Prat Watch #2: the 2011 Climate BS Awards

by Gareth on January 6, 2012

The 2011 Climate BS Awards (where BS stands for Bad Science) have just been announced by Peter Gleick and the Pacific Institute [Huff Post, Forbes]. Nominated and voted for by a crack team of climate scientists and communicators, the awards go to “particularly egregious, notorious, or well-publicized examples of bad climate science that were produced over the past 12 months and used to try to influence or confuse the public and policymakers”. Runaway winners? The Republican candidates for President of the USA. Here’s the award citation in full:

Being anti-science in general, and anti-climate science in particular, seems a requirement for nomination to lead the Republican Party. Not a single one of the Republican candidates for President has a position on climate change that is consistent with the actual science accepted by 97-98% of all climate scientists and every national academy of sciences on the planet. The choice among the current Republican candidates on the issue of climate change is scientific ignorance, distain for science, blatant misrepresentation of facts, or naked political expediency, any one of which would make the individual candidates strong contenders for the 2011 Climate B.S. Award. Combined? The group wins the 2011 Award hands down. [my emphasis]

Worthy winners, and deeply depressing for the future of the planet. Here’s the rest of the award pantheon:

  • #2: Disinformation from Fox News and Murdoch’s News Corporation
  • #3: Spencer, Braswell, and Christy
  • #4: The Koch Brothers for funding the promotion of bad climate science
  • #5: Anthony Watts for his BEST hypocrisy

Read the full awards citations (including “honourable mentions”) at Peter Gleick’s blogs or at the Pacific Institute. Readers might care to nominate worthy Australian and New Zealand contenders for a southern hemisphere award. There are plenty of prime contenders…

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Amoeba January 6, 2012 at 7:25 am

I nominate Ian Plimer for his book ‘How to Get Expelled from School’
Plimer debunks himself. In the process he fakes the CO2 figures from Siple, which he apparently lifted from SEPP, of Fred Singer infamy – AGW Denial central.
He should also get a dishonourable mention for being a running-dog of the Murdoch AGW denial machine.
http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/12/the_australians_war_on_science_78.php

Gareth January 6, 2012 at 8:32 am

Plimer’s certainly one of the front runners, but we shouldn’t forget that old war horse Bob Carter, who is quite happy to misrepresent the truth at great length and at every opportunity. Or what about Chris de Freitas, who tries to indoctrinate the students he teaches…? Or John McLean, who forecast that 2011 would be the coolest year since 1956 (more on that soon)?

bill January 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm

We need a whole, separate ‘Climate Goose’ category for that 1956 thing! Some claims don’t even make it to laughable…

Roger Romney-Hughes January 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm

We think McLean’s prediction and its enthusiastic uptake by the NZCSC deserve global rather than only regional recognition. We’ve therefore given them our Climate Idiot(s) of the Year award.

Gareth January 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Excellent!

bill January 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Aha! Don’t be so sure Warmerist Clever-Clogses that it won’t yet turn out to have been -8C cooler in December – and hence 1956, 1855, or even 1612 if you remember to carry the 1 – because where I’ve just been* I was certainly waaaay muchmuch colder than I’d normally be! Aha again! And I saw a horsie, which was probably a magic horsie, but it ran away before I could ask it…

*hiking in the Snowy Mountains

Amoeba January 9, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Gareth,
You are of course correct. All the individuals you listed are just as deserving of the climate science BS award. Since they clearly must know better, I find it impossible to believe they are not knowingly and intentionally spreading falsehoods about the climate. But IIRC, there’s more, in the case of Plimer and Carter there is a strong vein of arrogant superiority mixed-in with the BS.

bill January 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Me too!

A nomination for Plimer and his silly little book deliberately targetting school-children, with a dishonourable mention for former PM – and full-time ideologue – John Howard for launching the bloody thing!

Furthering the whole ‘Plimer vs. Plimer’ meme, he even manages to be contradicted on the same page by one of his own published graphs!

Further citations for Plimer should include his letter to the Australian in outraged response after Mike Sandiford had pointed out some of the nonsense it contained, which included this gem -

Why didn’t he [Sandiford] declare that there are some 1500 terrestrial volcanoes that emit small amounts of carbon dioxide, yet there are more than three million submarine volcanoes that emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide?

Of course, it all rather depends how you define ‘a volcano’, but in the real world estimates are more along the lines of 10 000 submarine volcanoes, consistent with this statement from The Smithsonian Institute -

Estimates of global magma budgets suggest that roughly 3/4 of the lava reaching Earth’s surface does so unnoticed at submarine midocean ridges

And despite these remarkable gazillions of unviewable sea-floor vents the USGS still maintains volcanoes produce CO2 at about about 1-3% of the rate of human emissions.

RW January 6, 2012 at 9:04 am

Speaking of prats, there’s a piece from Bryan Leyland on page C2 of today’s DomPost, Can’t see it on “Stuff” at this point. Poisonous drivel, trotted out by a “useful idiot”.

Gareth January 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

Let me know when Bryan’s latest magnum opus appears on the web. I wonder if he’s defending his mate McLean… ;-)

Gareth January 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Bryan runs his usual schtick here.

The only shred of originality is his apparent claim that there has been no warming since 1988:

Although the world did warm by about 0.7C between 1975 and 1988, there has been no significant warming since then.

I suspect that’s a typo… So, unoriginal and sloppy. Par for the course in other words.

Gareth January 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Here’s my “mark up” of Leyland’s 20 factual errors in his “opinion piece”: http://markup.io/v/tjxycmkn93rm

Amoeba January 12, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Gareth,
Thanks for that.

Bryan Walker January 6, 2012 at 11:22 am

Leyland had a letter in the Herald this week in response to Gareth Morgan’s article on the southern ocean which Gareth linked to on the hot tweets. He lamented that Morgan hasn’t kept up with the science! If Morgan had he would have discovered that the world hadn’t warmed for the last 10 to 15 years, that the oceans are cooling and that the warming in the Antarctic peninsula could be due to geothermal activity. A brief mention of clouds and sunspots rounded it off. And somehow he managed to imply that Wratt and Renwick and even the IPCC think global warming has taken a rest, though it wasn’t very clear what he was trying to say at that point. .

AndrewH January 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Leyland had to call in the reinforcements after the majority of early commenters called him on the rubbish. All the usual suspects had a lash.

Dappledwater January 8, 2012 at 7:52 am

I commented earlier on the thread at the DomPost (Dumpost?) and every single denier ignored it because they ‘don’t got’ no answer. We know originality isn’t their thing. I wrote:

More ‘Flat- Earth’ nonsense from Leyland. His piece is riddled with the typical fake-skeptic talking points that have been debunked a thousand times before.

The Earth continues to warm, and at a rapid pace. Sad but true. Around 70% of Earth’s surface is ocean and over 90% of global warming goes into heating the oceans. When we measure the oceans down to 2000 metre depth we find they have warmed substantially since the 1960′s and there is no let up in the last decade. See:http://www.skepticalscience.com/big-picture-global-warming.html

And of course sea level at Tuvalu over the last 60 years has risen at a rate almost 3 times the global average. See: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Tuvalu-sea-level-rise.htm

I’ve slightly reworded the issue of ocean heat content and addressed it to Leyland. Be interesting to see if he even attempts to answer it.

Roger Romney-Hughes January 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Regarding sea level, here’s something else that ought to get him and his mates wound up: hot off the press, Regional Sea Level Trends in New Zealand.

Dappledwater January 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Roger, the fake-skeptics will get wound up alright, but not perhaps in the manner you expect. The rate of sea level rise (SLR) around NZ is lower than the global average, ergo fake-skeptics will argue SLR is falling, or something equally as stupid.

Why bother to comprehend that SLR is not level, and that the global mean (average) is a global mean, when it contradicts what fake-skeptics choose to believe?

Macro January 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Sadly I fear you are right! You can hear them now “Why that’s only 170mm per century!” – or something equally stupid.

Amoeba January 12, 2012 at 9:34 pm

DW,
“Why bother to comprehend that SLR is not level, and that the global mean (average) is a global mean, when it contradicts what fake-skeptics choose to believe?”

Your “SLR is not level” remark reminded me of Nils-Axel Mörner’s tilted graph. Certainly not news, but such rank stupidity needs to be resurrected from time to time.

http://i39.tinypic.com/jakt46.jpg

Fake-skeptics are credulous, not sceptical.

Dappledwater January 13, 2012 at 12:14 am

Yes, that graph explains Morner’s grip, or lack thereof, on reality.

Dappledwater January 8, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Hey buddy, I hope the heavy rain missed the Thames area. Those tropical lows that keep getting spun down our way, are probably going to continue into March.

When I’m out and about people are always complaining about all the rain, but I’m more worried about a large El Nino looming on the horizon. In other words – more drought.

I’m reading a recent scientific paper at the moment that models ENSO over the 21st century. El Nino and La Nina are set to become much more intense throughout the 21st century. Not all areas will see an increase in intensity, but most will. This includes us.

Not good news for coral either.

Macro January 8, 2012 at 9:51 pm

We have escaped most of the heavy rain here, It seems to skirt down the Eastern side, and I’m waiting for a fine patch to get some lawns mown in Whiritoa. :) Hopefully Tuesday – Wednesday. It’s mostly drained wetland there (ie deep peat soil) and it grows grass like you wouldn’t believe, especially with the rain. The water in the Firth is like a bath at this time of the year, even with the inclement weather. Not quite as warm as the seas around Fiji though.
Yes I understand that looming El Nino. It follows as day follows night that the ENSO, is to intensify with more energy being added. I look forward to reading your summary.

Carol Cowan January 10, 2012 at 8:48 pm

You have a lawn? Ours (in deepest Southland) is brown and crunchy. We are proposing that a giant fan be assembled atop the Sky Tower to blow the rain our way.

Macro January 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Actually Carol it’s more of a paddock this year! I’m thinking silage at the moment – no hope of hay! We had our day of summer today but the forecast is for another lashing of rain tomorrow. You can explain all you like about increasing atmospheric and sea temperatures, and the associated increased loading of water vapour etc etc. But last years dumping of snow and this years rain is all some are able to comprehend. They have no appreciation that maybe its all connected. You keep hammering away and hopefully someday – before its not too late – they might get a glimmer.

Carol Cowan January 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Michael Laws, Radio Live, said today, maybe “they” are right about climate change (well, that’s only taken 30 years to get through!!) – but he welcomes extreme weather as it beats NZ’s usual mish-mash of cloudy, windy, rainy, fine. Really? Would he still say that if it was his house being washed down a hillside?

In the meantime, we have had some welcome steady, gentle rain here in Southland. Green is returning to our paddocks already.

Macro January 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Has he been allowed back after his latest fiasco! Tells us all we wish to know about the standards of radio journalism.

RW January 9, 2012 at 7:24 am

The NZ rainfall response to El Nino or La Nina episodes is location dependent, and has shown a large amount of variability within a given mode. Generally the correlations have been strongest in the northeast of the North Island and the west and south of the South Island. In Wellington the La Nina conditions have resulted in part of both of the 10/11 and 11/12 summers being cloudy and quite wet, especially this one so far – in sharp contrast to some earlier episodes, particularly 1988/89.

Dappledwater January 8, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Good to hear you’ve avoided the worst. Had the potential to turn very nasty that one.

Won’t get around to writing anything up about the ENSO study for a week or two. I’m working on a few rebuttals and posts about ocean acidification in Earth’s past.

I want to get them knocked out before the fake-skeptics really begin to understand how serious that is. They’ll deny hard out and spread myths like an STD.

RW January 9, 2012 at 10:06 am

Gareth, I have mentioned a couple of times in the past one Alan Wilkinson, who clearly sees himself a a scourge of “alarmists” – he has never showed up on this forum though….

This is typical of his commentary (response #71):

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/blogs/david-farrar-by-the-numbers/6171106/Some-2012-political-predictions

Gareth January 9, 2012 at 10:26 pm

I’m frankly amazed that the Herald lets commenters say things like that.

RW January 10, 2012 at 7:00 am

The Herald, as well as the DomPost, seems to give free uncritical reign to these people – editorial bias?

Dappledwater January 11, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I suspect you’re right about the editorial bias RW. The entrenched brainwashing of journalists is that they must portray everything as a controversy, or a conflict between two opposing views with the truth laying somewhere in the middle. They wouldn’t want people whom understand and read climate science literature to totally eviscerate the lame assertions of the deniers on their comment threads.

My youngest son and one of my sisters studied journalism for a while, but both gave it up when they realized it had nothing to do with actually getting at the truth, or holding power to account. It’s kind of difficult being a non-conformer in a world of conformers I guess.

I posted a number of comments on that Leyland article that never made it through moderation. Kinda hacks me off, as it gives a false impression, and it’s why I generally don’t comment on the rags.

Anyway, I have incorporated a debunking of the goofy cosmic rays and ocean heating myth into a two-part blog post at SkS. So feel free to use it to bludgeon that silly myth should it pop up again. Probably get published next week sometime.

RW January 12, 2012 at 7:39 am

Yes, faux debate is what our media love. But of course the media bias on AGW and other matters requiring action on a global scale is pretty clear, with free reign given to both self-styled libertarians (but probably only because their philosophy has no answers to large-scale problems, so they deny AGW) and dinosaurs of the George variety.

Leave a link when your post is ready and I’ll see if I can get comments printed as necessary…

Dappledwater January 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Oops, my bad. My comments are now up at Stuff/Dom Post.

Dappledwater January 19, 2012 at 11:06 am

RW – I’ve put this one on hold for a bit. Even though I’ve kept the language from being too technical, the article is already clocking in at around 2000 words. Too long for public consumption, and I’ll perhaps have to split off the cosmic ray malarkey into it’s own rebuttal.

I’ll put it on the back-burner for a little bit while I work on other stuff – ancient ocean acidification in particular, but will come back to it in a month or so, because the warming of the ocean is a great area of confusion in the public consciousness, let alone the fevered imaginings of the fake-skeptics.

RW January 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Treadgold is trying to sound quite cocky – there is certainly no limit to his arrogance.

Gareth January 12, 2012 at 9:02 pm

The sort of arrogance that comes with wilful ignorance…

Dappledwater January 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Ooops, a fake-skeptic calling himself “non entity” fell for my bait about the ocean heat content over at the Dompost.

He thinks cosmic rays and clouds dictate the total heating of the ocean over the last couple of hundred years. Ain’t it cute when skeptics cobble together some half-arsed ideas from reading denier blogs, rather relying on the scientific literature?

I’ve posted a reply, but the snail’s pace moderating there is a pain. Hopefully he’ll read this and respond here, as he seems to be familiar with Hot Topic.

Gareth January 9, 2012 at 10:25 pm

If it’s who I think it is, then he has managed to create an alternative universe out of crank climate “science”. The ocean heating thing is a favourite of his, and his take on it completely bogus. Reminds me of Wishart in many ways…

Dappledwater January 10, 2012 at 11:58 am

Well at least they read your blog Gareth. As always though, they never learn anything.

Dappledwater January 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I’ve found out who he is Gareth. He’s writing the same nonsensical things about cosmic rays over at Open Parachute.

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