It’s official. ACT is the party of climate denial. Not only have they been endorsed by the NZ C”S”C for their rejection of the ETS, but Rodney Hide has confirmed his status as a full-blown crank in an astonishing speech to the ACT Upper South Regional Conference in Christchurch on Sunday. The errors he makes and the ignorance he displays are so egregious that the speech amounts to a public suicide note from a politician with aspirations to a role in governing this country.
Here’s the relevant passage from Hide’s speech, annotated by me to highlight his deliberate mistakes:
A warmer climate with more CO2 in the atmosphere is an unambiguous benefit to New Zealand and to the world. I don’t know what we are scared of. A New Zealand that was one or two degrees warmer would be a better place to live and better environment for agriculture. The same is true for CO2. We pump the stuff into our greenhouses to stimulate plant growth. It’s the number one nutrient with carbon through photosynthesis being the source of all life.
 Argument from ignorance. Hide hasn’t read AR4, so the evidence doesn’t exist.
 Wrong. While gentle warming will bring some benefits to agriculture in some areas (Southland, Westland), increasing drought on the East Coast of both islands will bring huge challenges to our agriculture. Hide clearly hasn’t read the latest MfE advice to local government, which includes details of what NZ can expect. He could perhaps look at my contribution to the current issue of NZ Geo – it’s easier to read.
 Carbon dioxide is not now, nor has it ever been, the “number one nutrient” for plant growth. An astonishing mistake for a self-proclaimed “environmental scientist” to make.
New Zealanders who can afford it go to the Gold Coast for their holidays, not Invercargill. We would like it to be warmer. It seems strange to me that we are rushing to try to stop something that I can’t see as bad.
 Again, the argument from ignorance. The fact that Hide can’t see it as bad is a result of his refusal to be informed, or his rejection of the evidence.
The changes we are talking about are small. The IPCC’s best estimate through their computer generated scenarios has the world two to four degrees warmer by century’s end and the sea level 20-60cms higher. That’s hardly catastrophic. Indeed, dragging New Zealand temperature-wise closer to the Australia would be a good thing.
 The changes are anything but small. The numbers may look small, but the impacts are huge. The difference in global average temperature between the depths of an ice age and a warm interglacial is only about 5ÂºC.
 Hide is happy to contemplate allowing the global average temperature to soar well above any period in the last 4 million years – perhaps for 40 million years.
 Hide uses the lowest of the IPCC’s figures, which specifically exclude increasing contributions from ice sheet melt – an increase that is being observed.
 Tell that to the hundreds of millions of people who live in the Asian megadeltas (think Bangladesh) who would find a 60cm rise flooding huge tracts of land.
The world was warmer than today during the Medieval Warm Period, a time when civilisations flourished, the Vikings settled Greenland, the Polynesians explored the Pacific, and Maori sailed to New Zealand.
 Flat out wrong. Sounds like Hide’s been getting his speeches written by the cranks at the NZ C”S”C, because this has been known to be untrue for at least ten years.
We should remind ourselves too that while these scenarios are generated by scientists they themselves are not science. They are projections based on computer models. They are educated guesses, not science. Science is about theories and the testing of theories against the facts. It’s not lab coats, high speed computers and committees of wise people.
 The models used are certainly scientific, and the process of using the models is equally a matter of science. The projections they produce are the best that science can muster at the moment.
 The observations of warming are unequivocal, the rise in greenhouse gases undeniable, and their source uncontestable. For the planet not to warm in the future would require a complete re-write of the laws of physics.
 Which is of course what climate scientists have been doing all along.
I remain sceptical that we know what the weather will be in a hundred years. I remain sceptical that greenhouse gases are the cause of a global warming. That’s because of the facts.
 Nobody claims to know about weather in a century’s time, but we have a reasonable idea what climate might be like if we fail to restrain greenhouse gas emissions.
 No, that’s because you choose to ignore the facts. See 12 above. The radiation physics is not in any doubt – except perhaps by the lunatic fringe.
During the past 100 years there were periods, such as 1940 – 1975, when temperatures fell, even though CO2 levels increased. All official measures of global temperature show that temperature peaked in 1998 and has been declining since at least 2002, and this is in the face of an almost five percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1998.
 Standard crank talking point. Requires statistical naivety, and ignores the facts. Simple truth? The last ten years have been warmer than the preceding decade.
The facts don’t fit the theory.
 If you get both your facts and the theory wrong, that’s hardly surprising.
These are not easy mistakes to make. They are a catechism of sceptic talking points, packaged to justify the political point Hide and his party want to make. Hide can’t plead ignorance – he described himself as the “only environmental scientist” taking part in last week’s ETS debate. He has clearly calculated that he can get away with this in his target market during the run-up to the election. He must believe that there’s enough uncertainty around for him to be able to get away with this sceptic stance in the wider community.
Here’s the bad news, Rodney. There is no doubt that you are wrong. There can be little doubt that you know that you’re wrong. You are – in essence – knowingly telling lies in support of your political position, and that makes you unfit to play any role in the governance of this nation. I can only hope that the voters in your constituency judge you on your words and wisdom and not on your carefully concocted image, because if they do, you will be unelectable.