“I occupy the balanced middle of this debate”

homer.jpg Sunday morning laughs. Bob Carter, a particularly voluble member of the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, is in New Zealand doing a “lecture tour”. He’s addressing a number of Rotary groups around the North Island. But the slick PR machine* inside the C”S”C obtained a top TV gig for Prof Bob, and he was interviewed on Shine TV recently. I won’t embed the YouTube video here (I think a young Mick Jagger is better for the blog’s image), but I would like to draw your attention to the breathtaking chutzpah of the man as he defines the “climate debate”. At about 0:35s he says (roughly transcribed):

On the one hand you have what are called the deniers, the people that deny climate change happens at all. It’s a very small group, and I don’t know any who are really significant scientists. On the other hand you have the alarmists, who say that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, it’s our CO2 emissions that are the problem, and we need to do something about it. Now, both of these groups have shrill voices, and it’s fair to say that the press has dominantly picked up the alarmist shrill view. The great majority of scientists sit in the middle. I’m in New Zealand, as you know, giving a lecture tour, and I occupy the balanced middle of this debate.

Astonishing. He’s not so much attempting to shift the Overton window, as move it to the house next door. And he says it with such assurance. No doubt there will be an upswing in scepticism in Rotarian circles in the rural North Island. I’ll have to organise a tour of Probus groups to counter the great man’s efforts.

* That’s only half a joke. They’re very good at getting themselves noticed.

Winter wonderland

205188main_2007ice_anomaly.jpg Climate cranks are keen to paint the last northern hemisphere (boreal) winter as unusually cold – a clear sign, they say, that “global warming is over”, and that global cooling has begun. Every crank’s at it: Bob Carter at Muriel’s place, Gerrit van der Lingen in an article in a Christchurch magazine and Vincent Gray in a submission to the select committee looking into the Emissions Trading Bill. It’s nonsense. The winter was cooler than many recent ones – but still 16th warmest, according to NOAA. A strong La Niña is cooling the tropical Pacific, and dragging the global average down, the precise converse of the strong El Niño that made 1998 so hot. In other words it’s weather noise, not long term change, as Stu Ostro explains at the Weather Channel. However, the cranks are right about one thing: last winter was unusual, but not for the reasons they think. In this post, I want to explore some of the reasons why this winter was out of the ordinary, and why I think it may demonstrate that rapid climate change is happening now. It’s an expanded version of how I began my last two talks…

Continue reading “Winter wonderland”

Being economical with the truth, or lying through her teeth?

homer.jpg Politicians are skilled at manipulating facts to convey any impression they desire. It’s called spin, and in its worst cases truthiness – nicely defined by the man who invented the term, Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report: “We’re not talking about truth, we’re talking about something that seems like truth—the truth we want to exist.” Out in wingnut land, they want to believe that global warming is not real. So Muriel Newman at her NZ Centre for Political Research web site starts spinning the facts and, in the middle of a rambling attempt to justify a recent climate crank call for a joint Australia-NZ Royal Commission on climate change manages to come out with the following:

Anyone who claims that the science on global warming is settled is wrong. There is now growing evidence that that the earth is not warming but cooling: since the 1970s the glaciers of the Arctic, Greenland, and the Antarctic have been growing, and since 1998 average world temperatures have been falling with 2006 cooler than 2005 and 2007 cooler still.

This may be what Muriel fervently believes, but it is also completely untrue. So untrue, in fact, that saying it in an attempt to influence public policy amounts to lying. Sadly, in the echo chamber of truthiness around her web site, she gets taken at face value. Out in the wider world, it simply leaves her credibility in tatters.

Continue reading “Being economical with the truth, or lying through her teeth?”

Tomorrow? The world!

Guess who’s gone to Bali? Distinguished scientist and IPPC expert reviewer (aka home-grown climate crank) Vincent Gray. He’s hobnobbing with the upper crust cranks like Christopher, Viscount Monckton. It appears – thanks to digging by Tim Lambert over at Deltoid – that the NZ C”S”C now forms the core of a supposedly international organisation, the International Climate “Science” Coalition, and they’re in Bali, trying to get their message across. It isn’t working though, because US right wing lobby group the Heartland Institute has had to rush out a press release claiming that the UN has been crushing dissent.

One question. Where’s the money coming from? The airfares can’t have been cheap, and the Daily Telegraph (UK) tells some frightening tales about the cost of hotels and food. I wonder if the Heartland Institute has funded the swish website, and did the Science and Public Policy Institute (a Heartland spin-off) dig into its pockets to help out with expenses? Monckton’s an adviser there, as is Bob Carter.

One comment. Looking at the member list, it looks like all the usual suspects – Bellamy, Ball, Carter et al – but they choose to send Vincent to Bali. Folie de grandeur, perhaps? Perhaps being ignored while the world’s diplomats attempt to find a solution to a problem they deny will bring them to their senses. But I doubt it. Meanwhile, our little NZ band of cranks provide a means for the US rabid right to get their climate message out. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Another Friday roundup

NzmapI’m a sucker for pretty computer graphics, especially if they’re didactic. Today’s discovery is a superb Flash animation of the sea level history of Australia and New Guinea, lovingly prepared by Monash University‘s new SahulTime project [ABC coverage here]. From the web site:

The concept of SahulTime is similar to GoogleEarth, except that SahulTime extends each of GoogleEarth’s paradigms through a further dimension in time. Satellite-style images change to reflect coastlines, the icons are time-aware, and even photographs can can be taken through a timewarp to view reconstructed ancient landscapes.

You drag a pointer back along a profile of how sea level has changed over the last 100,000 years, and watch how Australia’s coastline changes, merging with New Guinea. Fantastic. Can we have one for New Zealand, please?


  • Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth has been passed by a UK High Court judge as fit to be seen by UK schoolchildren, but only with changes to the accompanying teacher’s notes to clarify nine scientific “errors”. News media are buzzing: a few samples – Herald, BBC, and Guardian (UK). The BBC’s environment correspondent provides some context, and Stoat (aka climate scientist and ice gambler William Connolley) looks at how serious the mistakes really are. The right wing roots of the court case are explained by Oil Change International, and one of the “expert” witnesses looks like it might have been the NZ CSC’s own Bob Carter. Not surprising then that former ACT MP Muriel Newman’s NZ Centre for Policy Research site is all over the issue – though she manages to find two extra bonus “errors” from somewhere. Read the judgement in full here. Real Climate’s original review supports the judge’s finding that AIT gets the basic science right.
  • New Scientist reports on a Canadian study that finds that to keep global temperature under the EU’s target of 2C above pre-industrial levels, cuts of 90% of emissions will be needed by 2050, much deeper than the 50% reductions already promised.
  • The new edition of popular computer game SimCity is to feature global warming, offering players high and low carbon energy options – sponsored by BP. A sign of the times….