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

From 2014, sadly more apposite today

John Quiggin

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…

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

  1. Facts spun by Lloyd with actual facts in same edition!

    Another Lloyd spin example;
    Lloyd: “over the past 600 years”
    Mulvaney: “and that at no point in the last three-quarters of a million years have carbon dioxide and methane reached anywhere near the levels they are at today.”


    I suspect we’ll get more along the lines of * Graham Lloyd”… “So here’s an interesting exercise in spin.

    Graham Lloyd for The Australian, reporting on the findings of Robert Mulvaney of the British Antarctic Survey, produced a piece with the header Ice-core warming ‘within bounds’ (behind the paywall, you’re expected to pay to be misinformed, so why not Google?)

    Now that’s a cracking start. How to maintain the spin, worthy of the surgeon who worked on Shane Warne, on the scientific study’s findings?

    Easy peasy.

    Stress that recent warming might be unusual but “not unprecedented relative to natural variation”. Then lead with a blatant distortion of the findings:

    The research by Robert Mulvaney of the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, countered assumptions that human factors were responsible for the warming of the Antarctic ice shelf.

    Uh huh. Yet The Australian a little later ran with this report by the AFP headed Humans partly to blame for Antarctic ice shelf collapse: study.

    The results “are consistent with a more rapid human-induced warming on top of a slower natural warming,” Robert Mulvaney, a researcher with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), told AFP.

    Keep spinning Mr. Lloyd:

    “Although temperatures have risen by about 1.5C over the past century, the authors note that this increase is within the bounds of natural climate variability over the past 600 years.”

    The Nature report said the long-term climate history provided by the ice core confirmed a close connection between past temperature and ice-shelf stability.

    Strangely the AFP report in the very same rag just didn’t get it:

    “Meteorological stations have shown a rise of 2C in the past 50 years in the Antarctic peninsula, which is roughly triple that of the global temperature rise.
    “If the warming continues, then ice shelves further south in the peninsula that are believed to have been stable since the last ice age may also break up in the next few decades,” Mr Mulvaney warned.
    “Ice shelves are floating mats of ice, attached to the Antarctic coast, that are formed by flowing glaciers. In recent years, several major ice shelves have broken away from the peninsula, a result of what scientists say is an upwelling of warmer water from the Southern Ocean.

    A result Mulvaney and his team attribute in part to human-induced warming.

    “Remarkably Mr. Lloyd presents himself as the environment editor of The Australian.

    His qualification? Well it would seemingly be an infinite capacity for perversely misrepresenting the findings of a scientific study, published in Nature.

    Now if you want to read the story in Nature, you’ll have to brush the red back spiders out of your purse to access Recent Antarctic Peninsula warming relative to Holocene climate and ice-shelf history.

    “The most significant thing ice cores have told us is that greenhouse gases are so well-related to climate, and that at no point in the last three-quarters of a million years have carbon dioxide and methane reached anywhere near the levels they are at today.”

    Is that what within bounds means Mr. Lloyd? Within bounds?! Or are you just another bounder drinking the kool aid that flows freely at The Australian?

    If you happen to be a subscriber to Crikey, you can also read Simon Copland’s Antarctic melt alarm as scientists find ‘very unusual’ warming.

    “Copland took the indecent stop of interviewing an Australian researcher on the team, Dr Nerilie Abram from ANU:
    “Dr Abram says the warming over the past 100 years has been dramatic. ”The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming places on Earth at the moment,” Dr Abram said. ”The last century of warming has been unusually rapid with the mean temperature increasing by about one and a half degrees — one of the fastest temperature increases seen in the ice core record.”

    A real live actual Australian scientist who’s been doing observations in Antarctica.

    How supercilious, how pretentious, how reprehensible. That’s totally out of bounds.

    “The ice shelves along the west coast are showing signs of becoming less stable, but we haven’t seen the big collapses that we’ve seen on the Antarctic Peninsula so far,” she said. “The big concern about that area is that it is where the West Antarctic ice sheet is. The amount of ice being lost there is accelerating and this is contributing to global sea level rise.”
    It paints a worrying picture, according to Abram: “The main finding of our research is that warming as fast as this is very unusual. We should be very concerned about that.”

    Not if you’re Graham Lloyd, used to drinking nicely iced kool aid. No reason to get concerned about things within the natural bounds of simplistic distortions.

    No doubt the Bolter will chime in and explain one more time how actual scientists conducting actual observations in the actual Antarctic don’t have a clue, especially when put up against an armchair keyboard expert like the Bolter.

    Which leads the pond to ask for the umpteenth time: do you get your science from Graham Lloyd, The Australian and the Bolter, and do you realise that as a result, your News is Limited?””
    Here is Crikey:

  2. No they wouldn’t. They had the difficult task of convincing a sufficient number of people that Kevin Rudd wasted all this money to cover up that he and his mob caused the global financial crisis.

  3. From the op …”with the steady accumulation of evidence I’m now convinced”

    Excellent discussion of trust in science and social influence, with 4 x considered replies re the social aspect associated with consensus science.

    “Oreskes’s answer appears in a schematic and abbreviated form near the end of her first chapter. Two features of science, she claims, account for its trustworthiness: its “sustained engagement with the world” together with “its social character.” Her emphasis on the second feature may surprise readers used to thinking of science as a tidy epistemic enterprise neatly insulated from social influence, but this view emerges clearly from her sober review of studies of science by historians, philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists during the past half century.”

    …”And so the collection of solved problems grows. Physicists become able to make extraordinarily precise predictions about the behavior of elusive particles, chemists develop new techniques for reliably synthesizing compounds, biologists read and even modify the genomes of organisms, and atmospheric scientists predict with considerable accuracy how increases in the concentration of greenhouse gases will affect the frequency and intensity of various types of extreme events. Successes of these kinds are sometimes translated into products that affect our daily lives: computers and lasers and new drugs and robots—and frozen peas. When the reliability of those results is readily apparent—as in the examples with which I began: the safety of some GMOs, the importance of vaccination, the great age of the earth, and the reality of climate change, caused by human activities—withholding trust is out of place.”

    Why Trust Science?
    Naomi Oreskes, with Ottmar Edenhofer, Martin Kowarsch, Jon A. Krosnick, Marc Lange, Susan Lindee, and Stephen Macedo

    Via 3 quarks.

  4. There was a lot of excitement this week when, for about 15 minutes, renewables accounted for 50% of electricity production. Alas, this was a case of premature extrapolation. The jump in renewables’ share came at the expense of gas, not coal.

  5. ”with the steady accumulation of evidence I’m now convinced”

    No there is not been any evidence ever. You’ve never seen any evidence. You cannot find anyone who has the evidence. Its simply about rigging the figures and a top down psychological operation. If there was any evidence whatsoever you would quickly be able to point to it.

  6. Bushfire seasons in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere are overlapping. Has that ever happened before?

  7. That’s not global warming. That is CO2 leading to too much fuel on public lands. We need goat co-ordinators with mobile electric fences to deal with this problem. It’s only going to get worse. From here on in we have to assume that any wet winter or spring will lead to a blazing season to follow if we refuse to deal with the fuel.

  8. “There was a lot of excitement this week when, for about 15 minutes, renewables accounted for 50% of electricity production. Alas, this was a case of premature extrapolation. The jump in renewables’ share came at the expense of gas, not coal.”

    You just wanted to say “premature extrapolation” 😛

    Seriously though, if you look at just the solar farm projects installed and currently in the works; it’s a pretty impressive accumulation of potential power generation. Couple that with the uptake of rooftop PV and it’s no wonder we’re starting to hear headlines like this.
    I see recent gas production certainly doesn’t sound like it’s experiencing any decline but most would likely be heading to Asia – whether that’s a positive thing or not is up for debate.

  9. GB – ” You’ve never seen any evidence. You cannot find anyone who has the evidence.”

    Here is someone – a scientist – pointing to the EVIDENCE GB.

    “What is less expected and striking is a region of unusually dry air flowing from south of Western Australia and across the southwest corner of the Australian continent.

    “Prompted by this, we looked specifically at Western Australia rainfall and found that for long-term records (which extend back to around 1900) we see low winter rainfall when the snowfall at Law Dome is high.”


  10. This is very much a misunderstanding of what counts for scientific evidence, that industrial CO2 release leads to globally higher average temperatures. What is evidence? Evidence is data, broadly considered, related to an hypothesis, narrowly considered, in the context of three or more competing alternative explanations.

    I don’t quite know where this story comes into it. You’ve got more evidence there of a recent pole shift (if you wanted to test that hypothesis). Since the ice is way thicker directly below Perth and not too far inland, then the ice either at the Pole, or on land directly below South America. But as to the idea of a trace gas warming anything in particular, there is not much going on in that story. I say this because most people would think of a pole shift in the last 15000 years as a pretty foolish idea. So we can contrast the hypotheses for relative silliness.

    There is a far more direct link to forest fires. But we have to manage all that extra fuel. The extra fuel can be a good thing or a disaster. But there is no case for laissez-faire when it comes to its management. So many cities have already starting running goats to deal with it. Just not in Australia as far as I know.

  11. “as a sceptic, I like to wait for convincing evidence before accepting a new hypothesis.” Which is faux scepticism from the start.

    Real science sceptics says “I don’t know”, not “everyone else doesn’t know”; they don’t claim established, well supported science based knowledge is wrong until they can provide convincing, science based evidence to support it. Faux skepticism – the armchair hubris version – says mainstream science is wrong until and unless personally convinced. That is just a convenient way to declare false anything they do not understand, cannot understand or choose not to understand. Real scientific scepticism is a valuable error prevention technique, used by working scientist most of all to avoid embarrassing themselves.

  12. I will tell you what you need. You need an honest CO2 record. The mainstream won’t produce one. What they’ve done is forget about the historical record, talk the Beck historical record out of the air, and instead graft an ice core proxy onto the Hawaiian station record. Which itself is an extremely dubious record since its next to the largest above seawater active volcano. But nonetheless nothing has come up to say Moana is all rubbish. But the ice core proxy is not an equivalent measure. So no honest CO2 record.

    Then you need to get an honest temperature record. Back in 2008 I couldn’t find one. I saw one recently that appears to be what we are after. But its only going as far back as 2005. It doesn’t show CO2-warming. Not a long enough record. Still solar cycle 24 was very weak, so we might have expected more serious cooling. The tiniest sliver of hope there.

    Then we have the satellite data, which is good data since its verified by the balloon data. But its more for elevated readings, but we want to know what things are like closer to the ground. It doesn’t show CO2-warming except for the idea that since solar cycle 23 wasn’t all that strong (as read by the sunspot count proxy) you’d have thought that the temperature might have dropped. So there is a sliver of hope for some warming on that score as well but there isn’t enough to work with. And since the temperature is likely taken at a height above where the water vapour is tapped out there is nothing in it to say that the CO2 isn’t preempted by water vapour on the ground.

    What we are seeing here is an attempt to make the case WITHOUT the key data that is needed. Not only do Schmidt and the other villains don’t have the data. They don’t want it. Anytime someone could have produced honest data going back further than 2005. It would simply mean shedding stations as you went back further, until you were down to maybe four a long time ago. But they don’t want to do this because they don’t want to find out that there is almost no effect, or perhaps only a mild effect where the air is dry.

    So I suggest we just skew a little bit to the disasters of ongoing bush fires, catastrophic soil loss leading to nutrient-poor if not toxic food, leading also to droughts and flooding; outrageous over-fishing and unenlightened fishing, as well as the personal damage occasioning from most coal burning over the world, except for in isolated or modernised coal factories. We have so much environmental catastrophes to worry about, we ought to try and be a little bit more relaxed and comfortable about CO2.

  13. GB you are sounding like the fringe on billy goat gruff’s beard, besides a denier and apologist.

    GB says “We need goat co-ordinators”… Really?

    You do the calc GB. Here are the information you’ll need…

    1,000kg / hectare fuel load
    (300 -2,000kg dependant)

    1kg / day per goat + human
    (Handy goat energy intake calculator)

    “NSW fires see more than 850,000 hectares destroyed so far in season ‘as bad as it gets’

    So… assume 1,000 kg fuel load / ht…
    850,000 ht / 1kg / goat / day =
    850,000 goat days for destoying everything the goats walk on.

    Yearly 2,329 ht per day.
    2,329 x 1,000 kg a ht a goat
    You’ll only need a herd of 2,329,000 goats.
    Please verify.
    Butt! Haha…
    – 12 goats / ac x 4.5 / ht = 54 goats per ht for 45% reduction one year.
    – Only 98% effective over 5yrs.
    See ref below.

    GB what are the wood beetles going to eat after this…

    “”Cleaning up with goats
    “By adding goats to his cattle operation, Cope moved his brush clearing from the expense column to the income column. He generates income from kid sales, reduces cost in brush control, all while improving his cattle pastures.

    “In studies, goats reduced brush cover from 45% to 15% in one year, Kennedy explains. The same work found goats reduced brush cover down to 2% in five years.

    “Producers can clean up brush using only goats. “When using goats alone,” Kennedy says, “the stocking rate would be eight to 12 goats/acre, depending on brush density and how quickly you want to eliminate brush.”


    “The different feed requirements of different classes of goats should be considered when calculating stocking rate. Tables 4.1 provides information into the DSE rating of various classes of goats. ”

    “”Reduced DSE with low rainfall..
    Potential stocking rate (DSE/ha) = [(Annual rainfall mm – 250) x 1.3] / 25.

    “Care is needed when grazing goats to control weeds

    “It is essential to remember that many weeds grow during spring and summer, when moisture is available and the temperature is warm. The carrying capacity of overgrazed weeds during winter is very low. Managers are strongly advised to avoid grazing goats on overgrazed weeds as both their nutritive value and growth will be low.”

    “Today, feral goats are found across Australia, where they cause economic and environmental damage through overgrazing and competition with livestock and native marsupials.”

    “New South Wales in 1996, feral goats occupied an estimated total area of 11,400 square kilometres in 101 conservation reserves. Sixty-seven of these were in the eastern, higher-rainfall areas of the State, ”

    “but they contribute their share of damage to the vegetation, soil and native fauna in areas of overgrazed pastoral land.[1] Feral goats can deplete the soil’s protective cover of vegetation and break up the soil crust with their hooves.[14] This leads to wind erosionduring droughts, water erosion during rainstorms and can cause slips in steep areas.[1]Increased erosion rates can have a significant long-term impact on biodiversity through the removal of soil and nutrients, and the alteration of soil structure leading to reduction in potential productivity.[15] Feral goats may also affect perennial vegetation by feeding on established plants and by preventing the regeneration of seedlings. These goats, by browsing, can kill established plants by defoliation. They affect the regeneration processes indirectly when they reduce the ability of plants to produce seeds and directly when they eat young plants. Feral goats are particularly devastating to island ecosystems, causing direct and indirect impacts through overgrazing, which often results in ecosystem degradation andbiodiversity loss.[1]

    “It has also been found that the removal of feral goats leads to a decline in introduced annual grasses and an increase in native woody perennials and introduced fire-promoting perennial grasses.[16] So, even though the initial impact of goats is often difficult to assess, elimination of goats may lead to increases in fire frequency and further invasion by introduced grasses.” Wikip.

    And finally, how many humans to manage 2.5m goats? And repair bill for environment and extinctions. Paid for by the kids I suppose.

    This breed is called the “Trojan Clayton” Goat.

    Brought to you by a Taylor / City of Sydney moment.

  14. Real science sceptics says “I don’t know”, not “everyone else doesn’t know”; they don’t claim established, well supported science based knowledge is wrong until they can provide convincing, science based evidence to support it. Faux skepticism – the armchair hubris version – says mainstream science is wrong until and unless personally convinced. That is just a convenient way to declare false anything they do not understand, cannot understand or choose not to understand. Real scientific scepticism is a valuable error prevention technique, used by working scientist most of all to avoid embarrassing themselves.

    Some further discussion is merited.

    George Orwell wrote a short piece in which he discussed, as an illustrative example of a general phenomenon, the seemingly unthinking way in which people accept expert opinion about the shape of the earth. He discusses some arguments that might be advanced to support the conclusion that the scientific experts are right about the shape of the earth and advances reasonable objections to some of them, before concluding that there is a good reason to accept that the scientific conclusion about the shape of the earth is correct: people navigate from one place to another on the basis of calculations which in turn depend on the accuracy of scientific conclusions about the shape of the earth. Thus, successful navigation provides good reason for accepting those conclusions: and given the frequency of people navigating from one place to another, it’s an enormous accumulation of evidence, which justifies a very high degree of confidence in the conclusions.

    In the same way, but more generally, the success of engineering provides an enormous accumulation of evidence which justifies a very high degree of confidence in the following conclusion: the judgements of physical scientists, on the subjects with which the physical sciences deal, are nearly always correct to within a very high degree of precision. Our lives are filled with devices which were designed and constructed on the basis of the intricate structure of conclusions reached in the physical sciences, and those devices work nearly all the time within a very high degree of precision (and when they malfunction, the detection, diagnosis, and correction of those malfunctions also depends on the conclusions of the physical sciences). Therefore, we are justified in a very high degree of confidence in expert judgement in the physical sciences generally. It’s not a general trust in physical scientists which is unjustified by evidence, it’s a general distrust which is unjustified.

  15. “Which science PhD do you have?”

    No no. Its about evidence dummy. My degree is in economics. A PhD was always inappropriate too this field. Because when the fraud started there was no such thing as a “climate scientist” since the entirety of the field was interdisciplinary. I am right about this and you are wrong. When I was looking into this all the actual scientists were scared out of their wits. Since they were all specialists in one field they were too scared to ask questions in another. I couldn’t give a rats fat butt so I could ask away.

    A PhD was always inappropriate to this story. What would have been better was seven undergraduate degrees. Like what a famous television presenter had. But as soon as he went against the psychological operation he was sacked and sidelined.

    So this is just a dynastic operation and we see a very clear ethnic thread throughout. But ask me any sensible scientific questions and I can probably fill you in, insofar as you have been puzzled up until now. Even though I am nine years rusty on the subject.

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