Cranky about the ETS

 Wp-Content Uploads 2007 08 HomerOur little band of climate cranks couldn’t let an opportunity as big as the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme announcement pass by unremarked. And they didn’t. First out of the blocks was Bryan Leyland, “€œchairman of the economic panel of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition”, pre-empting the ETS announcement to complain about the government buying offsets for ministerial travel with a press release headed “€œIs your carbon tax really necessary?”

“€œIf there is no evidence of man-made warming in New Zealand – and in the world – this whole charade of cap and trade, and offsetting ministerial travel emissions, should cease forthwith before any more damage is done to our internationally fragile economy.”

Leyland’s views were echoed a couple of days later by a release from Owen McShane, “€œchairman of the policy panel of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition” (the NZ CSC appear to have enough panels to decorate a small stately home)…

“As for the silly cap and trade scheme, this is a throwback to the religious indulgences sold in the Middle Ages: it was acceptable to sin, as long as you paid money for it. Today, it’s saying it’s acceptable to emit, as long as you pay for it, but there is no guarantee of any reduction in overall emissions, and certainly no likelihood of any effect on the natural variability in the global climate. Where is the modern day Martin Luther to expose this hypocrisy,” asked Mr McShane.

When he finds one, no doubt he’ll draw our attention to the matter.

The ETS also prompted one of National’s wackier MPs, Richard Worth, to demonstrate what a free thinker he is (hat tip: No Right Turn):

On Thursday the Government announced its plan which has significant cost consequences for all New Zealanders, not the least of which is increases in the price of electricity. […]
All of this in the context of the following facts:
– The world has not warmed since 1998 – and 2007 will not break any records. For the USA, 1934 was the warmest year in the last 100 years.
– Since 1900, there has been one 23 year period – 1975-1998 – when a temperature increase was associated with a significant increase in CO2. From 1940 – 1975 CO2 went up and temperatures went down.
– There is increasingly strong evidence that the sun and cosmic rays control our climate. If this correct, then we are entering another little ice age.
– The rate of sea level rise is small and is not increasing
– The arctic had less ice in the 1930’s and in the Medieval Warm Period.

This little list was then “€œechoed” by ACT deputy leader (well, they have only got two MPs) Heather Roy, in her weekly newsletter. Echoed? Lifted word for word, as The Standard pointed out. (Incidentally, The Standard has a whole section dealing with parliamentarians of a sceptical persuasion – well worth a visit.)

So, the obvious question. Where did Richard Worth get his small but perfectly formed list of sceptic nonsense? The very same words, in the same order, appear in a post at the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) forums. And look who wrote them – Bryan Leyland.

Bryan’s been keeping ACT company lately, making guest posts at former deputy leader Muriel Newman’s NZ Centre for Policy Research web site, and feeding Muriel with material for her own agenda – which enthusiastically embraces embraces both nuclear power and climate crankdom. Clearly, Bryan is a man of influence in certain circles, but that doesn’t stop him from spouting nonsense. For the record, let’s deal with his/Richard’s/Heather’s five points:

  1. Plot the temperatures: for the period 1998-2006, the trend is upwards. (See HT appendix, and Notes & Sourceshere)
  2. Over the last century, global temperature has increased by 0.7C, and CO2 has increased steadily. Natural variability in the climate system means that years go up and down, but the trend (and the underlying physics) is clear. Whether 1934 or 1998 was the “€œhottest” year in the USA is irrelevant to the global situation – as are temperatures in NZ.
  3. Variations in solar output cannot account for the warming over the last 50 years, and there is no evidence of a link between cosmic rays and global climate.
  4. The rate of sea level rise is at the top end of IPCC projections made in 2001, and the rate is increasing.
  5. The Arctic did not have “€œless ice” in the 1930s or the “€œmedieval warm period”.

Politicians who dislike the ETS or other policies designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions should acquaint themselves with the facts before they engage in or try to stimulate public debate. The NZ CSC seem happy to make fools of themselves. Are Dr Worth and Heather Roy as brave, or thick-skinned?

1 thought on “Cranky about the ETS”

  1. My interpretation is that even here Bryan is partly covering himself. Note his use of the words “If there is no evidence…”. At some future point he will be able to look back and say that he was taking a hypothetical position and he was never an expert to judge if there was or was not evidence. (This is essentially the content of several emails we have exchanged about the “work” of EG Beck). Leyland has said that he doesn’t know one way or the other but IF Beck is right then…

    Indeed, Leyland now refuses to reply to me until I answer his demands for proof that Beck is wrong. I have asked him what parts of that Critic article he didn’t understand but no reply.

    It is for precisely this reason I have been needling Chris de Freitas. He has thus far steadfastly refused to come out and say that Beck is at best deluded and at worst a fraud. This is despite the fact that if Beck is right then all his “real” papers are wrong [i.e. not substandard crap “papers” in Energy and Environment]. Incidentally, a senior NZ academic recently said to me that were I to publish in such a journal like E&E then they would not be a bit surprised if I found that my prospects of promotion somewhat reduced.

    I like to take full credit for the fact 2 days after I began attacking the poor science in press releases written by de Freitas that they all vanished from the NZCSC website. Of course it might actually have nothing to do with de Freitas being embarrassed at being caught out distorting the truth and it may in act be connected to variations in solar output.

    Anyhow, I think it is important to force the denialists into making unambiguous position statements that they can not wiggle out of later. I don’t mean the know-nothing denialists like Leyland and McShane, I mean those who should know better and will not be able to plead ignorance. In fact I mainly mean de Freitas. My senior academic contact suggested that it would be charitable to describe poor old Vincent as having his own personal reality. The other “scientists” in NZCSC are lying low so I have left them alone for now.

    I’ll be having my own wee hiatus but I’ll back in while to put the boot into the denialists.

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