Prat Watch #8: Monckton’s folly, Carterist crap

I do — sometimes — enjoy a trip over to the other side, those dark corners of the web where people pretend that climate change isn’t a real and pressing problem. I looked in at µWatts this morning, and passed a most amusing breakfast perusing the latest offerings there from potty peer Christopher, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, and Robert, “Bob” Carter. When I say amusing, I mean that I found it almost impossible to get past the first paragraph of Monckton’s extended paean to Greek architecture without collapsing into my toast laughing.

It appears the good Lord is planning to build what he describes as a cottage orné, and the rest of us might think of as a folly, on his Scottish estate. This cottage will be a Greek-style pavilion, as the little image above shows. Quite why Anthony Watts thinks his blog is an appropriate place for this folie du grandeur remains obscure until very late in the piece, but Monckton never fails his loyal climate crank fans:

To make matters worse, there is now overwhelming evidence that climatologists all over the world have been tampering with temperature data, sea-level data, paleoclimate data, etc., etc.. The tampering always seems to be in the direction of making it appear, artificially, that there is more of a problem than there is.

Remember this when he turns up in Australia and New Zealand this year. Monckton expects to be able to libel every climate scientist in the world, and still be taken seriously. I hope he brings a model of his cottage, and displays it at every opportunity.

Not to be outshone by the verbose viscount, Bob Carter, Australia’s master of pompous prose, offers µWatts a classic example of his normal nonsense…

Continue reading “Prat Watch #8: Monckton’s folly, Carterist crap”

Tackling agricultural emissions: the NZ story

In this guest post, Josh Pemberton, an intern at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, describes the Ag Dialogue exercise Motu ran last year. This interesting and thought-provoking short film exploring what reducing emissions really means for New Zealand’s farming communities was one result.

New Zealand is, in many ways, an unusual country. We pride ourselves on punching above our weight in international relations and sport; but we cherish the fact that we are a small and uncrowded nation, happily occupying our own little corner of the earth. We admire our rugby and Olympic heroes yet our national symbols are relatively innocuous: an upside down fern frond (the upper side of a silver fern is, of course, green) and a flightless, nocturnal bird. It must say something about our mentality that in recent years we treated an unshorn sheep like a national celebrity, and that a shortage of our favourite spread triggered panic-buying and created ongoing headlines.

Something else which is unusual about New Zealand — considering that we’re a developed nation — is that agriculture is responsible for almost half of our greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is, of course, vitally important to our economy – providing jobs and crucial export dollars. These two factors together give rise to a tension which can inhibit conversation about the effect of agriculture on the environment. It’s easy to end up with “naïve greenies” and “conservative farmers” (as they may perceive each other to be) talking past one another, and missing an opportunity to make real progress.

In the past two years, Motu Research has sought to increase the quality of the conversations that people are having on this topic. Motu set up and ran the Ag Dialogue group, bringing together farmers, scientists, iwi, government representatives and other experts to talk through issues around greenhouse gas emissions. There was no specific output in mind, although the Dialogue did catalyse a significant amount of research by Motu economists. The Dialogue also led Motu to release The New Zealand Farming Story: Tackling Agricultural Emissions, the short film embedded above.

Continue reading “Tackling agricultural emissions: the NZ story”

the kyoto – new zealand break-up – when unfaithful new zealand said ‘commitment’ he never meant it

In this post Simon Johnson argues the best analogy for New Zealand’s choice to opt out of a second commitment period (of reducing emissions) under the Kyoto Protocol – is: unfaithful men who won’t commit to their partners! New Zealand governments have behaved faithlessly towards Kyoto. The current National Government under Climate Minister Tim Groser won’t commit to Kyoto stage 2. And the 1990s National Government gave a commitment they had no intention of being faithful to. New Zealand politicians and diplomats intentionally negotiated Kyoto so that New Zealand’s Kyoto target would be met without reducing either gross or net emissions of greenhouse gases

I have argued before that New Zealand did not sign the Kyoto Protocol in good faith. As we seem unable to commit to Kyoto stage 2 in good faith, I have had another look at how faithful New Zealand’s position was at the beginnings of Kyoto and at ratification in 2002.

According to a UNFCCC account of the Kyoto negotiations ‘Tracing the Origins of the Kyoto Protocol: An Article-by-Article Textual History’ on page 48;

“New Zealand was the only Party which made an early, more comprehensive proposal on the treatment of sinks, suggesting that sequestration of greenhouse gases from certain listed categories should be added to a Party’s emission budget” (paragraph 226)

“New Zealand…faxed through a proposal for the treatment of sinks…sinks would not be included in a Party’s baseline, but removals would be credited to a Partys budget (the so-called ‘gross-net’ approach).” (para 227)

(NB ‘Sinks’ meaning forests or land-use or land-use-change that sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. So the New Zealand diplomats were ‘ahead of the curve’ in negotiating to get forest sinks recognised so they could offset other emissions.)

In October 1997,three weeks before the UNFCCC meeting in Kyoto, Simon Upton, the Minister for the Environment in Jim Bolger’s National Government said in a speech:

Continue reading “the kyoto – new zealand break-up – when unfaithful new zealand said ‘commitment’ he never meant it”

The Climate Show #32: a Cook’s tour of the Aussie heat

At long last: John Cook from Skeptical Science rejoins the Climate Show team for the first show of 2013. He hooks up with Glenn and Gareth to review Australia’s big heatwave, and stays around to dig into the new Greenpeace report on dirty energy, discuss Obama’s inauguration speech and Boris Johnson’s climate blunder, the latest scary news on sea level rise and the implications for the future. Plus much much more…

Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, listen to us via Stitcher on your smartphone or listen direct/download from the link below the fold.

Follow The Climate Show at The Climate Show web site, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Continue reading “The Climate Show #32: a Cook’s tour of the Aussie heat”

The Gore synthesis: where we are now, where we are heading, and what we need to do

This is the five minute condensed version of the talk I gave in Gore at the Coal Action Network Aotearoa Summerfest (a somewhat optimistic title, given the chilly and wet weather last weekend).

It’s too late to avoid damaging climate change, because it’s already happening. Weather extremes — floods, droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, and storms — are on the increase, dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice is affecting northern hemisphere weather patterns, and accelerating ice loss in Greenland and Antarctica points towards a rapid increase in sea level. And the climate commitment, the 30 years it will take the planet to get back into energy balance once atmospheric CO2 is stabilised, guarantees that we will see much worse long before we see any benefit from action we take today.

Everything we do now to cut emissions will help us to avoid the very worst impacts — the almost unimaginable stuff that will be happening by the middle of this century — so it’s really worth doing.

To avoid future damage being catastrophic, we need emissions cuts to be made as if this were wartime. The global economy has to be switched from fossil fuel burning to clean energy as fast as possible — as if our very civilisation depended on it, because it does. Every year of delay now is a year more in the 2040s and 2050s of the very worst the climate system will throw at us. Every year of delay will make the job harder.

We need to go beyond stabilising atmospheric CO2 levels, and remove much of carbon emitted since the industrial revolution if we are to avoid losing much of the low lying land to long term sea level rise.

We need to be working now to futureproof New Zealand (and everywhere else) as much as possible. We must not lock our economies into high emissions pathways by investing in fossil fuel extraction or emissions-intensive agriculture. We must put in place policies to deal with sea level rise as it happens, but they will have to focus on managed retreat — at least until atmospheric CO2 is on a downwards trend. We need to focus on developing economic and social resilience, to enable us to recover from the inevitable shocks caused by rapid climate change.

This has to be the reality that our governments confront. Getting them to face up to the full seriousness of climate change is not going to be easy, but it’s going to have to be done.

*****

I often find that preparing a talk crystallises my thinking around an issue, and that was certainly the case here. Reviewing the climate events of the last year, looking forward to the near future, and considering our options as climate change begins to really bite left me feeling rather gloomy — but the energy and enthusiasm of the CANA crowd, committed to preventing lignite mining in Southland and to phasing out coal mining throughout New Zealand, did a lot to put a smile back on my face.

Below the fold is an expanded version of the notes I prepared for my talk, with links to supporting material (as I promised to the audiences in Gore)…

Continue reading “The Gore synthesis: where we are now, where we are heading, and what we need to do”