Lazy old Garth

by Gareth on June 21, 2011

Some things you can rely on: death, taxes and Garth George. Yes, that wondrous old curmudgeon has published another piece that owes a heavy debt to the work of another. In the Otago Daily Times a couple of weeks ago he devoted an entire column to an espousal of a climate sceptic rant by Professor William Happer, recently published at a US right wing Christian web site. Let us not be too distracted by the fact that Happer’s opus is nonsense — that is what we expect of the wilder fringes of climate denial — but let’s look at the treatment Garth gives it: three short introductory sentences, then:

Prof Happer’s dissertation on greenhouse gasses and global warming runs to some 4500 words.

Here are some highlights.

His introduction is 153 words out of the 851 in the column (a mere 18%). The remainder is a thinly paraphrased or directly quoted lift from Happer’s article. Garth’s serial plagiarism of the work of others would be funny if it wasn’t being paid for by respected newspapers. We know that Garth is a fool, because we can read what he writes about climate change. But he is also making fools of some of the leading newspapers in this country. Who is the more foolish: the plagiarist or the people who pay him?

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Gareth June 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Hat tip to Carol, who set me off looking for GG’s nonsense… ;-)

Doug Mackie June 22, 2011 at 10:35 am

I had this same conversation with an editor at the ODT about GG in 2009. One of the ODT editors told me that GG was a syndicated columnist who was greatly loved by many readers and accepted my request for a column to rebut him. I did . It opened the sluice gates of idiocy in online comments.

The ODT invoked the Bryan Leyland defence and said that they felt they had a responsibility to present a range of views. I asked if they would publish articles by me promoting holocaust denial. They said that wasn’t the point.

I asked why, when tosh like this came in from GG the ODT didn’t check with any academics to the university before making fools of themselves by publishing it. The ODT repeated that that they felt they had a responsibility to present a range of views even if those views are minority and wrong.

Macro June 22, 2011 at 5:45 pm

You are mostly likely aware Doug, but for others, two good articles, which examine the culpability of mainstream media in promoting denialist propaganda is on “The Conversation”
http://theconversation.edu.au/climate-change-logic-lost-in-translation-1279
And here:
http://theconversation.edu.au/a-journey-into-the-weird-and-wacky-world-of-climate-change-denial-1554
I quote from the later:
“Manipulating the media

Normally the underbelly of obsessed contrarians that strangely afflicts many areas of science would go unnoticed.

With climate change, however, we are in the extraordinary situation where the deniers have had almost free reign in media outlets such as The Australian, while scientists are given short shrift.

The editors there claim to be providing balanced commentary for their readers to make informed decisions. In reality they are doing a great disservice to the community by publishing junk science.

Providing a platform for deniers, thereby enabling political leaders to mistake contrarian cranks for real science, can have horrendous consequences, as we have seen in the case of HIV, where perhaps hundreds of thousands of people have needlessly died.

There is an ethical imperative to hold deniers accountable for their actions.”

By the way – Gareth has linked to this latest series of articles over at The Conversation – and if anyone hasn’t read them yet, they are well worth the time.

bill June 22, 2011 at 9:02 pm

And the patient refutation of same tired-old chum from the deniers in the comments is also worth reading – Montford turns up to spruik his book (and he still apparently hasn’t noticed everyone else’s hockey sticks or that ‘climategate’ is dead) and John McLean turns up for a blatant drubbing. Some people really need to learn to quite while they’re behind! And there’s a guy called Cotton who should probably compare notes with Pete Ridley.

On the other hand John Mashey turns up to be (entertainingly) John Mashey.

bill June 22, 2011 at 9:24 pm

D’oh! ‘Quit’ while they’re behind. Quite.

Macro June 22, 2011 at 10:51 pm

yeah! One or two comments from them and I’ve had enuf! Save for John of course.
I’m enjoying the postings though. You have a battle over there at the moment and these are quite timely. The media aren’t helping matters I gather, but a Carbon Tax is so much better than a “wishy washy mamby pamby stick it up ya jumpa” ETS like we have here. (Just been watching Inspector Grim in the ‘Thin Blue Line’) :)

bill June 23, 2011 at 12:33 am

The carbon tax is not necessarily not namby-pamby, but once we have accepted that it’s a government function to put a price on carbon for the foreseeable future then at least we can get it done now and get it right later.

It has been a major embarrassment to opposition leader Abbott having footage of him espousing a tax in opposition to Garnaut’s originally proposed ETS a couple of years back turn up – but you’ve got to say the deniers brought it on themselves. They were – unsurprisingly – offered the market option first off, but like silly, selfish people everywhere they kicked and screamed and demanded no cost to themselves at all – not even the idea that they should ever pay is acceptable! That hasn’t changed, and sadly Teh Stoopid appears to have a pretty firm grip on much of the population.

The debate’s pretty ugly, and the shadow Science minister putting out press releases claiming that scientists were beating-up the death-threats issued at them gives you some idea of how far down the path to blatant rabble-rousing some ‘conservatives’ have descended.

Hard to know if you’re reluctantly-crewing the ship of fools or stuck in some farcical Reality Show re-run of the Weimar Republic…

Speaking of which Monckton’s due here soon – I wonder if he’ll bring his Swastika slide-show with him?

Macro June 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Yes I’ve seen that swastika slide! The man is obviously bananas and barely connected with reality (bordering on psychotic). How the mining faction can associate themselves with him beggars understanding – but I guess if you rolling in cash (a la his major sponsor for the trip) you have to be disconnected to the rest of humanity to a larger of lesser extent. I see that your esteemed leader of the opposition has no qualms about associating himself with hair brained reactionaries either!

bill June 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm

It wasn’t just the one instance, either – if you go to the original presentation (warning: secure head in vice, as Joe Romm would say, and don’t simultaneously imbibe hot liquids) he uses the swastika in relation to the pronouncements of a whole raft of people, not just Garnaut!

Graham Readfearn’s piece is worth reading on it.

One could say the fabulist-in-chief has lost the plot, but it’s doubtful he ever possessed it. What’s more interesting is how many supposedly ‘credible’ people and groups are willing to associate themselves with blatant crankery.

Macro June 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm

A carbon tax is a far better way to go, once it’s in place you can adjust it.

cyclone June 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm

It sounds like they mustn’t take plagiarism too seriously. And a weak response as well in that editors while not wanting to stifle the expression of opinion, need to demand of contributors that they at least try to get their facts right.

cyclone June 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Bill

“quiet” would have worked nicely too.

_R2D2 June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am

Doug, from you article;

“Look at the graph on the left for 1979-2008.
Sure enough, temperature is up and down but overall there hasn’t been much change.
Now look at the graph on the right for 1850-2008.
Here it is obvious that temperature has little wiggles but these wiggles are superimposed upon an inexorable upward trend.“

How does the presence of a very long trend that is not exponential align with human CO2 emissions that, although have been occurring for hundreds of thousands of years, the vast majority have mainly occurred since 1970? As over 2/3 have occurred since 1970 and over 5/6 since 1940 I don’t see how using a graph showing warming since 1850 builds your case. It actually works against it.
http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/images/ocp2007/gallery-large/thumbnails/OCP07-Fig-28.jpg

Doug Mackie June 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Was that a serious question?

_R2D2 June 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Yes of course. You use the historical temperature record as evidence in your article, implying that correlation equals causation. I am interrogating this assumption. it is important to know if rates of warming were similar or different before and after the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Thomas June 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm

R2D2: The current rate of warming is unprecedented and in line with the graph of CO2 increases.
On the historic perspective current and calculated trends going forward and excellent article on Scientific American lately:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-last-great-global-warming

I seriously suggest that you stop looking for straws to sustain your Religiously held BELIEF that CO2 is NOT causing GW to actually seek the scientific reports that show clearly that it does and how much it does. You act like the Young Earthers who will simply refuse to understand the science of radio nuclide dating or the plethora of proof for the actual age of the planet.

The correlation of CO2 and Temp trend is obvious. But the main argument is our clear understanding of the mechanisms of CAUSATION based on radiation physics.
The proof is clear, extensive simulations of the science are coming back with matching results. There is no doubt about the causation of AGW due to CO2.
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/co2-temperature.html

Also: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.gif

If you take the underlying data of that graph and average over a longer and longer period you will get what is an exponentially looking trend. I suppose that is what you were looking for?

bill June 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Well put, Thomas; but R2, like the Young Earthers you refer to, is remarkably resilient in his inability to absorb knowledge he doesn’t wish to understand…

I mean, hell, what does the SA, or the NAS, or NASA, or any of all the other science academies know – or BoM, or NIWA, or the CSIRO for that matter – compared to a bunch of superannuated right-wing petroleum geologists, paid PR flacks, and free-market hack economists!

_R2D2 June 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Thomas, I agree that adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will increase temperatures, all other things being equal. That statement is like saying lighting a fire will create fire. The definition of a greenhouse gas is more or less a gas that will warm the atmosphere. I don’t see where I say [increases in] CO2 is not causing warming.

What I don’t like is when people use data incorrectly to try to make a baseless point. IMHO the emissions before 1950 were on a much smaller scale than those since. It is difficult to then say that warming before 1950 is due to humans.

Looking at the below image there is an increase in temperatures that begins in about 1978. This warming could be in part to human emissions but the rest of the warming since 1850 is likely natural IMHO.
http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl

PS. While I have an opinion I recognise it is an opinion and I am open to discussion. Please respect this. I am not saying the record is wrong, or that scientists are liars, only that the interpretation of another poster is in my opinion incorrect.

PPS. I liked the article from the Scientific American, interesting stuff!

Thomas June 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Going back to 1850 makes sense to show the ABSENCE of a systematic warming trend at current rates back then. If we had reliable global temp records back to hundreds of years prior, we would refer to this to show that the warming since the FF use went exponential is indeed correlated since then and that it is unprecedented in its trend in recent history and according to the SA article unprecedented at its rate in geological history too.
If we had records further back that were not derived from proxies such as tree rings then the whole hockey stick saga would have been avoided as the graph (hockey stick) would have been vindicated even for the clue less. It has been scientifically vindicated by the way with more than one other study and the attacks from the right wing misinformation campaigners have not actually dented its scientific relevance.

_R2D2 June 24, 2011 at 9:26 am

“Going back to 1850 makes sense to show the ABSENCE of a systematic warming trend at current rates back then.”

Yes I agree.

“Look at the graph on the left for 1979-2008. Sure enough, temperature is up and down but overall there hasn’t been much change. Now look at the graph on the right for 1850-2008. Here it is obvious that temperature has little wiggles but these wiggles are superimposed upon an inexorable upward trend.“

To me this is using the upward trend, all the way back to 1850, as evidence in favour of AGW. This is of course silly.

I agree that over the last 160 years the sharpest increase in temperatures occurred between 1978 and 1998. What this proves is nothing really, but it is supporting evidence for the case in favour of AGW. Whereas, in my opinion, using warming before 1940 as evidence of AGW is fairly weak.

Please don’t bite back that I am a denier, I am only a pragmatist. As for the hockey stick, best to not re-open that can of worms.

Doug Mackie June 23, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Stop being a prat. I used the record to show GGs claim of ‘no warming since 1998′ was rubbish.

_R2D2 June 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Doug, calling me names only makes you look bad.

“I used the record to show GGs claim of ‘no warming since 1998′ was rubbish.”. Why would you need to go back to 1850 to address a claim about the record since 1998? That makes no sense.

Doug Mackie June 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Come back when you can show you have read my article or GG’s original.

_R2D2 June 24, 2011 at 9:30 am

And you called me a prat…

Dappledwater June 23, 2011 at 9:59 pm

R2 – “Why would you need to go back to 1850 to address a claim about the record since 1998? That makes no sense

It provides context. But you already knew that.

_R2D2 June 24, 2011 at 9:28 am

Of course it could, but that is not the way it was presented.

Gareth June 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm

R2, Doug – this is all a million miles off-topic. Constrain yourselves to Mr George’s slender grasp of reality, if you please.

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