A Short Introduction to Climate Change

Tony Eggleton’s A Short Introduction to Climate Change is an excellent account of climate science for the general reader. The author is a retired geology professor from the Australian National University. Two widely read climate change deniers, Ian Plimer and Bob Carter, are also retired Australian geology professors, but Eggleton is not of their ilk. He comes at the subject from a concern about climate change and a wish to explain to readers who are uncertain about the topic why there is reason for concern.

The book is grounded in the careful science which has contributed to our understanding of the danger in which we now stand. Eggleton has not worked in the field of climate, but recognises the authenticity of the findings of climatologists. His opening chapter, The Spirit of Enquiry, offers a clear account of the process by which science across all its fields advances. He highlights the fact that most climate science is done by groups, all of whom need to be confident of the reliability of their colleagues. He explains the rigorous process of peer reviewed papers and the comprehensive scrutiny from fellow scientists which follows their publication. He ponders the fact that some hypotheses are of the type that involves a choice between only two possibilities. If one is not true the other must be so. How will the theory of climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels be viewed in 100 years from now? “Interpretations evolve, change and sometimes settle into accepted fact: the Sun is at the centre of the solar system, the continents have drifted and smoking does damage the lungs.”

Continue reading “A Short Introduction to Climate Change”

Prat watch #7: the unbearable rightness of being wrong

The carefully cultivated cocoon of ignorance over at New Zealand’s own tiny corner of the climate crank echo chamber has been glinting in the harsh light of reality in recent weeks, as a number of climate realists (that is, people who have a realistic appreciation of what climate science is all about, not cranks attempting to purloin that term) have taken to bringing uncomfortable facts to the commentary under Richard Treadgold‘s strange little posts. It’s been a most amusing sight, watching the blizzard of misdirection and misunderstanding attempting to counter persistent reality. But Treadgold, bless his possum-merino socks, is undaunted and recently addressed this year’s dramatic Arctic sea ice melt with the determined insouciance of one terminally disconnected from reality.

Why does everyone feel guilty about the disappearance of the Arctic ice? All it proves is a bit of warming; it most certainly does not prove a human cause for that warming.

As seasoned Treadgold watchers might expect, it gets worse…

Continue reading “Prat watch #7: the unbearable rightness of being wrong”

NZ’s minister of everything Steven Joyce goes feral; attempts to influence courts over coal mine appeal

I was absolutely gobsmacked by a statement by Steven Joyce, the Minister of Economic Development, in an official New Zealand Government press release yesterday. Joyce explicitly took the side of and promoted the cause of Aussie coal miners, Bathurst Resources, in two up-coming court cases.

Joyce said:

“The Escarpment Mine is an open cast mining project that is ready to go and would provide 225 jobs and incomes for workers and their families on the West Coast straight away. The developer is being held up from opening the Escarpment Mine by on-going litigation that has gone through the Environment Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. These on-going objections are to resource consents which were granted more than a year ago. The whole consenting process for this development has now taken a staggering seven years. I call on those objectors to the mine to reconsider their appeals and consider the economic future of the West Coast and its people.”

I know Joyce is very pro-development. He has his own archive of posts on Hot Topic, where his preference for fossil fuel developments is obvious. But this time he has crossed a line. Joyce is using his position as a Minister of the Crown to explicitly influence decisions yet to be made by the Environment Court and the Court of Appeal on the resource consents sought by Bathurst.

Joyce is breaching the Sub judice rule.

Continue reading “NZ’s minister of everything Steven Joyce goes feral; attempts to influence courts over coal mine appeal”

Carbonscape go Dutch with Clinton, win cash award

We have frequently posted on the progress of New Zealand company Carbonscape, and it’s a pleasure to report that they have just taken a runner-up prize in the international Dutch Postcode Lottery Green Challenge co-sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), receiving a grant of €100,000 (NZ $156,600). The mission of the CGI is to “forge solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges”.

Carbonscape made the short list of three finalists from more than 500 other contestants. It’s a reminder of how active innovative entrepreneurs around the world are working on a host of ideas which are waiting in the wings for the global community to turn away from an economy based on fossil fuels.

Continue reading “Carbonscape go Dutch with Clinton, win cash award”

Record Arctic Sea-ice minimum 2012 declared – it’s the Silly Season!

In early August I posted my predictions for the “sceptical” response to the record sea ice minimum. Time to call myself to account. I had planned to do my own analysis, but John Mason at Skeptical Science has done such an excellent job of ploughing through the mountains of bullshit that I asked his permission to repost his comprehensive scorecard here…

The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is. Winston Churchill, 1916.

Late summer has long been known in media circles as the Silly Season, when any old story, embellished a bit here and a bit there, is trundled out to fill column space normally occupied by the graver matters of politics and business.

In the world of climate science, late summer is of course rather more important, marking the peak of the annual sea-ice melting season of the Northern Hemisphere, and this year has been extraordinary, with the canary in the coal mine tweeting louder than ever that something is seriously amiss with the climate.

With Arctic sea-ice having reached a record low extent, area and volume, several weeks ahead of the usual end-of-melt date, the Blogosphere has been ablaze with lengthy discussions of this event and its potential and worrisome ramifications. There have also been mass-outbreaks of denial accompanied by varying degrees of silliness, as one might expect when faced with an event like a record Arctic melt-out. Many commentators could see the meltdown approaching, both in the Arctic and around parts of the Blogosphere, with Gareth Renowden over at Hot Topic speculating in early August as follows:

“When Arctic sea ice area sets a new record low in the next couple of weeks, the usual suspects will say: “You can’t trust area, sea ice extent is the only valid metric“.

When Arctic sea ice extent sets a new record low in September, the following arguments will be run in parallel:

1) There will be a frantic search for a definition of extent in which a new record was not set

2) There will be a complaint that the satellite record has been blighted by the failure of a sensor and the calibrations needed to get a new sensor in operation have corrupted the record

3) It will be claimed that it was all caused by the major Arctic storm that hit in August, and thus can’t be attributed to global warming

4) It’s cyclical — it’s all happened before, in the 1930s, and is therefore nothing unusual

5) That it’s irrelevant, because it’s not global and not happening where anyone lives so can’t possibly matter.

When the sea ice extent and area anomalies blow out to record levels in early October because of the delayed freeze-up, there will be silence.

When the re-freeze starts, and the Arctic basin is covered in ice once more (early December), Anthony Watts will report on the record rate of ice formation, calling it a “stunning recovery“.”

They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. Winston Churchill, 1936.

How closely did Gareth’s predictions above conform to the reality on the media airwaves? In this post-minimum-declared Blogosphere round-up, we take a light-hearted look.

Continue reading “Record Arctic Sea-ice minimum 2012 declared – it’s the Silly Season!”