Nutted by reality

homer.jpgGerrit van der Lingen, a local crank, NZ CSC member and self-styled “climate change consultant” who comprehensively lost a magazine “debate” with a local scientist last year, was mightily exercised by a recent article in my local paper, The Press (one of New Zealand’s big four dailies), covering Lovelock’s latest ruminations. So incensed, in fact, that he was moved to regurgitate a few crank tropes for an op-ed in the paper last Wednesday. It’s not available on the web, sadly, so I’ll just confine myself to pointing out where he gets his facts wrong.

Van der Lingen begins with the now compulsory “it’s cooling” lie:

Lovelock believes that human carbon dioxide emissions are causing catastrophic global warming. He predicts that by 2040 Europe will experience summer temperatures of 43 degrees Celsius. The reality is that global temperatures have not increased since 1998 and have even decreased since 2002.

Standard crank cooling claim, and entirely factually incorrect. Lovelock is right. Projections for the 2040s suggest that the temperatures experienced during the intense European heatwave of summer 2003 will be more or less normal by then.

The Northern Hemisphere experienced two severe winters in a row.

No it didn’t. NOAA’s climate summary for Feb 2009 (issued Mar 13th) says: “Based on preliminary data, the globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the ninth warmest on record for February and the eighth warmest for boreal winter (December-February) and the January-February year-to-date period.” Parts of the NH had some cold winter weather, but not the entire hemisphere. Gerrit is generalising from the particular — his argument is equivalent to claiming that if it’s raining in Canterbury, it must be raining all over New Zealand.

During the 2007-2008 Antarctic summer, scientists on the German research ship Polarstern found that the deep Antarctic Ocean had been cooling.

Actually, the latest data shows it to be warming.

Lovelock foresees crop failures because of warming. To the contrary, warming and an increase in carbon dioxide will be beneficial to foodcrop production.

In some places, for a short time, but not everywhere, and especially not as warming builds up. He then moves on to take the ritual swipe at climate models

It is therefore not surprising that their models did not predict the present cooling. Unfortunately, the whole global warming house of cards has been built on these non-validated computer models.

Since there is no cooling, you could argue that the models got it right, but the reality is that global climate models do not make short term global temperature forecasts — they project what future climates might be like over multi-decade periods.

The Press also carried an article about warnings of increased methane emissions from warming permafrost, giving Gerrit an opportunity to trot out another standard crank lie:

Although the Arctic has been warming in recent years, it was warmer in the 1930s and 40s.

No, it wasn’t.

And now the Arctic has also been responding to the recent global cooling. The sea-ice cover last October was 31 per cent larger than at the same time a year before.

As cherry-picking goes, this is like clambering to the top of a big old cherry tree to grab the only ripe fruit left before the rapacious birds get it. Gerrit is trying to gloss over the fact that the summer sea ice minimum reached a new record low in 2007 (25% lower than the previous record, set in 2005), and 2008 came close to matching it. To make matters worse, Gerrit even manages to get the number wrong. The NSIDC report for last October puts 2008 24% above 2007. He can’t move on, however, without trying to suggest that polar bears are great survivors:

They also survived the Holocene Optimum (about 5000 to 7000 years ago) and the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, which were also warmer than the present.

Neither period was warmer than today, globally.
He finishes:

The second phenomenon is the present global cooling. How long will that have to continue before people will finally face reality? In these difficult times it is advisable to keep a cool head.

Van der Lingen obviously believes that if you repeat something often enough it will become true. In the strange alternate reality he occupies, where the laws of physics are suspended, facts are what you want them to be and reality is defined by political belief, the autumn leaves are falling and the first flakes of winter snow are in the wind. Out of my window, though, the sun is shining and the grass is calling me to my mower. The world is obviously back to warming…

[Nick Lowe]

15 thoughts on “Nutted by reality”

  1. “Van der Lingen obviously believes that if you repeat something often enough it will become true.”

    I don’t know about truth but some nasty political movements have believed that if you repeated lies often enough they worked effectively on popular opinion. It seems to me that organised denialism is much more concerned with effectiveness than with truth. Some of their company may have been duped into thinking it’s about truth, but there’s a deep cynicism somewhere in the heart(land?) of the movement.

  2. Bryan, if I was Jewish I’d have to say your comment…” I don’t know about truth but some nasty political movements have believed that if you repeated lies often enough they worked effectively on popular opinion…” is absolute chutzpah…

    I’m not Jewish so I’ll just record your statement as accurate, but 180 degrees mis-orientated…

    If the MSM (and this website) repeat global warming alarmism often enough a few gullible souls will believe it, but a growing percentage (41% in the USA) believe global warming alarmism a la Al Gore is overblown hyperbole…

  3. Sorry old bean, but physics is supremely uninterested in opinion polls. Fair-minded people will look at the evidence and draw their own conclusions. You can huff, puff and spin all you want, but the world will go where the balance of evidence points. And you’re on the wrong end of the seesaw, heading skywards.

  4. Ayrdale, I’ve been out at a lecture on climate change from a NIWA scientist this evening. Full of global warming alarmism. I don’t know where these thousands of scientists get their ideas from. The authors of all these books I’ve been reviewing too. No doubt if you read them you’ll be able to explain where they’ve got it all wrong…

    I’m not a gullible soul. I respect serious science. I would be delighted to find the notion of anthropogenic global warming is some kind of mistake. But there’s not a skerrick of evidence to suggest that it is.

  5. The Climate Science Coalition has obviously been busy. Bryan Leyland has an opinion piece in the Herald this morning. Hot Topic readers will be relieved to learn that “there is a large body of evidence – some of it very recent – telling us that climate change is natural.” (I’ve not read any science which suggests otherwise – the question is whether the current warming is.)

    Furthermore, says Leyland, there has been a “steady decline in temperatures since 2002” which the IPCC models failed to predict. (We’re accustomed to having 1998 highlighted by denialists as the point from which supposed cooling commenced, but 2002 is a new one. I don’t know how he gets a steady decline since 2002. It doesn’t matter much since the ‘decline’ is only natural variability within a steadily rising trend. )

    And the IPCC ignored the “close correlation between sunspot effects and temperature that has existed over many thousands of years” (This possibility has been explored so closely in relation to current warming that it ought to be astonishing that he’s still claiming something for it, though I note he leaves it very general and doesn’t actually relate it to the present.)

    It goes without saying – though of course he does say it – that the emissions trading scheme stands to damage the NZ economy to no purpose and make it more difficult for us to adapt, as humankind “has done through past ice ages and warmer periods” Wind farms, of course, don’t make economic sense by comparison with fossil fuel generation.

    However, as seems increasingly to be the case with the denialists, he does actually allow for the possibility the man-made global warming is real, but if it should be, adaptation “is the option with the lowest risk and the lowest cost.”

    And to think that the Herald had another option in front of them – I submitted an article a couple of days ago on the government’s current failure to treat climate change seriously. Perhaps they’ll print that tomorrow?

  6. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that, Bryan. However, the last time Leyland had something published something in one of the dailies – the business section of the DomPost, just after the election last November, egregiously misleading as always – it did provoke a spirited round of letters to the editor, which is some consolation.

  7. The International CSC is an umbrella organisation for the CSCs around the world, but our very own Terry Dunleavy was its first boss and plenty of NZ’s cranks have roles in the ICSC. Dunleavy’s job has since been handed on to Canadian PR man Tom Harris. Funding for the group hasn’t been revealed, but probably not a million miles away from the organisers of a recent conference in New York…

  8. It will be interesting to see how much rope the special select committee gives to people from the NZCSC and such like, assuming they provided written submissions. Will the committee be interested in hearing verbal submissions despite the several media stories suggesting “the science debate” is outside scope?

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