A visitor from La-la Land: Garth George gets it wrong (again)

by Gareth on February 18, 2010

I suppose it was inevitable that the feeding frenzy about various “gates” in the British press would attract the attention of the wise old man of Rotorua, Garth George. In today’s Herald he emerges from his sulphurous lair to add his muted sqeak to the hubbub. It’s not much different to his last few columns on the subject, though the borrowing of material is perhaps a little less obvious. He cites his source (a horrendously bad piece by Jonathan Leake in the Sunday Times) and does a proper re-write rather than just quote the whole thing verbatim. But he adds some flourishes of his own:

Their concern – as it is with the data provided by our own National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) – is about the thousands of weather stations around the world which have been used to collect temperature data over the past 150 years.

These stations, they believe, have been seriously compromised by factors such as urbanisation, changes in land use and, in many cases, being moved from site to site. This, of course, is the charge that has long been levelled at Niwa by a significant section of New Zealand’s scientific community.

Rubbish, Garth. What “significant section” would that be? The NZ CSC and Richard Treadgold’s anonymous team of “scientists”? Perhaps you counted that noted environmental scientist Rodney Hide. De Freitas and De Lange? Fringe figures of no great academic standing. You just made it up, didn’t you? Interviewed your typewriter and polled your patio pot plants, to lend false weight to a ridiculous smear campaign.

The rest of Garth’s piece repeats the main points of Leake’s article (handily debunked at Deltoid: keep an eye out for Tim’s Leakegate posts), but as he opened with some failed predictions from 1957, he closes with a prediction of his own:

So, just as Dr Kaplan’s predictions came to nought, so I believe will the scaremongering global warming predictions of today’s climate doomsayers. Perhaps 53 years from now someone will find an ancient copy of the Herald and laugh at the climate change paranoia which afflicted the world in 2010.

Of two things we can be sure: he will not be around to hear the laughter, and it will be Garth George they will be laughing at — if they’re not shedding tears of rage.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

C3P0 February 18, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Wow! Two ‘gets it wrong’ articles in one day!

Lucky Hot Topic is here to act as the authority on all issues climate related.

Its just a pity that you use so many words to write these articles, when all you really need to say is,

“Garth George disagrees with me, therefore he is wrong”

and

“Fred Pearce is not stanchly maintaining the alarmist defense on the hacked emails, therefore he got it wrong”

Doug Clover February 18, 2010 at 4:10 pm

No Garth is wrong because he repeats what crap writers have written based on demonstrated misquotes, and lies.

If you want to be taken seriously on this site all you have to do is base on your opinions on credible science.

RW February 18, 2010 at 4:34 pm

What are you – an automated junk post generator?

Rob Taylor February 18, 2010 at 4:33 pm

My own Garth George story: some years ago, I called him at the Herald after he stuffed up a story on a local issue I was involved in. He freely admitted his error, but said he wouldn’t publish a correction, as he didn’t care whether his article was right or not.

Somewhat nonplussed, I asked him if that meant that, instead of being a real journalist, wasn’t he just a tired old hack?

“That’s right”, he said, without turning a hair, “that’s me…”

Simon Arnold February 18, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Gareth

I’m not sure I have much of a view on what Garth George wrote, but out of curiosity I did click through to the debunking of Leake’s article by Tim Lambert you reference (see http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/02/leakegate_scandal_gets_bigger.php).

I noted that this blog was written on 10 Feb 2010 and thought it worthwhile checking on the original articles, and whether there had been any response to the criticisms quoted by Lambert.

His first reference is to John Christie which he quotes Bonfils, Duffy and Lobell in the Journal of Climate September 2007 (abstract at http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1175%2FJCLI4247.1). A quick search turns up Christies et al’s reply in the same issue of the Journal (http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1175%2FJCLI4250.1).

He then references his critique of Ross McKitrick’s 2004 paper “A test of corrections for extraneous signals in gridded surface temperature data”, Clim Res 26:159­173 (May 25, 2004) available at http://groups.google.com/group/sci.environment/msg/0f2272d672eebebc. No mention of the subsequent Erratum to that paper or the ongoing debate culminating in McKitrick, Ross R. and Nicolas Nierenberg (2009).Correlations between Surface Temperature Trends and Socioeconomic Activity: Toward a Causal Interpretation. Submitted to International Journal of Climatology.

He then cites Menne et al’s critique of Anthony Watts’ work on weather stations (linking not to the paper but this blog http://www.skepticalscience.com/On-the-reliability-of-the-US-Surface-Temperature-Record.html), but doesn’t include any reference to Watts’ response (see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/27/rumours-of-my-death-have-been-greatly-exaggerated/), although the skepticalscience blog does.

I guess my point is that either he isbeing selective, in which case he’s being a bit naughty, or he doesn’t really have much skill in following academic debates.

Either way I don’t think I’ll put him on my “must follow” blogs.

Gareth February 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm

I guess my point is that either he isbeing selective, in which case he’s being a bit naughty, or he doesn’t really have much skill in following academic debates.

Simon, noting that there have been “replies” to criticisms, doesn’t mean those replies have merit. In particular, Watts response is negligible – especially since he has seen fit to publish a paper through the Heartland Institute claiming that there are major problems with the US temperature record. Menne et al destroys that claim — using his own data!

If you choose to ignore the substance of the criticisms made, you cannot possibly have a balanced view of the debate. Your loss.

Simon Arnold February 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I had thought that I should just say “Amen to that”, but I’m not sure subtlety is appreciated here.

Let’s just replay this.

You quote a blog as a source of criticism of an article, and recommend that blog to others.

That blog starts by describing the author of the article as someone that “has a habit of concealing the facts”. A click through to the article being critiqued shows comments from four people questioning if the measurement of warming temperatures is reliable, and then from two who are more confident about the measures. Perhaps not exact numerical balance, but hardly “spin” as Lambert claims.

Lambert claims the comments are derived from “the usual collection of discredited papers”, and then embarks on identifying one historic paper of his choosing from each commentator, and then another by a separate author critical of it.

In my earlier comment I noted that this was selective, and in retrospect think it’s a bit rich of him to accuse others of “concealing the facts”.

I should add that at no point does Lambert show any understanding of the substance of the points under debate, or put this in the context of the on-going development of scientific understanding that is occurring through that debate.

As you so rightly say: “If you choose to ignore the substance of the criticisms made, you cannot possibly have a balanced view of the debate. Your loss.”

It sound like neither of us should be recommending Lambert as a reliable source.

BTW I think Watt’s “Surface Temperature Records” is second rate, but I do think he makes some valid points in his response to Menne et al referenced in my early comment.

Mr February February 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm

I am not that surprised at George’s continual ‘hack’ opining. However, I am disappointed that the Herald appears to tolerate plagiarism.
Gareth and other Cantabrians may recall that a few years ago the Press summarily dismissed their film and theatre critic as his Press reviews included passages ‘copy and pasted’ directly from internet review sites without acknowledgment. Why does the Herald appear to have a different standard?

RW February 18, 2010 at 7:49 pm

I haven’t bothered reading the latest of GG’s plagiarising drivel – as I said earlier, he made more sense as a schoolboy.

This eloquent deconstruction of some of the Watts output still leaves me wondering just how much of Watts’ makeup is stupidity – and how much is plain evil.

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/dropouts/

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