Gerrit 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.
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…