People talkin’ (open thread)

It’s been a little while since we had an open thread, and since a key feature of Hot Topic’s new comment policy (coming soon) is a requirement that comments should be relevant to the topic of the post, I’ll be making an effort to ensure that one is always available on the front page of the site. Over to you…

82 thoughts on “People talkin’ (open thread)”

  1. So I was at the house of this Geologist and Astronomer the other day and just after he mentioned that he disagreed with Ken Ring on everything, except Global Warming. Uh-oh.

    He produced a whole raft of talking points, but one of the things he did produce was the July 2009 issue of the Geological Society of New Zealand Newsletter (available here inside a 20Mb zipfile). In it, is his paper “refuting” global warming (see page 24). Has this been refuted before? I didn’t realise that that society was a denialist stronghold… then again it doesn’t appear to have any peer review process, either.

    1. Looks like pretty standard nonsense: references to Akasofu etc. I hadn’t seen it before. Perhaps I need to dig through subsequent issues to see if there were any letters of refutation…

      1. Also there’s that great video with the geologist who says that there are no longer any periods of history for which we don’t really understand the link COâ‚‚ has with temperatures. Might have been a Peter Sinclair… darn should take notes 🙂

    2. As a geologist engaged in research and teaching at the University of Otago, I find that article (and the review of Ian Plimer’s book “Heaven and Earth” on p. 49-53 of the same issue) very embarrassing. The Geoscience Society of New Zealand (new name as of 2010) is not a “denialist stronghold” by any means. You can verify this by reading Peter Balance’s rebutal on p. 36-37 or his scathing review of Ian Wishart’s book “Air Con” on p. 47-49. The newsletter contributions reflect (but not in a linear way) a diverse membership of professional geoscientists.

      IMO, some geologists (and I count myself amongst their number) may have an aversion to certain extreme “green” positions because of the lack of a sound scientific basis for them. As a consequence, they may “automatically” take a contrarian position without much thought. However, many of us also recognise the reality and serious nature of AGW as well as the inevitability of having to find alternative sources of energy given that the supply of fossil fuels is finite.

      1. Thanks Mike. As a matter of interest one of my oldest friends is a petroleum exploration geologist, and he has no problems recognising the issues we confront…

    3. Oh dear, yes. He is sort of a neighbor in a way. Terribly nice guy really and his astronomy place (B&B) is great and worth a visit. But yes, his stance on GW or AGW is astonishing indeed. But I think he will come around one day.

        1. Geologist and astronomer Alastair Brickell and his stance on AGW. His stargazing B&B is a great place to hang out for stargazers with his large telescope and all, his stance on AGW is contrarian. But knowing him as a very nice bloke indeed, I am quietly hopeful that he will eventually see the evidence as it presents itself.

  2. Yup, recycled zombie arguments.

    Interesting your discussion there Sam, just the other day some guy whom I thought was reasonably sensible started babbling on about 911 being a government conspiracy. I just laughed and walked away. Some people believe the stupidest things.

  3. Yes, he is a nice guy, but fixated on some simplistic denier memes via Plimer, etc, and seems to blithely ignore the scientific evidence.

    I met him at the 2010 NZ Skeptic’s conference, where he described concerns re AGW as a “new religion”. As luck would have it, we ended up next to each other at dinner…

  4. The latest lines coming from the likes of John D and friends seems to be decarbonation of the atmosphere will cause dangerous climate change. Unfortunately this may have some merit in so far as the pollution in the atmosphere having a shading affect? or have I just given them there next line.

    1. MrSmith you seem to have some problems understanding anything I am saying.

      I said “Decarbonation” (sic) will cause dangerous climate change? Where?

      What the hell are you talking about?

        1. MrSmith
          Decarbonisation is the process of reducing CO2 emissions in society.

          If you think that Decarbonisation will “cause dangerous climate change”, or that you think that I think that, then we have a long road to travel.

          1. Well Johnny boy you will have to keep walking that long road alone because after reading some of your comments you strike me as an idiot and a fanatic, an idiot because you can’t see people are using you and a fanatic because you can’t change your mind or the subject.

  5. John D has kindly linked to my blog about climate and schools, and raises the question of how much money is being spent on special projects aimed at schoolchildren by those who are very agitated about climate change. I think it is fair to describe some of this effort as ‘indoctrination’, and in particular it is indoctrination aimed at producing ‘little activists’. This is technically illegal in many countries,e.g. Germany and England.

    Given the many tens of billions of dollars diverted into climate research in an apparently desperate, and still futile, attempt to attribute climate variations to CO2 levels, it would not be surprising that many millions are being spent on going after the youngsters. Here is a link to some information on US government agency funding of several millions dollars per year in this area:

    On my own site, I refer you to the ‘Page’ on climate curricula, and the ‘Page’ on sites aimed at teachers and/or children, and to this example of deliberate indoctrination being planned and carried out:

    It would be interesting to find out more about the levels of funding going into such materials. I would welcome information on that from any of your readers.

    1. Given the many tens of billions of dollars diverted into climate research in an apparently desperate, and still futile, attempt to attribute climate variations to CO2 levels, it would not be surprising that many millions are being spent on going after the youngsters.

      Give me a break! Produce some bloody numbers and references!

      Here’s an example of what you’re doing framed in such a way as you may understand it. “Given the many billions of dollars giant petrochemical corporations make each year (this, unlike the original, isn’t a dubious statement, but hang in there!) and now stand to lose it would not be surprising to find that they were financially supporting the majority of denialist bloggers.”

    2. JS-

      The majority of the programs described in your first link are educational outreach which is a congressionally-mandated component of most federal-funded research in the US. The information is based on the best available research, often directly from the scientists who have done the research to local schools. I can’t imagine a better use of federal taxpayer funds.

      Look at the federal agencies involved: NASA, NOAA and NSF. They are places where scientific research is done or funding is provided for scientists outside the agencies to do research. You don’t agree with the findings of that research so you accuse the scientists of a grand conspiracy to subvert young minds. This is all too familiar. Have you no sense of decency, sir?

      Just to put your views on climate change into perspective, what do you think of the teaching of evolution in schools?

  6. For anyone with mathematical interests, there is a beautiful step-by-step analysis of comprehensive errors made by contrarian “climate” scientist Roy Spencer (The Great Global Warming Blunder) posted here on SkepticalScience. Interestingly, not one dissenting comment from the usual “septics”.

    1. Thanks for the link Mike I see the further analysis by Arthur ShumwaySmith here:
      Notes that the model simply reduces to a first order differential equation of not much complexity – no need for computer modeling at all! In fact so simple that it is virtually useless. Indeed he has pointed this fact out to Roy Spencer on a slightly more complex previous model! The ‘model’ ‘works’ for a limited time period by choosing unrealistic parameters that can be shown to be false! Apparently this “model” is not unique having been used by others in a peer reviewed paper which has also been heavily criticized.
      “Stephen Schwartz used just such a model in a 2007 paper, “Heat capacity, time constant, and sensitivity of Earth’s climate system”, published in Journal of Geophysical Research volume 112, D24S05″.

  7. Still letting this dedicated ignoramus rant on, Gareth? OK, I’m officially bored. Please send me an email if and when you finally figure out a fix for this wholly counter-productive crap. Until then, I’m gone. If you value the likes of John D more than you value people like me, fine.

    1. Sorry you feel that way, Steve. It’s an open thread, so JD’s within my new guidelines — even if he is boringly predictable. I hope you’ll continue to join in the more focussed discussion I hope future posts will stimulate.

    2. Hard to disagree with this. This ignorant quasi-libertarian’s obfuscating rants are specifically designed to annoy and ultimately drive away anyone who wants to see something worthwhile, and he is currently quite dominant in volume terms. It’s difficult to convey sufficient contempt for such tactics. That said, I sympathise with any moderator of forums like this.

      1. RW,
        Do you count my quotes from Roger Pielke Jnr’s book as obfuscating rants are specifically designed to annoy and ultimately drive away anyone who wants to see something worthwhile?

        I have yet to see any contribution from you on this blog other than personal abuse. Naturally, RW, I like to return the favour, and indeed in your case I take particular pleasure in this.

  8. “Had it ever occurred to you, that by quoting from a book on climate policy that I might actually have a serious interest in this topic.”

    So all the abuse, name-calling and conspiracy theories were just slips of the keyboard, and deep down you really want to behave like an adult and talk seriously about this stuff? Yeah, right.

  9. Speaking of Christchurch and interesting ideas, those looking at electric vehicles might be interested in the Yike Bike, that hails from the earthquake city

    It has been getting some great reviews on CNN and NYT recently.

    Might be worth a post Gareth?

  10. Various motivations are assigned to AGW deniers; the most frequently seen are that these are shills for corporate interests, This is undoubtedly true as many authors and researchers have pointed to the funding, for much of this activity, as coming from these sources. I think that we must begin to consider that there is a broader agenda behind these efforts. I have often wondered ‘If you are intelligent enough to successfully lead a large corporation how can you be so stupid as to deny the reality of AGW?’ I’ve just read Bangladesh: lessons in adaptation by Bryan Walker. In that post Saleemul Huq, a Bangladeshi biologist points out – “It is poor countries that are suffering the brunt of climate change, but it is the rich countries’ greenhouse gas emissions that caused this problem in the first place. If we follow the principle of ‘the polluter pays’ they are obligated to pay damages. It is important to understand that this is not charity, like money given to poor countries for economic development. This is compensation.” Later in the post, Hertsgaard relates that Todd Stern, the US chief climate change negotiator, ““absolutely” rejects the suggestion that the US owes a “climate debt” to the rest of the world.” Hertsgaard notes that, that “as a lawyer himself Stern must surely know that in a court of law damages are damages, regardless of one’s intent.”

    When I read Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway I remembered the incident in which the corporate heads of the tobacco companies were called before Congress to testify. They stood in a line, side by side and, under oath, swore that they were unaware of any harm caused by smoking. They were lying, as was shown by later evidence. It was a ludicrously choreographed event, shown on the national networks’ TV coverage, for the purpose of providing them “cover” should they ever be sued for damages. Fast forward to the present – as these authors pointed out in their book – the same strategies are still in play today. The constant Orwellian messages of AGW denial and the “evidence” provided by such powerful players as Senator Inhoff will be used to refute any charges of responsibility.

    I remember how, in the sixties, The Club of Rome’s forecasts of a looming global crisis were denigrated as being “alarmist” and extreme. Politicians and national leaders have not only failed to prepare for this future, they’ve squandered vast amounts of time and wealth. We are now living in the conditions that were so presciently spelled out fifty years ago and this was before AGW had raised its ugly head to exacerbate the situation. Our politicians, particularly those of the Republican Party, are engaged in a strenuous effort to “save America”. This is a zero-sum game in which the world’s resources are becoming ever more precious and limited. Increasing population pressures are placing increasing demand on oil, minerals and water. There is, or soon will be, insufficient resources for the world’s needs. There are only so many lifeboats available; the race is on as to who gets a seat and I don’t think that Bangladesh has a snowball’s chance in hell of ever seeing a penny of compensation let alone one of the seats.

    The next time you read or hear rational people writing or saying perfectly stupid stuff remember – this is not about the truth or facing the reality of AGW – it is about a fight for survival.

  11. The leap to better understanding of atmospheric warming is when the teacher makes the correlation between the insulating effect of the enclosed glass and the insulating effect of CO2 in our atmosphere

    This is why I despair of our education systems. What evidence do you have that there is any similarity whatsoever between the two systems you describe?

  12. It is wrong and it is misleading. I come across lots of arts graduate who ‘understand the greenhouse effect’, and when I ask them to explain why it is not important for real greenhouses, they are completely stumped. As would the children exposed to this sort of shoddy-science teaching.

    1. Now, now little Johnny, don’t put words in my mouth. Do your homework first and read what I said before making an even bigger fool of yourself in front of all the nice people.

      1. Mike,
        The comment I am specifically referring to is this:

        About the only part that I have a problem with is the “greenhouse effect in a jar” which is a demonstration of how a “real” greenhouse works, but not Earth’s atmosphere. You are aware of the difference, aren’t you?

        If I have misunderstood you, then I apologise, but my understanding was that you thought that the jar experiment is not a good representation of the Earth’s atmosphere. (As I do)

        Naturally, I can understand it would be painful for you to actually have to agree with me on a point, but perhaps we could clarify this issue?

        1. I accept your apology for misunderstanding what I had written.

          The original experiment is a demonstration of how a greenhouse works. The second experiment demonstrates the important aspects of the greenhouse effect. Clarified?

          I look forward to agreeing with you on any and all points on which you are correct.

  13. John D –

    One artifact would be the ratio of the carbon isotops C12 to C13. Rather than going through the difference between them and their origination here it would be enlightening for any denier to delve into. One of the reasons for pointing to this particular aspect of global warming is that the science is quite straightforward. Anything can be denied as being true or relevant but even the most diligent nay-sayer must must suffer from the constant effort required to refute basic and well understood science. The maitainenance of an irrational position is not cost-free.

    1. I do understand the difference between carbon isotopes. Naturally I understand it is de rigeur to abuse me with the denier label and then assume that I am stupid.

      So perhaps, “craneadancing”, you could explain to me what the hell carbon isotopes has to do with the greenhouse effect in a jar experiment.

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