Hypocrisy at the NZ Herald: de Freitas given platform for more climate lies

by Gareth on May 27, 2013

When the NZ Climate Science Coalition lost its court case against the New Zealand temperature record last year, the NZ Herald — the newspaper of record for NZ’s largest city — ran an editorial pointing out the stupidity of the climate cranks tactics. It went on to criticise the views of Auckland University’s Chris de Freitas — a man with a long history of distorting the facts about climate science — expressed in an opinion piece on the judgement published in their own paper. Two years ago the Herald also broke the news that de Freitas was teaching climate denial to first year university students.

You might think that those experiences would have left the paper a little wary about giving de Freitas a platform in its pages, but it appears that the newspaper is a slow learner. This morning, the Herald carried another opinion piece by de Freitas under the headline Science proves alarmist global warming claims nothing but hot air, a response of sorts to an opinion piece by Jim Salinger that appeared in Friday’s paper. Here’s the opening sentence:

Several aspects of Jim Salinger’s op-ed “Climate hurtling towards a hothouse Earth” (Herald 24/5/13) are quite misleading.

Unfortunately for the reputation of the Herald, de Freitas goes on to be more than “quite misleading”: he tells a remarkable number of straightforward lies about our understanding of climate change. It appears that the newspaper believes it’s acceptable to print lies when they masquerade under the flag of opinion.

Unpacking all of the distortions and misdirections in de Freitas’ article would require a much longer post than I have time to write, but here are the major points:

1: de Freitas writes: “…there is no evidence that the putative change would be large or damaging”.

No evidence. Really? CdF is not merely expressing a personal view of the nature or quality of the evidence, he’s denying outright that it exists — and that’s a straightforward lie. There’s considerable evidence assembled in the IPCC reports and the peer-reviewed literature of both the magnitude of expected warming and the damage likely to result.

2: “The so-called evidence of minor human-caused climatic change can also be attributed to causes or processes other than those related to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”

Recent warming has been robustly attributed to atmospheric CO2 increases. Once again, the IPCC assembled a handy overview of the huge amount of work done in this area in their Fourth Report (2007), and will produce an update later this year. No doubt de Freitas will pretend that doesn’t exist either.

3: “…climate alarmists who assume climate is governed by positive feedback processes which they claim will lead to runaway global warming. Four billion years of global climate history shows that negative feedbacks prevail.”

It would take a long time to unpack all the misrepresentation in these two sentences, but the idea that negative feedbacks prevail over positive feedbacks is proven wrong by the climate history of the last few million years. If negative feedbacks really dominated over positive, then we’d be stuck in a permanent ice age.

4: “Climate warming does not confirm that carbon dioxide is causing it. The evidence would have to distinguish between human-caused warming and natural warming. This has not been done.”

Another straightforward lie, unless de Freitas claims to be completely ignorant of the entire attribution literature — which would be odd for a man who has repeatedly represented himself as a climate scientist. Chapter 9 of IPCC AR4 has that subject covered, and references over 500 papers.

5: “There are natural variability theories of warming. Much of the talk of “increasing evidence for global warming” is actually evidence of climate variability.”

It is true that there are crank theories of warming that don’t allow CO2 to have a role — but none that explain why the well understood radiation physics of the gas should suddenly cease to apply now, and none in the peer-reviewed literature. There’s plenty of evidence that current warming is beyond “natural” variability — see 2 above.

6: “During the Medieval Warm Period from 900 to 1200AD, the Vikings sailed in arctic waters that are now covered with sea ice, and farmed Greenland soil that is now too cold for agriculture.”

De Freitas is apparently as ill-informed about the history of Viking Greenland and its agricultural systems as he is about the rest of climate science. The rapid warming that Greenland is currently experiencing is bringing about amazing changes in what can be grown there as the growing season warms and lengthens. The Independent went into much more detail in March:

Sten Erik Langstrup Pedersen, who runs an organic farm on a fjord near Nuuk, first grew potatoes in 1976. Now he can plant crops two weeks earlier in May and harvest three weeks later in October compared with more than a decade ago. He grows 23 kinds of vegetables, compared with 15 a decade ago, including beans, peas, herbs and strawberries.

7: “From the results of research to date, it appears the influence of increasing carbon dioxide on global warming is almost indiscernible. Future warming could occur, but there is no evidence to suggest it will amount to much.”

Indiscernible! A big word, and the very opposite of the truth. Once again, CdF claims there’s “no evidence”, when there’s evidence available aplenty — from the rapid reduction in Arctic sea ice and global glacier retreat, to shifts in ecosystems and weather patterns.

There’s more that I could pick apart in de Freitas’ feeble attempt to argue that black is white, but that would be to give a propagandist more than his due. The big question is why the Herald continues to give him space. Here’s a line from that editorial about the NZ CSC’s failed court case:

Too often, the claims of unqualified people have been able to cast doubt on the view of the majority of active climate scientists who are certain human industry is contributing to global warming.

De Freitas demonstrates his lack of qualifications as a climate scientist by his denial of the existence of the peer-reviewed literature. His opinions carry no credibility with his peers, and bear no relation to the truth. He serves a different master — an ideology that would see this planet fry sooner than cut emissions.

Shame on the Herald for giving him a platform to spout lies, for in doing that — however good the rest of their climate coverage may be — they feed the pathetic little campaign to do nothing to address the problem that will shape all our lives over the next century and beyond. High time that the paper took to heart the old adage that every man is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts1. The Herald seems to think that De Freitas is entitled to both. He is not.

  1. Commonly attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but James Schlesinger or Bernard Baruch might have claims to prior art. []

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol Cowan May 27, 2013 at 10:11 pm

de Freitas also demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of radiative physics, pretty much claiming that an increase in CO2 was like painting a window over and over … after a few coats, he said, nothing would change. The analogy does not fit. Doesn’t he know that CO2 is transparent to incoming ultraviolet radiation but opaque to out-going infrared radtiation? I suggest a field-trip to Venus (one way!) might enlighten him. Failing that, the occupants of the Physics Dept at Auckland Uni should give him remedial lessons immediately.

All this on the same day the Herald had a 36 page insert on “… how a clean energy is not some utopian ideal, but an achievable future …” beginning with a two-page spread on climate change, stating on the front page ‘Political Will Required’.

Sheeesh.

Carol Cowan May 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm

He also showed he doesn’t know the difference between water vapour and clouds.
(The edit function wasn’t working for me, Gareth)

Thomas May 27, 2013 at 11:23 pm

To make the edit function work, click on the ‘right’ arrow on the bottom of the window of the otherwise empty comment editor. It then miraculously displays the comment and allows to edit it. This has been broken like that for ages.

Btw I second your opinion on De Freitas. His grasp of radiation physics is in need of remedial action. The fact that the atmosphere is opaque in the absorption bands of CO2 does not equate to: adding more CO2 will not change the thermal transmissivity of the atmosphere. There is gradual decline in the additional warming effect of additional CO2 but we have a long way to go before that decline gives any hope to alleviate concerns.

A good discussion of this is here at the Science of Doom site

noelfuller May 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I doubt he doesn’t understand what he is talking about or is deluded by ideology. He is plainly working in the interests of the fossils, his plain intention is to make sure that his readers do not understand climate change, one of the “merchants of doubt.” He is part of an obviously coordinated campaign with the strategy of repeating certain memes ad nauseum in every possible forum until they get under educated people in the mass media to repeat them, supposing they are a part of climate science. De Frietas this time plugged the no evidence meme which suits his position nicely and combines well with the “global warming has stopped” meme. Tonight that last meme scored big time on DW Television. They usually give wide and good coverage to climate science and climate change news but are just not aware enough to avoid the occasional big stumble.

DW TV was covering the climate change conference at Potsdam. They raised that paper that said that in the short term warming would not be as great as many have feared. “Global warming has stopped”, declaimed the female anouncer. Immediately a professor spoke of warming slowed for a while but nothing would stop the rise in temperature which could be anything from 2° to 10°. However, that perhaps thoughtless remark, constituted as far as I could see, the takehome message.

The merchants of doubt do not mind if we say they do not understand, or call them names, or illustrate how wrong they are, or whatever, as long as they keep getting their memes repeated in public. The have ample evidence this works.

Bryan Walker May 28, 2013 at 8:37 am

Presumably the journalists making the decisions about accepting articles for the dialogue page have little understanding of climate science and no defence against the smooth assertions of a seemingly knowledgeable academic. But in my experience it is difficult to get anything accepted for the dialogue page and the ease with which de Freitas apparently manages it is galling.

noelfuller May 28, 2013 at 8:54 pm

This is certainly something I have wondered about including the obvious discredit his activities bring to Auckland University. I know the fossil fuels industries can bring very heavy pressure to bear on media editorial and access for their points of view. They also may have a lot to do with some academic funding.

However, I am intrigued to note CDF has been going down in the world with respect to that little sentence at the end on his academic status.
1. He used to be described as an assistant professor of physics.
2. After co-authoring a certain paper, with McLean and Carter was it? as part of a strategy to up credentials of academically based denialists he was described in the Herald as a Climate Scientist. When I saw that, I immediately surmised he would be teaching a course in climate denialism and so it proved to be.
3. now he is described in the Herald as “teacher and researcher in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland”
I guess that is bad enough – a fine place to intercept those who might be strongly motivated to oppose mining, coal burning, deep sea drilling.

Rachel May 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I’m pretty shocked to hear that climate denial was being taught at Auckland Uni! I hope that has come to end. It’s sucks that there is no way to comment on the Herald opinion piece to express outrage.

Thomas May 29, 2013 at 9:35 am

There was an interesting summary on De Freitas’ antics in the Auckland University Student Magazine:
“Should we be paying to be taught climate denial?”, 01-2012
http://craccum.ausa.auckland.ac.nz/?p=107

Rachel May 29, 2013 at 11:36 am

Thanks. They say at the end of that article that the University’s Environment Department underwent a review, presumably because of this. Do you know what the outcome was?

Thomas May 29, 2013 at 7:55 pm

No, sorry I do not know anything else about it. I guess the dean of the department should be able to advise what has become of the matter. I guess many people would have an interest in that. Are you going to ask?

Thomas May 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I guess I should add: as an academic I completely underwrite the freedom of science foremost to all else! So De Freitas should have all right to pursue his scientific studies in the way he sees fit, even if we were to conclude that it was an unsustainable position given the evidence we see.

But where this freedom runs into ethical limitations is when teaching is involved. By all means he should discuss his skeptical stance and provide students with evidence of his own, if he has that, for their consideration. However he must foremost teach the science and the evidence as the house of science has come to collectively understand it to be. This is his obligation.

As a society we need to take the advice we can get from the best sources there are. And De Freitas is a fringe voice at best in his views on the matter. Pushing his fringe views onto students without making clear to them that he represents a contrarian point of view is unethical.

UH, I just saw that of cause the “Climate Conversation Group” has read this blog and “discovered” the student magazine article because I referred to it here….
How sweet…
Check out the ‘flames’ over there:
http://www.climateconversation.wordshine.co.nz/

Rachel May 30, 2013 at 7:34 am

I’ll write to the dean and ask. I agree with you that it’s perfectly reasonable that academics should have their own views and that there should be lively debate about them at Universities. But they need to be able to show evidence to support their views. I’ll let you when I get a response.

Rob Taylor May 30, 2013 at 9:38 am
Mike Palin May 30, 2013 at 8:27 pm

I am also an academic and, as much as I disagree with CdF’s views on climate change, I will defend his academic freedom to express such views in teaching as well as research. Please read the relevant sections of the NZ Education Act (link) and “Universities as Critic and Conscience of Society: The Role of Academic Freedom” (link).

Rachel May 30, 2013 at 8:57 pm

I respect the idea of academic freedom but pushing the agenda of fossil fuel-funded right-wing think tanks is not maintaining “the highest ethical standards” which the act also requires. There’s an element of dishonesty in what he has done (if it’s true) and I think he has an obligation to disclose where his graphs have come from (especially the ones produced by Christopher Monckton who is not a scientist at all) and also an obligation to at least present the consensus view. This is after all a first year subject.

I did write to the department about it and received a response straight away. I probably shouldn’t disclose the contents of the email in this public forum but will say that the review referred to in the student’s article was not about the teaching of climate science but about the school in general and the school overall was congratulated on its curriculum and teaching. I was also given some lecture slides relevant to climate science and these were in line with the science rather than Chris De Freitas. I suspect he’s not teaching that subject any more.

I would personally object vociferously if I had paid hundreds of dollars in fees to study a subject that presented Christopher Monckton’s nonsense and declared it science.

bill May 30, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Speaking of His ‘Oh Lordy’ship, I trust we all saw this?

Thomas May 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Oh, is this a casting shot for the Lord of The Rings trilogy, role: The Eye of Sauron?

Mike Palin May 31, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Rachel, with no disrespect intended, you and other members of the public have no right to try to limit academic freedom in teaching and research. You are using the tactics of Chris Monckton. You may think you have the moral-ethical-intellectual high-ground, but the day you succeed is the day democracy and freedom of inquiry die. All bad ideas eventually are replaced by better ones through free and open exchange.

Richard Christie June 1, 2013 at 10:59 am

I disagree Mike.
Rachel has every right to raise objections and seek to shape what is taught to undergrads under the guise of core course, the point I believe she is making.
As I read it she is not seeking to limit academic freedom nor limit research direction.
If anything, the course descriptions are untruthful if a course teaching fringe viewpoints is marketed (yes, marketed) to undergrads as a core mainstream component.
The solution is simple: truthfully describe the content of the course to prospective students, inform that it teaches a fringe viewpoint of the science ( if it can be still be described as science) and then justify to students and the world why its content is considered to be part of core coursework.

Gary Young May 28, 2013 at 6:26 pm

As Carol has observed this was the same day we were given a supplement on matters related to climate and the environment.

In it I noticed the following figures: 97.1% of climate scientists accept the reality of human induced climate change, 2.2% don’t know and 0.7% reject the concept. I wonder if the Herald’s editors had read their own pullouts because on those numbers we should expect, for the sake of balance, only 0.7% of climate related articles to be from the likes of de Freitas et al.

It seems to me that CdF is getting a good deal more than his fair share of the stage and certainly more than his opinions warrant.

Richard Christie May 28, 2013 at 11:50 pm

the NZ Herald — the newspaper of record for NZ’s largest city — ran an editorial pointing out the stupidity of the climate cranks tactics.

Aye, that they did. The tactics but not the message.

So no surprises.

Thomas May 30, 2013 at 12:11 am

In matters De Freitas, I was eked on by comments over at the CCG blog to have a look at what De Freitas publishes.

He has indeed been doing quite a bit of research and its easy to find.

http://web.env.auckland.ac.nz/people_profiles/defreitas_c/

He has been researching in particular the implications of climate change on tourism as I could see. An interesting topic certainly, especially as De Freitas really does not think that the climate will change in a critical way in the near future. I guess one could describe his research as ‘far sighted’ then, certainly from his point of view.

A typical paper of his can be read here: http://www.mif.uni-freiburg.de/isb/ws3/report/decade_research.pdf

De Freitas co founded the “International Society of Biometeorology’s Commission on Climate, Tourism and Recreation (CCTR)” together with Andreas Matzarakis of the University of Freiberg, Germany in 1999.

Since then the two have been involved with papers on “cross-cultural analysis of climate preferences for tourism” and “Climate Change Adaptation in Tourism and Recreation” among others also “a research project investigating climate change and tourism in the Black Forest and North Sea region of Germany” or “an investigation into the effects of climate change on the climatic tourism potential in Austria”.

Three workshops of the CCTR have been held in Greece (nice place indeed) and I guess that has to do with De Freitas collaborators origins.

On these workshops they concluded among other insights: “The fact that little is known about: a) the effects of climate on tourism, or the role it plays; the economic impacts of climate on commercial prospects for tourism; and c) which climate related criteria people use to make decisions about tourism choices.” … and mused about the heat factor for tourists in a warmer world. I guess they have a point!

Anyway, I’ll have a Retsina with that, or perhaps something stronger, an Ouzo would do. Then off to the beaches of Crete. Hellas oh you wonderful land…….

It is interesting for a scientist who does not share the outlook that the world might warm by several degrees towards the end of this century, to spend as it would seem, a significant part of his career in the last decade or more on the effects of climate change on tourism?

Would it not seem paradoxical that if one was of the position that climate change was rather limited to study its effects on tourism? Hello, what is CF doing??? Is there going to be warming significant enough to worry tourism operators or will all this not amount to much?

” Future warming could occur, but there is no evidence to suggest it will amount to much.” (CF in the NZ Herald).

Or, is the study of climate effects on tourism perhaps a nice way to write off travel expenses to places with a warmer climate than ours where one can hold “workshops” that ascertain that we need to make more workshops to know more about what effects climate change might have on tourism….. (I actually think that in principle this is a valid idea. I guess if I was responsible for tourism planing for say, Venice or Kiribas, what would I do? Blackforest? well that is another matter. But I would have been interested to hear CF’s ideas and recommendations on Venice!)

One might ask the question perhaps if Lucy (the student who wrote in the student rag) is wondering is she is paying for CF’s research with her study fees? I am just not sure, just wondering aloud how the cost and the travel and speaker fees for these sort of workshops get paid for, especially if the two conveners and founders of the “COMMISSION ON CLIMATE, TOURISM AND RECREATION” are undertaking these workshops?

Rob Taylor May 30, 2013 at 5:46 am

Nice work, Thomas. I can think of two possible explanations for this behaviour:

1. Chris de Freitas is merely a lying propagandist and self-serving hypocrite;

2. Ummm, ah, I’ll have to get back to you on this….

Richard Christie May 30, 2013 at 9:10 am

Rob, it goes like this, CdF doesn’t deny climate change. Climate change is natural.
Lots of things magically contribute to recent change (naturally).
Lots of things except CO2 from anthropogenic sources.

That has no effect whatsoever.

You see CdF is investigating effects of natural climate change on tourism. No crime in omitting the word “natural” when applying for any funding.

Thomas May 30, 2013 at 9:41 am

yes I think the thought of Hypocrisy is warranted. How will the denileratie who celebrate CF carry this? One hears often the accusation from climate deniers that scientists researching climate change do so out of self interest and one hears accusations that they are just after public funding. Well, here is CF who asserts that the climate will not even warm by much at all, who then travels the world researching the implications of climate change on tourism clients.

‘Oh dear the air conditioning is just not up to it today darling….’ or ‘how about we jet to Greenland next year to sample all that new ice-free land’…. or … ‘quick lets book the Maldives, last opportunity before they abandon the airport for good…’ … or … how about a guided snorkeling trip through the sunken city treasures of Venice….

Rob Taylor May 30, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Yes, there’s truly priceless entertainment over at Treadgold Swamp today!

Climate doctrine crushed

It’s early to say it, but I’ll say it early — Willis Eschenbach has achieved an earth-shaking breakthrough that’ll have him hailed a hero for years to come. His fame will live on long after he has gone. He hasn’t merely found that carbon dioxide doesn’t control the temperature. He’s provided a reason to discard the very notion that any single forcing controls the surface temperature. The climate is a complex system.

Oh my, I guess we’d better tell Al Gore the game is up!

http://www.climateconversation.wordshine.co.nz/2013/05/climate-doctrine-crushed/#comments

Gareth May 30, 2013 at 3:33 pm

There’s a sort of mad desperation to it, isn’t there? Clutching at the very thinnest of straws, while asserting in the same breath that the “climate crisis is over”. I guess they have to keep telling themselves that in order to keep going – the bubble needs constant reinforcement against the harsh winds of the real world.

Rob Taylor May 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Yes, CCG is space for the ritual telling of stories about how right the denierati tribe are, periodically enlivened by the stoning and/or casting out of unbelievers such as yours truly.

All good fun, but not to be confused with an actual conversation about climate science.

Gareth May 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm

A Probus group for the terminally deluded…

bill May 30, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Eschenbach?! ‘Earth-shaking breakthrough’?! Some new kind of essential oil, perhaps?

Let’s face it, facetiousness aside, this is about as likely as The Rapture.

bill May 30, 2013 at 9:21 pm

And since we’re on both *cough* ‘skeptics’, and the Alumni of U µWatts, I discovered this gem from last year only the other day.

Notice how immediately wary they all are? Oh, you didn’t?

And for a more current effort, why, if it isn’t young Paddy Michaels

Watch what happens immediately afterwards when, at about the 32nd comment, someone finally points out the, um, glaring, um, cherrypicking. ‘Funsies’!? Yeah, right.

Not so funsy for the couple who’d had the courage to point out the state of the emperor’s attire. Despite being loyal ‘skeptics’ – albeit ones naive enough not to have grasped it’s a brand, not a policy – the (grudging) update to the post describes them as ‘whiners’; deviations shall not go unpunished.

Rob Taylor May 31, 2013 at 11:08 am

I have spoken with Chris de Freitas, who confirmed that he is no longer teaching any climate change material in Geography 101, which is the only course he is teaching next semester.

This does not surprise me; the University of Auckland does not teach Creationism, Palm Reading or Astrology, so why should it teach Climate Change Denial?

bill May 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Rob, if you follow the first link I provided to WTFUWT above you’ll discover a whole new category in the World of Woo – Mr. White lays claim to being an Astrometeorologist!…

Rob Taylor May 31, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Yes, Bill, a most edifying link…

The Earth can never become a greenhouse according to the laws of physics.

Well, Mr. White, that is certainly true – there just isn’t enough glass to go around, and just think how much it would confuse the poor birdies!

Rachel May 31, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Gosh, I am a little offended to be compared to Christopher Monckton. Does academic freedom give you the right to teach whatever you want? I don’t think so. What you teach to undergraduates is done on behalf of your department and the University as a whole. Lots of people have input into what goes into a course. I think the main question here is whether it’s ok to teach incorrect information. I want to add though, that I’m not suggesting any courses taught at the University of Auckland are teaching incorrect information, it’s just a hypothetical question. Is it acceptable to teach incorrect information in the name of academic freedom?

Mike Palin June 1, 2013 at 1:04 am

Academic freedom is not absolute and there are some interesting hypothetical cases discussed in the Jones et al. paper I linked to in my original post. Determining how far such freedoms extend in teaching and research is a difficult matter and one best handled by fellow academics.

I am sorry you were offended by the comparison with Monckton, but writing letters to heads of departments, deans, etc. complaining about particular academic scientists is one of his favourite tactics. His intent is to silence all those who would disagree with him. Such attempts are reprehensible and ultimately do greater harm than his ignorant rants on climate change.

The best teachers are those who challenge students to think and learn for themselves. They should be free to judge how best to accomplish this. Particularly in science, but in other disciplines also, the best ideas will win out, but only when the exchange is free and open.

Ian Forrester June 1, 2013 at 5:35 am

Rachel I have to agree with you. It is despicable that fellow academics sit on their hands or turn away when the likes of CdF, Tom Harris (University of Carleton in Ottawa) etc dish out their lies to students. That has got nothing to do with academic freedom that is just pure unadulterated lies and disinformation.

Why don’t the so called academics stand up to these people when they give out their rubbish at their Institutions? It is the faculty who sit on their hands more than the dishonest one who will bring the Institutions into disrespect.

Surely the average citizen can only think one thing when these AGW deniers get exposure and there is no push back from local Institutions. They can only think that the AGW deniers are right!

Rachel June 1, 2013 at 11:15 am

All I did was write to ask whether denial of anthropogenic climate change is taught at Auckland University. I think this is a reasonable question to ask and one that I imagine would be of great interest to current and prospective students. Don’t students have a right to enquire about the content of courses they intend to take or may take? What Universities teach is to an extent driven by student demand. And should they decide they do not like the content of a course, they can then choose not to take it. Unless that particular course is a first year prerequisite subject. I have never made any accusations or threats or complaints.

Copie June 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Rachel, it appears that you only want students to hear your version of global warming! Surely students should be permitted to make up their own minds based upon the evidence presented?

Rachel June 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Of course. But in order to make up their own minds, they need to hear both sides. Judging by what one of Chris de Freitas student’s has written about his course, they were not presented with both sides.

Mike Palin June 1, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I would hate to be judged by the opinion of one student! The bottomline for me is, although the threat of anthropogenic climate change is bad, there are things that are worse.

bill June 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Strawman. And exactly the argument the Creationists use.

Sure, we must avoid imposing any Lysenkoist orthodoxy on our institutions (and I don’t for a moment suggest this is in any way what Rachel was advocating, or believe there’s any real chance of this happening in the West* in the foreseeable future) but we don’t have to teach – at least, not in the sense of presenting them as plausible alternative hypotheses – the Ether or the Iron Sun theories, either.

And shouldn’t.

There’s little enough utility in teaching fringe theories in the first place, let alone conflating what is, after all, a scientific nontroversy with the notion that somehow being exposed to marginal and repeatedly-debunked claims is some species of ‘human right’ or some dialectical primrose path to eternal progress.

Sure, uncertainties and the associated debates must be openly acknowledged, but constantly reviving Zombie arguments merely because they are notions that a large sector of the political class prefers is the process of institutional corruption, not the valiant struggle against it!

If there is going to be a ‘teach the controversy’ issue in the case AGW it ought to involve representing evidence put forward by reputable figures that things might, in fact, be rather worse than the models suggest in several areas…

*except via privatization, of course.

Rachel June 2, 2013 at 11:02 am

The evolution of intellectual freedom from phdcomics.com:
http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1436

Richard Christie June 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm

lol.
Touche Rachel !

noelfuller June 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I might as well say I have little time for the word freedom in many of its uses. Simply, freedom is not licence, yet that is just what so many do and think it is.

Freedom of thought does not confer a right to mislead, lie and otherwise prevent understanding and right action, freedom of speech does not confer the right to issue death threats, yet climate scientist Stephen Schneider was told otherwise when he sought action on about 40 death threats a week, weeks before his death. However, I have more than once found it necessary to defend these freedoms on behalf of people from whom I would prefer some silence!

So yes, I’m all for freedoms and rights, but believe that anyone claiming them must extend them to all in their own actions else they do not have them.

bill June 3, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Guess who’s back?

(You may wish to down one or two of your preferred painkillers before glancing at any of those graphs!)

Thomas June 3, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Interesting was also this lately:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/30/study-says-global-warming-caused-by-cfcs-not-carbon-dioxide/

It caused a fountain of absurd comments at WUWT (as usual) and put the denier camp into a bit of a tight spot…. cause how do you explain that some parts per trillion of CFCs cause the GH effect when you deny that 400 parts per million CO2 do…. ;-)

Rob Taylor June 4, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Well, that is just too weird, as CFCs are greenhouse gases, but so are CO2, etc. How can one moleciule contribute, but another not?

Could angels be at work, perhaps?

the atmospheric impacts of CFCs are not limited to its role as an active ozone reducer. This anthropogenic compound is also a greenhouse gas, with a much higher potential to enhance the greenhouse effect than CO2.

The strength of CFC bands and the unique susceptibility of the atmosphere, at which the compound absorbs and emits radiation, are two factors that contribute to CFCs’ “super” greenhouse effect.

Another such factor is the low concentration of the compound. Because CO2 is close to saturation with high concentrations, it takes more of the substance to enhance the greenhouse effect. Conversely, the low concentration of CFCs allow their effects to increase linearly with mass.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorofluorocarbon

bill June 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm

C’mon Rob – don’t you get it? It’s homeopathy! ;-)

Thomas June 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm

The otherwise published CFC contributions add up to about 18% of the forcing of CO2. NOAA has a good comparison of the relative forcing values. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/aggi/

I guess the author of the CFC paper (Lou), http://arxiv.org/pdf/1210.6844v2 got a bit carried away. One wonders how his more emphatic statements such as:

The observed data in Fig. 10 strongly indicate that neither the continued rises of CO2 and other non-halogen GH gases nor the solar effect has played a considerable role in global temperature change, which is nearly completed controlled by the variation of atmospheric halocarbons since 1970 up to date.

Made it in such unqualified manner through the review process…

Anyway, the paper makes for an interesting read.

Thomas June 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

I see that SKS, as expected, has taken the time to dig down and analyze the issues with the Lu paper.
http://www.skepticalscience.com/lu-2013-cfcs.html

CFCs are a very efficient GHG though and some people have mooted the concept of engineering the climate of Mars towards more habitable conditions using them. Nevertheless, Lou’s paper seems to be a case of mistaking correlation for causation.

CTG June 6, 2013 at 7:13 am

Hang on a minute – given that CFCs don’t cause the Ozone Hole, how come they can cause global warming? Maybe it’s cosmic rays that cause global warming as well?

Rob Taylor June 6, 2013 at 9:18 am

Well, my missus reckons its all this gay marriage that’s stuffed up the weather.

It must be true – she saw it on the internet!

Rob Taylor June 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm

LOL! Of course, silly me to forget the greatest advance in psuedoscience since astrology…

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