personally I’d keep [burning as much and emitting as much as I wanted] and hope the expert was wrong. No doubt some people would [reduce emissions].

    I’m sure you would. That is the problem.

  45. The adage about not wrestling pigs in the mud because you’ll get dirty and the pig likes that …

    it damages your own mind to argue too long for something undeniable like the merits of science and the scientific method with a person who has no understanding and – worse – consequently no respect for them. I’m thinking of course of bad characters like Andrew Bolt and Ian Plimer but also of those who follow their foolery, spreading the muck for them.

  46. Megan – it’s my planet also. If you don’t like that I have a say in how we run the place well sorry but tough.

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