Former ACT MP Muriel Newman — an extreme right-winger and no stranger to the wilder shores of climate denial — has waded into the debate about sea level rise and coastal hazards in Christchurch in a long-winded and unhelpful article at her NZ “Centre for Policy Research” web site. In many respects, her piece is par for the Hidebound course — full of misdirection, misrepresentation and schoolgirl errors of fact, motivated by a weird world view:
The reality is that unfortunately, carbon dioxide is being used as a political football. When radicals embraced the environmental movement in the seventies, driving out people like Dr Patrick Moore the founder of Greenpeace, they used the climate debate to conceal their real agenda – the global redistribution of wealth.
Newman takes as the text for her sermon a piece by Mike Kelly, a New Zealander who is a professor at the University of Cambridge in the UK. His offering is just as ill-informed as Newman’s — can it really be the case that a professor of technology, whose main expertise is in “advanced electronic devices for very high speed operation”, doesn’t understand the difference between weather forecasting and climate modelling? Perhaps Kelly should read a few introductory texts on climate modelling before pontificating so publicly — and so erroneously.
But what makes Newman and Kelly’s articles so unhelpful to coastal residents in Christchurch and elsewhere is not the parroting of climate denialist tropes, but the conclusion she reaches:
The Christchurch Council – and all other councils around New Zealand for that matter – should base their coastal hazard projections, on what has happened in the past. There is no perfect predictor of the future, but looking at what has actually happened in the past is better than seizing on unreliable models developed by those driving a political agenda.
Let’s do what Newman wants, and forget modelling future sea level rise. Let’s look at the past.
Continue reading “The advice of fools: Newman and Kelly risible on rising seas”
Late last week, New Zealand’s far right ACT party was pleased to let the media know that its leader, Jamie Whyte, had won the “prestigious Institute of Economic Affairs’ Seldon ((Not this Seldon, sadly.)) Award” — an award given to IEA fellows by the IEA for work published by the IEA. Whyte is an IEA fellow, which may (or may not) be prestigious in itself — the IEA is the grandaddy of British free-market “think tanks” — but the award appears to be little more than a bit of mutual backslapping. Whyte won for a paper published last year entitled Quack Policy – Abusing Science in the Cause of Paternalism (pdf), in which he sets out to show that “much ‘evidence-based policy’ is grounded on poor scientific reasoning and even worse economics”. Unfortunately, in his discussion of climate science in the paper, he shows an incredibly poor understanding of what the science actually says, and an even worse appreciation of its implications for humanity.
Continue reading “Little Whyte Bull”
Untroubled as he is by the responsibilities of public office, or any apparent need to appear consistent, the former leader of the far-right ACT Party, Rodney Hide, attempts to ridicule the Green Party’s new carbon tax policy in his column at the National Business Review this week. You can’t actually read the column, because it’s behind a paywall, but the ever-helpful Cameron Slater at Whale Oil comes to the rescue by copy/pasting all the best bits. Here’s Hide, 2014 style:
We desperately need the Russel-Norman. A tax to deal to a problem bigger than World War II, the Depression and the Plague all at once.
We must go Green, save the planet and get rich. What a plan! What a vision!
Years ago an old man grumbled to me. GST. Bah. He didn’t think taxing food was right. “What’s next? The air we breathe?” Nope. Our new tax is on a trace gas that we all breathe out.
But those of us with functioning memories will recall that back when Rodney was ACT leader and a minister in a National-led government — only six years ago — he was advocating that the Emissions Trading Scheme be dropped and replaced by — wait for it — a carbon tax. Here’s Rodney in 2010, talking to Guyon Espiner on TV1:
We don’t think we should be doing anything, but what we’ve said is, if you were going to do something, it would be far cheaper and far easier just to put a low tax across fossil fuels. That would achieve the same result, you could also subsidise forestry, and we’ve offered that up to the National Party as an alternative that would be easier. Why would it be easier? It would administratively much less costly, because you’d just put a tax across rather than try and operate a trading mechanism…
I think I sort of understand what’s going on in Rodney’s head. When he was trying to be an electable politician, he at least made an effort to make sense. Now that he’s just another libertarian ideologue with a soapbox he can say whatever he wants, and the green-hating rabid right so ably fed and watered at Slater’s blog will lap it up. Meanwhile, out in the real world, perhaps a carbon tax’s time has come…
A few days have passed since Lisa Owen’s interview with Antarctic scientists Chuck Kennicutt of the US and Gary Wilson of New Zealand on TV3’s The Nation but I hope it’s still worth drawing attention to. Programmes like The Nation tend to focus on immediate political excitements. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to see an interviewer who was reasonably well informed of the issues surrounding the effect of global warming on the Antarctic and who allowed the two scientists space to explain the far-reaching planetary consequences of Antarctic melting.
I won’t traverse the content of the interview here. It was familiar enough material to anyone who follows the science. The scientists were restrained and objective, almost to a fault. But their observations were stark enough. Gary Wilson observed that looking back in geological time we know that the last time carbon dioxide levels were at 400 parts per million the end solution of a prolonged period in that state was that the West Antarctic ice sheet retreated.
Beyond expressing pleasure at the quality of the interview and the fact that it was undertaken my main purpose in this post is to draw attention to the contribution of one of the panellists who subsequently discussed the interview (3 minutes in).
Continue reading “TV3’s The Nation: Antarctica and public understanding of climate change”
New Zealand political reaction to the IPCC’s WG2 report has divided along expected lines: the Green Party and Labour used the findings to call for more action, the National-led government “welcomed” the report but said it is already doing enough, while the fringe right wing ACT party issued a press release making the abolition of the emissions trading scheme a condition of its support for any future National government. If the Scoop web site is to be believed, none of the other political parties with seats in parliament or hopes of election could be bothered to issue a press release in response to a report that makes it plain that climate change is here now, and set to get very much worse in future.
Continue reading “Climate crisis? What Crisis? NZ right ignore IPCC call for action”